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To save some time not having to write hundreds of emails, here comes a current report of life in Uppsala. Yesterday was the first day where I finally got some time to relax – that’s why I was a bit tired most of the time, due to the reduction of the (positive) stress of the last days. Nevertheless, I still had to read a chapter for one of my courses.
First of all, it does not really feel like being abroad. Due to my study in Maastricht I’m already used to different street signs or product descriptions in the super market. Also when you are approached in Swedish by people on the street you can get what they mean. Otherwise, like in Holland, asking questions is for free, so if you are in doubt about something (especially money matters), just ask.
There are, however, a few differences to the Netherlands. First of all, Sweden is just bigger. The city is not as packed as Maastricht is and it is not that crowded, either. One feels a bit more “free”. Secondly, Hollands has still a big advantage when it comes to going around by bike. In Sweden you have to (like in Germany) drive on the normal street. There are no dedicated, well-lit bike paths.
Cold. On Sunday we had minus 16 degrees centigrade. Everyone is walking around with several layers of clothers. On the other hand, it is not a big problem. You are dressed a bit “thick”, but I still prefer minus 10 degrees to plus 30. One can better protect against the cold.
The streets are in the meantime covered with snow and sometimes even with ice. You can still drive by bike or car on it because everywhere is this grit that give the snow a bit grip. Only on the edges of a sidewalk one has to be careful.
A few days ago, I drove around with two Canadian guys and a Dutch girl by bike. It seems that the Canadians cannot handle biking very well. One pulled over so rarely that he nearly crashed into me. Good that the cars are driving very slowly when they overtake a bike . The Dutch girl and I stopped after a while to see after the Canadians. On a distance of about 800 meters we were one minute ahead. One Canadian had reportedly fallen off his bike.
Sun sets around 16 o’clock, after that it’s dark. So far, this is not a really problem, every day you see that days become longer.
For the business people, the so-called “Ekonomikum” building is equipped in a similar fashion like in Maastricht. Very nice lecture halls, a good cafeteria and a lot computers. The library looks pretty good, I haven’t been there though. Wifi is there as well, unfortunately totally unencrypted. That is a bit annoying because I (as a security nerd) cannot check my emails via unencrypted channels. If only I had a VPN server. :-)
Shops / Prices
You can get all the products you are used from Holland or Germany here as well. For common stuff, prices are normal, the local IKEA is cheap. Food is another issue. It is very expensive and you can get a meal at the student nations for a cheaper price than buying the ingredients in the super market. Still, there are two discounters around, a Netto market in the city and – favoured by many Germans – a Lidl, not far away from Flogsta where I live.
The opening hours of the shops are perfect. Grocery stores open for long times. The “ICA VÃ¤st” near hear has opened every day (!) from 9 to 23 o’clock. That’s a service! There are no post offices in Sweden, everything was sourced out to the super market. That’s where one has to send letters or receive packages.
The people I met so far are really nice. Most of the time, I met only other exchange students. Everyone lives in an area called Flogsta. There are about 12 mulit-storey buildings that have the charme of “Plattenbauten” (tower blocks) from the former German Democratic Republic. You don’t really know in which building you are at a given time, since everything looks the same.
Many foreigners come from Germany, I also met many Canadians and Austrians. Many Dutchmen and – women are here as well. I haven’t met any Spanish or Italian people yet. Maybe it’s too cold for them here. A few days ago, I went out with a few Dutch people and could practice my Dutch language skills a bit. Dutch people are better prepared for a stay abroad, too. The Dutch Postbank does not charge fees when you draw money out of an ATM, also intereuropean transaction to a Swedish bank account are cheaper than they would be with my German bank.
I haven’t met that many Swedish people yet. The ones I met were very friendly and really nice and hearty. This friendlyness seems to be “real” and not simulated. Everyone is speaking English perfectly. On the other hand, there is not much room for generalizations. There are a few Swedes that are a bit reseverd, but there are also more offensive ones.
Parties / Alcohol
The Parties start really early. Normally at around 18 o’clock. At one o’clock in the night, everything is over. Lots of alcohol is consumed in any way. The student nations (student associations) are excempted from the alcohol tax and thus can offer the drinks cheapter than in the free market.
It seems that the “Systembolaget” is the “Coffeeshop” of the Swedes. It is a state-controlled super market that is allowed to sell strong alcohol. Prices are extremely high. Many people want to import alcohol. A few ferry lines have specialized in this business. Trips to Helsinki cost around 10 euros, the profit is made with the alcohol sold tax-free during the trips on international waters.
At around 21 o’clock, everyone is drunk. Smoking is not allowed on parties. That’s good since you do not stink when you come back home. If you only like a glass of water, it is for free and you don’t have to pay 1.80 euro like in Maastricht.
I hope to be able to take some more pictures soon. But with minus 15 degrees outside I don’t really feel like doing so because within seconds your fingers freeze.
Celui qui parle francais devait regrader une fois Ã la fiche de son voisin.