Olivia in Sweden: A Swedish Easter!

April 17, 2017

Happy (Belated) Easter!


I hear that it’s common for many Swedes to travel to their holiday cottage in the countryside for a family celebration.

For those more comfortable in the city, its not uncommon to see these beautiful trees on balconies, or in this case, the city center. (Usually, they are much smaller!)



Here in Flogsta, we had our own little celebration!



We all brought meals and desserts that we had prepared.


We even put up our own little Easter tree.



And finished the day with a successful egg hunt, which we had all hidden in our rooms!


More spring festivities are on its way! Until next time!

Olivia in Sweden: School and Flowers!

April 13, 2017

One thing I miss from UR is our dining hall, which is a sentence I thought I would never write. Students here don’t have a meal plan, and must frequent the local grocery store for all their eating needs. Thankfully, there are some eating areas to be found in the multiple academic buildings on campus.



The building I frequent the most is Engelska Parken! Here is a picture of the eating area. Not as much variety as our dining hall, eh? But the coffee and food is always delicious.


The style of teaching here is also a little different from back home.



It is very discussion based. Usually, we read an article for class, and then the professor breaks us up into smaller groups to discuss what we read. To finish up the class, we come together as a class and share what we learned. Much of what we learn is self-taught. This has taken a lot of getting used to. I am also enrolled in a class that never meets until the final exam!



The self-motivation for academic pursuits will only get tougher as the weather keeps getting more and more beautiful. At last, some flowers are beginning to bloom! So excited to see the full impact as spring gets closer!

Olivia in Sweden: Ducks and a Birthday!

April 3, 2017

I have been sick this past week so I haven’t been as active as I’ve wanted to be.

However, I was able to briefly enjoy the last bit of snow with some friends I made.



A herd of ducks swarmed me down by the river. What a delight!


I also couldn’t miss a birthday dinner with my international friend from Japan. We decided to give her a taste of home and took her to Yukiko’s Sushi, a popular restaurant here in Uppsala.



When we got home there will still surprises to be had! Look at this beautiful cake adorned by friends.

On the cake is written: Happy birthday Haruna! (in Swedish, of course!)



Hopefully, I’ll be better soon.


Til next time!

Olivia in Sweden: Flogsta Cat and Chocolate!

March 14, 2017

I’ve met a celebrity here in Sweden!

His name is Ingefära, which means “ginger” in Swedish.



He is a cat that lives here in Flogsta and he is known for traveling. He even published a book about his travels and he’s only 2 years old! What were you doing when you were 2?



We were pleasantly surprised to open the elevator door outside our corridor only to find him waiting inside! We played with him, fed him, and provided him time to sleep before he took off on his next journey. I look forward to seeing him again.



Since he’s been gone, I’ve kept myself busy with a new job. Last week was my turn to take out the trash! Sweden is very environmentally conscious and we have 6 different containers depending on the type of trash being disposed of: plastic packaging, colored glass, metal packaging, newspaper, cardboard, and clear glass.

Looking forward to not having to deal with that for a while!



Thankfully I didn’t have to spend too much time wallowing over Ingefära’s absence or my trash duty. Last weekend, a nation hosted a “Chocolate Gallop” with over 40 different chocolate treats. We arrived late but were still able to make off with some delicious treats. Woo-hoo! Until next time!


Karaoke and the Flogsta Chef!

March 1, 2017



There is a stereotype that Swedes are very reserved and don’t like to let loose. Au contraire! Saturday night, some friends and I trekked to the nearest karaoke bar! Volunteers sang many hits that were very familiar to my American ears. I also heard some Swedish songs that all of the locals seemed to know! Very talented performers remain to be discovered in little Uppsala.



I, of course, am one of them. Before I get embarrassed and take this video down, take a peek at us revolutionizing “Oops!…I did it again!” by the incomparable Britney Spears. (I’m the one in green)




I also had the pleasure of being served food by the Flogsta chef. Yes, there is a chef that has lived in the typically student residential dorms since the 1980s. He likes to live here because he travels often and doesn’t need a lot of space to feel at home. Students are encouraged to text him in advance of their arrival and share the level of spiciness they are comfortable with. Then that very day, they can come by for dinner and eat to their heart’s desire.




My dish had a 50% spicy level. It’s an Ethiopian dish! Funnily enough, that’s one of the few countries the Flogsta chef has never visited, yet it’s his favorite style of food to produce. This is injera bread, which is used as a vehicle for the sauces, meat, and lentils on top.




Finally, we got our last wave of snow! Ain’t she a beaut?


Until next time!

Olivia in Sweden: Back in Stockholm!

February 23, 2017

Went back to Stockholm!


We went to one of the Royal Palaces that hosted the Treasury! This museum hosts some of the monarchy’s most treasured jewels, crowns, and swords. We were not permitted to take photos of the artifacts but here’s a stunning picture of what you see when you first enter the museum.

img_4124 img_4123 img_4125

The Hallwyl Museum allowed for some photography! This house once belonged to the Count and Countess von Hallwyl and boy oh boy did they live up to their noble names. It was a really cool insight into the late Victorian period of Stockholm (and it was free!) Check out their pool table, their marble bathtub, and marble shower!


We also swung by the Royal Dramatic Theatre. The beautiful building was founded in 1788 and renowned architects, artists, and interior designers worked to make it so breathtaking. Unfortunately, most of the shows are solely Swedish, but maybe if I learn Swedish in time I can give it a try?


Here is also a pic of Gamla Stan, or the Old Town. Very interesting to see where old meets new. It’s one of the greatest preserved medieval areas in Europe. Stockholm was founded in 1252.


There were many attractions, such as bookstores, bars, restaurants, and little ice cream shops, including this Nutella haven.


There’s so much to do in this city. It is so convenient that it’s only 40 minutes from Uppsala. Uppsala itself has some great historical attractions, which I can’t wait to share.

Olivia in Sweden: Joining a Nation!

February 13, 2017

I joined a nation!

As a student attending Uppsala University, it is crucial to join at least one.

Nations are made up of students, and the organizations hold events and offer a large variety of clubs so one can get involved with other students.

There are 13 nations, which are named after regions in Sweden. They have been around for centuries, and while previously students were only allowed to join the nation that represented their region, now the rules are much more relaxed.

I joined Södermanlands-Nerikes nation, nicknamed Snerikes. Founded in 1595, it is the oldest nation of Uppsala University.

I attended the Recce Reception where there was a mini fair with tables promoting the activities they offered, followed by an informal dinner.



Shown above is the appetizer provided before our dinner. Some crackers with the option of butter or cheese as a topping! By the candles were some mustard, rosemary, and oregano to have with our yellow pea soup.


During the dinner, they showed us their choir, their improv group, and their band. All three are open to any students, regardless of the nation they chose to join!


Here are two videos of their band because I couldn’t pick between the two:



This song may sound familiar for any Aladdin or Broadway fans!



This is more of a traditional song played by the Swedes. It’s also common to start ball-room dancing while they play!


This week I went to two activities sponsored by the nations.

Kalmar nation holds a mixtape circle every other week. For the mixtape circle, the group picks a theme. For the next meeting, each person has picked a song that they feel goes with that theme. We all share and discuss the music. Because we are all so different, the mixtape circle is a great way to discover other music that maybe you wouldn’t usually listen to.



To the right is a journal that is passed around as each person shares a song. We all write down the name of the song and the artist, and this list is then shared through a Facebook group. The big sound system to the left is the magical box that we hear it from.


I’ve also started attending an improv group hosted by my very own nation. I fell twice during the acting exercises and am currently recovering from the pain.


I have to bounce back quick because there’s so much to do!

Olivia in Sweden: Screaming and Food!

February 3, 2017

I’m a little biased but I’m pretty sure I live in the best student residential area in all of Uppsala University.

To prove it, here’s a little tradition I’d like to share:


The Flogsta Scream occurs every evening at 10 p.m. sharp. Students open their windows and scream out into the night. Simple, right? The tradition goes back decades! Though I haven’t measured the decibels, I think the loudest screams occur on Sunday nights.


In addition to traditions, I have made some wonderful friends in Flogsta. In the Flogsta residential area there are several apartments. The apartment I live in has 7 floors. Each floor has two corridors on opposing sides. Each corridor has one kitchen shared by approximately 12 people. I share a floor with native Swedes and other international students hailing from Brazil, Australia, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada, and USA.



Swedes really love cabbage. I tried a stuffed cabbage roll, which proved to be very savory.



It’s also been confirmed by some Swedish friends that they like to put bananas in almost anything. It can be found on pizza or mixed with some rice and chicken. I had the latter, which made my dinner subtly sweet.



As I’ve been introduced to food from Sweden, I’ve also been introduced to food from other areas of the world.



Here is some fairy bread, which is sliced white bread spread with butter and covered with sprinkles. Apparently, it has to be cut into triangles and the Australians are quite proud of this delicacy!



This is a Dutch Stroopwafel. It tastes best when placed in a microwave for 2 seconds! This lets the caramel inside melt. It was heavenly!



We also had a sushi night on Sunday hosted by my Japanese friend. I got to roll Sushi for the first time in my life! We were all proud of our handiwork.


It’s nice to know that wherever you go, you can discover other cultures!

Olivia in Sweden: Abroad at Last!

January 27, 2017

Hi! I’m Olivia and I am a junior at University of Richmond. I am majoring in Biology with a minor in Healthcare Studies.


I’ve never been to Europe before and, as the baby of the family, never experienced much independence either. I set out to form new experiences by studying abroad in Uppsala, Sweden. Uppsala University is a leading international research university, and I was anxious to join its numbers.

Postponing the inevitable of being alone in Sweden, I was joined by my mom and aunt in Uppsala on January 11th. This was a sneak peak of my new home from the window of the airplane. Frozen ice and snow never looked so appealing!


Before I could move in, I had to explore Stockholm with my family. On a train, Stockholm is only 40 minutes away.


This is one of the many busy streets of Stockholm. We went on a Hop-On Hop Off, which is an all day bus service that provides tours of cities. My mom and aunt were too tired to explore the royal palace, libraries, and museums of Stockholm, but I imagine since the city is only 40 minutes away, I’ll be back soon to explore properly.

This is a peak into my room. At Uppsala University, the rooms for students are owned by different housing companies. You pay rent each month. It is typical to have a single room with each room having a private bathroom. Each hall shares a kitchen.


Classes started this week, and while many people feel comfortable biking (in icy cold weather!) I prefer the bus. The city buses in Uppsala are extremely punctual. They have an app that provides timetables, and if you enter your location and where you wish to go, there is always a bus ready. While it’s simple enough, I’m still getting used to it as I have fallen victim to being at the wrong bus stop many times!


Alas, practice makes perfect, right?

정신이 충만한: Big City Life, Spicy Food, Classes, and Uppsala Reunion (posted by Indira in South Korea)

March 8, 2013

It’s my second week in Seoul and I’m starting to get used to life in the big city. It is crazy how everything here seems to go so fast and everyone is in rush. The city is so lively and something is always going on whether its 4:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. It can be truly overwhelming. I find it funny that now I live in a city that has almost three times more inhabitants than my entire country. It’s really insane!

After days of fighting against the spicy food I’m starting to give in: I’m experimenting and testing how I react to certain spicy foods (many say they don’t find it spicy, but I have major issues eating it). It’s usually funny for the people I’m with – I can’t resist coughing and making faces when I eat something spicy. It’s going to be a long way before I’m able to eat kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) like everyone else. But I’m getting there!

Last week I managed to go with a group of exchange students to the immigration office and apply for an alien card. Basically, anyone staying longer than 90 days in Korea must apply for one. We were stuck at the immigration office for about three hours. There is so much waiting and a gazillion administrative things to do. We were lucky to have Leo, an American-Korean student, to take us there and help us out. I really appreciate it when I have a Korean speaker around! It was also great that the person working at the counter figured out we were all exchange students from Yonsei so we didn’t have to go through the process individually, but as a group, which cut down our waiting time. It took us almost that entire day to sort the immigration things out, but we are finally done! All that’s left to do is to wait for the cards to be mailed to us. I really don’t think I’d be able to go through the whole process again!

Subway in Seoul (on our way to the immigration office) to apply for our alien card

Subway in Seoul (on our way to the immigration office)

Before school started this week, the Yonsei International Committee organized many welcome events such as parties and dinner. There was even a party for all exchange students at the universities in Seoul so we could get to know more people.

There were also a lot of events held related to the Mentors Club. The Mentors Club is the equivalent of UR’s Ambassador Club: exchange students are paired up with a Korean student who will help them adapt to the new environment and show them the best of the Korean life, culture, language, and traditions. Mentors and mentees are then grouped in cells (groups of about 25 people) that do things together, go out for dinner, or attend some cultural events. Last Friday some of my cell members and I met for dinner to learn more about Korean cuisine and traditions. We had some dish with chicken and vegetables (relatively spicy I’d say, but nobody else really agreed with me) and then we had this huge pancake with sea food (I loved it! It was so delicious and not spicy at all so I was able to eat loads of it) and makkoli (very refreshing beverage made out of rice). It was really fun (apart from the fact I wasn’t able to eat much of the food we were served)! And my mentor is really amazing. His name is Junhyung and he’s a senior at Yonsei with a great passion for djing. He’s also the leader of the cell so he’s in charge of organizing events. I loved how during that cell evening we were all able to get to know each other better and to learn more about Korea.

Seafood pancake and makkoli, a Korean food that I really like!

Seafood pancake and makkoli

Inevitably all the tours, new climate and environment, and very cold weather took their toll on me and I got sick (I know I was in Sweden last semester in temperatures of -8F and I didn’t get sick, but Korea is something different). It was frustrating being in bed the past few days; I just got here and I wanted to go out, explore Korea, and meet new people, but instead I was chained to the bed by my fever and cough. At least I did get better in time for school!

This week is the first week of classes. Initially I was registered for four classes: US-Korea Relations, International Conflicts and Cooperation, Free Trade Agreements, and German Romanticism (this one has a funny story behind it). I thought of taking Beginner Korean, but I just wasn’t able to fit it in my schedule. That is why I will participate in FLE (free language exchange) where I will be paired with a person who will teach me Korean and I will teach them one of the languages I speak. I am really looking forward to the program to start!

All of my classes seem really good and I like them, particularly Free Trade Agreements as the professor seems to be so passionate and knowledgeable about the topic (she used to work in this field in the US, Korea, and China) and as I don’t really know much about anything related to economics, this will be a new experience for me. All the classes I am taking are in the “Study Abroad” department and basically all students in the classes are exchange and/or international students.

German would have been the only class I would be taking outside the “Study Abroad” department if it wasn’t for a big misunderstanding I had about this class. On Tuesday I was supposed to have my first German class and I went to the assigned classroom. The professor comes in and starts lecturing. IN KOREAN! I was so shocked. That was supposed to be a 300-level language class that at UR would be taught entirely in German, but Yonsei is apparently much different than UR when it comes to foreign languages. I was really sad as I was looking forward to my first German class in over a year. I had to improvise and get an override for the Modern Korean History class (also in the “Study Abroad” department). Now I am all set for the school!

Classes are structurally similar to UR classes as the final grade is based on attendance and participation, essays, projects, a midterm, and a final (unlike in Sweden where the final exam is 100% of the final grade). As this was the first week of classes we didn’t do much, just general introduction and course related explanations. Next week real lectures start.

The absolute highlight of this week was an Uppsala reunion I had with three Korean students I met while we were on exchange at Uppsala University – Taesung (he picked me up at the airport), Suji (she helped me get a Korean phone), and Eun Chong (back in Sweden we were in the same project group for one of our classes so we used to spend a lot of time together). In the spirit of the country (or the region) that bonded us, we went to the Scandinavian Design House near the Gangnam area (yes, like the “Gangnam Style” song). The was a Fika – Swedish Coffee Break café where we could get Swedish coffee, tea (or some other beverage) and typical Swedish cookies, cakes, and pastries (you can read more about the tradition of fika in the blog I was writing about my time in Uppsala last semester). We had kanelbulle and semla! They were so good – I really felt like I was partially back in Sweden. The most amazing part was seeing the three people who helped me make my decision about the spring semester study abroad destination and who helped me settle in once I got to Seoul. It was such a great afternoon and I had so much fun with Taesung, Suji, and Eun Chong. This was also kind of a farewell party as Taesung is leaving this weekend for Germany where he will be doing an internship until Fall.

My Korean friends who I met in Sweden - Teasung and Suji (Eun Chong left before we took the picture) - in front of the Fika place, where we enjoyed a typical Swedish tea time

My Korean friends who I met in Sweden – Teasung and Suji (Eun Chong
left before we took the picture) – in front of the Fika place

I guess now I have a bit more time to enjoy before the schoolwork kicks in, so I’m looking forward to the weekend! 🙂

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