November in Uppsala: New Course, Uppsala Light Festival, and Endless Fikas (posted by Indira in Sweden)

As it is getting colder and colder (it gets as cold as 17 degrees Farenheit), I find myself drinking more tea and spending more time at fika enjoying the warm atmosphere of the Swedish kafferummet (cafes). The fika and coffee drinking traditions are a big deal in Sweden. I have a feeling that Swedes can manage without some things, but if you take away their fika time – well, that would not be tolerated. In between our lectures we get 15 minute fika breaks, and professors bring in fika (coffee/tea and cookies) to class so you can have fika during their seminar. If you want to meet with someone, you meet for fika. Everyone fika (yes, you can use the word ‘fika’ as both a noun and a verb)! The peak hour is at 3pm. It becomes really hard to find a kafferummet that is not full. Luckily, there are cafes all over Uppsala and all the student nations serve fika as well.

One could spend an eternity at fika – especially when you find that one cafe you really like – but we also have classes to attend. Last week my new course started: (En)Gendering International Development. So far we have had 3 lectures and a seminar, and the class seems really good. The professor is amazing! I also know most of the people who are in class with me since we already took one class together back in September. The class is organized in more or less the same way as my other courses. There are lectures which consist of a professor lecturing (I have a feeling that the lectures for this course are a bit more interactive than for the other course I took earlier, which I like), and there are seminars. In seminars we mainly discuss the course literature and prepare presentations. I will have to present on anti-colonial movements in India next week. And this is the first time there are Americans in my class. I kind of got used to being surrounded by mainly Swedes and other European students. Uppsala University is highly international and it is really easy to find yourself to be the only representative of your country in your class or group of friends. I actually quite like this since it gives me the opportunity to meet so many new people. Basically, everyday I meet someone new. I guess that is what makes study abroad so exciting and worthwhile – the experiences one gains are hard to gain in any other way.

And Uppsala is full of surprises. Taking a simple walk before the sunset can show the best of this place. If you’re blessed and it is not raining, the Fall in Sweden can be magical. There are so many places one can go wandering or hiking. The nature here is just breathtaking. Luckily (kind of), it is pretty cold now and it doesn’t rain, so we get clear skies and can enjoy the most amazing sunsets (here, the sun sets very early. By 4pm it is already super dark outside).

Sunset in Uppsala, near Flogsta, my housing area in Sweden

Sunset in Uppsala, near Flogsta, my housing area

The City of Uppsala has its own beauty display whether it rains or not. Namely, in the month of November there is the Uppsala Light Festival (Allt ljus på Uppsala) and some buildings (this year it is 15 buildings and even two University buildings are part of the Festival: Museum Gustavianum and the Munken block on Trädgårdsgatan) are selected to be part of the Festival so they are lit. It all looks really beautiful, especially the light installations on the river in the City Center. It is somewhat magical to take a walk through the city and follow the ‘light trail’ and enjoy the Festival.

 Light Installations in Stora Torget, the City Center for the Uppsala Light Festival

Light Installations in Stora Torget, the City Center

Light Installations at the Fyrisån River, part of the Uppsala Light Festival

Light Installations at the Fyrisån River


Even if it does get really cold, Uppsala has its way of keeping people warm. November in Uppsala can’t possibly be boring or eventless!

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