Five things that make Uppsala a superb university city

Still wondering about the best place in Sweden to study? Ponder no more: Uppsala is just perfect, argues exchange student Marie Zafimehy.

Five things that make Uppsala a superb university city
Relaxing by the river in Uppsala. Photo: Niklas Lundengård / Destination Uppsala

All rankings agree: Uppsala University is one of the world’s best universities. As well as high quality education, its 45,000 students also benefit from well-organized student life and proximity to the Swedish capital. It's old, it's got a great reputation, and Uppsala University remains the best place to study in Sweden. Here’s why.

1. The Nations 

Uppsala's network of so-called nations forms the heartbeat of the city's student life. The thirteen nations, each representing one or two Swedish regions, are students' main social hub.

By day they sell coffee and cakes, before morphing into bustling clubs at night. And you can always go to their pubs for cheap (but very tasty) burgers and beer! 

To have any chance of social survival, students in the city need to get hold of a nation card by paying membership to the nation of their choosing. This is the golden ticket, and it costs just 30 euros or so per semester. 

Previously, students were assigned a nation depending on where they came from in Sweden, but these days students can get in everywhere if they have the sacred card. The biggest is Norrlands, with around 7,500 members. Miss it at your peril.  

Niklas Lundengård/

2. Corridor-parties

Where there are students, there are parties. And Uppsala is no exception. When students are not clubbing at nations, they organize corridor-parties.

Most students in the city live in small rooms off sprawling corridors. Flogsta, to the south-west of the city, is the biggest and best-known of the student housing complexes. 

It counts fifteen seven-floor buildings, each with two corridors that are home to twelve people  – do the math (If you can't you probably have no business studying there!)

If you’re in the area around ten o’clock, you'll almost certainly hear the famed 'Flogsta roar'.

3. Location, location… what's the third one again? 

Located less than an hour from Stockholm, Uppsala allows students to take the train to the capital over the weekend and enjoy what it has to offer. Not that they need to get away of course, but a bit of variety can't hurt. 

Other nearby rail destinations include Sigtuna and Dalarna in the Swedish heartland. 

Uppsala is also small enough for students to bike everywhere: you can easily reach any part of the city in 15 minutes. Really, a bike is the first thing to buy when you move. Biking gets even more pleasant in the summer when you can head to lakes like Ekoln or Fjällnora.

And if you're tempted by a stunning Baltic escape, Uppsala University even has a campus on the island of Gotland.

Photo: David Naylor/Uppsala universitet

4. It's one of the world's best universities

Uppsala University might “only” be the second best university in Sweden, but it’s also the 32nd best in Europe according to the Times ranking. And its 61st place in the Shanghai ranking makes it one of the best in the world. This international reputation attracts lots of people from all over the world: 12 percent of Uppsala University’s students come form abroad.

Photo: Kalbar/Destination Uppsala

5. It's got history coming out its ears

Created in 1477, Uppsala University is the oldest university in Sweden. The 13 nations were founded in the 17th century and their original buildings are largely still in use. Paintings on the walls depict old nation leaders and key movers and shakers in Uppsala’s historical student life.

The nations keep alive age-old Swedish traditions, like gasques (fancy dinners), spring balls, and spex clubs (theatre clubs).

And when the spring celebration of Valborg comes round, Uppsala is probably the best place to celebrate. Students from all over the country come to watch the boat race on the Fyrisån river and get doused in champagne showers.

Uppsala is also very pretty and is popular among tourists. Uppsala Cathedral is one of the main attractions: its construction finished in the 19th century and many royal family members are buried there, like the ruthless and immodest King Gustav Vasa.

Preserving this history requires patience and dedication: sadly, the main university building, also emblematic of the city, is currently closed for renovation.

The main university building. Photo: Niklas Lundengård/Destination Uppsala

Marie Zafimehy is an exchange student from France currently interning with The Local. 


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime