When I first got to Uppsala, there was snow everywhere and it was a dream. While it was a dream, it was accompanied with minus Celsius degree weather, which was a huge change from the + 40°C weather back in Sydney. To ease the pain of the cold, I recited the line “this is why I came to Sweden”, which has since been my mantra to help me appreciate, rather than dwell on the cold.
The snow was quite brief and a week or two in, it slowly disappeared. I’m pretty sure Sydney weather must have followed me to Sweden. I was so disappointed that I wouldn’t get the winter-wonderland I had longed for in Uppsala. With all the optimism in the world, I asked my Swedish corridor mate if there was any chance possible that the snow would ever come back, but, the Swede with all his Swedish wisdom, reaffirmed the worst and shattered my dreams, saying it was very unlikely it would snow again.
However, the snow gods heard my desperate pleas and answered my prayers, and the snow came back to Uppsala not only once but several times after. I think my corridor mate had been wishing he never uttered those words to me because he just jinxed himself into a longer winter — one that all Swedes seem to dread and just want to end.
Uppsala in snow is an absolutely beautiful sight. It’s what you would expect to see in the movies or on postcards. It was surreal to think that I had to go about my daily life in it; from very casual walks to ICA (the grocery) or the laundry, and bus rides to class or bikes home from drunken nights at the nations, I struggled to accept it as the norm. As much as I tried to play it cool, I felt like a kid oozing with uncontrollable excitement every single time it snowed. Tourist-mode was activated right from the very first drop of snow I spotted and now I’ve gotten a billion photos, videos and boomerangs stashed on my camera roll. “I’m Australian”, has always justified my behaviour.
As the days went by and my calendar indicated that Spring was looming in, the snow melted and Uppsala got glimpses of Spring weather. Every time the sun made an appearance, the whole population of Uppsala would be out enjoying life by the river and filled the cafés that lined along it. You wouldn’t have ever thought that there was actually that much people inhabiting the city…
As much as I loved Uppsala in snow, the glimpses of sun and warmth were very nice and pleasant. The city was alive, everyone seemed happier, I got some vitamin d in me and I didn’t have to put on my gloves, beanie, scarf or all my layers of clothes.
March 21 officially marked the first day of Spring and I could only assume a great sigh of relief spread across Uppsala. But guess what? The very next day, it snowed… my snapchat was inundated with snaps of the snow with surprised and perplexed reactions, and sarcastic excitement.
A week later on March 27, something absolutely unheard of happened in Uppsala… The day had marked the hottest day it had been in March in 278 years, reaching a whopping 20 degrees. You could say that Spring had really sprung. All the science in the world was saying that winter was really over this time… And I believed it because on that day, I formally bid farewell to the snow once and for all. It was a bittersweet moment letting go of all the snow-filled memories.
But guess what? The next day and even the day after, it. snowed. again. I was so, so, so sure that the snow had really come to an end on March 27, but no… I became my corridor mate. When all my friends blamed me for jinxing the snow, I understood where my corridor mate came from… you can get sick of the snow.
Moral of the story is; the snow is unpredictable. When you want snow, it’ll come. But when you want it to end, it won’t. And apparently, you can get sick of the snow too. Never in my life did I think I’d succumb to the cynical Swedish ways of hoping such a beautiful phenomenon such as the snow would end. But sometimes you just want to be able to ride your bike without fearing for your life, and sometimes you just don’t want to get mud all over your newly washed clothes as a result of biking in the slush.
Apart from the snow, my exchange in Uppsala has been amazing. Uppsala is like none other. The student life is something you won’t get in Australia. You probably won’t get it in other universities in Europe… or even in most universities in Sweden… When I meet other exchange students also studying in Sweden but go to universities like Stockholm University, KTH or Gävle, I always question why they decided to study in Sweden but didn’t choose to study in Uppsala. I find it perplexing. And then I go on a long trail of advocacy about how great Uppsala is…
What makes Uppsala great are the student nations. The best way to describe student nations are big student-operated organisations. And they’re pretty much the crux of life in Uppsala. Each nation has their own café, pub and restaurant, and they all host a bunch of different activities like club nights, formal dinners, gasques (balls) and musical events. They also have sporting clubs and personal interest groups for board game fans, feminist book lovers and more. You can also work in the nations whether it be making desserts for fika, cooking burgers, serving beer at the pub, or hanging coats during club nights. The way it is organised means that there’s always something to do every day of the week, and there’s always something for everyone to do. You’ll be surprised by how many events on Facebook you’ll click ‘attending’ or ‘interested’ in during your stay in Uppsala.
Being in Uppsala is also great because you don’t go a week without meeting someone new. It’s a student town so there’s so many students, and there’s so many international students that you get to meet people from places like Tajikistan (yes, it is actually a country). You get to learn so much about different countries, people in them and their way of life. Better yet, out of all the people you meet you’ll find yourself a genuine group of people you’ll generally come back to and share memorable experiences with. It’s also so cool to realise that you now have new places to visit on your bucket list, a couch to sleep on and a tour guide to welcome you with open arms if you end up in their country.
Of course, you also meet Swedish people and you realise that the stereotype of Swedes being distant or closed off is quite true, but the ones you get to know are extremely nice. While I haven’t been lucky enough to meet Swedes in my classes as they’re all filled with international students, I’ve forged friendships with the Swedish people in my corridor. During our encounters in the kitchen, I’ve learnt little things about Sweden like Håkan Hellstrom, Melodifestivalen and Swedish cuisines. I also get a good dose of Swedish people when I play basketball at my nation every week. Whilst they’re extremely nice, they’re also 6 ft tall, built guys and I’ve come to learn that they’re quite competitive and show no mercy even to a 5”5’ female. But it’s so fun getting to interact with Swedes this way. You even get to laugh at (but not understand) how Swedish people banter, and you also get to practice your Swedish numbers as they tally the score.
I could go on for ages about the little nuances of life in Uppsala and everything i’ve done on exchange apart from the snow, meeting people and the nations, but I’ve obviously written way too much. Here’s some pics of the other highlights of my exchange:
I’ll end by saying — my exchange process was a tumultuous journey and I was indecisive about everything. I changed from one university to the next; I did a lot of research; I made hundreds of pros and cons, and I considered every factor big and small. Little did I know that deep down inside I was already set on Uppsala and I was just trying to make all the excuses in the world. It was thanks to posts like these that really persuaded me to choose it. I thought it was all overly exaggerated, but everything is true about Uppsala. You’ll fall in love with it all and never want to leave. I have absolutely no regrets coming to Uppsala, I’m so beyond happy I made the right choice and I’m wishing I had more than a semester here. I’ve done so many things, learnt things about myself, people around me and the world, and have gone out of my comfort zone. I’m so sad that I only have two months left here.
If you’re going to Uppsala or considering Uppsala, don’t hesitate to contact me for more practical information, tips and tricks.
Bachelor of Business