A View From Uppsala University

Students MIA AUSTIN and ANNIE NYLÉN share their experiences at Uppsala University last year, in a time students in other countries had their lives shut down…

Annie Nylén

Native student

It’ll be dark in a few minutes, and we have snow. It’s very cold (-8C) and, in the midst of winter, it’ll get to -20C up here. We’re not even in the centre of Sweden, and only forty minutes by train from Stockholm (on their metro line). The national cathedral is here in Uppsala, and they held a huge event recently where the highest bishop held a mass apology to the Sami people for the role the Church played in their oppression, so my friend saw a few big Samis around town.

I’m from Lund, the second of Sweden’s most prestigious universities, but there’s little rivalry between the two these days. I was studying in France for most of last year, but in Sweden the parties continued, though university switched between in person and online teaching. We never needed masks, and with social life continuing as normal, however, we hardly noticed.

Mia Austin

Exchange student

Yes, I went on a year abroad to Sweden… and yes, it was all very exciting. Guiltily, I can’t help but confess a part of me loves to be asked about it, for a chance to tell a funny anecdote or even just to slide in a Swedish cultural reference. Coming back, it’s hard to escape the feeling like my world has shrunk a little, and I’ve taken steps backward and somewhat inadvertently reverted back to my second-year self.

This time last year I was studying in Sweden on a weekend away in Stockholm. Walking along Strandvägen in the sunshine, under the autumnal trees, admiring the classic boats, feeling like something out of a film. Whether it be a wander through the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan, taking in the history of the city. Or a visit to Södermalm, to check out some bars. Or taking the ferry to Djurgården to spend an afternoon getting your culture fix. Even small things felt like a novelty. What could be better than sitting in the autumn sunshine under a cosy blanket, having fika (coffee and cake with friends) and taking a break from life’s busyness.

Adapted from articles also published in Epigram.

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