Thursday, 22 January 2015

On the hunt

I'm back in Uppsala! I've had the first couple of lectures of the new term and it looks like it's going to be a good one. For this period I've got Mathematical Methods of Physics II and Quantum Field Theory. This selection is interesting because it shows how different the various courses can be at UU. While both courses are 10 ECTs, QFT has about 36 lectures, 5 or 6 homework assignments, and no exam, whereas FMMII (the abbreviation for mathematical methods) has only 15 lectures and an exam, with homework assignments optional. This has no bearing on how easy or hard either course will be, it's just an illustration of the variety of course styles that are available here.

Just imagine me on my bike, with the back end swinging
wildly, but definitely looking just as awesome.
There is some serious snow here now (not too deep, but it's not going anywhere any time soon) with the roads covered in hard packed snow and ice. I was thinking about getting a bus pass, but after a few days back I'm getting used to biking in it, so I might just save myself the money. I bought my bike used and the tires have basically no grip, so I can't brake hard, but I can do my own cycling version of Tokyo Drift, which makes me feel like one of the cool kids. Also, since I bike through a park on my way to Ångström, the snow makes the commute pretty beautiful.

So around the time that I wrote my last post, I got the news that I have to move out of my current room by the end of February. This came as a bit of a shock as I had previously been told that the room would be available to me until the summer, if not this time next year. However, it seems that my roommates/landlords have decided to move, so I need to as well.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Back to the grindstone

... Well, sort of. As I mentioned in my last post I have an unusually long break this year, with classes not resuming until January 19th. So I'm writing this post from Amsterdam! However, just because I'm on holiday doesn't mean I don't have coursework to do, so don't be too jealous.

My (left) and my girlfriend's (right) bikes
My (left) and my girlfriend's (right) bikes. Don't be fooled
by this awkward perspective, mine is bigger, I promise.
From what I hear the relatively warm weather we were having before I left Uppsala is now more or less gone, and I notice that the next few days on the forecast call for snow, with the temperature to dip down to -10C on Sunday. The combination of snow and cold will make for some uncomfortable cycling conditions, I'm sure, so this seems like a good time to talk about getting around Uppsala.

The best way to get around is without a doubt by bike. Living in Amsterdam had already changed me into a cyclist, so I was thrilled to see that cycling is also very popular in Uppsala. The city is well equipped with bike paths, and it is small enough that almost everything is within comfortable (less than 30 minutes) biking distance. Uppsala isn't exactly hilly, but it's not totally flat either, so I'd recommend a bike that has at least a few gears. Mine is a 3-speed, and that works just fine. There are used bikes for sale on various Facebook groups/pages (Buy and Sell Items, Buy & Sell in Uppsala, Buy / Sell a bike in Uppsala), and at the Saturday market on Vaksala Torget. For reference, I paid 700kr for mine, and bought it through Facebook.