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Sweden: More than ABBA, IKEA and H&M!

While Sweden is 15,527 km away from Sydney, I already feel so at home here in Uppsala.

In just 1 month, I have marched in Stockholm Pride Parade with 15 new friends, pet reindeer, gone to Sweden’s famous IKEA 3 times, had Swedish meatballs (which were vegan!), and sung in an all-Swedish taught choir! Honestly, Uppsala University should be your number 1 preference. It offers constant fun, endless activities and a taste of the quirky Swedish culture.

Do the following three points fit your exchange criteria? If so, then do not hesitate to pick Uppsala!

  • Uppsala has an idyllic, bustling small town vibe (yet a quick 45-minute train-ride will drop you off in one of the most majestic capital cities in the world, Stockholm)
  • The university has a never-ending pool of exchange and Swedish students to make friends with because it is a student-focused town (seriously, you meet someone new every day here!)
  • There is a slight but not overly challenging language barrier as you need to learn some basic words for grocery shopping, transport etc. but everyone can speak English perfectly!

Let me unpack these statements more…

Small-Town Vibes:

Cycling around Uppsala feels like you are on a small-town movie set. The cathedral dominates the sky-line and you can see it from wherever you stand. The river is lined with flowers and beautiful bridges, there are cobbled streets and every building is a different colour. I’m constantly stopping to take a photo or simply pause to ‘smell the roses’!

Student Life:

Uppsala is a university town. The 13 student nations (like an American sorority or fraternity) dominate the student culture. During your time, you will choose 1 to be part of but this does not limit you from experiencing activities in the other 12. They all offer:

  • Cheap and tasty food and drink. Does a big burger and chips for only $10 sound good? Or maybe pea soup, pancakes, unlimited salad, bread and coffee all for only $8?
  • Daily events such as Latin dancing, hiking, choirs, formals, clubs at night and MUCH more
  • Work opportunities in the restaurants or pubs with no prior experience is needed!
  • Grandiose buildings with cosy spots for you to chill-out, study and meet local Swedes.

I can’t stress to you enough how cool these nations are. It is so unique and Harry Potter-ish and once you pick your nation you feel an immediate sense of pride and passion for it!

Adding to this student life, you must stay in Flogsta; the place where everything happens! 800 students live in this accommodation area, and you live in a corridor with 11 other international or Swedish students. My corridor is already so close and I have people from Korea, Syria, Germany, France, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, Netherlands, India and Serbia! As you can imagine… there is never a dull moment!

Sweden:

I initially was going to pick a UK university but wanted something a little more out of my comfort zone in terms of language and culture. Sweden strikes that balance perfectly. Sweden has some quirky yet fascinating traditions which you have to see to believe. For example, at the end of a ‘gasque’ (ball/formal), we were whirling napkins above our heads chanting?! It’s so interesting and a beautiful place and culture to explore.

A final tip if you want to go to Uppsala is to do the Summer Swedish Langauge Course. This is with 150 other students where you arrive 4 weeks earlier than the rest of the international students to learn basic level Swedish. This was the best decision ever. It allowed me to settle down, make amazingly close friends and learn basic Swedish all before semester kicked off. So you felt really comfortable and settled in by the time actual university starts which is such a bonus.  

Overall, Uppsala University is the perfect place for a Sydney-sider to come for exchange. It is a small town yet buzzes with life. I already know I’m going to be so sad to leave.

Adjö! (Goodbye!)

Clare O’Rourke
Bachelor of Accounting
Uppsala University
Sweden

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au

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