Baran Bayraktaroglu, Uppsala Sweden
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My name is Baran Bayraktaroglu. I am a theoretical physics masters student at Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden. I was awarded the Type B3 – Postgraduate scholarship from the EU Scholarship Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community. I received the scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year.
I chose Sweden as a place to continue my academic career because I have heard of how high the living standards are in the country. To give an example, people here give a certain level of attention to recycling. All of the apartments have rooms for recycling, full of individual trash compartments for each type of trash. Swedish people are very sensitive to recycling. And my Norwegian friends are also sensitive towards the issue, and they say recycling is a common practice in Scandinavia. When I came here, I have learnt that the government burns down all of these trashes to produce energy from the excess heat. They really do not want anything to go to waste.
I chose Uppsala University purely because of academic reasons. I wanted to study string theory, which is a theory about how particles are not like tiny dots but more like elongated lines of strings. And only Uppsala had string theory courses in Sweden, so I chose accordingly. And from the point of view of a physicist, Uppsala is a university that puts collaboration at the front. There is always some kind of effort in putting collaboration to its best. The other day we had a problem session in which we had some open-ended questions. The tutor said that these are “Fika problems” and we need to eat and discuss among ourselves. Fika is a Swedish term which means “to have coffee”, and Swedes have this tradition of taking a break, eating some traditional kanelbulle (cinnamon roll) meanwhile satisfying their never-ending coffee needs. So, we ate, drank and discussed, which made me think why haven’t I seen anything like this before? Because I have never been to Sweden before, they have experimental ideas about education. They basically do science on education.
I really like Uppsala. Biking is the popular way of transport, although I prefer walking. I have heard that people bike from one end of this small city to the other end in minutes, especially if they are late for their classes. While I did my walking, I have seen so many trees in Uppsala that I cannot think of a city without wildlife anymore. Everywhere I go I certainly see some interesting flower, or a sheep, or a deer. The campus is spread all over the city, but I generally have lectures at one building, called Ångströmlaboratoriet, which means Ångström laboratory. Anders Jonas Ångström was a famous physicist from Uppsala University who is well-known for his work on spectroscopy. My home is pretty close to Ångström and there is a big forest called Kronparken, which means Crown Park. It is a protected natural area, containing different species of trees and animals. Therefore everyday (or most of the days) when I walk to Ångström, I pass through this beautiful forest. That’s a pretty good way to start your day.
In Uppsala, living as a student is very easy, and that is not to say it is boring. Easy as in: you get the Mecenat card (for a fee per semester) for just being a student at Uppsala which gives you discounts in all sorts of things but mostly online shopping, a transportation card called the UL card for a discount on a monthly subscription which lets you travel by bus with unlimited usage throughout Uppsala (and to the Arlanda Airport). I need to be honest, living in Uppsala and Sweden as a whole is not cheap. You need to be prepared in spending some money to your rent, your daily groceries and everyday needs, the Mecenat and UL card fees, and of course your phone bill. But on the bright side, if you plan to continue your academic career here for a PhD, the salaries for PhD students are quite high, so plan accordingly.
The scholarship programme is doing a remarkable thing with putting this call for short blogs about our adventures abroad. This is like a putting up a diary, which brings lots of memories and creates nostalgia in the case of the writer. And, possibly, creates excitement for the reader. Reader, I wish my best in your future endeavors.
The picture here is me in front of Ångström. You can see the abundant bikes.