The Study Abroad Newsletter

Underbara Uppsala

Anya Benavides
Uppsala University, Sweden

Hej! I’m Anya Benavides, an English major at UH Hilo, and I studied at Uppsala University in Sweden. One prominent feature about me is my curiosity. Initially, I chose to study in Sweden because of how unfamiliar it was to me. Right I was as almost everything about Uppsala seemed different than Hilo.

The sun set at 3:30 p.m. I went to class five minutes away from a castle and almost everyone seemed to have a bike. There’s something very special about Uppsala. Even in the beginning, it was guiltily hard for me to feel homesick as Uppsala so quickly became my home. One of my most memorable experiences was the realization that Uppsala became a part of me … became home. Half asleep on the way back from a beautiful trip to Iceland on my 20th birthday I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to be back home.” I was referring to Uppsala. This was February 13th at about 6 a.m. and the first time I really thought about how happy I was about my last-minute decision to choose Uppsala. The day itself was simple, cozy and spent with Swedish princess cakes and the best company. While I could have also easily written about times like seeing the northern lights, going to a legitimate ball in a castle or going to a Swedish concert with a mandatory pillow fight, this particular day is one of the dearest to me.

Spring flowers

Spring felt like magic. I was convinced that spring was magic. It’s like the sun was free again after months of slowly peeking its way out of darkness. At one point in June, darkness never came. Night was replaced with bold, blue evenings, and the sun rose shortly after evening appeared. My second memory occurred on June 15th at about 4 a.m. My best friend was visiting and we spent the night by Uppsala’s Fyris River catching up on six months of not seeing each other. Later, with plenty of fika (Swedish coffee breaks that happen frequently and can last hours) involved, we met up with another friend of mine. It’s easy to lose track of time when it doesn’t ever get dark which is why we didn’t go back to my apartment until almost 4 a.m. What I remember most clearly about that morning, however, was the bike ride back home. Hanna and I were amazed because there we were at 3:40 a.m. riding past completely empty streets with the sun shining bright as day. Birds chirped and I wondered if they had trouble sleeping. Wildflowers expanded as if they were completing their morning stretches and the air felt crisp. Again, I was convinced that spring was magic.

Underbara translates to wonderful, which is an understatement for my experience in Sweden.