Hej hej! Our Arrival in Uppsala

Uni started two weeks ago, and some of us already made it to Sweden! Despite troubling circumstances, our second semester has begun. The GLOCALs from cohort IV test the waters in Uppsala (not literally – yet), which is part of one of the programme’s new tracks.

Tilla, Ella and Linus in front of the university’s main building.

First Impressions

“After I landed at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm and was waiting for my luggage to arrive, someone was whistling ‘Here Comes Pipi Longstocking’, the song to the famous story about the adventures of the strongest girl in the world by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. I knew immediately that I had taken the right flight to study in Uppsala.” – Tilla

Uppsala Universiteit is the oldest university (founded in 1477!) of Scandinavia and ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. All of us were curious about the praised Swedish education system. It already started off well with a free shuttle service from the airport to our student accommodation, which was guaranteed for us through the university. What a luxury! 

Daniel, Linus, Tilla and Marianna right after sledging ( a great upcycling opportunity for plastic bags).

Studying in the Middle of a Pandemic

At first, only the three Germans from our programme, Ella, Tilla and Linus, could arrive, followed by the two Brazilians, Marianna and Daniel, a week later. Due to very strict travel restrictions from the UK to Sweden, the other GLOCALs, who stayed in the UK over the holidays, aren’t here yet, and we’re impatiently awaiting them. This is what can happen if you study an international Master’s degree in the middle of a global pandemic…

Although every course is online until the end of March, Sweden has fewer restrictions than, for example, the UK, and we can still go to the library, a café or a sports class if we wanted to. Wearing a mask is not obligatory here, which feels very strange. Nevertheless, we prefer to continue to wear a mask when going to the supermarket – better safe than sorry. However, people here seem to be more aware of keeping the distance. 

View from the castle to the highest cathedral of Scandinavia.
The historic city centre.

Fun in the Sun Snow

Uppsala is a relatively small town with 177.000 inhabitants, of which more than 40.000 are students. This makes it easy to get around the city (By bike! In the snow!) and start exploring. Not only is it a quaint town, as you can see in the pictures, it also offers great outdoor activities. So far, we went to a bonfire in the woods, sledging next to the castle and got a few useful tips on where to go hiking or skiing. 

Our new favourite tradition: Fika.

Also, we quickly fell in love with a Swedish tradition called “fika” and immediately adopted it. Fika is a social institution in Sweden and means to take a break with a beverage and a snack with your colleagues or friends in the afternoon. An excuse for a coffee break and a cinnamon or cardamom bun is always welcome!

Pancake brunch happiness at Gästrike-Hälsinge Nation.

We also started to check out the libraries and the 13 different “nations” that are a core element of Uppsala’s student life. Nations are the Swedish version of student associations and offer a variety of activities, ranging from brunch to study spaces to parties (once the pandemic is over). Every student has to become part of one nation and can then enjoy special prices for every nation’s activities. This is definitely an interesting concept, and we’ll report back to you what we’ll discover in the future

Five GLOCAL’s in front of Carolina Rediviva, Sweden’s oldest library, in the middle of a snow storm.

One thing has made our arrival here so much better and easier: It is great to already have a community of amazing people in place when you move to a new city. Tack så mycket, GLOCAL!

Author: Tilla Kross Photo Credits: Linus Hamm, Daniel Costa, Tilla Kross