May 26, 2012

Flogsta memories

When I entered the lobby of the building I found lying on the floor a girl that had tried to commit suicide. She shuddered in fear... death was coming! She was crying black tears. Her friend was there too, a little girlish boy in panic. He was sobbing like it was the end of his very own life, absurdly out of control and disoriented. He was holding her left wrist up, where she had cut herself, tightly with his hands to stop the blood flow. A third person was there, a man on his mid thirties, who was in control of the situation and, thanks god, did know what to do. Once I stepped in the lobby he said with a commanding voice, “take your jacket off and put it on her,” then he called the ambulance. It was about 4.00 in the morning of a Saturday or Sunday, I do not remember. A few minutes later, the ambulance came, the paramedics asked the boy to release her arm, and at that moment I saw the cut, remembering it gives me the creeps. She had lost a lot of blood, but by the look on the paramedics' faces it seemed there was not a risk of her dying.

Welcome to Flogsta baby!

I lived in Flogsta during all my stay in Sweden, about five years, from the 1st of December of 2004 until the beginning of February of 2010. It was my first time living alone and I was 21 when I moved in. Living there was pretty crazy, crazy people and crazy parties, that's what Flogsta is all about. Also known as the student ghetto, it is a neighborhood of Uppsala about fifteen minutes by bike from the city center. The entire neighborhood could be divided in two, the 'high houses' (at Sernanders väg) and the 'lower houses' (at Flogstavägen). The former are sixteen tall buildings where the majority of the students lives, the lower houses are for those students that are looking for a quieter social experience. From the sixteen buildings, houses 1 to 10 have 'corridors', that means a long corridor with twelve rooms, each room with its own toilet, but kitchen and living room are common spaces. Each floor has two corridors connected by a small balcony and the room where the freezers are. Houses 11 and 12 are for students too, but each room has its own little kitchenette, with no common spaces. Houses 13 to 16 are private accommodation, mostly inhabited by immigrants. They are called houses because each building is called in Swedish hus, which is translated as house. I lived two years in house 9 and the rest in building 11.

A picture of house 10 from my room in house 9

The crowd at my corridor was very picturesque. There was the semi-hippie bearded Italian womanizer, the forty years old “student” that had been there for twenty years, the hot Swedish smuggler girl of Russian parents and with personality disorders, the Belgium nineteen years old girl exchange student tasting freedom for the first time, the socially awkward computer geek, the lonely philosopher metal guy, among other less remarkable people. All of them very nice in their own way and all of them mad in their own way. Then, the Colombian Rastafarian scientist arrived to add some spice to the mix.

 Sharing in the kitchen with my corridor mates, how many memories!

When I first went in the corridor I was hit directly by the stench of garbage. Since in Sweden recycling is very important we had two supermarket carts, one for tetrapacks and cardboard (mostly from milk boxes) and the other for newspapers and paper advertisements. We also had common baskets for metallic cans, colored glass, and non-colored glass, one type of plastic and another type of plastic, and some other categories that I can not remember anymore... all of them lying on the corridor contributing to the reeks. In theory someone had to take the trash once a week, but in reality we emptied the carts when they were overflowing with trash and the bottles were starting to hinder the free passage through the corridor. Eventually, I stop feeling the stench, so I guess it was OK.

Perhaps one of the coolest things of living in Flogsta are the infamous corridor parties. Every weekend, a corridor would organize an open party where anyone is welcomed: anyone is everybody in town. In my time, before facebook got so popular we pasted posters in the elevators of each building advertising the event; I wouldn't be surprised if posters are nowadays replaced by facebook events. The only rule was BYOB (bring your own booze). The hosting corridor moved apart the furniture and set up the music, then opened the doors and let the party begin! You arrived alone or with friends and you just had to be social, most of the people did not know each other in any case, so it was a great way to make friends. The corridor filled up until there was no space left to squeeze another student. Awesome fun and great mischief.

Yeah, that was my party in association with a corridor mate. Killer combination.

Another peculiar thing about living in Flogsta was the “Flogsta Scream”. At exactly ten o'clock in the night, you were allowed to scream to the top of your lungs. Every single day you heard someone screaming, another one answered in the neighbor building, then another and another. During final exams days the screams rose the loudest! There were many legends explaining how this tradition began, probably none was true. I thought first, someone must have been murdered, yet eventually I screamed my fair amount of times. There was always a reason to scream your lungs out.

My experience in Flogsta marked five years of my life. There I met amazing people from all over the world, there I learnt to speak English, there I learnt to flirt and to love, to dance, to be open minded... There I lived unbelievable adventures, and there I had the greatest of times as a student in Uppsala.

I will never forget those days.

7 comments:

  1. Your blog made me smile. Although I did not live in Flogsta I had some good times there. Uppsala will always be an amazing memory that will never fade.

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    1. Hey Gaby!! Glad to know you enjoyed the post! Those awesome times in Uppsala!!

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  2. Flogsta was amazing...roof-top parties were crazy. Especially biking it to the nations and back all in the snow... Glad to know someone else went through similar amazing moments.

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  3. Very well written. My first offer from Housing office was in the centre of Uppsala! But the email went to spam folder so I lost the room... But I was offered a room in Flogsta today. Now I have more reasons to move in there ^^

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  4. Been there. Done that. Way back in 1983-1984. It was awful. Of course, no cell phones so everyone on the corridor had to share the phone booth at the end of the hallway. Ah yes, using a grease pen to mark your food in the fridge, that was fun. And Sweden was a horrible borefest during that time. Watch the movie "Let the Right One In" and even that scenery and choices of things to do around town are better than it was in Uppsala. I would imagine that the overall place has vastly improved, but back then there were no rooftop parties and you'd be lucky to get your clothes to survive in the washers/dryers, etc. That said, it was an experience for sure and I suppose I would do it all again. Nothing like the adventures during our youth...glad you got the most out of it.

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  5. I left Iran to study in Uppsala/Sweden between 1980 and 1985. I had a good time in Sernandersvägen 4 if I remember it right. I remember a few roof top parties and many corridor "fester" there. Life was good then :-)
    I had a few really nice Swedish friends but none from my classmates at the university but those who lived in the same student corridor. I miss biking to the university through the well maintained bike path between sernanders and the city. The best I remember is biking home after heavy snowfalls! It was fun.
    Summers were beautiful and people were nice then. 1983 I moved to Kantorsgatan. After upsala, I moved to Linkoping (1986) for grad studies. Linköping was boring and not so much fun. Never miss Linköping but Uppsala and especially Sernanders will remain in my mind.

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