Benjamin - Uppsala University

M International Studies
Semester 2, 2016

Academic Experience

I took three courses during my exchange; Advanced Study of Anthropological Theory, International Interventions and Protections of Civilians, and Causes of Peace. These courses were taught in English and included students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. The classes were extremely interactive, including extensive group work and regular seminar presentations. I found this highly involved teaching style particularly helpful in improving both my written work and presentations. Students are expected to turn up to all classes and actively engage. Missing a class is likely to result in some kind of make-up assessment, so I would advise to attend all classes if possible. While the highly involved academic system was truly rewarding, it was also challenging as it meant spending a considerable amount of time reading, coordinating assessment with classmates, and preparing for seminars. Provided you manage your time well this should not be a problem. The teachers are supportive, knowledgeable and approachable, and the university facilities are excellent.

Personal Experience

I truly enjoyed my time on exchange. I made friends from countries including Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands. I took the pre-semester Basic Swedish course and I highly recommend anyone else going on exchange here to do so as well. It gave me a basic understanding of the language and culture and also provided the opportunity to make a few friends before the semester started. Uppsala is practically empty during this time as well, so it is the perfect opportunity to explore the city. The welcome program was great. It involved a magnificent orientation ceremony, the opportunity to explore the different student ‘nations’, and join an organisation. All student nations have an incredible history, and they have numerous activities including formal dinners and quiz nights etc. As I am interested in politics and international relations, I joined Uplands nation and the Uppsala Association of International Affairs. There were so many opportunities to volunteer and develop your skills at Uppsala University, and I took advantage of as many of them as I could fit into my schedule!

Accommodation 

There is no ‘on campus’ accommodation as the university is all over the city of Uppsala. However, the Housing Office offers accommodation to exchange students and is of a very high standard. If you are lucky you may even be able to secure a place close to your particular faculty/department. I lived in Eklundshovsvägen and absolutely loved it. If you are a Master’s degree student, are used to studio apartment style accommodation, or someone who generally prefers something a little quieter, then this is the perfect place. It is a very beautiful area as well and it is very easy to cycle to places such as Ikea, the supermarkets and of course the city itself. If you are on a tighter budget, or prefer somewhere a little more social I would recommend Flogsta or Rackarbergsgatan.

Budget 

Unless you are planning on extensive travel and regular nights eating out then you will find the costs fairly manageable and quite similar to Brisbane. My advice to keep costs down would be to stick to the student nations and university cafes for your food and coffee, buy a bicycle, and to preference the accommodation that will best suit your budget. The recommended living expenses published on the UQ abroad website is a pretty good indicator provided you do not plan on travelling extensively.

Professional Development & Employability

The university seminars were extremely helpful in further developing my communication skills. The opportunity to present (and often take questions) on university assessment, rather than simply submitting it was truly beneficial for my professional development. These seminars enabled me to actively engage in class discussions and helped me to better articulate my ideas. Furthermore, my volunteer work helped improve my teamwork and collaboration skills.

Highlights 

There were two major highlights for me, the first being the pre-semester Basic Swedish course, and the second was my volunteer role as a radio host and broadcaster for a show about international politics. Learning about the language and culture of Sweden was so enjoyable, and it was truly a unique experience. My volunteer role allowed me the opportunity to discuss pertinent international issues and learn about the world of radio broadcasting. I learned so much from my colleagues and enjoyed my time there very much.

Top Tips

I cannot even imagine studying a university degree without the experience of going on an exchange. Going on exchange will not only look good on your resume it will be a completely life changing experience. In regards to Uppsala University, research your courses and accommodation well in advance, because my understanding is that they are difficult to change once everything has been confirmed. When in Uppsala, choose a student nation and any organisations that you have a genuine interest in. For me it was Uplands and the Uppsala Association of International Affairs, however there are so many alternative opportunities to get involved in something.