Bachelor of Business (Economics)
Exchange @ Uppsala University, Sweden
The university itself is very large. There is no campus as such, because with over 40,000 students the university spreads across the whole city of Uppsala. The accommodation was really good, although it did take some getting used to having to share a kitchen with apparently 12 people (but really like almost 20 because a lot of rooms were shared). However the best news is that you get your own bathroom, and although everything looks really bare and daunting when you first open the room door, it is lovely when you finally make it your own.
I stayed at Flogsta, about 3km out of town. It is not that far and quite a nice walk on the warm days (or at 3am in -20 weather coming home from the nation). Flogsta always has a party, any night anytime and with over 2000 students living there you can understand how.
As far as university facilities, every school / campus has its own specialty library, and there is also a central library. Everything you need is where your classes are and teachers/ international staff are always more than willing to help.
Studying at Uppsala University
Studying in Uppsala was really good. There are over 120 subjects in English, and all teachers speak perfect English as well. As far as classes go I found them much easier than my JCU classes as in most cases there is only one or two pieces of assessment and classes run in singular blocks, instead of 4 at one time like you get at JCU. Another thing I noticed is that if you are an Exchange student, the teachers understand that you are there for a good time, not to try and be perfect.
The biggest difference was the ability to resit exams. This was not only a once off resit either, if you failed/missed the exam (like I almost did) you could chose to resit the exam up to 7 times. I had one research paper (it had to be 40 pages) that counted as 2 subjects here and it didn’t have a due date. It was really weird to get your head around, but they are much more relaxed with their approach to teaching. All in all it worked out great because it gave me time to travel as well as study.
Living in Sweden
Sweden turned out to be a very expensive choice, but it was expected because they have a really high cost of living. However it turned out that the rent was quite cheap, as was furniture (thanks to the very modestly priced IKEA!). Everything else; food, transport, clothes etc were very expensive.
The biggest shock was the price of alcohol. In Sweden there is only one shop you can buy alcohol at, the Systembolaget. This is run by the government and although Uppsala has 160,000 people there are only 2 in the town. The biggest thing to remember is in Sweden you can go out at 18, but you can’t go to the Systembolaget unless you are 20. I advise anyone heading to Sweden to stock up at duty free every time they enter the county if they intend to party.
The Swedish people are AMAZING! They are so friendly and helpful and everyone from the 14yr old child to the 50 yr old bus driver speaks English, so it is easy to get around. They are a little quiet to begin with but they are just like everyone else once you get to know them (or take them to the pub!).
Lifestyle was great because of the welfare state. There are no beggars and everyone is educated. You can walk home at night from the nation at night and feel safe (and this is 3am, and I was a girl walking alone). As education is free and the government gives a living allowance to students over 15, most students aren’t working and have a lot of free time to hang out and party. The best part of Uppsala though was the amount of other exchange students from all over the world. After living in Uppsala I now have friends from every continent in the world.
What were the most rewarding aspects of the exchange experience?
They best parts of exchange;
• Travelling the world (I saw 13 countries while living in Sweden)
• Making friends from all over the world that are fun and exciting and like minded because they are all interested in many things.
• Independence – being thrown in the deep end in a country that you don’t speak the language and you don’t know anyone and having to find your way and make your own decisions.
• Absorbing your surroundings by living somewhere where the cultures and people and ideals are completely different and having to take that in and reacting to it
• Learning about the world and what’s out there that I had never seen or even dreamed of before.
Did you experience any difficulties?
My biggest difficulty for exchange was the first two days. Arriving in a country where everything is different (after 40hours of travel and no sleep) and knowing where you have to go, but not knowing what to expect. Uppsala is a very well set up university for exchange students as they have more than 700 a year. There is a buddy system and they pick you up from the train station and take you to your accommodation. This makes it easier, but it is when they leave and you are left standing in your bare room with no connection to home (because you don’t have your internet passwords yet) and you don’t know what to do.
Everything else ran smoothly due to the great link Uppsala has in giving you maps and necessities before you arrive. However the one thing I did learn is that the Swedish people are extremely polite, in some cases they are so polite they seem rude. For example in the shopping centre/ grocery store they will push straight past you without saying anything because they don’t want to inconvenience you by asking you to move.
What advice would you give to a JCU student going to your host university?
If going to Uppsala make the most of it. I would definitely suggest staying at Flogsta. Although it isn’t the nicest place and it is a little further out of town, it’s cheaper, the facilities are great and there are more people to meet and party with.
I also advise not to pick the hardest subjects in your course. Try and pick subjects that you will be interested in so you will pick them up easier and then you can spend more time travelling and adventuring through Sweden and the rest of Europe.
Most of all have fun, do everything you can and don’t hold back because you’re not sure. If everyone’s doing they are doing for a reason so jump in, talk to everyone and live every minute to the most.