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  The last days of my exchange period in Uppsala University is coming. A little strange feeling arises in my heart, blend with the eagerness to get back home after a 5-months-away, perhaps I’m just not fully ready to say good bye to Uppsala, where is probably the second “home” in my mind.


 

A great experience

 

5 months is neither long, nor short for starting a brand new life in a new city, with new friends, new habits, new perspectives about the world… It’s just quite “sufficient” for me. But I can strongly indicate that I have changed a lot, in a better way, as well as the strong relationship developed between me and Uppsala.

 

I remember the very first days I arrived here, I was unaccustomed to everything. The culture, the people, the streets…….. In Vietnam, my home country, we don’t often go to supermarket, we prefer flee market with fresh meat and vegetables instead of frozen ones as in Sweden. I even didn’t dare to drink water straightly from the kitchen hydrant, I kept boiling the water before drinking, exactly conventional habit of Vietnamese. Those are only 2 of thousands memorable untried experience I will keep inside for the rest of my life. Changing habits, thoughts existed for almost 20 years of my life was really unfavorable at the beginning days of Uppsala life.

 

But fascinating things also came to me. Uppsala is the first time I traveled to Europe, and the first time in my life I knew real snow, even It was extremely cold weather (in my home country, temperature lowest record was around 5 Celsius degree) and my ear couldn’t suffer the blowing wind, but snowy has been my favorite weather mood, I love snow, as well as falling in love with Uppsala. Time passed by, I acquainted with the new life, and made a lot of new friends. To be honest, one of the greatest valuables Uppsala has, in my opinion, is the system of Nations. That’s the life of students in Uppsala, it’s not only a place for students like us to gather and have fun, to have lifetime international buddies, but also a family where you can find many empathetic people sharing your feelings, thoughts and life together.

 

 Another greatest treasure in Uppsala is Studying, or exactly the way Uppsala students pursue knowledge with great passion.

 
 

A new person

 

If you start a new life, you will develop yourself adapting to new situations and environments. I’m not an exception from that rule. Furthermore, I feel a marked improvement in both Studying and Living.

 

Studying

 

In Vietnam, our method to study is so different from it was in Uppsala University. We have lectures every day, from 9a.m to perhaps 5p.m. We spend so much time on lecture periods, inevitably reduces the time budget for self-studying. I admit myself rarely came to the home university library, as well as my friends. We have study corner, we prefer working alone and most of us believe it worked better. Our seminars and presentations are often like an encyclopedia, with significant information, with few discover and self-interest.

But my mind has changed a lot, same as studying way. The course “International Marketing” was a huge “shock” to me, when I “need to read 8 hours per day if  I aim to get VG result” (professor Nazeem told that, of course I couldn’t make it), and requirement to find, to understand and put all the knowledge we learn from lectures into the essence of 3 pages-seminar. A real challenge for me. Fortunately, I also learned how to discuss and work as a team, with one of my best friend in Uppsala – my Canadian teammate, he helped me a lot. I learned how to write a thesis “in a very academic way”, how to write an essay with in-text citations through the course “Essay writing”. I started to come to Ekonomikum library to study here, “with passion”, just like the way it should be in Uppsala. And now I love reading more and more.
 
 

 

Communicate – friends
 

Nominated as a student from my university, I used to be very confident about my English ability. But the early days, immense disappointment came to me: I couldn’t understand all the conversation people around me make. Due to the variety of nationalities, my friends kept talking in their own ascend. And also the cultural gaps of us, it was not simple to follow and enjoy the night with them. They seem to be very different and not suitable for me.

 

But now, both listening and speaking skills of me have been developed: I can understand them, I became friends with them, and I even can make fun and lead the conversation at some point. I felt totally comfortable with their great personality that I couldn’t figure out the very first days. Communicating is just the key to connect people, and I believe and got my key now.

 

It will be an enormous deficiency if I don’t mention about our “beloved” coordinator, Ms. Mirkka Pescador, and “humorous” director of this program, Associate Professor James Sallis. They gave me and my friend the possibly-warmest welcome, the great care for our life, as well as many excellent advices during our stay here. We hanged out sometimes, talking about studying, life, culture (some Vietnamese dishes were also made in Mr. James’ beautiful houses) and I’d love to do it more in the future.

 

 

Self - independent
 

Due to our culture, male students, like me, often stays with my family during university life. I was so dependent on my family. I didn’t know how to cook a proper meal, how to go and buy food myself, how to wash clothes, in general, how to solve the life myself. After 5 months, I’m more mature, self-independent and totally happy with the new “me”. I’m planning to surprise my family, my friends when I cook them some Sweden dishes.

 
 

Organization of Exchange Program.

 

In short, I was completely happy with my exchange experience. I got a small problem to get my Sweden VISA before leaving Vietnam. Because the Letter of Admittance (original, printed one) was not delivered on time, so I waited for it, until there were only 3 weeks left before my flight. I was extremely nervous, so I used a copy of  the Letter. Fortunately, it worked well, and I received my Visa permit only 2 days before the flight. It’s not a mistake, but a remarkable experience if the exchange program continues running.

 

Another recommendation for our program is that the students can choose the days they depart from Sweden. I finished all courses on May 29th, and 10 days later I was a little bit too long for me. It’s great to depart at 10th June, but I think it would be better if the students can actively decide their own time.

 
 
 

Gratitude

 

I want to give my special thanks to Associate Professor James Sallis, director of bilateral exchange program, Uppsala University; Doctor Phan Chi Anh, director of the exchange program, University of Business and Economics, VNU Hanoi; Ms. Mirkka Pescador, coordinator of exchange program, and all parties involved that gave UEB students a valuable opportunity to experience and develop in Uppsala. I hope there will be more students can take part in the program in the future. I will keep in heart and tell my friends all the precious stories during my Uppsala life, and hopefully to come back to Uppsala, perhaps on my Master degree the next few years.

 

Uppsala, 10thJune 2013

Quan Ngoc Nguyen - K55FBA

 

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