11th October 2010
Autumn is absolutely amazing here in Uppsala. The yellow, orange and red trees make it seem as if we are having an endless sunset. It is very beautiful and I can’t stop taking photos. It is very different to at home where only a few sporadic trees lose their leaves. Here entire forests are in colour. However, I know that it is warning of “less pleasant” times to come. We have already had the first frost winter, and days on end of cold, windy weather making riding my bike Herbie everywhere rather inconvenient. But people just get on with life in Sweden. I always found it amusing back in Sydney to see people hysterically rush for cover and buying umbrellas when it unexpectedly rains. In Uppsala things continue as normal. People continue with whatever they are doing, or just reach into their bag and drag out some of their always-handy, all-weather attire.
I have spent the first 6 weeks this semester studying toxicology. My class is made up with students from all different nationalities (German, British, Latvian, Dutch, Swedish, American, Czech, etc) and at different levels of education (both Bachelor and Masters). In some ways this is difficult, but because we change the groups in which we are working lots it can be very beneficial too. The study is interesting and has also presented some challenges. We have had the opportunity to do a large amount of work on anaesthetised rats in this course. I had never worked with live animals before, or done injections or taken blood samples; so it was a good experience. It was also very distressing. It is very different I have found to work on an animal that is still breathing, compared to dissecting something dead. I really opened my eyes to the importance of all the ethics classes I have taken in the past on the use of animals in research.
I am currently working at one of the student nations (clubs) on the weekends. The pay is minimal, however it is an opportunity to meet more students, particularly Swedish students, and practice my Swedish skills. I love it. My job is to bake cakes for the Saturday brunch/cafe (fika). I can’t believe it?! I am employed to make cakes – yum!! Unfortunately my Swedish skills have gotten worse since last semester however. The Basic Swedish Course 2 that I had applied for was completely occupied unfortunately, and priority is given to students who have just arrived in the country. I am quite disappointed about this, because I really hoped to come home fluent in Swedish. Oh well, maybe if I just say random words really quickly, people may think that I actually can?
I am also volunteering at the Uppsala International Short Film festival as a theatre host and selling tickets. I’m pretty excited, as again it is a chance to meet other students, and see some of the films!!
During the last month or two the American version of Stieg Larson’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ has been being filmed around town, which means that Daniel Craig will be here at some point – eeek! I haven’t read the books, or seen the Swedish movies yet, but I think I have to now. As another claim-to-fame I got the chance to see the Swedish crown princess, Victoria up close (only one person and a few guards away!!). She came to Uppsala to attend a talk given by the UN advisor on genocide prevention. There was red carpet and everything.
My greatest excitement this weekend however, was to chase squirrels around with my camera (the novelty of squirrels will never wear off, regardless of how many people tell me they are a pest), as they scamper up and down trees to hide nuts in the ground. Yes – they actually do hide nuts!!
In general, things are going well. Exams are coming up and then I will change subjects. My exchange is absolutely rushing past, which is very sad, but I plan to make the most of every moment I have left.
Peace out brussel sprout =D