In January 2021, the first GLOCAL cohort that would attend Uppsala University travelled to Sweden. Due to COVID restrictions, our options were limited, but nevertheless, we would like to share with you what we heard about, explored, and liked below.
Prepare your arrival
Get Ready for Winter
First of all, be ready for some nice and wintery experiences. Thermal shirts, long johns, waterproof, warm shoes and gloves are essential! If you are missing something, we found Alewalds Outlet in the city centre helpful.
We recommend you go sledging next to the Uppsala Slott and try ice bathing (we now even have some fans from South America, believe it or not).
Choose your Electives
Uppsala University (UU) offers so many amazing, interesting courses. It is very difficult to choose! The semester is split in two halves (and thus two exam periods), so you will probably either take two shorter ones or one that lasts the whole semester. We took different electives ranging from gender studies to economic geography and environmental sustainability focused courses at CEMUS, a student-initiated, transdiciplinary centre whose courses were very thought provoking and interactive.
Apply for Housing
One of the best things is that housing is guaranteed by UU. All you have to do is choose your top three student accommodations, register online, and you will get one of them. You can have a look at the options on the Housing Office‘s website.
Most of us lived in Rackarbergsgatan and really liked it. It’s a newly renovated building in a great location, close to our institute, the Ekonomikum. Some stayed in Klostergatan, which is an old hotel with studio-like rooms in the city center. Those who want to party several times a week will probably have a good time in the slightly remote Flogsta.
Not all student accommodations provide blankets and pillows. If you cannot bring them with you, you can check Facebook marketplace. Chances are high that you find other missing household items there or in one of the local second hand shops (check Myrorna, Helping Hand, Erikshjälpen, Sirius).
Arrival in Uppsala
When you arrive on the official arrival date (for us it was mid-January), there will be a pick-up from Arlanda airport arranged. You will get your key to your room at the airport, and the bus drops you in front of your new home. If you don’t arrive on that day, you can easily take the bus or train to Uppsala. Arlanda airport is actually closer to Uppsala than to Stockholm, so it won’t take you too long.
To enter the university buildings, you need a campus card that you can get, for example, at the Ekonomikum reception desk.
Nations were one of the most confusing points for us. So here is what you need to know: There are 13 student nations in Uppsala. The concept of nations only exists in the two oldest, most prestigious university cities of Sweden: Uppsala and Lund. They are a bit like student associations, but different. You can learn more about them on the UU website. To get your student card, you have to become a member of a nation. There are ways to get your card without becoming a member, but we would recommend you to join one for the full experience and its benefits.
In general, you can become a member in whichever nation you like most, and you can join more than one. This might be beneficial when you frequently go to events of different nations to reduce your entrance fees.
But even if you are a member of one nation, you can still go to events of other nations and sometimes pay a little bit more. Members enjoy special offers in their nation. For example, some of us were members of Gästrike-Hälsinge nation and often went to its 2 for 1 burger night.
The different nations are close to each other. They have nice gardens or rooftop terraces, offer lunch and study spaces, and usually throw parties, of course. You can check their events on Facebook and on nationsguiden.se.
To sign up, it is easiest to pay your nation of choice a visit at the beginning of the semester. A fun map to find out to which nation you belong can be found here.
Eating In and Out
Sorry to bring you the bad news, but you will definitely want to economise on your expenses during your stay in Sweden as groceries and eating out are quite expensive. Here are some of our favourite cafés in Uppsala you should splurge on nevertheless:
- Güntherska: This bakery next to the river in the city center is definitely one of Uppsala’s highlights. Everything they serve taste amazing, from kardamom buns over semlor to princesstårta. It is the best place to buy fikabröd.
- Arrenius & Company: If you are into coffee, this is the place to go. It is quite small, but has the most exquisite coffee selection in whole Uppsala and amazing self-baked cakes.
- Café Linné: This café is situated in the most beautiful cute little street of Uppsala. It is named after the famous Carl von Linné, who you will notice at almost every corner in the city as he studied and taught at UU in the 18th century.
- Nations: They are the most affordable places to eat out and where students gather. Some only serve vegetarian/vegan food, others offer nice brunches on the weekend. Go see for yourself! 🙂 They also have microwaves, where you see many Swedish students heating up their lunch.
- Supermarkets: Cooking at home is inevitable. ICA and Coop are the biggest supermarket chains in Sweden. ICA Näst is smaller and more expensive. A bit outside the city are Willy’s and Lidl, which are usually cheaper. Asian livs is an Asian supermarket.
If you enjoy exercise to balance your studies and free your mind, you can go running along the river or in the nearby forests or go to the gym. Campus 1477 is the university gym, which also offers sports classes. Fun fact, 1477 is the year UU was founded. Some nations also offer sport activities.
Once it is getting warmer outside, we also enjoyed this outdoor gym, where you can ‘lift trees’. 😉
For us, two stores in the city center were very helpful to buy things for daily use: Clas Ohlson for household and electronics supplies and Normal for hair shampoo, body lotion etc. Be aware: your skin will most likely get very dry in winter, so a heavy moisturiser will be more than welcome, trust us.
How to Get Around
One of the first things we recommend you do, is buy a second hand bike. Uppsala has an amazing biking infrastructure, and literally everyone seems to be going by bike everywhere, even in winter! Even though some fell once or twice, no one broke a bone and biking in the deepest snow surprisingly worked alright.
You can find bikes on Facebook marketplace or in second hand stores like Folk cykel and Lalo’s Bikes.
If you are unfamiliar with what to pay attention for when buying a bike, make sure that it has the right size for you, that the brakes work, it preferably already has front and back lights and buy a lock as well. A basket and functioning gears can also come in handy.
If you want to use public transport, you have to download the UL app to get around Uppsala län.
If you want to visit Stockholm, which is only 40-60 minutes away by train, you should download the SL app and the SJ app. SL and SJ are different companies, operating different trains. Make sure that you buy the ticket for the right company and keep in mind that the ticket will be activated directly after the purchase!
If you should need to consult a doctor in a non-emergency situation, you have to call 1177 and you will be connected to a nurse which will tell you where you can go. More information on how everything works can be found here or you ask your Erasmus coordinators for help. These procedures can sometimes be complicated, so make sure to bring all the prescription drugs you need with you.
We perceived our semester in Uppsala as quite demanding, so having a dedicated study space is key. Although we mostly studied at home, we paid visits to the Dag Hammerskjöld library, Carolina Rediviva (the oldest library in Sweden!) and Ekonomikum, which has a cozy dark room, where you take off your shoes and can read, sitting on sofas.
The best comes for last. This is, of course, our favourite section. Despite studying a lot, we managed to squeeze in some very nice trips during our stay.
In Uppsala, we enjoyed biking to Gamla Uppsala, a prehistoric sight with an open air museum.
During winter some of us travelled to…
… Kiruna to see the Northern Lights.
… Åre to go paragliding and (cross-country) skiing.
During spring/summer some went to see…
… Stockholm for the amazing photography museum Fotografiska, sightseeing and the cherry blossoms.
… Sigtuna for a day trip to a cute little Swedish town.
… Stockholms skärgård, which is the largest archipelago in Sweden.
There are many other beautiful places you could visit, like Göteborg, Malmö or Sweden’s national parks, but we will leave that to you to discover and report about it. 😉
When you have read until here, you should be well prepared for your GLOCAL semester at Uppsala University. Let us know if you have any other tips you would like to share in the comments below!
Photo Credits: Tilla Kross