This month on Womengineer, we’ve decided to write a little series chronically a “normal” week. If you haven’t already seen the posts for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—here’s your chance (they’re in Swedish, so if you don’t understand Swedish then you’ll just have to be satisfied with hearing about Friday).
No day can really be categorized as a “normal” day. Not just because every day represents a new opportunity to do something different in your life, but also because we engineering students in Uppsala don’t have a set schedule for lectures every day.
As I mentioned, we don’t have a set schedule every day. Earlier this period, I was having lectures every day 8.00-17.00 but now we seem to be in a brief period of calm, at least when it comes to class time. There is, however, still a lot of work to do.
The day starts at 7.00, when I stumble out of my room, half awake, to take a shower. Breakfast consists of oatmeal and tea (because I’m trying to stop drinking coffee in the morning) and as usual I spend too much time talking to my room mates at the breakfast table and not enough time eating. At 8.30 I manage to pull myself away and hide in my room, where I remain for the next three and a half hours, hunched over my chemistry textbook, preparing for the lab that I have in the afternoon.
There’s something magical about chemistry that it makes it impossible for me to remember anything about it. Looking through my textbook and at the lab instructions, I’m asking myself if we’ve ever talked about this topic. A quick peak at my notes tells me however that we’ve spent at least two lectures talking about carboxylic acid derivatives. Have I been asleep this whole time? Perhaps I should start drinking coffee in the morning again…
My lab is at Sweden’s Agricultural University in Ultuna (class: organic chemistry), and it takes about forty minutes to bike there (at my slow, rambling pace). Although there’s a road that goes through the cozy neighborhood of Ulleråker, but I always ride through the woods because I think it’s cozier, even if it takes a little longer. Our lab goes from 13.15 to 17.00 officially, but somehow, wonderfully, miraculously we’re finished by 16.00. Although labs are a wonderful way of getting a practical demonstration of all the theory we learn in lectures, they’re often long and confusing and I always get a little hungry and grumpy by the end. But today everything goes smoothly, even though we mess up one of the first steps and have to mix all our reactants again and start from scratch.
After lab, I go back to Ångström (the campus for engineering students at Uppsala University) and warm up some pea-soup. After having eaten a mini-dinner, I find a computer room to cozy up in. I’ve been putting off a homework assignment for the last week and this is the last day to turn it in. It’s a problem for thermodynamics, involving calculating the energy consumption in a house with a heat pump and bad insulation. As droopy as my eyes are getting, as tired and in need of some sort of physical exercise as I am, I somehow manage to cobble together something that looks like it is probably the solution and by 20.00 I’m out of there.
Arriving home, my room mates have made a delicious dinner: chick pea salad, rårörda lingon, some sort of rice with coconut milk and apples and, our go-to dish when we feel like something else is needed but we don’t know what: brown sauce. Sitting at the dinner table after having eaten, full and sleepy and satisfied, we hatch a plan to test out our new Lucia stove that my boyfriend built about a week ago. Trooping outside with a pile of sticks that we’ve been drying in our hallway, our breath forms largely ghostly plumes in front of our faces in the below freezing weather. Nestling ourselves between some trees and laying out a rug on the ground, we set about breaking the sticks into little pieces and stuffing them into the Lucia stove. A couple seconds and a click of the lighter later and we’ve got a cozy, flickering fire. Huddling together, we take out a little pot with water and hold it over the fire. Before long, a thin line of steam is escaping from the lid and we remove the pot from the fire, drop in a tea bag and take out a tin full of cookies that our room mate Jonas baked the other night.
In about five minutes, we’re sitting shoulder to shoulder, our noses freezing and our breath billowing out around us as we hold steaming cups of black tea, munch on cookies and watch the flickering light of our fire. There’s no better way to end a Friday.