Alcohol and blonds in Uppsala

There are lots of rumors and gossips about student life in Sweden: expensive alcohol and blond girls. I came here for an exchange semester at the famous, old and very traditional Uppsala University, located in the fourth largest city of the country. Let us stop guessing and see what everything looks like in reality.

From a very first glance, Sweden seems to be organized to the same incredible degree as the Netherlands: trains are comfortable, schedules look convenient and the university is trying to take care of students really well. Each exchange student is assigned a personal “buddy” – a local student – who will meet you at the train station, accompany you to your accommodation, and helps with settling in and further life.

Of course everything is not as perfect as it looks. Also in Sweden trains may run late, as everywhere, settling in does not go as smoothly as it should and some “buddies” seem to be on summer vacation. But apart from these small usual happenings, which can hardly be avoided anywhere, life is great here. The student housing block has a friendly party atmosphere and neighbor students seem to be open. Many doors in the corridors have names and countries written on it, with invitations for other new comers to drop by and get to know each other.

This week the welcoming week starts, which is similar to Eurekaweek in Rotterdam. The only difference is that the programme has more free time for improvisations. This is an advantage, because international students already started to prepare a getting-to-know-each-other “festival” online on Facebook more than a month ago.

Another interesting fact is a traditional “Flogsta” student scream. This unbelievable gossip seems to be true. In the biggest student housing area, the habit to open all the windows at and start screaming is still alive! All windows are opened at 10.00pm and every student starts to scream for a couple of minutes. Yes, it looks, and sounds, wild and crazy, but it is a lot of fun.

The birth of this phenomenon was more than hundred years ago, when students needed to blow off steam during the exam period. Don’t you ever feel like screaming, after having studied non-stop for a couple of days and still do not understand something? Swedes feel the same emotion, and they simply do it – start screaming. Since this activity seemed to be fun, it became more and more wide-spread until it reached the current level. Now it is not unusual to see thousands of open windows with screaming students in this city, Uppsala, with a population of around 190.000, out of which more than 40.000 are students.