Ambassadorial Scholar - Andrew Hawkins

Having spent a long and enjoyable summer at home and in the company of family and friends, the ride to Garden City Regional Airport in the early hours of August 10th was nothing short of melancholy. While eagerly anticipating my return to Sweden all summer, I was sad to once again say goodbye to my parents and the comforts of home. However, my spirits were quickly lifted as I walked through the arrival gates of Helsinki International where I was welcomed with the warm embrace of a Finnish friend with whom I would spend the next 10 days with. This was to be my first authentic Finnish summer experience and would have the unique opportunity to join a Finnish family on a retreat to their summer cottage. Here I was schooled in the finer points of wild blueberry picking, a peculiar outdoor yard game known as Mölkky, and how to properly cold smoke a salmon.

Thoroughly enjoying Finland and all of its beautiful scenery, I could have easily stayed longer. However, it was time to start making my way to my new home across the sea. Catching an early morning flight on August 20th, I arrived at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and took a 40 minute bus ride north to Uppsala. I had finally made it! I was picked up at the bus station by a university assigned contact person who, after showing me to my new residence, gave me a crash course on living in Uppsala. First order of business: buy a bike. I’m told that with the high costs of public transport, the majority of Uppsala’s residents take to the streets when the weather permits as biking lanes abound and biking is the most cost effective and comprehensive way to get around. With that sorted, I was ready for the upcoming orientation week in which I, along with my fellow classmates, were introduced to each other, our faculty, and university life in Uppsala. The week was packed with guided tours around the city, the University facilities, and even a small excursion to the countryside outside of Uppsala. After having made it through the orientation week, and after a couple trips to IKEA, I am happy to say that I am now settled in and ready for the start of the semester on September 1st. In Sweden the semester is divided into two quarters in which students take one course per quarter. While not sounding like much, these courses are intense and demanding, with a great deal of course work and reading for each course. For the first quarter I am taking a course called Governance and State which aims to examine the various roles of the State in modern societies and its role (in most cases) in domestic and international peace building processes. I am also enrolled in a Persian language course at the Department of Language & Philology which will commence in mid-September and continue throughout the entire semester. Furthermore, I am also happy to report that I have successfully registered to take the Foreign Service Officer Test on October 10th at the American Embassy in Stockholm, which I will be studying for during my free time (if any!) Until next month, hej då!
Andrew Hawkins