Arriving in Sweden 2 months ago from sunny Sydney was definitely a shock to the system. With thick layers of snow everywhere it was nothing like I’d ever experienced. Although the snow is mostly melted now, Uppsala is becoming even more beautiful as spring arrives and there are a few things about Sweden, and Uppsala in particular that you should know…
Sweden is an expensive country, luckily in Uppsala there are student nations where you end up spending most of your time. They are essentially clubs that represent the different regions in Sweden. Each nation runs a pub, restaurant and club so food and drinking is a lot cheaper. Uppsala University is also really old, founded in 1477 – the main building is pretty impressive.
I live in a suburb called Flogsta, where there is a housing complex of about 10 buildings and has about 2000 Swedish and exchange students living there, so there are always lots of parties going on. Built in the 60’s (but renovated in the 90’s), Flogsta is nick-named the student ghetto, and your fruit-fly infested kitchen will reinforce that – but it’s definitely the best place to live in Uppsala for the proximity to most of your friends, the corridor parties and the rooms themselves have their own bathroom and are quite spacious.
Flogsta has two main traditions…at 10pm every night there is the Flogsta scream, where students scream out their window for a full minute. You’ll always know when it’s 10 o’clock and it’s quite liberating to scream at strangers across the road. The second Flogsta tradition, although slightly less common, is throwing things out the window. If your corridor doesn’t have a TV, it’s likely some students from the corridor next door threw it out the window last semester. There are even stories of a flaming couch being thrown off the roof!
Fika is one of the best Swedish traditions, it basically means having coffee, cake and catching up with friends. There are plenty of great cafes in Uppsala for Fika and Sweden is famous for their Kanelbullar (Cinnamon Scrolls) and delicious cakes.
Although Sweden isn’t exactly a travel hub to the rest of Europe, there are lots of trips you can still go on. Being on exchange in Scandinavia, seeing the Northern Lights was a must-do. We recently went on a trip to Swedish Lappland and went snow mobiling, husky sledding and saw the Northern Lights!
We’ve also managed to do a couple of other trips. The Swedish government has a monopoly on alcohol so people often go on weekend trips to Finland, Estonia and Lativia to buy duty free alcohol and see a different city. Our ‘booze cruise’ went to Helsinki, Finland. I’m currently in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day and am going to Copenhagen, Berlin and doing a road trip around Sweden before the semester is over, so there is plenty of time to see the rest of Europe!
Being a small town relative to Sydney Uppsala felt like home pretty quickly. Everyone in Sweden speaks fluent English too, so if you are worried about the language barrier, Sweden is a great place to go. Uni classes are pretty relaxed, especially if you take ones that are specifically for exchange students. Although there are over 100 aussies in Uppsala, there are still plenty of students from Sweden and around the world to meet. There is always something fun going on but plenty of time to chill out and watch Netflix too. Overall, Uppsala is an amazing city and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!