Choosing accommodation for an upcoming exchange can be quite a daunting task, as it is difficult to know how much of your social life will depend on where you live, and whether you’ll be able to handle a complete change of pace to what you may be used to living in a Canberra share house or in catered accommodation. Depending on whether your exchange is in a big city, where accommodation is usually self-organised, or in a smaller student city like Uppsala where there are more familiar student housing options, it is important to have an open mind and remember that where you live doesn’t have to be indicative of the experience you will have overall on exchange, or all of the friends you will make!
With that said, I will explain the accommodation that I am currently living in and how accommodation is organized in Uppsala. Once I had received and accepted my exchange offer for Uppsala University, I was sent a link to the university housing website where I was able to look through the various student housing options available to exchange students, and then was given a date for when the application portal opened. I could submit three preferences of where I’d like to live. Around a month after submitting these preferences I was emailed with my final accommodation offer, which I was able to easily accept or decline online.
Accommodation is guaranteed to all exchange students and there are many different buildings in different areas of the city that provide small studios, similar to those at UniLodge. A big part of Swedish university culture is what is known as ‘corridor living’, where students will have their own bedroom and (usually) own bathroom, but share a kitchen and small lounge area with their ‘corridor’, usually consisting of 8-12 people. This corridor will be one of around 14-16 corridors housed within a high-rise building, with two separate corridors on each floor. That is the layout of where I live, which is called Flogsta. Flogsta was where I was told I HAD to live on exchange, because of its social and fun reputation and the fact that most exchange students live there, meaning it is very easy to meet people. While I was excited at the prospect of living in a corridor, I was a bit nervous as my research had uncovered that Flogsta had a pretty wild reputation – there are 8 main buildings, housing around 1500 students, located about a 10-minute bike ride from the city centre and it was apparently not uncommon for there to be wild parties. There is also something known as the ‘Flogsta Scream’, which is a social phenomenon unique to Swedish universities, and which began in Flogsta many years ago, where at 10pm every night, Flogsta dwellers open their windows and scream as loud as they can into the night.
Having now lived in Flogsta for almost 8 weeks, I can confirm that the ‘Flogsta Scream’ does indeed occur every night to varying degrees, but as for crazy parties, I have rarely seen anything that lives up to this reputation! Mostly corridor mates will converge on the small kitchen, which has two sinks, stoves and ovens and an individual cupboard for each person (which can be locked via a key given when you receive your accommodation package on arrival) each night to cook dinner and chat.
Occasionally there will be a ‘fika’ (coffee and cake) organized by someone on the corridor and there is always someone who takes the lead on creating a group chat and who keeps track of when the kitchen needs extra detergent, or when the tea towels need washing. There are no dishwashers so it can be a challenge for everyone to keep up the same standard of cleanliness at times, but most people are very considerate and I haven’t had too much of an issue with a messy kitchen, especially when we get together for a big clean up and to take out the rubbish together. Other good things about Flogsta include a free laundry room located in 3 out of the 8 buildings which have washers and dryers, as well as Uppsala’s most affordable grocery store just a 5-minute walk away. It is great to be able to go straight to your room and have your own space, but it is likely that you will always find someone else in the kitchen if you ever feel lonely and want a chat or cup of tea!
The bedrooms themselves are actually quite large, with a nice big window, your own bathroom, lots of cupboard space and come equipped with a bed, desk, side table and lamps. The rent is not too bad – around $650 each month, but unfortunately there is no Wifi in Flogsta, only ‘plug in internet’ so you need to purchase a router or a cable to connect to your laptop. I share a router with the girl who lives next door to me, as the Wifi stretches across both our rooms and this meant that it was only $20 each.
Overall, I am very happy that I chose to live in Flogsta, as I have met people from all over the world and never feel too isolated. I did however make a conscious effort to seek out other ways to meet actual Swedish people, as the Swedish students tend to live in their own shared apartments rather than opting for university housing. I wanted the best of both worlds – international and Swedish friends, and found that getting involved in events held by the Law Faculty, as well as joining a student Nation have made this possible.