Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A bit about Swedes

Hello everyone!

I just read this great comment on an older post and I think these answers could help many of you out there... I must say, as usual, that Uppsala is a great city. Yes, it is not so big and it might seem calm from time to time but the student life is great here! There are so many events and things to do here. It is always nice to meet your friends for fika, meeting them at the nations for a couple of drinks, food, concerts, parties... You can find students associations or groups for almost everything here: practicing a language, dancing, acting, reading... The hard part is finding time to actually go to class!

I must say that, at least for me, the cultural shock was not so big. I believe it is important to know a few things about Sweden and Swedes in order to be prepare and reduce the shock as much as possible:
  • Swedes are EXTREMELY punctual! Their definition of meeting at 13:00 is meeting at 13:00 and arriving at 13:05 will be consider late. You can actually see teachers looking at their watch (or the room's clock) before the class so they can start exactly on time. Be prepare for any teacher to tell you that if you arrived 5 minutes late you'll have to reschedule the meeting.
  • Swedes are very helpful, nice and friendly. Still, it's not common for them to start talking to you on the streets or a line for no reason. Maybe they'll talk to you to practice your language (many of them speak another language besides English and Swedish) but they consider saying "hi" for no reason as an intrusion. Still, if you say "hi" to them it's fine because they think that's part of YOUR culture and they think it's nice. So... you'll be OK being yourself, but don't expect them to act as someone from your country. They'll be themselves...
  • It's OK to call teachers by their given name. Actually everyone uses just given names and that's OK.
  • They all have lunch at 12:00 and you won't be able to explain that's also possible to eat at 11:30 or 13:00.
  • They are really really friendly and eager to help.
In my opinion if you're planing to come here as an exchange student, a year would be better than only one semester. I think there are many things to do and there are great things whole year round. Drinking champagne and making boats for Valborg in Spring is great. Skating from Uppsala to Stockholm and playing with the snow during the winter is also great. So, it's really hard to pick. There are many international students here and we all enjoy Uppsala the whole year!

How's the weather here? Well, that's hard to say... 2 years ago was one of the coldest winters in Uppsala, and last winter was the coldest on record! So... From my experience, winter is COOOOOLD!!!!!!!!! Usually around -10 C with lots and lots of snow. Swedes say that usually there was not that much snow and that it hardly was colder than 0 C... I guess I'll have to see this winter to let you know more.

If any of you finally decides to come to Uppsala, let me know! :-)


  1. I am interested in studding a masters in Uppsala. However, I only speak English, those this matter? Is there many students there from England who can only speak English? Can you speak any other languages?

    1. Hi James! I'm really sorry I just saw your comment. I don't know if there are many students from England but I do know that speaking just English is definitely not a problem! I can speak English, Spanish and a bit of some other languages but here English is just enough (at least to study). Most master programs are taught in English and you'll meet many international students.

  2. Hi

    Thanks for writing this blog, this is certainly very informative, i want to apply as an International student for Masters in Computer Sciences. My interests lie more towards Machine Learning, Data Mining etc. I would like to talk about the admissions in Uppsala, I heard international students now have to pay tuition fee, which was not applicable before.
    May I contact you via your gmail id, which you have mentioned in another post? (I guess, you forgot to delete that). Kindly let me know.


  3. Hi!

    I'm glad you liked the blog :-) You can send me an email then and I'll be happy to talk to you about Uppsala.


  4. I don't think the Swedish people are friendly and helpful as you explained. Instead, they are more reserved on themselves. I have never get a chance of finding such a friendly Swedish people till the time. Lets hope to see soon.

  5. I'm really sorry to hear that! I do agree that most swedes are very reserved and even shy, but once you get to know them, they are really nice. Nevertheless, in my experience they even start talking to me completely out of the blue! Like while I'm on the bus stop, the elevator or the supermarket. Just give them a chance and always show a big smile :-) I believe that's important regardless of the place you are.

  6. Hi Andry,

    first of all: Your blog ist really great.

    At the moment I am preparing my application for HCI for the autumn term 2012 and so I stumbled upon your blog. Your posts are really helpful to me and I would like to know if you have got ICQ, Skype or something like that? Would be great if you could tell me a bit more about Uppsala and the computer science master program :-).

    I would be very happy hearing from you!

    All the best and merry christmas,


    1. Hi Jen!

      Just send me your email and we can talk on Skype :-)

      Thank you for your comment! It makes me really happy to hear that some people find this blog useful!

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Hi Andry,
    I finished on you blog few times searching informations about Uppsala before coming here, so thank you for all the informations you wrote!! They have been very useful.
    I read that you are studying computer science and you took the TOEFL test.. Well I'm studyng computer science and I want to take the TOEFL too, so I was wondering if I can ask you some more questions, maybe personally since I study too in Polaksbacken (I don't know if you still study/work there too! :P).

    Let me know,

  8. Hi Emilio!

    I'm glad you found the blog useful! :-) I'm still in Polaksbacken but now I'm a PhD student (WOOHOO!!) so sure! We can meet and talk more about the exam or whatever! Let me know.

  9. Wow congratulations! :) I put my address under my profile so you can send me an email. Anyway I'll be there tomorrow and tuesday for sure!!

  10. Thanks! I'll send you an email!

  11. Hi! I'm a UG student from India, and I've been eyeing Sweden for doing my Masters- and this is such a great blog in that respect! Kudos for putting all this information up there!
    I still do have several questions though- may I contact you via email, because I wouldn't like to clutter your blog. :)

    1. Hi! Thank you for you comment! Just leave me your email and I'll contact you.

  12. Hi Andry; I'm new on the blog so, how can i send you a mail? :(

  13. Hi Andry!

    I'm a s/w engineer frm India.

    Really wonderful blog this is., :-) I've come here a bit late i believe! :P For sometime I've been having an idea to do my PG in EU., Just happened to stumble upon ur blog. Now I got an idea of what or how it is to study at sweden., I'd like to know more abt the UU and the prospects after studies., I would really appreciate If u can help me out on it.,

    Pls ping me on my mail id @: harish.vfx89@gmail.com