Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Hello people of the internet

Hello people of the internet.

My name is Tom and I've been asked to take over this blog and tell you all about what it's like to study physics in Uppsala. I’ve been here for about 9 months now, so hopefully I have some experiences worth sharing with you, and the information they don’t tell you on the university website. This is the first time I'm writing a blog so please bear with me if I've formatted it really badly or something. Also, the previous people who wrote this blog have some really good posts too so be sure to have a loot there too.

Who are you?

Who are you Tom? you may ask, and indeed I may ask myself if I'm feeling philosophical. So here's a brief summary of my life. I come from the distant land of the United Kingdom. I grew up in the beautiful county of Northumberland then studied Astrophysics at University College London (which, as the name implies, is in London) before moving to Uppsala to do my masters.

A visual representation of my national identity (left).

Here in Uppsala I'm studying the physics master programme, specialising in astronomy and space physics. I've always been interested in space since I was a child and there's loads of really interesting courses here in that area. I've also taken a few courses outside this area, including ones about climate and meteorology which are really interesting too.
When I'm not studying my favourite thing to do is travelling to different cities and countries, which is something you can easily do from Uppsala. Another thing I really enjoy is getting involved in weird Swedish traditions, and sharing weird British traditions with Sweden in return.

Why are you here?

This is a question many people have asked me. Before I moved to Sweden, my family would say "why are you moving to Sweden? you've never been there, you don't speak Swedish, its too cold etc.". But, in my own mind I had good enough reasons, and here I am.
When I was studying in London, a lot of my friends went on a year abroad as part of their course. I couldn't do one on my course and I was really jealous that they all got to have loads of fun living in exotic foreign countries. This was the pull factor that made me consider doing the masters abroad. There were also significant push factors making me want to leave the UK. The conservative government had already tripled tuition fees to £9000 (over 100,000 kronor) per year and now they're taking away a lot of grants that were available to students from less well off families, meaning studying another course there would have been very expensive. Also, living costs in London are INSANELY high.
So, I decided I'd go abroad for the masters. Now, I must admit, Uppsala University was not my top choice initially. I didn't have a top choice at all, I just blindly applied to universities in any country that taught in English and had low (or better no) tuition fees. Then, when I received replies from them I did more research into each one and Uppsala really stood out as somewhere that sounded nice to study. In addition to being completely free (for EU students) and taught in English, it had courses that sounded really interesting and the student life seemed to be really unique and fun. I chose Uppsala as my first choice then all I had to do was pass my final exams in London and I had a place here.

First day in Uppsala.

So that was my reasoning of why I applied in the first place, but I still didn't really know anything about Uppsala until I arrived here. Now that I've been here a little while I know I made the right decision in coming here and I've had so much fun over the last months. Being a student is not just about academics, and I hope to share with you all the fun things you can take part in here (starting today) as well as important stuff about the course itself, so please keep reading.

Things that happen in Sweden - Part 1

As everyone in Europe will know, last weekend was the Eurovision Song Contest, this year held here in Sweden. In the UK, Eurovision is seen as a bit of a joke, where you watch people from countries you've never heard of sing awful songs then politically vote for their neighbours. In Sweden, however, its taken much more seriously. The process starts months before the contest with a televised nationwide competition to see who will represent the country. Before the contest are hours of analysis of past winners and speculation on this years winners. Then when it's time for the big event itself, its an excuse for a party. The nation gathers round their TV screens and consumes 3 times more crisps than any ordinary night (see link) and an excess of alcohol. This was definitely true at my Eurovision party.

http://www.metro.se/nyheter/sa-har-mycket-chips-smaller-vi-i-oss-under-eurovision/EVHoew!O3zTiCk3oxa6/

Eurovision party (I don't have a blue face all the time)

Unfortunately Sweden came in 5th place this year, behind winners Ukraine, so no doubt there will be a TV post-mortem to find out how Sweden can improve for next year. However, the contest will be watched with just as much enthusiasm next year, so if you're here it's definitely something to look forward to (or dread if you're one of those people who hates Eurovision).

NEXT TIME: How to apply - Tom's guide through the confusing world of University Admissions Sweden.

P.S. If anybody has any questions or things you'd like me to talk about in future posts, leave a comment and I will try and get back to you as soon as possible.

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