I started understanding how busy it can get here at Uppsala University over the past couple of weeks. Papers, reading, assignments, seminars, and exams have all come with the first days of Fall.
On the bright side – I don’t think Uppsala could look any more beautiful than it does right now. Leaves are changing colors and the whole city looks very majestic in different shades of yellow, orange, and red. I don’t need to do anything more than just look out of my window to enjoy this beauty. When the weather allows and it is not raining (unfortunately , it doesn’t happen all too often here) taking a walk in the forest close to the accommodation area Flogsta (where I live) is very calming and true food for all senses.
With all the school work, it is not always easy to enjoy Uppsala. Just last week I experienced the Uppsala University education system to its fullest. As I wrote earlier, there are lectures and seminars, and in seminars you are in a group of about 15 students where you discuss specific questions and have tasks to complete. My seminars so far have involved writing papers, preparing a debate and preparing a presentation. This way the students do more work on their own (but professors and lecturers are always available in case one needs help) and get to work on the questions and issues they take interest in. All lecturers encourage group and pair work. I worked on all of my seminar assignments with Izabelle who is a freshman from Stockholm. I really like that I got to work with a Swede since it provided an opportunity to meet someone new, to understand more about Sweden and Swedish culture, possibly learn new Swedish words, and also create a stronger link with someone who can be seen as an insider. I enjoyed working with Izabelle and I feel like we learned a lot from each other. Actually, all of the members of my seminar group are amazing and I got to know them pretty well. Unfortunately, as soon as we became friends (and not just classmates), our course ended (this class was basically an intensive 5 week class where I had classes every day. I wrote about this “one class at the time” system earlier). Not having a class together makes it harder to see people. On Monday I had my exam and it went really well. Uppsala University has a specific building where all the exams are held so it all feels very official. It felt somewhat weird to walk out of that exam and realize that my first Government class is over.
Classes here are not all about having loads of reading and being stuck in the classroom. My other class, Critical Perspectives on Sustainable Development in Sweden, tries to incorporate the fieldwork in the course as well. A week ago we took a class trip to Skansen, which is a mixture of a zoo and an open air museum in Stockholm. We got to see brown bears, lynx, and many other animals, but we also learned more about sustainability in Sweden throughout its history by visiting small settlements and houses built as examples of how people used to live in different parts of Sweden at different points in history (my group, for instance, had to learn more about Sami). My personal highlight was a visit to a bakery where there was a cook who makes the Knäckebrot the way it was made traditionally. One can watch and then enjoy the delicious Knäckebrot with some salted butter. Yummy!
Another exciting thing happened recently: I finally managed to meet with Carl-Johan (or CJ as he was known in Richmond), who was an exchange student at UR last year and who was a great support and source of information about Uppsala (in essence, he is the one who made me think about applying to Uppsala Uni in the first place and I am so glad he did since coming here was the best decision ever). We had a nice fika and it was great to talk about Richmond with someone in person (I am the only student from UR here this semester). I really enjoyed meeting him!
Now I’m eager to see what October brings and I am looking forward to my trip to Tallinn at the end of the month! 🙂