Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Questions about Uppsala

Someone asked me some very good questions about Uppsala and the MSc in Computer Science, so I decided to share them here.

1. How are the living expenses in Uppsala in general? 

Sweden can be a bit expensive. In my opinion, housing is not too expensive (I used to live in Madrid and Barcelona before moving here, so that's my reference point). You'll pay about 3000-3500 SEK/month including Internet. The major problem is that it is hard to find accommodation. Prices for other things are: about 20-25 SEK for a bottle of water or soda, same or cheaper for coffee/tea. You can get a (reasonably big) sandwich on campus for 45 SEK, or a caesar salad for 65 SEK. You can buy lunch (salad + main course + coffee + bread or fruit) for 70-80 for lunch. Another option could be a frozen meal for 20-30 SEK. Fruits on one of the campus restaurants are 1 piece 7 SEK (and of course cheaper in the supermarket). A pizza is about 70 SEK and frozen pizza 25-40 SEK. Alcohol is EXTREMELY expensive!

2. Is it easy to find jobs at the university in research? in general, is it easy to find a job anywhere?

Getting a job at the university is hard. Normally they hire students as TA or the sort once they know the student, so it probably won't happen during the first year and it is not as common as in other universities. It is also hard to get a part-time job without speaking Swedish (it is a lot easier to find a job once you graduate or an internship even if you don't speak the language). You can work at the student nations but the money is not great. It might be good for making friends, paying some meals and drinks but you won't support yourself with this kind of job. These student nations are great for having cheap food and cheap drinks as well as meeting many students. You can always consider studying Swedish before you come here and continue getting free lessons once you're here.

3. How good are the professors in Computer Science?

Professors are GREAT! They really care about preparing their material and explaining things. The atmosphere is very relaxed and informal. You're free to pick the courses you want, you have access to tons of papers and extra reading, and people are really open to comments and suggestions. I really enjoyed my time as a master student here. You can easily approach TAs and professors and they will happily answer your questions (well, maybe not if you ask for the solution to the assignment).

4. Which areas should I stay in? I don't mind using public transportation.

Like I said before, finding accommodation can be quite hard in Uppsala. You should rent whatever you find and once you're here you can try to move. Most people use bicycles. Buses are quite expensive (between 20-30 SEK depending on how you buy your ticket and about 500 SEK unlimited for a month). You can find used bicycles and everything is really close. If you're studying computer science, then you should live as close as possible to Polacksbacken. But again, 15-20 min by bike from most parts of the city anyway.

Enjoy your time in Uppsala!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Running in Uppsala

It is that time of the year when the weather starts getting warmer (it was 10 ºC yesterday!) and I like to go running outside, either in the woods or near the river. Uppsala is a great city for outdoor activities and Swedes love running and they do it regardless of the weather! I've seen people run on the rain and the snow, and to me that's probably too much commitment.  Still, if you would like to experience a running event while you're in Uppsala, here are a few that I have ran. All of them are 10K but most of them have a 5K option:

Uppsala Blodomloppet (May)
Stockholm Midnattsloppet (August)
Tjejmilen (September)
Uppsala Studentlopp (October)

You can find more running events in Lazy Runner

My next goal is a half marathon! But it will have to be next year... no time to properly train right now...

Oh! And this is me, training in Uppsala! :-)

Friday, March 7, 2014

International Women's Day

Well, first of all, I hope you don't think I'm turning the blog into a girls club. Gender inequality is sort of a big issue in IT and I'm happy to see that people at Uppsala University are aware of it. More importantly, people here actually care and want to do something about it! So, in my humble opinion, celebrating international women's day with a networking event might not make a difference for everyone, but hopefully some of the people on the event now feel less alone. At least I hate to hear these stories about women who didn't (or couldn't) study computer science because people made them feel less capable and not adequate.

Anyway, regardless of the gender inequality angle, it was a great event! I had the opportunity to meet many people, I enjoyed discussing different points of views about Sweden and computer science, as well as planning activities that the UU ACM-W student chapter can (and want to) organise. And we did all these with fruits, bullar, coffee and tea! :-)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

International Women's Day (Announcement!)

I'll write more about this event after it passes, but for now I just want to advertise it! Come! Network! Propose activities! Want to form a programming club? Get a mentor? This is the time to tell chapter members about your ideas.

Learn more about the event of Facebook https://m.facebook.com/events/258232297683826

You can follow the chapter @UUACMW

Visit the chapter's website uu.acm.org

If you go to the event, please let me know what you thought about it!

Buying books in Uppsala

Studying in Uppsala requires a lot of reading. I was used to the fact that going to the classes and reading a little bit was more than enough, but here in Uppsala doesn’t always work that way. You are going to see yourself many times in the situation were you need to read almost the whole book to actually understand the class and that requires owning the book.

Buying used books is always cheaper but they are hard to find since not everyone sells their books. Also, not everyone actually gives you a good deal and many people try to sell their books in almost the full price. Anyway, books are as expensive here as in any other place (at least from what I’ve seen). If you are looking for a place to buy your books you can go to Studentbokhandeln. The books there have an acceptable price, sometimes even cheaper than amazon.com and you will get a 10% student discount if you spend more than 1000 SEK.

If you can actually wait a week or so to get your book, I would recommend buying them in bokus.com. They have a large selection, books are noticeably cheaper than in Studentbokhandeln, and if you have your student card from Mecenat.se, you earn 2.5% of what you pay as a student bonus (5% the first time), which you can use to buy books as well. I have used this page many times and, in my experience, they have a pretty good service.

View Studentbokhandeln AB in a larger map

I know there is actually at least another book store here in Uppsala, but here I’ve always find the books I’m looking for.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Flash Mob in Ångström

I know I've been so busy that I haven't written much around here but I just got this video and I couldn't help but share it with all of you thinking about coming to Uppsala! I didn't see it myself so maybe it's not so frequent but I do have seen other fun stuff around here. Really guys, not everything is about studying!

Enjoy :-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A bit about Swedes

Hello everyone!

I just read this great comment on an older post and I think these answers could help many of you out there... I must say, as usual, that Uppsala is a great city. Yes, it is not so big and it might seem calm from time to time but the student life is great here! There are so many events and things to do here. It is always nice to meet your friends for fika, meeting them at the nations for a couple of drinks, food, concerts, parties... You can find students associations or groups for almost everything here: practicing a language, dancing, acting, reading... The hard part is finding time to actually go to class!

I must say that, at least for me, the cultural shock was not so big. I believe it is important to know a few things about Sweden and Swedes in order to be prepare and reduce the shock as much as possible:
  • Swedes are EXTREMELY punctual! Their definition of meeting at 13:00 is meeting at 13:00 and arriving at 13:05 will be consider late. You can actually see teachers looking at their watch (or the room's clock) before the class so they can start exactly on time. Be prepare for any teacher to tell you that if you arrived 5 minutes late you'll have to reschedule the meeting.
  • Swedes are very helpful, nice and friendly. Still, it's not common for them to start talking to you on the streets or a line for no reason. Maybe they'll talk to you to practice your language (many of them speak another language besides English and Swedish) but they consider saying "hi" for no reason as an intrusion. Still, if you say "hi" to them it's fine because they think that's part of YOUR culture and they think it's nice. So... you'll be OK being yourself, but don't expect them to act as someone from your country. They'll be themselves...
  • It's OK to call teachers by their given name. Actually everyone uses just given names and that's OK.
  • They all have lunch at 12:00 and you won't be able to explain that's also possible to eat at 11:30 or 13:00.
  • They are really really friendly and eager to help.
In my opinion if you're planing to come here as an exchange student, a year would be better than only one semester. I think there are many things to do and there are great things whole year round. Drinking champagne and making boats for Valborg in Spring is great. Skating from Uppsala to Stockholm and playing with the snow during the winter is also great. So, it's really hard to pick. There are many international students here and we all enjoy Uppsala the whole year!

How's the weather here? Well, that's hard to say... 2 years ago was one of the coldest winters in Uppsala, and last winter was the coldest on record! So... From my experience, winter is COOOOOLD!!!!!!!!! Usually around -10 C with lots and lots of snow. Swedes say that usually there was not that much snow and that it hardly was colder than 0 C... I guess I'll have to see this winter to let you know more.

If any of you finally decides to come to Uppsala, let me know! :-)