I knew that I’d come across unforeseen circumstances while away on exchange but having to leave Sweden 4 months early due to a global pandemic was definitely not one of them.
Let’s start at the beginning though. Ever since my first year of uni, I’ve been wanting to go on exchange. Everyone I’d heard from told me that it was one of the most memorable and fun things they’ve done. I’d been wanting to visit Europe, particularly Scandinavia, for the longest time and an exchange seemed like the perfect opportunity to not only visit, but to have an authentic experience of actually living there. Sweden stood out to me because of its beauty, lifestyle and culture. Combined with the fact that Uppsala had a very active student life steeped in tradition, was only a 30-minute train ride away from Stockholm, and was easily accessible to the rest of Europe, it wasn’t a hard choice.
We had quite an extensive orientation program when we first arrived. There were official welcomes, pancake lunches and board-game nights, all of which made it very easy to meet other exchange, international and local students. My classes were at the Gamla Torget campus, right in the middle of town. I had a scenic walk to class and if ever I was sleepy, the cold winter air had the same effect as a few cups of coffee. My time in Uppsala was a lot of fun, from taco nights to spontaneous weekends (or week-long) trips away with friends.
I was midway through my Lapland tour when I found out I had to return. All of us on the trip were exchange students from different universities, and the majority of us were being told to return home as soon as possible. While it put a damper on our trip, we decided to enjoy the rest of the tour as best we could before we had to get back and organise our return.
Seeing the Northern Lights and snowmobiling did cheer us up, however.
Flinders and Uppsala were supportive and helpful in facilitating my return. They helped me prepare to come back and made me feel that support was available if I needed it.
Organising my return was incredibly stressful and was definitely a test of my resilience, adaptability and ability to stay calm. After a flurry of premature goodbyes and intense planning, I returned to Adelaide. I was able to continue with the rest of my Uppsala semester online through Zoom and Google Docs. It was tough handling the change from being so social to being so isolated, but it further motivated me to stay in contact with the friends I made while I was away.
While it was very disappointing to have ended my exchange so early, I don’t regret a moment of my time in Sweden. It was an incredible two months and I’m very thankful I got to make some amazing friends and have some truly memorable experiences. I eagerly look forward to going back.
Nathaniel Ramesh student of Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice Bachelor of Business (Advanced Leadership) undertook a semester exchange at Uppsala University, Sweden in S1 2020.
Read Nathaniel’s first blog here