Wednesday, 10 July 2013

First Time in Uppsala (Part 1)

Okay, here's a list of things I wish I had known when I first came to Uppsala to make life a little easier. It's quickly becoming much longer than I thought it would be so it's going to have to be split up into several parts. Oh, I thought it might be useful to put in brackets Swedish translations of common words :)

So here it goes...

  • Mobile(Cell) Phone/Mobile Broadband: There are 4 main mobile phone networks in Sweden and all of them offer mobile broadband as well. These are: Telia, Telenor, Tele2 (which encompasses Comviq, a prepaid only network) and 3. You'll probably get a free SIM card as part of your Student Starter package so it may be easiest to stick with that for a time. But if you're the kind who wants to pick the best one for themselves, then here's a very quick summary of what I know about them. 
    • Telia is the largest network and formerly had a monopoly in Sweden so you can expect the best coverage with them, though in my experience, the coverage has generally been very good with all networks in Sweden.Their  prepaid service is meant to be good but I wasn't particularly impressed with their contract (abonnemang) because it only had 3 options which were expensive and pretty limited in data, minutes and texts. So, I would say they're reliable but not very competitive. 
    • Telenor have good rates, good coverage and good offers. They also own Comviq which only offers prepaid packages with lots of different offers depending how much you text or call or use data a month and how much you want to pay. For your free SIM, it'll probably be Comviq as they tend to market heavily towards the student/informal crowd.
    • Tele2 I have just joined and they seem alright so far. I seem to have continuously low 4G signal but the speed (hastighet) I'm getting is pretty nice, maybe 16 Mbit :) Their site is also really easy to use if you know some Swedish but if not, they're really helpful in store. There's one in Uppsala Centralstation.
    • 3 I have no knowledge or experience with but I know they're pretty new and seem a bit behind other networks in mobile coverage and offers. 
  • Personnummer (Personal Identity Number): This is really important to sort out right away! You will use it for absolutely everything in Sweden. It's a 10(12) digit number consisting of your date of birth and 4 other digits unique to you. For example, if your date of birth is 17th June 1998, then your personnumer would be (19)980617-xxxx, where the x's refer to those assigned digits. You will have to go to the tax office (skatteverket) with ID and all the information you have to show you are legally allowed to live and study here in order to get one (they will give you a temporary one to begin with). Unfortunately, I can't help more with this as it depends on the country you're coming from and your purpose here (exchange student, free-mover, etc), but it's reasonably straight-forward, just time consuming (I was there 3 hours in queue... bring a book!).
  • Nation/Student Union: There are 13 nations in Uppsala corresponding roughly to the different provinces/counties of Sweden. Historically they represent a time when students had far to travel from their own county or town and weren't able to return home very often. As such, they would naturally become lonely and homesick, so the nations were formed to counteract this where students from the same or similar place could eat local food, drink local beer, converse in their local dialect, and so on. Now, they're just a place to meet other students in their far cheaper pubs and clubs (a glass of 40 cl beer might be 50 or 60 SEK in a "normal" Swedish pub, but can be as low as 25 SEK in a nation). You pay a fee per semester to join one, around 250 SEK, which includes membership of the student union (studentkår). They give you your student card which you will need along with a valid ID (legitimation or leg for short) in order to enter the nations. You can go into any nation during office hours and they will sort this out for you. From a list of nations(, you can then decide which one to join (they all have websites). It doesn't really matter which one you choose because you can go into any nation you want if you're part of one, though you may get discounts in some nations if you're a member of their one (for example, Stockholm nation has a club and its entry is free for their members). Oh, and if you have a friend from back home somewhere who is also a student, you can go into a nation and buy a guest pass for a week for around 100 SEK, which allows them to enter the nations with their student card, ID, and guest pass. Which is pretty cool :) 
This was a pretty information-dense post so I think I will stop here and continue in the next one, where I'll go over classes, winter, food, and administration :)


  1. hello!! Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post.

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