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It is May!!! I cannot believe it. I have been in Uppsala for more than 3 ½ months.

It feels very much like home to me now. I have been very busy with uni work the last couple of weeks; staying in the lab until 8pm last Monday and 6:30pm on Thursday (a testament to my poor predictions of how long reactions may take). Luckily, I have two very lovely lab teachers who were kind enough to let me finish.

Swedish classes continue, to little avail unfortunately. I am still finding learning a language much harder than I expected. There are many excuses I like to make for this:

1. Swedish people speak English like naturals so there is no need for me to learn
2. I do not feel immersed in the language as I am not forced to speak Swedish. In fact, the minute I hesitate strangers will just switch to English (and we certainly get through things a lot faster)
3. Swedish people, and most other exchange students, are very eager to practice English, and delight in finding out the correct English word for everything

.....but basically, I am finding that like any subject, I actually have to study and practice in order to make anything I “learn” in Swedish class, stick there....sigh....

This past weekend was the biggest annual event in Uppsala (I think). Valborg, which celebrates the last day of April was on Friday, and so everyone had a long weekend, and students travelled from all over Sweden and other countries to Uppsala to join in the festivities. While I was in the lab until 6:30pm on Thursday, I could see students warming up for the weekend walking around town, beers in hand, thoroughly inebriated by mid-afternoon. (Note: this is NOT common in Sweden, or Uppsala. People do not usually drink alcohol on the streets, and students keep most of their high spirits contained to the nations and living residence). That night, Kvalborg (the night before Valborg), almost every nation had bands playing, pubs, clubs and dinners. Bonfires and parties were everywhere. My friends and I went out and saw a couple of Swedish bands play at one of the nations. We didn’t stay out late because we had to get up early the next day.
By 8am, we were in town getting a spot on the riverfront. It was already pretty packed. Everyone had their packed champagne breakfasts (although I believe most of the champagne was sprayed on people rather than in their mouths). We were down there to watch a parade/race of small box-boats made and decorated by students in the previous weeks. Each boat was extravagantly decorated (as the Colosseum, a Viking ship, a desert island, a saucepan, etc.) and manned by 2-4 students. Most spectators tried to get a spot near the small “waterfall” in the Fyris River so we could watch the boats flip (Note: life guards in wetsuits and flippers were on hand and jumped into the river to help the students every time a boat capsized. Very necessary, as the water is still absolutely freezing!) Commentators were positioned in a crane above the waterfall and entertained us during quite moments by leading the crowd to sing “Heads and shoulders, knees and toes” in Swedish - which could come in handy during my Swedish exam next week!
The rest of the day was spent with thousands of other students lying on the university lawns, listened to live music and chilling in general. Overall, it was an unmissable experience.

I can hardly believe that it is May and there is only one more month of university. Time has passed so quickly. Even though I am coming back to Uppsala to study next semester I am still very sad, as almost everyone I have met is leaving, and I will have to go through the process of trying to make new friends next semester.

I saw another squirrel tonight, from our corridor balcony. Very exciting. My French, Swedish and American friends that were over for dinner could not understand my fascination...however; they have asked me about kangaroos many times, so I feel my excitement is justified!

Leaves are budding out on trees everywhere. Flowers pop up at random and many different birds have arrived for breeding season. It is really interesting to live in a location where the changing of seasons is so dramatic. It has only just become completely dark now (at 10pm), and the sun is up very early. Such a difference to when I arrived in January and it was dark by 4pm. The weather is nice, and dare I say feels “warm” – although it is still only about 12oC on average and still drops to 0oC at night sometimes.

I have a lot of study to do and my classes are very full on, but I am relishing in this experience, and am grateful everyday that I have had the opportunity to come on exchange.

What will happen next?

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Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....