So, I’m leaving Sweden in June

For my last post, I complained about my struggle in finding a master’s project in the UK. Months of writing and waiting proved useless as the usual replies came through – ‘no space sorry’ or ‘yeah sure but you have to pay us a bench fee’. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I want to work for free and you want me to pay you. oh ok…

I mean, I really did appreciate the professors who took their time to reply to me, some genuinely didn’t have the space or time to give me and that was ok, but there were those who would leave me hanging. ‘I’ll check to see if there’s someone who can supervise you and I’ll get back to you by the end of the week’ was the usual response… I’m patient, but when 4 weeks pass with no reply, well yeah, it’s time to change track. The worst ones were those who didn’t even reply. Even just an email with two letters ‘no’ would have sufficed. They must have forgotten that they were a student once too!

Hope was lost it seemed but nonetheless I had to keep trying. I pulled on my big girl pants, downed two cups of tea (milk, 2 sugars) and got back on the metaphorical horse that was the interwebs.

I toyed with the not-so financially sensible option of living elsewhere in Europe. I opened up google maps a couple of times just to get a good look at our lovely continent we call Europe. Ok, I already know where I want to be, I thought, but will they speak English in the labs and more importantly can I afford another year without working? All I knew is that funding could be available if I was willing to try a new country other than my own.

A research group caught my eye on the first site I looked at. Their work seemed pretty fascinating; in fact, it was ideal – perfect topic in an incredibly perfect location. I sent an email not thinking too much of it but surprisingly I had a reply within hours. ‘Interview on Monday…?’ –  Wow perfect!

So I nervously prepared as much as I could by reading papers previously published on the topic. Practicing potential questions in my head like any other sane human who talks to themselves would do, I really didn’t want to mess it up.

The interview went pretty quickly, it was rather casual in fact. He wanted to know about my education, my aims for the project and then proceeded to tell me that as long as I can work hard for him, I can enjoy the ‘party’ lifestyle that the city has to offer – fair deal really. Then there it was… an offer. Wow. It took a little while to sink, in fact I was over the bloody moon to be honest. Months of worrying now turned to excitement.

I am incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, thanks to the flexibility of my course, I can perform a project wherever I choose and have it accredited by Uppsala (within reason). If all goes well, this means I can spend the entirety of my master’s degree in two different countries. I’ve really had such an experience here in Sweden. Uppsala is beautiful, there’s no denying it, the place is bursting with culture, an immense international atmosphere and the university has world class education. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced it all, through the hard times and the good, and I’ll look back with no regrets knowing that I’ve become a little braver. Although I’m leaving Sweden, I go because I’m ready to try something new, why not? An incredible opportunity has arisen and I sure as hell want to give it a go. That’s not to say that I’ll forget what Sweden has done for me. Coming here has opened so many doors, many more than what I’d get at home. For once I am proud of the institution in which I study at, the education is almost faultless and the staff are kind and incredibly helpful. I have become much more independent than I first thought I was and I’ve learned how to deal with any bumps along the way. I’ve met some incredible people from all over the world and my eyes have truly been opened. I guess I can blame Uppsala for making me desperate to see the rest of the world – I don’t sit still anymore.

Oh and the city I am hopefully going to be living in for 12 months come this September is Lisbon… after experiencing a Swedish winter, warm sunshine for the most part of the year is very, very welcome.


Francesca avatar


  • Inês • 18 Jun 2015 at 12.13 am Reply

    Thank you for your kind answers, it really helped a lot 🙂
    But I have another one :p
    Do you think I have any chance of being accepted into Uppsala University for the master’s degree not having 30 ECTS in Chemistry? (I have more than 60 ECTS in Biology plus I have some subjects like Molecular Biology and Cellular Biology – same master’s I want)
    I’m doing my bachelor’s degree in Biology and minoring in Biology too so, in my university, I can only have, at maximum, 22,5 ECTS in Chemistry and by the end of the next year I’ll problably have 20 ECTS or less (but I’m thinking of applying for some extra-curricular subject to get more ECTS in Chemistry if I really need them). In addition to that I have subjects that contain a little bit of Chemistry like Microbiology (7,5 ECTS) and Cytogenic and Molecular Genetic (7,5 ECTS).Plus, I’m doing an internship for my last year, which will endure the entire year at Institute For Molecular And Cell Biology (IBMC) and it’s worth 15 ECTS.
    So, do you think I have a shot?

    Oh, and if you come to Oporto, I will, gladly, show you the city around 🙂

    • Francesca Martin • 18 Jun 2015 at 10.26 pm Reply

      you sound like you qualify! It’s worth a try 🙂 I applied to Uppsala before I had graduated/completed my bachelor’s and I was still accepted so you definitely have a chance – all I had to do was bring in a copy of my degree certificate once I was there to prove I had a degree. Sounds awesome, I hope to visit soon, it looks beautiful!

  • Inês • 12 Jun 2015 at 2.51 am Reply

    Congratulations Francesca!
    You’re coming to my country. And what an amazing country it is. It has so much to offer and to see and so much to be blowned away with. I love Portugal, it always make me feel like I’m home even when I away from my city and my family. You will love it, I’m sure.
    Lisbon is a beautiful city, full of colours, emotion and the “portuguese style of life” (always with something to do, but always with some time to spare for someone who really needs it).
    You should try and come to Oporto. It’s the most perfect place I’ve ever been. Always sunny and with the most incredible athmosphere. The students are loaded with tradition and with will to learn everything. And there is so much to see and to live. Oporto was voted as the Best European Destination in 2012 and in 2014, it was so deserved!
    But well, you will love this country and you will feel like you are at home. The only thing not so good about Portugal it’s the economy. Portuguese people don’t have much money and everything, everywhere is quite expensive.
    It’s quite funny. You’re coming to Lisbon from Uppsala and I want to go from Oporto to Uppsala to do my master’s degree in Molecular and Celular Biology.
    What can you tell me about the country? And the university? Financial aid? Housing? Renting? Cost of life? Etc…
    I’ve read the entire site of Uppsala University a few times and I still have some doubts about everything.
    I’m finishing my second year. 2015/2016 will be my last. And I would like to apply for the winter semester of 2016. What advices can you give me?
    Thank you so much, good luck for you in everything!

    • Francesca Martin • 16 Jun 2015 at 11.04 pm Reply

      Thank you for your comment! I’ve been to Portugal many, many times but unfortunately not up north, I will definitely visit! I’m super excited to move there 😀 If I could give you any advice, it would be to sign up to housing NOW! The longer you’re in the queue for housing, the better! Uppsala has a housing crisis in which many students are waiting for housing. Some students can be waiting at least a couple of years just for a place so this leaves international students at a disadvantage! I made a post earlier this year on housing in Uppsala which could be useful to look at. Financial aid may be limited, students take up part-time jobs at the student nations but they pay very little, it wouldn’t be enough to pay your rent. Most people work at these nations to meet new people and socialise. Sweden is rather expensive in comparison to Portugal. A beer can cost you as much as 7 euros unless you drink in the student bars. The student nations (societies) do offer small scholarships but you’re not guaranteed to receive them as they have specific application criteria (you have to pay membership to be part of their nation). My rent was around 326 euros/month plus around 10 euros/month for electricity but the prices can be a lot higher. Sweden itself is a very beautiful and clean country. The education at Uppsala university is excellent and the teaching is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. One big warning… the weather. It can be very dark in the winter to the point where many struggle with the short days. It’s important to spend time with friends and keep yourself busy and to make a visit to the light rooms in the gym! Despite this, it’s totally worth it because the university is excellent and I can speak from experience that the biology department are incredibly organised and helpful. I hope that answers some of your questions and if you need any more answers, don’t be afraid to comment again! 🙂 Obrigada

  • Amodu Abiodun • 26 Mar 2015 at 12.57 pm Reply

    Congrats Francesca. Wish u all the best as you go back to your country. I am a Nigerian & prospective master student of Uppsala University. I will like you to be a friend & a mentor. Thanks & kind regards.

  • Angelina
    Angelina Ho • 24 Mar 2015 at 11.16 pm Reply

    Lisbon, so exciting! Congrats. And see you this weekend 😉

  • Mohamed Atwa • 24 Mar 2015 at 4.59 pm Reply

    Fran-chan! FIGHTO! 😀

  • Gimmy Liu • 24 Mar 2015 at 12.28 am Reply

    you will be missed 😉

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