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That’s right. A five hour exam! Apparently that is how long they all are in Uppsala, and amazingly I was in the exam room until the last ½ hour!

Such a long time. We were allowed to bring in food though, and use the bathrooms whenever we liked; so that was good. In fact, the first thing some of my class mates did was eat....an interesting use of writing time I thought! I don’t think I performed particularly well, but in Sweden exams may be retaken indefinitely until you pass. I’m not sure that this method really encourages maximum effort out of the students, but it is a lot less stressful!
My biochem class went to the Nations that night to celebrate (very fun). Unfortunately, being a Thursday the bars shut at 1am, but we were all quite tired, and as nerds (*a fact I am unashamedly proud of) were discussing whether our glucose-depleted brains had yet moved onto metabolising ketone bodies!!!
Over the weekend Uppsala was overrun with tourists who were in town to watch BandyFinalen. Bandy is a game like ice-hockey; played on a larger field, with a round ball, longer skates (so players travel faster) and no protective padding! Very aggressive, or so I have heard. The sport in played in the Scandinavian countries and Russia, and maybe Germany too? The final is always in Uppsala but tickets are hard to come by. I’m glad I didn’t get a ticket however as it absolutely bucketed down snow on Sunday (game day), and it would have been miserable to stand in a blizzard trying to see the ball.
Yes, it is the end of March and it is still snowing (irregularly I will admit). Most days are above zero now, and the snow is receding (slowly) to reveal a very beautiful landscape. Moss covered rocks, grass alive (can you believe it?) beneath the snow, cobbled footpaths and trees which seem excessively green next to Australia’s sclerophyll bush.
Feeling like a typical Swede, I biked down to Lilla Sunnersta (outer suburb of Uppsala) during the blizzard to visit some friends for lunch. While the ride wasn’t that difficult (30 minutes, mainly downhill), the thick snow-flakes that raked my face and eyes were somewhat less ...pleasant? The friends I was visiting are French and brilliant cooks. We had a lovely lunch, and then went for a hike in the woods, a regular after-lunch apparently (rain, hail or blizzard!). I felt very Victorian, taking a stroll after lunch and it was actually a lot of fun, although we got drenched. Biking home that afternoon was less pleasant. About a foot of thick, soft snow. I had to walk most of the way, and the trip took nearly 90 minutes! I was regretting not taking the bus by the time I got home and died.
Prince Herbert is my bike. He is yellow, and my pride and joy in Uppsala. He got a new back tyre this week, and now rides like a dream. He sometimes gets cold and his brakes freeze up, and then I know I have to bring him up to my room and let him defrost overnight. A little bit of TLC goes a long way I have found. Bikes are a currency in Uppsala. It is essential that you have a bike to get places, as public transport is expensive and a pain (although a lot more reliable than in Sydney), and no students drive anywhere. It is also imperative that you lock your bike to something, both the wheels and the metal frame....as bikes tend to go “missing”. The facilities for bikes are extensive, with many bike racks everywhere, as well as well lit and lined cycling tracks. It is a very nice way to get around.
Tomorrow I am having potluck with the students from my last class, which I am really looking forward to. I miss them all, because know one I previously knew is in my new course (Organic Synthesis) and I am lonely. The hours for this class are very long: 8am-5pm everyday, and the material is very advanced. In the past week I have done 3 short synthesis experiments and learnt (by doing!!!) how to use many pieces of lab equipment I have only seen before. For example, last Monday I didn’t know how to run NMR, IR, gas chromatography, experiments under inert atmosphere, at -78oC, rotary evaporators, use dry solvents and syringes!!!! Big learning curve, but thankfully some of the other students are really helping me when I am unsure.
Anyway, lots to do today. Saturdays are for washing, food shopping, cleaning etc =D Excitement plus!!! Oh, and I saw a squirrel!!!! It was so cute. I absolutely love them. I can’t wait to see another one =D


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