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Okay, so I have been in Sweden for over 2 months!!! I can't believe it. I don't even know how to describe the experience so far - life changing?

First, I will just say that the extent of may travel experience prior to this, was going to New Zealand on a school trip when I was 13. This has been just a little bit different.
Arriving in Stockholm, in the middle of the coldest, longest winter Sweden has seen in decades, was a little bit of a shock for an Australian; especially after spending the day before on Manly beach (getting thoroughly burnt)! The entire first day I spent inside a shopping mall (gallarian) finding more appropriate clothing (jacket and boots), because I just couldn't stand to be outside!! Stockholm is very beautiful though. There are so many parks, statues on every corner atmospheric buildings, and the streets are lit up at night so that the trees glitter like crystals. Magical.
After 2 days I travelled about 1 hour north to Uppsala. Uppsala is perfect. It is a student town (there are 2 universities here), so everything caters to students, however it is also a town in its own right, with history and a small population of “normal” people (non students).
I am living a couple of kilometres out of town at Flogsta. I chose to live here because every other exchange student suggested it. They were right. It is brilliant. Everything happens at Flogsta. The actual accommodation is pretty decent – we each get room and bathroom and share a kitchen per corridor; and it is so much cheaper than it would be to get comparable accommodation in Sydney. I feel so sorry for all the exchange students who have to try to find somewhere to live in Sydney (but I suppose that is the difference between a major city and a relatively small town. That and the fact that Swedes like to take care of everyone!). There are 12 students per corridor, a mix of Swedish and international students.
Over the past 2 months I have taken Biochemistry. Just one course, which is equivalent to 12 USYD credit points. The 5 hour exam is next week – ahhhhhhh! In Sweden you only take one subject at a time, but it is still very full on. I have class everyday. The timetable changes weekly and so some weeks I was there 10am-3pm everyday in lectures, whereas other weeks when we had a lab I was at uni 8am-5pm (or 6pm or 7pm) everyday.
The same as back home, the number of hours which science versus non-science students spend in class is laughable. A lot of my friends here have 2 hours of class a week. That’s it! So they spend their time taking road trips to Venice, Lapland, etc.
The student nations are the centre of ‘extra-curricular’ activities. There are 13 nations, each of which have a bar, certain nights on which they have clubs/restaurants/comedy nights/live music, sport teams, band, choirs, special libraries and other activities. It is compulsory to join a nation in order to take your exams. I joined Vastmanlands-Dala, because they regularly have bands come and play. It doesn’t actually matter which you join, because you can go to any of them; but you may get discounts to events at your own nation.
Uppsala also has a really good International Buddy program. I have a lovely Swedish girl as my buddy, which is a real help. It is surprising how difficult is to do anything in another country; even one where everyone speaks English, like Sweden. Everything it just that little bit different, and having an instant local friend makes things so much easier. I’m really glad Sydney has this program too,, and I can’t wait to have more to do with it when I get back home.
My time up till this point has been split between class, coffee, parties, coffee, live music, complaining about the weather (usually over coffee), study, biking around Uppsala and coffee. Swedes really like coffee, if you haven’t guessed. They have a special word ‘fika’, which means sitting and drinking coffee and eating cake over a period of at least 4 hours (ingenious people!!!)
Hmmm, this is getting long. So I will end here and blog again soon, because I have so much to say about Sweden!!!
/Mad.

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