This week the Fulbright group I am a part of continued its quest to understand and experience Swedish culture by taking a day trip to Uppsala. Lying about 70 km to the north of Stockholm, Uppsala is a relatively small but historically important Swedish city. While it was initially established for primarily religious purposes, today it is probably most known for its university, which is the oldest in Scandinavia (founded in 1477).
Our first stop was the to see the most prominent building in the city: the towering Uppsala Cathedral. This church is actually the largest in Scandinavia and was finished in 1435 after ‘only’ a couple hundred years of construction. Apart from hosting a number of coronations and undergoing a wholesale transformation from Catholicism to Protestantism, a number of very famous Swedes, such as Gustav Vasa and Carl Linnaeus (more on him in a moment), are entombed here. It’s an impressive relic from a time in European history when Sweden was a dominant player in the political landscape – stormaktstiden (‘great power time’).
Uppsala Cathedral. Photo by Brett Seward.
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After spending the first months in Sweden discovering the city of Stockholm, I really felt the need to see other parts of this big country. And, trust me, there’s a lot to see!
At the end of November my friends and I went to the Swedish Lapland, a trip organized by the Scanbalt experience. What I will remember from this trip is the amazing feeling of freedom and of being at the end of the world. The 18 hours and around 1, 400 km by bus frightened me, but at least I thought I would see a lot of swedish nature out the window. Fail: there was only 4 hours of light and then we were plunged into darkness. The home-made sandwiches, the music from the iPod, the failure of reading a book and ending up having a headache and the half-sleep resulted in a sensation of floating in the space. When we arrived at 7 a.m. I had the feeling of being in a dream: everything was unreal, the white landscapes in semi-darkness, the red houses of our hostel, the mines of Kiruna that looked like a giant black boat.
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It is definitely strange that I live in Sweden, but I haven’t really experienced most of the tourist attractions the cities have to offer. As soon as someone comes to visit I start to look differently at all the familiar places around. What I usually walk past everyday becomes more foreign and exciting.
This weekend I am having a friend come visit from Canada. We met in university and have been traveling around together ever since. We even did an exchange together in Växjö only a couple years ago. While she has been in Sweden before, this is her first time in Uppsala. So, I am determined to show her all the best that Uppsala and student life has to offer.
The Uppsala Cathedral. Photo By: Haegglund (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Read more » >>
Being a student in Sweden doesn’t always allow for many luxuries. Most of us have to stick to a budget and watch our spending to make sure we can make it through every month. Going out on the town is not a frequent occurrence unless it involves cheap beers and burgers at a nation.
A pitcher of sangria. Photo By: Kristin Follis
But sometimes you just have to let loose. You have to take a break from the noodle diet and try some of the many restaurants Sweden has to offer. Whatever type of food you are searching for, I am sure you can find a restaurant serving it here. Because of the cultural diversity, there are tons of great restaurants with amazing food from all over the world.
Uppsala is no exception. There are plenty of good restaurants from Greek on the river, to Italian by candlelight and even some twists on Swedish modern cuisine. Because of the high costs of eating dinner out in Sweden, it is not a place you will find many students. While I love going out to restaurants to try new food and new wine, it is definitely not something I can do frequently.
But, this past weekend we took the opportunity to forget about schoolwork, money issues and deadlines and head out for some much needed unwinding. We decided to go the Spanish route and try a tapas restaurant called Tilltugg. The idea of the restaurant is to sit and relax, while mixing and matching your own menu of small dishes. The cold and hot plates were a nice mix of Spanish and Swedish flavours. Read more » >>
One of the biggest reasons for studying abroad or doing a Masters program in Sweden is getting to know many people coming from all over the world. It is quite possible that people coming from every continent will be in your class. This gives all students an opportunity to not only learn about other cultures, but also make friends from around the world.
The result is that most cities in Sweden are very culturally diverse. In Uppsala this is celebrated every year during the cities own KulturNatten (Culture Night). The idea of having a Culture Night is to bring together all members of the community to share in a range of different expressions of culture.
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