New as a student in Uppsala

If you are a new student in Uppsala you have a lot to look forward to. During your stay in Uppsala you will hopefully meet new friends and have a lot of new experiences. At the same time, it is important to remember that moving to a new country can be a major change and, like any change, it can cause uncertainty and worry. It is perfectly normal to feel lost and confused in the beginning. The good news is that it will get better as you adjust and become more familiar with everything.

To get settled in and to make yourself more at home, some advice is to get to know Uppsala and your surroundings better as soon as possible and to try to create routines in your new life here. For example, sign up to a gym class, take a tour around the city, get plants or decorate to make your accommodation feel more like your home.

For many international students studying in Uppsala involves an academic adjustment. In Sweden there is, in general, more focus on the process and application of information than on the facts when compared to many other countries. This often means that you are expected to actively participate in seminars by voicing your opinion. The relationship with the professors is also not as formal as you might be used to. Do not be afraid to ask if you have questions and remember that you are studying at the university to learn.

Another phenomena that is very common in Sweden is to do group work. This can be challenging especially if this is something you are not used to. In a group there are different roles to be taken, you need to communicate well with other group members and you have to rely on them to do their part. In addition, all the lectures and study materials are in English, which may take some getting used to if it is not your native language. Writing and speaking in English may also be a challenge that can affect your academic performance and may be a new experience for you. Remember that academic difficulties are common, especially when you are adjusting to a new culture, system, and environment.

Another recommendation is to, in the beginning of the term, decide and plan when you are going to have time for study and time for leisure. To stay healthy and to perform in your studies in the long run, you need to get enough time for recovery, both by taking short breaks during the day and by taking time for more significant rest in the evenings and on weekends. What helps you recover and recharge can be very individual and differ from what helps others. It can, for example, be to read a book, listen to music, to spend time with friends, exercise or to do other things that makes you feel good and more energized.

Living in a new country with a different culture also has other challenges. Everything from how to buy a bus ticket to opening a bank account can be new to you and can be a struggle in the beginning. Many people describe Swedish people as protective of their own private space, and you will probably soon notice that it is not very common for swedes to small talk with random strangers on the street. Don’t take this personally. Instead, try to be curious and to get to know your new country and the people who live here with an open mind.

Most Swedish people can speak English, so the language will hopefully not be a big problem. In Sweden, the easiest way to make friends is within a frame of an activity or an organisation. For example, the student nations in Uppsala offer all kinds of groups and activities for different interests.

As you probably already know, Sweden is a country where it gets cold and dark in the winter time. Make sure you buy both warm clothes and good shoes to keep you warm and that you spend time in the daylight when you can. If you find the lack of daylight challenging you can visit the light room at the Student Health Service. The light room is open during the darker period of the year October-March.

Good luck with your studies and enjoy your stay in Uppsala!

Other tips

  • You can find almost all the information you need regarding your studies on the Student Portal. It can be good to know already that you will need to sign up for your exams.

  • The language workshop is another resource for students at Uppsala University. They offer special support for students with dyslexia, but also have support for all students regarding study technique, oral presentations, and academic writing.

  • Tagged 4 Uppsala is a blog by international students that covers a range of topics, including the student nations, housing, and tips for surviving the winter. 

  • Uppsala International Committee is a group responsible for making international students feel welcome in Uppsala and representing their interests in the nations.