F. Macmillan, ‘Uppsallutely loved my year abroad’

Author: Francesca Macmillan


I studied in Uppsala for the year and can’t recommend it highly enough!  Uppsala is a student city which is a half an hour outside Stockholm by train, and it’s the fourth largest city in Sweden.

I know a big concern I had before moving away was the thought of starting a new social life.  As soon as I arrived I was put at ease.  All Swedes speak perfect English, the university was extremely welcoming, and the social life was amazing.  There are 13 different student nations (effectively a type of student union) which are named after regions in Sweden.  I’d really recommend anyone going to join one. You pay a membership fee of around £30 for the year, and for that you have access to all 13 nations.  Despite Swedish prices being pretty steep for most things, the nations offered a cheap alternative for food and drinks.  Most nations have their own pub, and some have libraries and others have nightclubs.  Each nation will run at least one ‘gasque’ per semester, which is a traditional Swedish University ball.  I believe the nations also had opportunities to join their choirs, orchestras and drama societies.  I was slightly disappointed upon arriving to find out that there aren’t really any university sports teams to join in Uppsala.  However, there are several affordable gyms.

The accommodation I had was organised through Uppsala University, and was around £360 a month.  Something I would also consider if you are applying different places, is that you would be guaranteed a place in Uppsala student accommodation.  Other Erasmus destinations have very few accommodation options, and organising private housing can be very stressful.  There were various student halls in Uppsala.  Flogsta was where I stayed and it was by far the most sociable option despite being further out from the centre.

Everything was easily reached by bike.  I’d recommend purchasing one as soon as possible and to look out for second-hand deals.   The buses were also frequent and affordable, especially with a monthly student pass on the UL app.  Stockholm was only 40 minutes by a train which ran frequently and which cost only a couple of pounds, so was very easy to visit.

Due to having pretty few contact hours, and a lighter workload to that of Glasgow, I managed to do a lot of travelling during my time in Sweden.  There is a fantastic rail network to all other major Swedish towns and cities, as well as regular ferries to the Baltic states.  I would say that I preferred Gothenburg and Stockholm as cities as they both had far more to do culturally than Uppsala.  However, I would strongly recommend studying in Uppsala as opposed to the other larger cities as I found it far more welcoming.  From speaking to other Glasgow students who studied elsewhere in Sweden, I think those in Uppsala found it by far the easiest to integrate.

Uppsala University is a world-renowned university, especially for law and the teaching was of an incredibly high quality.  For all of my classes there were seminars taken by world experts in their field and one seminar was led by a Supreme Court judge.  There was a wide range of interesting subjects to choose from, and a nice mix of Swedish students as well as other internationals. We also went on at least one class trip with most subjects, to places such as the Environmental Land Court.

In terms of the climate (like everywhere in the world) Sweden has been getting hotter summers, and the Swedes do well to make the most of them. Everywhere offers outside seating in the summer months, with the nations also offering outdoor.  A common Swedish summer activity is to go to a cabin near a lake in the countryside with friends.  One potential downside to studying in Uppsala I would warn to be prepared for, was the very long winter.  Although I found the snow beautiful and the temperatures bearable, I did struggle with the lack of daylight.  Luckily, Swedes are used to it, and a big part of their culture involves ways to combat feeling down in the winter months.  Fika (a break for coffee and cakes with friends!) became a delightful part daily part of my routine. There is a fantastic range of cafes in Uppsala to accommodate this Fika habit, and all are worth trying.  There are also tonnes of restaurants, although I mainly stuck to eating at student nations due to the lower prices.

I’d just like to end by saying that my year in Uppsala was undoubtedly one of the best in my life so far, and cannot stress enough that I’m sure you too would have an excellent time!

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