Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)


You know you’ve been in Sweden too long when…

I read this post in Australians Abroad, probably written by an Aussie in Sweden. It was really true, and I can really relate myself to it very much. Haha, if you want to more about Sweden, this is a cool stuff to read! As the writer said, the list is bottomless, I’m just listing some of the interesting ones here, and you can view the whole post via this link:



3. The first thing you do upon entering a bank/post office/chemist etc. is to look for the queue number machine.

4. You accept that you will have to queue to take a queue number.

5. When a stranger on the street smiles at you, you assume: a: he is drunk;  b: he is insane;  c: he’s an American

10. Silence is fun.

13. You pass a supermarket and think “Wow, it is open, I had better go in and buy something!”

15. Your native language has seriously deteriorated, now you begin to “eat medicine”, “open the television”, “close the lights off”, “take a beer”, “look upon everything” and tell someone to “follow with me” or “you needn’t to!” You start to say “for 2 years ago” and expressions like “Don’t panic” creep into your everyday language.

20. Sundays no longer seem dull with all the shops closed, and begin to feel restful instead.

21. “No comment” becomes a conversation strategy.

22. You have only two facial expressions – smiling or blank. Also your arms are just hanging down when you chat with other people.

25. Hugging is reserved for sexual foreplay.

27. You refuse to wear a hat, even in minus 20 degree weather.

32. You no longer look at sports pants as casual wear, but recognise them as semi-formal wear.

41. You just love Jaffa.

46. You know that more than three channels means cable.

49. You eat jam with savoury dishes.

56. You have conversations with people outside when it is –10C.

80. When a stranger asks you a question in the streets, you think it’s normal to just keep walking, saying nothing.

84. You lose any artistic talent whatsoever.

104. You start to differentiate between types of snow.

141. “It’s 5 degrees outside” does not necessarily mean PLUS 5, it could mean minus 5.

143. You know that “Extrapris” goods are cheaper, even though your English mind translates the word as “extra price”

144. You will squeeze past somebody rather than say excuse me.

169. You don’t even get surprised when the doctor, not only can’t help you, he/she can’t even diagnose you.

175. You start talking to yourself in Swedish.

180. You think an hour and a half cycle on your washing machine is a “quick wash”.

195. You think that people who wear other colours apart from black, grey, white or blue are exhibitionists.

205. You find that you can’t spell in English anymore. You now replace C with K. Like panik, automatik, seasik, arithmetik…. and you try to remember does papper/paper have one or two p’s in English?

206. You no longer make appointments, but instead you book times.

207. You read text instead of sub-titles.

216. It seems normal to you that you’ve been bleeding in the emergency room at the hospital for four and a half hours when the three doctors walk by on their third coffee break since you got there.

242. You refer to weeks by their number.

248. England, Scotland and Wales can all be called England.

249. You’ve come to accept that customer service departments don’t do anything to help customers.

263. It’s normal to have an entire pizza just for yourself.

276. You no longer feel it’s unbearable inside an over-heated shop wearing full winter gear.

277. You no longer look for toilets marked specifically male or female

279. It is your birthday YOU have to make the cake.

284. The most interesting report on the news is the weather.

286. When you say good bye to someone you depart by saying ‘Have it so good’

294. ICA is not I.C.A – it’s eeka.

295. The wash cottage is not a holiday resort but a very competitive environment, where the rules should never be broken and in particular never go over your time by even a minute or you risk a lot of sucking and muttering from the next in line.

[hell yea people line up and wait for 30 minutes on tht spot to use the machine, and everyone just staring at you when you come to collect your clothes..]]

314. You get excited when you hear someone speaking English.

315. You travel north on vacation instead of south.

320. You no longer eat yoghurt, you drink it.

327. Three for the price of two is the deal of a lifetime, regardless of what it is. Even 3 for the price of 2 1/2 surprises you.

348. When you stop converting Swedish crowns into your native currency.

352. You get used to seeing dogs tied up outside of supermarkets and you stop to pat them.

355. And paying $800,000 for a 3 room (living room, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen) house in a suburb of Stockholm seems cheap.

356. You accept that you pay bills at the post office, pick up packages from the grocery store, and you have to drive 5 miles to find a postbox to put your outgoing mail in.

357. You enjoy that postcards are the means of communication.

361. When you see that the time is 3.30 and you say it’s “half TO four” (halv fyra)

363. You think there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

364. The only thing in your quick memory is “Hej” and “Hej Hej”

365. You think Sweden is big (because you always compare it to Finland, Norway or Iceland)

375. Your house is starting to look like the showcase to IKEA.

399. You start thinking about the weekend on Wednesday morning.

407. You know that twenty hundred is a year, not an hour.




Greetings from Sweden!

Hej hej! Greetings from Sweden!

Well this post was written in February, but for some reason I could not post a blog until last week.. So this post is kind of overdue but still, since it’s my first attempt to write here, i’ll just post it up 😀  Things have changed and so as some of my feelings, and I’ll write more about it pretty soon. Spring is (finally) here but the winter photos are still memorable. So enjoy!


First of all, I must say that this website makes me homesick by only spotting the words “Australia” and “kangaroos”. Lol I know this is silly, and Australia is in fact not my home country. However as a student who has studied in Perth for two and half years, I must admit that I miss Perth and my friends there a lot more than I expected myself to be. And of course I miss Malaysia where I was born and grown, but believe it or not, there have been so many things happening since I came to Uppsala a month ago, until I don’t even have much time to get homesick as seriously as I did when I first came to Perth!

Ok let’s go back to the beginning. It’s been a month to stay in a freezing cold country where normal temperature is ranged from 0 to -16 (just in the city!). Being the only student in my campus to exchange to Uppsala for this semester, I took a 16 hours flight alone and I know there’s no one that I can rely on in the far far country up north. I am not a very adventurous person – and my mom was actually so worried about me 😦 – but I know I will be fine. It was a very complicated feeling, mixed with excitement, curiosity, and anxiety.

I stayed in the hostel nearby the city for two days before checking into the housing. There is no housing area specially offered for students, but exchange students are guaranteed with accommodation when they applied studies. I didn’t know accommodation was such a big issue here until I heard some experiences from some friends. Perhaps more houses have to be built in order to cope with the rapid increasing number of students in recent years.

Talking about my feeling and impression to this city, no doubt, I felt like a stranger. In fact I felt the same when I went to Perth, because my English was not very well that time, and living in an English-speaking country was just different from where I came from. However, the strangeness that I had in Uppsala is much more intense. Even though English is very common in Sweden and most of the locals can speak very good English, it’s still very strange because you can’t understand a word from the signboard to the menu. Walking in the middle of the street, I just felt like a total outsider, having lost in the city where everyone speaks the language I couldn’t understand… But the people are quite nice and friendly. I met some Singaporean students, and they said if you stand in the roadside long enough with your maps, someone will probably come and ask if you need help.

Days have become better when I get to know more international students.  I went for some activities prepared for the international students in the first week (just like the O-Week in Murdoch). I tried snow-sledging, tasted some traditional Swedish food, and I even attended a Chinese New Year celebration organized by the Chinese Students Associations here. And I’ve also been to Helsinki last weekend! It’s been a wonderful experience taking on a cruise that moves on the frozen sea.

And I think I shall write about my study (which is supposed to be the first priority? Hmm :p) next time, or I’ll never finish this post. I am actually (ahem) still in the honeymoon period, but so far I’ve done two presentations, coming up with a literature review and group project. Soon it will be time to be serious, but not now. lol

Well I’m really missing the green green grass, blue blue sea and the big big sun in Perth and Malaysia. I kinda feel myself becoming colour blind by looking at the pure whiteness all the time.. But before I can see the colourful nature again when in spring and summer (finally) come to town, I will (and I am) enjoy the feeling of not feeling my fingers and toes all the time, as I know this would possibly be the longest period in my life to stay in Northern Europe for study purpose. So, jackets on, time to explore more!  Hej Då!

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A little compilation of Uppsala, Sweden from January to March~



It’s been four months now.

I’ve seen so much of this place. Made a lot of friends, a lot of memories, seen and done things I would never ever have imagined.

This is much like the story of every exchange student, I would imagine, but to me, it feels special.

As I find myself nearing the end of my stay here in Umeå, Sweden, I feel like a little reflection is in order:

Actually, I’ve spent more time on my various trips around Europe than here in Umeå. Just got back from a trip further north at 1am today. I’m writing this blog now rather than later since I’m leaving again for another trip around Europe in a couple of days. Tiredness is no longer a problem, just a fact of life.

So far I have visited a whole lot of Sweden, plus bits of other countries like Poland, Finland (twice), Norway (thrice), Russia, Italy, Switzerland, France and Monaco, with plans to see Spain and Germany as well as Italy and France again before I leave – in a month.

I’ve been roaming around with friends I made here, friends from just about every country in the world (in fact I’m convinced Sweden has more Germans than Swedes). I have a bunch of Swedish friends as well, of course, but they are not so interested in such touristy activities…

One thing that you notice when travelling with non-native English speakers is that many will call just about anywhere “home”. Instead of “let’s go back to the hotel where we are staying for one night”, it’s “let’s go home”. Of course I don’t feel at home in that hotel, it’s just the place we sleep. In this case I usually try to correct people (which some really appreciate, more than others).

There is one case, though, when I don’t feel that this is a mistake; When people say we are going “home” as we return to Umeå, then I am inclined to agree with them. I do feel like I’m coming home. This feels like home.

The snow; the cold; the sun that we never see, and the beautiful skies by which we know it is still there; this tiny little room; my curtains that I found in a dumpster – held open by a coathanger; riding my bike across the frozen lake; cooking my own food in my own shared kitchen; my housemates, about whom I know nothing, not even their names (as is the Swedish way); the times when I find myself thinking “$5 Australian, what’s that in crowns?”; the big dirty factory next door, whose smoky beacon guides me safely home from any place in town at any hour of night…

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All of it. It’s home.


So it’s been snowing for a couple of weeks now. This was a photo I took after the first big snow in Krakow. It was 7:30am (I have an 8am Monday class – it kills me every week) so no one had cleared the paths yet. I never realised it could be difficult to walk in. I didn’t realise that some of the cobblestones in Krakow have a funny kind of glaze or something on them which makes them absolute death traps once a little bit of power’s on them.

I seriously found it that difficult to walk without almost slipping all the time that at first, I had to leave five minutes earlier for class to avoid being late It sounds stupid but it’s true – I have almost fallen over so many times. So I took to walking very deliberately and very slowly.

By the time I went on a holiday to Stockholm last week, I thought I had the hang of walking in the snow, but then I was confronted with some we don’t have in Krakow: hills! Or at least very slight inclines – Krakow is pretty much completely flat. I honestly thought I was going to lose my footing and end up sliding down this one.

I feel like a complete idiot because everyone else seems to be able to walk along normally, and this seems like such a simple thing… but snow has given me so much trouble in terms of staying upright, and I completely didn’t realise that would happen!



The first snow

The view from my bedroom window this morning!



It is October 14, not even the middle of Autumn yet, and it’s snowing! Only in Sweden, folks. Only in the north too, they probably won’t see snow for weeks in Stockholm (which is 1000km south of my cheery little village here).

This is early snowfall even for north Sweden, no one expected it!

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, and I was wearing shorts the day before. In fact, some friends and I had planned a trip to Nordkapp in Norway tomorrow, which is the northern most point in Europe – as far north as one can possibly get by car (and foot for the last little bit). We expected nice weather and clear skies, even hoping to see Aurora Borealis while we were up there….

Then all of a sudden, things changed.

I woke up this morning to find my window ajar and thought rain was coming in. I ran to the window and closed it, but noticed that it was not rain at all, but snow! Everything outside was covered, and my mood switched from annoyance to giddy excitement in an instant. That was when I took this photo.

The windows to the common kitchen and covered balcony of my dorm were also open this morning, so there was a lot of cleaning to do….. But I was cleaning up snow! SNOW! It was awesome. I’m having snowball fights, catching the falling snow, sliding around in it (it’s so much slipperier than I expected). Oh, and the shoes I bought SPECIFICALLY for the winter? Drenched.

I have been to perisher in mid-winter, and there is more snow here ON THE VERY FIRST DAY! (okay, so this is not really my first snow, but snow in Australia doesn’t count, it cannot hope to compare to this)

So, we’re still going on the trip to Nordkapp, but it will be an entirely different experience now. My friends here are all complaining that the roads will be so slippery, while I sit giggling in anticipation.


The old and the new

Tower and neon sign

The old and the new

For me, the most interesting thing in coming to Europe was the sheer age of the places. On the way to Sweden I travelled through Krakow, Poland, a city with cobblestone streets, marketplaces, a castle and lots of ancient-looking statues. The paths and streets were probably older than any in Australia, possibly built before our country was even colonised. They also looked like they had not been maintained for this same length of time.

I have some interesting photos showing the age of that city.  This is not a photo of Krakow, though, since I have seen the same thing here in Umeå, but with an even more interesting twist:

For centuries, Umeå was a fairly small town in the sparsely populated north of Sweden. It was only in the past 50 years that it was strategically built up into a bigger city around this University where I am exchanging. The centre of town is thus filled with many delightful juxtapositions of old and new architecture as well as culture. This photo is showing a restaurant with a big spinning neon sign, which is built amongst several medieval-looking buildings like the one seen in the background.

There was an even bigger shock, though, regarding the intermixing of old and new; This came when I was admiring the large cathedral-like stone building in the centre of town. It had huge wooden doors and arched windows, pointed towers at the corners and a big clock tower in the middle. I asked a local what this building was: the church? Town hall? Nope, it’s a nightclub.