James - Uppsala University

Bachelor of Journalism/Arts
Semester 1, 2018
Sitt ner i Båten - Sit down in the boat, don't be a fool.

Academic experience

While on exchange at Uppsala Universitet I studied at the Department of Governance in the sub disciplines of, Political Science, Development Studies, and Peace and Conflict Studies. Although a lot of the content was similar to what I encountered at UQ, there were some important differences:

1. Group Work/ Collaborative Learning. Uppsala places a big emphasis on group work. Many of my "assignments" (short weekly papers) were completed in groups of 2-3 which meant a lot of time spent with other class mates working on papers. The idea of collaborative learning also permeated into the lectures. Many of these were run in a much more conversational manner and lecturers would often pause for 10 minutes or, alternatively, actively engage in discussions with members of the class. All in all, I found this to be a real positive throughout my exchange, because we all studied in the one library and were often working together on projects. I was able to feel apart of the community of the University and was able to meet and hang out with way more local students than I thought I would. Although this was quite different from doing HASS subjects at UQ, it was something I thoroughly enjoyed. 

2. The amount of Content. At Uppsala, there seemed to be more content to cover in each class than at UQ. On average, I think each class involved about 1,200 pages of readings over the 4 week phases/cycles (on average about 300 pages a week). Coming from UQ, I felt that the deadlines were more pressing in this more intensive system. Instead of the four classes over 15 odd weeks, it was one class at a time, intensive. While I think there was more content that needed to be covered compared to UQ, It was by no means unachievable. Again, this was different to UQ, but I think for myself, personally, it helped foster a really good work ethic. 

3. Exam Registrations. This was something that I fell victim to. At Uppsala you must register online for your exams. If you do not register, you won't be able to sit the exam. Although Sweden is very flexible with re-take opportunities, you as an international student, will most likely be on your way home when these are being offered. So, keep an eye on the dates and don't forget to register.

Personal experience

In terms of my own personal life, I feel that exchange has made me a much more confident person. Having to deal and overcome a lot of challenges overseas without a support network has made me a more self-sufficient person and has fostered in me a sense of personal responsibility. From losing my phone, to having no Wifi in my house, throughout exchange I was constantly having to solve problems and take responsibility. I think this is a skill that I will definitely use/ take from this experience.

Accommodation

While on exchange at Uppsala, I was staying in private accommodation with both Swedes and fellow international students. Although the accommodation was a little further out from the main suburb than where a lot of the other International Students were staying , it was central to the centre of town and where most of my classes were. Personally, my accommodation (Eklundshovsvägen) was a bit more quiet than some of the other houses, but the weather also contributed to this - we had significant snowfalls and darkness for the first three and a half months of my exchange so no one was really having barbecues.

Costs

With personal savings and the OS-HELP loan I embarked on Exchange with $13,000 AUD. This not only saw me through my time in Sweden and covered day-to-day expenses, but it was also sufficient in allowing me to travel for one and a half months thereafter. 

I heard a lot about how expensive Scandinavia would be, but it's important to keep in mind that Australia is also expensive so keep that in the back of your mind. I found that the testimonials on the UQ abroad site were pretty accurate and, largely, very informative.

Professional Development

In terms of Professional Development, I think the main skills that I have taken from exchange are the ability to be adaptable and problem solve. These are skills that I feel will be integral to any job you go into, and something that I think Exchange is uniquely equipped to foster.

Highlight

The highlight of my trip was without a doubt the people I met. Some of these girls and guys have become friends for life and we are already planning to meet up again in the near future. It sounds cliche, but in all honesty, it's true. Exchange would have been nothing without the friends I made.

Top tips

For those considering going on exchange I have a few tips: 

1. Save, Save, Save. When you go on exchange you want to be able to take advantage of every opportunity you can. If you can manage, don't let money be an obstacle to you doing and seeing what you want to see. (Every shift at coles/kmart/dominoes counts!!) 

2. This is Uppsala-Specific but join a Nation (or several). Everything that happens at Uppsala happens in and through the "Nations". If you don't join a Nation you will miss out on a lot of the fun and excitement in the City. This was the reason I chose Uppsala over a few other Universities and I feel that it is something that makes it incredibly unique in Europe. Especially for International Students. 

3. Last but not least. Say yes. Say yes to the experience and once you get there, say yes to everyday. Exchange will fly by in an instant and when you look back on this time you'll regret the things you didn't do.

Quote

Sitt ner i Båten - Sit down in the boat, don't be a fool. Be confident but always keep in mind that the person you are speaking with knows something that you don't. We are always learning.