59° 51′ 30.8304″ N, 17° 38′ 20.1372″ E
Since my arrival I have noticed some major differences between Sweden and home. Such differences include the language spoken, currency used, architecture lining the streets, and cultural norms.
Swedes seem to conduct themselves in a way unlike many of the people back in Arizona. During the day students appear rather serious and diligent, yet at night they commonly go to ‘nations’ to dance, sing, or participate in a variety of other activities. There are 13 student nations in Uppsala and each is named after a specific region in Sweden. Hundreds of years ago, when the university was first founded, students from all over Sweden came here to attend Uppsala University. These students then got together and decided to create organizations named after the regions they came from. When these nations were first created a student had to be from the place the nation was named after in order to join it. Essentially, they were clubs for students to meet and hang out with other students from similar hometowns.
Today though, the nations have a very different purpose. Students who come to Uppsala can join any nation or more and partake in the activities of whichever nation they so choose. For instance, I am a member of Stockholm’s Nation, yet I often attend and work at Snerikes’ Nation. The nation buildings vary, but most are about a hundred years old and resemble Swedish architecture from the era in which they were built. Snerikes for instance, is a large pink castle. Kalmar on the other hand, is a cavernous, cozy, underground system of tunnels with cobblestone walls.
This past weekend was my friend’s birthday, so some friends and I all got together and went to Västmanlands-Dala (V-Dala, for short) to celebrate. The nation opened a bit late because it had been hosting something called agasque. A gasque is a Swedish event at which students get together, dress formally, eat dinner and dance. We entered the nation shortly after the gasque ended and soon found ourselves befriending many of the students who had been inside at the gasque. Perhaps my favorite part of the night was getting to see and hear a Swedish band perform live at this nation. Although I did not know most of the music they played, it was great to hear live music native to another part of the world.
While there I sang karaoke for the first time. I was rather nervous at first but it ended up being a blast! The people listening, who were a mix of Swedish and exchange students, were very supportive and clapped loudly at the end. Although I doubt that I will sing karaoke again anytime soon, I am glad that I gave it a try and that I got to have my friends in the audience when I did! Next weekend I will be in Copenhagen, Denmark attending a geology symposium. I’m looking forward to telling you all about it!