Polina - Uppsala Universitet

Bachelor of Environmental Management
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

In total I did three courses - an introductory Swedish course and two courses related to my degree under the department of CEMUS. Swedish course was useful as it helped me understand some words and even have a very simple conversation with my Swedish corridor mates at the end! Courses under the CEMUS department were a totally new experience - the department implements a “student-coordinated teaching”, which meant that all our course coordinators were mainly masters students. Most weeks we had guest lecturers coming in, while during other weeks we had some interactive exercises with the class (e.g. debates, presentations and brainstorming sessions etc.). The classes were highly engaging, interactive and small, which also made it easier to talk to your classmates and make new friends.

Personal experience

As Uppsala University is a popular exchange destinations for many students (especially Europeans), it was a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world.  I didn’t know anyone when I got to Uppsala, but o-week activities, student accommodations and frequent visits to nations helped me make new friends very quickly and easily. Nations were probably my favourite part of exchange, as it was a great (and cheaper) way to meet up and have fun with your friends outside of your accommodation. Most nations have cozy pubs and even outdoor area/terraces for sunny summer days, where you can relax and enjoy the sun. 

As for the travels, although Sweden is a bit far from central Europe, it was still easy and cheap enough to explore the surrounding countries. During the semester, I ended up going to Denmark, Norway, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Germany with the friends I made. My favourite trip of all, which I would highly recommend for those going to Sweden to take, is the Lapland trip. You can go with Scanbalt Experience Tour for quite a reasonable price, who also organises Norway and St Petersburg trips (also recommended!). Although it’s freezing, Northern lights are truly beautiful and unforgettable. Another thing I would recommend is to take a cruise from Stockholm with a few friends - the cruises go to different cities including Tallinn, Riga, Helsinki and so on. The cruises are reasonably priced and also have a duty-free on board and are perfect for a weekend get-away. 

Overall, exchange not only left me with amazing memories and experiences, but also with life-long friends whom I am now visiting all over Europe after finishing my semester. Although the initial paperwork and organisation may be challenging, it is truly worth it.

Accommodation

I lived in Flogsta, which is a large student accommodation where you share a corridor (kitchen and common area) with 12 students. The rooms are spacious with enough storage room and a private bathroom and a shower. The corridors are normally a mix of Swedish and exchange students. Although sharing a corridor with 12 people may sound daunting (it was for me), shared kitchens and common areas make it easier to meet your corridor mates. You also never feel lonely as you can always find someone to chat to or share a meal/drink with! Also, as most of the exchange students live in Flogsta, you can always hang out with your friends in the evenings without travelling far. Once the sun is out, you can always have picnics nearby or between buildings that everyone passing by ends up joining, making up quite a large group at the end. Flogsta is also famous for corridor parties - there is one almost every Saturday night, which never leaves you bored on the weekend. If you’re lucky with your corridor mates you can even organise one yourself…! I would highly recommend choosing Flogsta to anyone who is considering studying in Uppsala. 

If you don’t get into Flogsta, however, Rackarbergsgatan is also a good option. It is smaller than Flogsta and so is a little quieter, and is also closer to the city/university. Rackabergsgatan also has more Swedish students in it, meaning you have a better chance of meeting some local students. It is also not so far from Flogsta, meaning you can still join Flogsta corridor parties if you wish! I also had a couple of friends living in Kantorsgatan, where you share a flat with one other student. Kantorsgatan however is quite far from flogsta (around 30min bike ride), which may be limiting at times.

Costs

Sweden is expensive. Some things cost about the same as Australia, however I found that fresh vegetables/fruits, restaurants and alcohol cost more than in Australia. Eating in nations instead of restaurants, cooking with your friends and making the most out of duty-frees were some things I did to cut my expenses. Public transport is also very expensive but getting a bike saved me a lot of money (+ it’s fun!).

Professional Development

As I mentioned before, during your exchange you will get to meet people from all over the world and come across many different cultures. I believe that this makes you a more open-minded and understanding person, both of which are highly valued in current globalised society. Exchange also gave me an opportunity to improve my time management skills, as I still had uni work to do which had to be done alongside my travels and and other fun things happening during the semester.

Highlight

The Lapland trip and St Petersburg trip that I took with my friends were the biggest highlights of my exchange. Having a big group of friends experiencing the beauty of Northern lights or Russian craziness with you made both trips very fun and unforgettable. In saying that, almost everyday in Uppsala were special and exciting, so it is hard to pick one single highlight.

Top tips

- Get a bike!!!
- Join a nation (doesn’t really matter which one) and get involved in them! 
- Travel around/outside of Sweden with friends you make as much as possible!
- Be spontaneous!