Elsa - Uppsala University

B Biomedical Science
Semester 2, 2018
Fika [fee-ka] Swedish - A moment to slow down and appreciate the good things in life … ‘Coffee with friends’

Academic experience

In my semester abroad at Uppsala University I studied Microbial Genetics worth 15ECTS and electives Basic Swedish and American Mass Media, both worth 7.5 ECTS. All courses were taught in English and included a mix of Swedish and International students, excluding Basic Swedish. Some of the main differences to studying at UQ is that the courses are taught in succession, which I now prefer. This system allows you to focus solely on one subject and complete the examination before beginning a new course. Furthermore, all my subjects had class sizes below 30 students, allowing for more student teacher interaction compared to UQ. Overall, the University facilities and teachers involved in the academic experience exceeded my expectation and resulted in a memorable exchange.

Personal experience

Having a semester abroad has been one of the most fulfilling experiences, meeting new friends from all over the world and living in Uppsala, Sweden. I couldn’t have asked for a better exchange experience. Apart of the academia, living in centrally located Scandinavia brought so many opportunities to travel Europe during my time abroad. Norway, Denmark, Finland, Lapland, Latvia, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and England are just a few of the many extraordinary countries that I explored during my exchange. Furthermore, Uppsala had so much to offer, from the student nations to being surrounded by the most beautiful nature, changing in every season. I have seen and learnt so much during my time abroad, resulting in new grown confidence and independence, utilized in everyday activities. Studying abroad is so much more than just University.


During my time in Uppsala, I stayed at a student accommodation called Flogsta. It was a 12-person corridor, mixed with both International and Swedish students. Equipped with a common kitchen and living area, each person gets a large bedroom and ensuite. Laundry services, a supermarket and public transport are all accessible within the complex. Flogsta was off campus however, only a short 15-minute bike ride into the city centre. Although the common areas could get quite messy, Flogsta is in my opinion the best place to stay in Uppsala. There are always events happening and it is a great place to meet people as it is the largest student housing complex within Uppsala.


Overall for a semester exchange I would budget $10,000. Large sum, but this gave me the freedom to participate in as many activities as possible and fully immerse myself in the Swedish culture and exchange experience. The price of living is similar to that of Brisbane; accommodation is cheaper, however food and transport is more expensive. I was fortunate enough to do some personal travel surrounding the 5-month exchange, leaving 2 months early and returning 1 month later.  Hence, I budgeted extra for these travel experiences.


The biggest challenge for me was the exchange application. This takes up a lot of time and the process is ongoing until everything is finalised. Finding subjects equivalent to home university standards was a challenge, that’s why, I would recommend saving electives. In doing so, course selection is much easier and allows more freedom in choosing subjects.

Professional Development

From the exchange experience and travelling solo, I have gained life-long skills that will aid me in my future studies and career. Confidence, adaptability and independence are all qualities which the exchange experience and travelling has developed. Not to mention the problem-solving skills which are highly valuable and sort after employment attributes. The exchange experience has taught me valuable life-lessons which make me feel more prepared and confident for future employment.


Experiencing a whole new culture was amazing, Sweden alone has so much to offer. During my semester abroad I experienced the changing seasons which was incredible and something I have never witnessed before. The contrast of being in an orange heaven in autumn to travelling to Lapland on a student trip in the peak of Winter with -35C temperatures was something I could not have previously imagined. Cross-country skiing, snow scootering, dog sledding, ice skating, seeing the Northern lights, the list goes on. There are multitudes of student trips from Uppsala which were definitely a highlight for me, so get involved and enjoy the beautiful country.

Top tips

•    Buy a second-hand bike. Public transport is expensive, so grab yourself a second-hand bike from one of the many second-hand stores or checkout one of the many Facebook pages for Uppsala 
•    Join a nation. These are like the student clubs in Uppsala, you’ve got 13 nations to pick from, each a different size and character. Some have club nights, bars, sport teams, music bands and choirs. This is a great way to meet people!
•    Immerse yourself in the Swedish culture, have a “fika” at every opportunity, drink coffee and get lost in the nature!