Snow Biking in Sweden

 

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Read to Snow Bike!

Here in Uppsala, Bicycles are considered to be vehicles. I actually think I see more bikes on the roads than cars. You must have lights on your bike in the front and at least a reflector on the back and your breaks have to be working properly. You can get fined for not having lights or for riding your bike while intoxicated. I am not sure how seriously they take these or how common these fines are yet but I have heard that they are very expensive. Since I’ve been here Uppsala has been consistently covered in snow and the roads can be icy. The Swedes still ride their bikes though. A girl on my floor offered to sell me her bike since she is moving, so I thought I would give it a try. The walk from my apartment to the city center is about 45 minutes long, so I figured it would come in handy for shopping and for when I need to get to class or somewhere quickly. She bought it for 900 SEK which is about 140$ but sold it to me for 500 SEK so about 78$ which was a steal. The cheapest I have heard so far has been 700 SEK. I took my first ride to class today and it went completely fine! No slipping. Still a little scared about falling though, I am trying to find a helmet and basket to go along with my bike. There are plenty of bike shops in Uppsala so I will look into that after class!

My new vehicle, name pending. Open to suggestions!

My new vehicle, name pending. Open to suggestions!

Checking In to Uppsala and Flogsta

I have not had internet in my room yet so I am way behind in posting on this!! To catch y’all up on what has been going on I’m going to post several different topics since although I have only been here for less than a week, it feels like I have been here for a month or so!

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First glance at Sweden!

When I arrived to Sweden at the airport, customs was a breeze and finding my luggage was quite easy. They have carts that you can carry your luggage on for free right where they come out. Next step was getting to Uppsala. At this point I had basically pulled an all nighter and had two huge suitcases with me plus my carry on bags. You can take a train or bus for quite cheap but I decided to take a taxi just because I was so exhausted that I could barely think straight let alone haul my luggage around a train and through town. My parents booked me a room at the Hotel Villa Anna and thank GOD they did. I collapsed on the bed as soon as I saw it. It was the most beautiful sight ever. The hotel itself was beautiful too, an old traditional building with modern design on the inside. The receptionist was very kind and helpful. I slept until the next morning. Friday morning I woke up and went down stairs for breakfast. It was not your typical bagels, waffles, cereal, eggs buffet. Instead there was yogurt, deli sliced meets, cheese, fruits and vegetables and bread. I was instructed by a man in the room to sit down and they brought me 4 slices of cheese, cucumber and red peppers for breakfast. I also had some bread and yogurt. Welcome to Sweden, where almost everything is healthy and “green”.

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Cheese, Cucumber and Red Pepper. It was actually pretty good. They also love smoothies here, they are very thick and not too sweet.

 

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My beautiful bed at Hotel Villa Anna

I walked over to Vastoga Nation for international check in. They had said that there would be a shuttle to take us to our living accommodations. We received a lot of good information about upcoming events, the nations, and our course list. There was quite a wait for the shuttle service (about an hour) and they just dropped us off in our living area and not near our buildings. I had to drag all my stuff quite a ways and I’m sure I looked mentally insane while doing it. I am living in an area called Flogsta. I think there are 10 apartment buildings in Flogsta and each are 7 stories high. On each floor there are two corridors, one on the left and one on the right. Each corridor shares a kitchen. The kitchens are HUGE and well stocked with kitchen ware as well as spices. It is a shared duty of each of the 12 members of the corridor to keep the kitchen clean. So far mine is spotless. I have only met one other international student on my floor and interacted with 3 of the other swedes in my corridor. Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves in my corridor but I have heard that some corridors are very social with one another. I guess it just varies.

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Two decent pillows, two that were yellow and not supposed to be yellow…some rags, random bed linens, a new comforter, scissors, a bike lock and three storage bins.

My room consists of a small walk in closet/hallway area. Theres hooks and shelves for coats and such and on the opposite side their is a wardrobe with shelves, a hanging rack, and a few bins. The door to the bathroom is also off of this room. The bathroom is actually a wet room. Meaning that there are no doors or walls for the shower. It just goes all over the floor and then drains. Theirs also a toilet and sink with a medicine cabinet in it. It’s very weird. Once you walk through this little area there is a large room. The room is equipped with a large desk, desk chair, bed, bedside table, and two book shelves. There are also shelves above the desk. I acquired some random stuff from previous tenants. Some useful and nice…others…are quite scary looking.

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My Undecorated Room

As I stated before I have not had internet in my room because in order to access the internet and the student portal (with all of my course schedules and such) you have to physically bring an application to a building that is literally in the middle of nowhere and very far from the main university. I also have had trouble because I have a Macbook air and the internet is an ethernet plug which I do not have on my computer. So I had to buy a router for my room to get internet…which I am having a lot of technical difficulties with currently. I am going to have to ask someone to help me set that up. If you are planning on coming to Uppsala I would try to get a hold of this application and mail it to this building before you arrive in Uppsala. Life is just so much easier when you move to a new place when you have internet! I would also suggest bringing at least sheets with you to Uppsala. After the check in move in process the last thing you want to do is make the trek to Ikea for sheets. Ikea is only open until 6 I believe and will take you two buses to get there from Flogsta. Many people who I have talked to who didn’t bring sheets with them had to sleep in multiple layers with no blankets or pillows their first night.

More posts to come shortly! Missing everyone at home :)

Hello Europe

It didn’t feel real until I got off my first plane and landed in London Heathrow Airport and was bombarded by proper English accents everywhere. The airplane was very small and cramped in the coach class, especially compared to the space ships that everyone in first class were sleeping on. On the bright side, British Airways offered excellent food and free alcohol as well as a free scratchy blanket that I got to take with me. Their movie and TV show selections were also awesome. It was really a good thing that I was flying at night because I started to cry during “About Time” starring Rachel McAdams. I still am not quite sure if I was crying about the movie or the fact that my reality had begun to sink in.

I’ve been on a layover for three hours now. I washed my face and brushed my teeth in the bathroom and felt totally and completely homeless yet that has been the highlight of my morning so far. I was really surprised by how dehydrating the flight was, I felt like I was pruning. I have flown many times before and never have gotten that feeling. Either I did not drink enough water prior to departure or I am just getting old and fussy. Since my cell phone currently isn’t working I have had a lot of time to think and web surf  (Heathrow has free WiFi!). I found a great post on another blog that is too good not to share and is a list of things I will definitely be taking into consideration throughout my experience. Except number 7, I’m going to replace number 7 with “Don’t kiss a stranger or have a one night stand, go home with friends and make drunk food and enjoy late night conversations instead.” But thats just me :) ENJOY. I’m off to my next leg of my travels…Stockholm Airport here I come!

40 Essential Tips for When You Study Abroad

1. Spend every last dollar in your bank account. This was the best advice I got before leaving, and if not for this advice, I wouldn’t have gone on the weekend trip to Uruguay and had the most romantic night of my life. No matter what, this trip will make you go broke. Just accept that fact before you go and stop stressing. You’re a college student, you’re supposed to be broke anyway, you’ll recover (or be in debt for the rest of your life, LOL).

2. Ask for help and directions often, it’s okay, people are friendlier than you think.

3. Learn the slang- it’s fun and gives you mad street cred with the locals. Speaking of which, make local friends! There’s no better way to see a city than through it’s own eyes.

4. Find one restaurant/cafe/bar and make it your spot- only ever go alone and only ever bring some money, a pen, and a journal.

5. Cross the closest border. Fill that passport with stamps!

6. Listen to lots of music, and make LOTS of new playlists on your ipod/iphone, including but not limited to: 1 for every bus or plane ride (name them after the journey), 1 of all songs in the native language of the country you’re in, 1 for all your new favorite party songs you hear at the bars and clubs, 1 of songs that remind you of home to listen to when you’re homesick, 1 for every time you fall in love, and 1 composed completely of Jackson 5 songs, just because everyone should have this playlist and it’ll come in handy when you wanna strut yo stuff.

7. Kiss someone whose name you don’t even know. Never learn it. Have a one night stand. Learn their first name just for shits and giggles.

8. Thank your parents, often. No doubt they in some way helped make this trip happen, whether they supported you financially or emotionally, or if they didn’t support you at all and forced you to learn the ups and downs of independence. (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU)

9. Cry. And then cry some more, I can’t stress it enough. This will be the fastest and wildest 6 months of your life, and you have no real time to process, so just feel your feelings and don’t be afraid to cry throughout.

10. Dance. This is just as if not more important than crying! Dance at clubs, at bars, at the grocery store, on the subway, in the street, just do it!

11. Stay in as many hostels as possible, and when you’re there, talk to everyone you meet. Some of the best stories you will ever hear will come from these mouths.

12. Eat the local delicacies. The weirder the better. I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU.

13. Try to be a yes person. Safety and comfort are two very different things. Keep yourself safe, but lean into discomfort- you will discover new things about yourself.

14. Pass your classes. If they’re interesting, even better, pay attention and do well. But seriously doe, they know you’re paying a shit ton and the classes are usually wicked easy, just pass!

15. Send people you care about back home postcards! You’d be amazed at the power that a cute little piece of snail mail has to make your loved ones forget that you’ve hardly talked to them in months. A postcard lets them know that even in these hectic times, you really do miss ‘em.

16. Read at least one meaningful book. A good book hits you differently from the other side of the world.

17. Go see live music!

18. There will be at least one time when you are alone, hammered, lost, and terrified. It’s going to be okay. Get yourself to the nearest well-lit area, hail the first cab you see, and get your ass home. Once you’re safe, sleep, cry, Skype your best friend, emotionally eat- do whatever it takes to settle yourself down. For me it was sending panicked messages to friends, lots of sleep, and about 6 episodes of Fresh Prince. You’re going to be okay.

19. Do your fair share of the touristy things, like going to the monuments and museums. There’s a reason these things are so famous, and you may find yourself captivated. Worst comes to worst, these classics will give you great ammo for PG rated small talk with your extended family at holiday parties.

20. Get a tattoo. Even if it’s stupid, it’s not stupid because it’ll commemorate this amazing, free time of your life.

21. Celebrate your birthday. Even if it doesn’t happen during your study abroad, pretend it does, you get free stuff!

22. Spend a night under the stars and admire how the constellations look different from over here.

23. Pet the stray dogs. Then wash your hands.

24. Whenever you’re caught breaking a rule, play up the foreign card and pretend you don’t know anything. “Oh, sorry sir, I didn’t know, I’m just a dumb American!”

25. Buy The Book Of Questions and play it with your friends to pass the time on long bus rides or rainy nights. Best 7 bucks you’ll ever spend!

26. Seek out and have a quality conversation with someone who has lived there all their life and is over 60. Ask them their thoughts about politics, the world, today’s youth, and how they city has changed since their childhood.

27. Go swimming in as many bodies of water as you can. (Extra points for skinny dipping.)

28. Tip well. Service people all around the world make crap money.

29. Be prepared to gain a 15 pounds. At least. Ugh. Curse you empanadas and dulce de leche!

30. Let yourself give in to homesickness very once in awhile. Go get that cheeseburger from McDonalds, go to the American bar, watch a movie in English, skype your mom for 3 hours, and don’t feel guilty or like you’re not taking advantage of your time abroad.

31. Come prepared with the three 3s – your 3 best personal anecdotes, your 3 best jokes, and your 3 best would-you-rather questions. These will help to fill any awkward silences you might encounter.

32. Pack a rain jacket and comfy shoes.

33. Keep a blog. This will be the greatest souvenir you bring home with you.

34. Travel alone, even if it’s just a day trip. Part of the reason you studied abroad was to be independent, and nothing will feel more rewarding than solo-navigating your way through buying tickets, traveling, arriving, and enjoying a destination all by yourself.

35. Remember that it’s not better or worse, it’s different.

36. Give a street musician all the money in your pocket. Pick a day when you have some good money on you.

37. Know that some people back home will disappoint you by not putting any effort in to stay in touch with you. Take this as part of that “learning experience” they’re always talking about. You learn just as much about your home while your abroad as you do your host country.

38. Remember how goddamn lucky you are to be studying abroad right now. Thanks Mom and Dad, You’re the best!! Miss you already!

39. There’s a difference between alone and lonely. It’s a difficult lesson to learn, but an important one.

40. Live every day with the mantra “my time here is short” and every night with the “I’ll probably never see them again” lack of inhibition. TC mark

Travel Sized

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The Bean Boot, hyperlink to the website that I found these on.

How does one pack for moving abroad for 5 months? It’s a struggle or has been for me at least. Especially with the expected cold weather in Uppsala. Luckily, I have been in contact with my “buddy” that Uppsala International Student Program has provided. She suggested bringing many warm boots as the snow came late this year and looks like it will be staying late. Highly suggested by other friends who have studied abroad, I invested in a pair of L.L Bean boots. They have fur on the inside and are waterproof AND they are cute! I have tried them out in the cold Amherst-Massachusetts weather and could not be happier! I also was given a backpack that I will use for weekend trips. Europe is known for having access to cheap transportation but when you use one of these companies you are not permitted to bring large bags or suitcases.  I will also bring a few other random boots that I have accumulated and inherited from my mother. My “buddy” also said that I should bring work out clothing, as there are many places in Uppsala to work out at. That is exciting! Hopefully if I pack these work out clothes I will find motivation to work out and keep the “study abroad 15″ off.

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I depart for Uppsala in about 24 hours so I have started to pack. I am flying with British Airways, who seem to be quite allowing when it comes to luggage. I can have a carry on small luggage that can weigh 51lB and then a checked bag that can also weigh the same. I personally will be bringing over a second checked back for an added cost. I figure that if I can bring over some items such as sheets and towels, the cost of having the extra bag will be less than the cost of having to buy those things in Sweden. PlusI will have extra space for the return flight to bring home some souvenirs!

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The Satchel

The theme of my packing so far has been SMALL and to pack only what I NEED. With the underlying thought to at the same time bring as much as possible to avoid spending money in Sweden on things that I already own. My purse will now be replaced with this black satchel. It is small and flat, can fit all the necessary daily items, fits under my big bulky coat, and hopefully will help me escape all pick-pocket-ers across europe. Pictured with it is the passport that I cannot forget, along with a Sweden culture/travel guide book. You can also see my two brand new mascaras that got, which leads me to my next topic.

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Travel sized items to refresh me from the flight.

Travel sized everything. Anything that could be made travel sized and that I could get away with using small amount of I am bringing. I am not sure when I will be able to visit a Swedish pharmacy/ beauty supply store so I brought some basics to last me. Lots of hand sanitizer and moisturizer for the flight. I am bringing whatever medication I may need as well, to avoid having to see a doctor while I am in Sweden. I also managed to make some of my sheets/towels/comforter smaller by using Ziploc Space Bags. They are WONDERFUL. They flattened all of those bulky items down to nothing. I took all extra stuff that I had at my house so that if something happens where it can not return home with me, I won’t be devastated

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Another GREAT investment!

As I stated before, Sweden will be COLD and I do not have room to bring my entire wardrobe. I was able to sort through my closet and bring a compilation of some long sleeve shirts, light sweaters, and heavy sweaters. This way I can mix and match to create many different outfit variations as well as have multiple layers to combat the cold weather.

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Sweaters, on sweaters, on sweaters!

Uppsala University

In the days leading up to my departure to Sweden, I have been searching the web for all information on going to Sweden and Uppsala University and what I can expect. For anyone who has never heard of Uppsala, I found this awesome video about the University. It is a bit long, but I thought I would include this as an introduction. Enjoy : )

The New Year

Weekapaug Beach, RI

After a night full of festivities at Foxwoods Casino with some friends, I had the pleasure of getting lost on our way to Boston and stumbling on this beautiful scene. We were staying at this cheap Inn, which was so gross that me and my friend refused to shower there or sleep under the covers. Yet, minutes down the road we drove past this beautiful small beach town and laid our eyes on this view.Starting off 2014 with an eye full of beauty. It reminded me that no matter how bad things are, the sun is shinning not too far away.Also starting off in 2014 is a whole new chapter of my life. In 2014 I will be studying abroad in Sweden at Uppsala University in Uppsala Sweden starting mid January. Lots of new challenges and adventures await me!