Lussekatt: the flavor of Swedish holidays

Lussekatt, the most Christmasy pastry in Sweden!

In Sweden, there are several signs that will indicate that the winter holiday season is coming closer; Christmas lights everywhere, tomte, julmust, and of course, in the fika department, the lussekatt.

The lussekatt, which can be directly translated to “Lucia’s cat”, is a rich, fragrant, s-shaped, yellow bun that has been spiced with saffron and decorated with a couple of raisins. I believe this is one of my favorite Swedish buns, not overly-sweet but still sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.

This bun is heavily associated with St. Lucia’s day, celebrated on December 13th, but it can also be enjoyed through all advent season, and it is also a popular accompaniment for fika during Christmas.

Lussekat at the amigo store at SLU

My personal recommendation is that, if you buy lussekatt that are not freshly baked, and thus are cold and hard, just put them into the microwave for a few seconds and they will regain their softness and will become extra delicious!

If you are coming or are already residing in Sweden, please, don’t lose the opportunity to try this delicious bun with a cup of coffee.

Hope you liked this small pre-holiday post and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Anna

Cycling in Uppsala

Winter is coming, and with that the cycling season is almost over… Unless you want a broken leg or a concussion from slipping on the icy roads, that is! Although there are really crazy-experienced Swedish cyclists that will keep pedaling even if it rains or snows. So, after almost half a year of going around Uppsala on my tiny black bike, it is time to put her in the bike shed until next season and to tell you about the perks of living in a city made for cyclists.

Bikes, bikes everywhere!

Bikes are awesome! They are good for exercising, eco-friendly, and they are an economic means of transportation (especially considering the local bus prices). Here in Uppsala you see them everywhere you go. If you don’t believe me you can check out the pictures of SLU’s bike parking area at Denisa’s blog from the Environmental Economics and Management area!

Although full of plus points by themselves, I think that the real charm of having a bike here in Uppsala is how convenient it is. Uppsala is extremely bike-friendly and has bike roads and bike parking as good as everywhere.

Bike roads here are very modern, they have their own illumination, maps for those who refuse to use Google Maps, especial crossings for cyclists and pedestrians, and when in winter, the snow gets scooped away just like in the car roads. I particularly like how the bike roads are usually separated from the car roads, so you feel quite safe while cycling without the fear of falling and suddenly ending up in front of a car.

Additionally, people here has some cycling manners (well…some of them) and make sure to signal with their hand when they want to make a turn so the people in the back can be prepared. Also, most of drivers (well… most of them…again) are very respectful of cyclists. This makes Uppsala a cycling paradise!

The main bike road I use every day. Difficult to get lost with all those signs!

Some useful maps along the road

Nothing better than riding your bike while enjoying the autumn colours

Of course, bikes are not perfect and there are some downsides. like the unpredictable Swedish weather, the battle royal for a bike parking spot, and the abundance of bike thieves (put a good lock on your bike if you don’t want it to get stolen!). But overall, having a bike in Uppsala is great!

Hope you like this post and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Have a wonderful day!

Anna

My first test in Sweden

Last Monday I had my very first test in Sweden! It was nerve-wrecking because I didn’t know what to expect! Plus, it was my first test in English so that kicked it up another notch. Now with all the stress gone, I thought it could be interesting for you to know a bit about the test-taking experience at SLU.

Unlike my other test experiences, where I just needed to show up in the right place and time, the first thing I needed to do here was to sign up for the test through my student account. Personally, I think is kind of odd to have to sign up for a test that you anyways need to take in order to pass your course, but it seems that it is quite common here. Also, the consequence of not signing up is that you are not allowed to take the test! So… Make sure you do that!

This is how the student LADOK account looks like. Now since my test is over you cannot see the option to sing up for a test, but usually here is where you can do this.

Come judgement-day, the first thing I noticed when I entered the lecture room was that there were several blue sheets marking the seats where we were allowed to seat for the test. Once we picked a seat, we were asked to move all our belongings (bags, coats, scarfs, etc.) to a corner of the classroom, turn off our cell phones, and to just take whatever was really necessary for the test and an ID. When everybody was done putting aside their belongings, we finally received the tests.

As a side note, another thing that surprised me is that our teacher wasn’t the one in charge during the test, but two other people that aren’t related to our course – I think they were from administration but I am not entirely sure. Of course, our teacher made some rounds in case we had questions, but she wasn’t there the entire time.

Also, as a security measure, here in Sweden teachers are not allowed to know whose test they are grading, and due to this they have a special code system. Each of the test that were handed in had a number on the top right corner, and that number was our test code and we were supposed to write it down on each test page instead of our name. Once we were done with the test, before leaving, we had to write our test code on a list, sign it, and show our ID. This was for the teacher to know whose test is whose once she is done grading them.

In general, I thought this experience was very interesting. It was full of firsts! First time taking a test in a foreign country, first test in English, and also the first time I saw this level of security for a test! Even for going to the restroom you needed to sign a list and be accompanied by one of the administrators! So even if it was stressful it feels like I now understand a bit more about how tests are done at SLU, and what I can expect next time around.

I think I drank more coffee than I should before this test

Hope you found this post interesting and don’t forget to leave a comment!

Have a lovely day,

Anna

The Mecenat card – Sweden on a budget

One of the most challenging thing about being a student in Sweden is to survive on a budget in one of the most expensive countries in the world. Fortunately, the Mecenat card is here to make our lives a little bit easier in that regard!

But what is this Mecenat card (a.k.a. student ID) that I’m talking about? Well, it’s basically a discount card that is given to any person who is registered as a student in Sweden. This card comes with a mobile app that allows you to check all the discounts and deals you have access to. It even comes with a map where you can see which nearby stores are offering student discounts.

At SLU campus Ultuna, the student union (ULS) is in charge of all Mecenat-related affairs.

As far as I know, there are two ways to get your Mecenat card:

1- You become a member of ULS and then, after a week or two, you will receive an e-mail with a code – this code is the proof that you are a student registered as a member of the Student Union at SLU. After receiving the code, you can download the Mecenat app on your phone and create an account. And then voilà! You have your electronic Mecenat card that will look more or less like the following picture.

Note: you can also ask for a physical card by sending an e-mail to Mecenat customer service, but it is enough with just the digital version. Also, if you don’t get your code in the first two weeks it is better to go directly to the union and ask for help.

This is how the digital Mecenat card in the app looks like. This one has some autumn leaves that appear just if you get the card through the Student Union.

This is how the latest deals appear in the Mecenat app

Another look at the Mecenat app. When you click where it says “Kort- Ultuna Studentkår” you open your digital Mecenat card

2- If you don’t want to become a Student Union member, you can still get your Mecenat card if you mail Mecenat’s customer service and attach a document proving that you are currently enrolled in an official Swedish university (you can get this document at the Service Center). Two weeks later you will receive your physical Mecenat card in your mail box. If you want the app so you can look for discounts and have an electronic version of your card, you still can do it. You just will need to download the app and create an account with your e-mail and your student ID number (comprised of 8 numbers); this number you can get it at the Student Union’s desk.

Note: Since you are not linked to the Student Union that can vouch for you, you will have to repeat this process every 6 months to keep proving to Mecenat that you are still studying.

This is how the “normal” Mecenat card looks like. This is the kind of card that you get when you don’t belong to the Student Union.

If you notice in the pictures, my Student Union Mecenat card looks slightly different from the normal Mecenat card. This is because the first one is linked to my membership to the Student Union and that means that the Union will take care of renewing my Mecenat card automatically every 6 months, so I don’t have to go through the process I described in point 2.

Personally, I find the Mecenat card really helpful, especially when buying monthly bus cards and of course getting my fika discounts! Talking about fika, it is almost Christmas time and that means Christmas themed pastries! Keep posted for my next blog about the deliciousness of Lussekatt.

Hope you have a lovely day!

Anna

Halloween spirit reaching the Swedish super markets

After my latest couple of more serious-toned blogs I decided to finish the month on a lighter note!

Yesterday when I was grocery shopping at my local ICA (supermarket chain) I stumbled upon the cutest Halloween-themed packages ever. Who knew that vegetables could be this adorable?!

Beet-red Dracula hearts (Draculahjärtan – beets)

Starchy troll noses (Trollnäsor- sweet potatoes)

Juicy werewolf-eyes (Varulvsögon- tomatoes)

Hope you liked this small blog and happy Halloween!!!!

Anna

Quick note: application for the spring period courses

After receiving the good news that you’ve been accepted into the master’s program, you probably think that that’s the last time you are going to have mingle with the University Admissions system. Actually, though, that’s not quite so.

Even if you have been accepted to the program itself, you will still need to apply for the courses you wish to take. There is some information regarding this matter here, but I thought that I would try to explain things from an Animal Science master student’s point of view.

First of all, you need to learn the difference between these two words: admission, and registration.

Admission is when you apply for a course through University Admissions, you submit the required documentation if needed, and you are required to accept or decline your offering if you get admitted. It works pretty much like when you apply for the master’s program itself.

Registration is done after you get admitted to a course. Registration can either be done by you through your SLU student account, or via the service center. The registration period usually starts one week before the course starts.

After understanding these concepts then we are ready to proceed!

For the first term, the autumn term (September-January), you don’t need to worry about applying for admission to courses, your whole program admission will be enough. The registration for your first course, “Animal Science a Scientific Approach,” would be done during the first day of classes by the program director. The same day you will also be able to write down the name of the next course you wish to take on a list provided by the director; currently you may choose between Genome Analysis, Animal Welfare and Behavior, and Nutritional Physiology. Registration for this second course takes place one week before the course starts, and you will be able to do it through your student account.

Now, for the next spring term (January-June), you need to pay attention to the deadlines. These important dates are posted either on the main page of the student’s web, or on University Admissions. That or your classmates will make sure to tell you, I am sure!

Once the period of admission has started, you need to log in into your University Admissions account (the same you used when you applied for the master program) and look for the courses that you are interested in taking for the spring term. Make sure to apply for course for both the first and second period. For example, you can apply for Animal Production for the first period, and Feed Science and Forage Production for the second period.

Here is the distribution of the courses for the Animal Science master’s program so you get an idea.

Courses of the Animal Science masters program

After applying for the courses, you just need to wait until you get admitted. Make sure to reply to your offer and state if you wish to take the course you’ve gotten admitted to or if you want to decline, so somebody else can take that place.

Now is time to wait for the course registration period, and register yourself through your student account. Once you registered you are set and now can continue your studies!

Hope this somewhat helpful! My classmates and I were quite lost our first time around, so I thought that if a post like this would have existed I would have had at least a north and have saved myself some hours of sleep.

Happy reading and have a nice day!

Anna

Trying out Taiko drums in Uppsala

Uppsala is a city that, although not very big, holds a lot of events that allow its inhabitants to get in touch with different cultures from around the world. Actually, you would be surprised of the number of events and courses outside of your university’s that you are able to participate here in Uppsala!

As an example, last weekend I had the opportunity to try taiko in a workshop hosted by Taiko Shin Kai, a non-profit organization whose main concern is to promote taiko in Sweden.

Taiko, in case you haven’t heard of it before, is the name given to traditional Japanese drums – actually, the word “taiko” (太鼓) means “large drum” in Japanese – but also you can call taiko to the kind of music that is created with this type of drum.

Taiko drums used during the workshop

The appeal of taiko is not just in the music itself, but also in the performance that accompanies it. Usually taiko is played by an ensemble, performing as much musically as with choreographed movements and colorful outfits. This makes taiko really popular during festivals and other happy events in Japan and well as in other parts of the world.

Here I post a video of a taiko concert so you get a better idea of how taiko sounds and looks like.

This kind of event make me very happy to live in a city like Uppsala, where you are able to have a taste of the world that surrounds us, and to escape from everyday life for a moment.

Trying taiko for the first time was a really great experience! If you have the opportunity I’d really recommend giving it a try!

Hope you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to leave a comment.

Have a good day!

Anna

Kanelbullens dag

Hej hej!

Here I come with another small post about one of Sweden’s most important days. Am I talking about the King’s birthday? Midsummer? Or perhaps Christmas? Nay!!!! I’m of course talking about The Cinnamon Bun Day — better known as Kanelbullens Dag!

No, it is not a joke! Unlike other national food days from other countries, like the doughnut day in the US, or the taco day in Mexico, where people is aware of its existence but nothing is really done nationwide, the special day of Sweden’s most beloved sweet bun is taken very seriously.

Each 4th of October, the country’s grocery stores, convenience stores, bakeries and cafés offer incredible discounts so that people can enjoy their daily fika with a couple of extra delicious cinnamon buns.

At SLU’s “Amigo” market, they even combined the Cinnamon Bun Day with the Breast Cancer Awareness Month and came up with these lovely buns with pink pearl sugar on top. So cute!

Amigo café in SLU preparing for the KanellBullens dag!

Couldn’t resist a freshly baked kanelbulle sprinkled with pink pärlsocker

Now you know, next 4th of October, embrace this Swedish tradition and have some delicious cinnamon buns!

Have a nice day!

Anna