Exchange to Lund University – by Katherine O’Connell

IKEA, meatballs, ABBA, snow. A few years ago, these are the images that came to my mind when I heard the word ‘Sweden’. Today, after spending 5 months studying in Lund – a picturesque university town, located in the south of Sweden – much more comes to mind. My preconceived ideas about life in Sweden were, to some extent, confirmed by my exchange experience: every house seems to be furnished in IKEA, meatballs are sold in bulk at every local supermarket, and ‘Dancing Queen’ is always a crowd-pleaser at student parties. But today, when I hear the word ‘Sweden’, I also think about the countless nights out at student nations (student-run associations, that host events such as brunches, pubs, and club nights); the jovial atmosphere and raucous sounds of a sittning (a sit-down dinner, accompanied by traditional Swedish songs); and the mouth-watering taste of freshly cooked kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) or semlor (cream- and cardamom-filled buns, traditionally consumed on the Tuesday preceding Lent). I think about quaint, candy-coloured cottages lining cobblestoned streets; hikes through lush, green forests; and getting lost among cornflower fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. I remember attending lectures in 600 year old university buildings, awestruck by the knowledge and experiences of academics from around the world. I recall studying a diverse range of subjects – from international ethics, to diplomacy, Swedish politics, and the Israel-Palestine conflict – in a library that looked as if it had materialised from the pages of Harry Potter. I remember Swedish traditions, from Våffeldagen (waffle day); to the chaos of Valborg (when 30 000 students gather in the park to celebrate the start of spring); to my daily fika (a coffee break, often accompanied by cake, and always shared with friends). Above all, when I hear the word ‘Sweden’, I think about all the friends – from Sweden and across the world –  with whom I was fortunate enough to share these experiences.

Undertaking a university exchange offers a truly unique way to see a foreign country. By attending an overseas university, exchange students are exposed to much more than the tourist experience. As an exchange student, you have the opportunity to meet and form friendships with locals, and to become truly immersed in the culture of your host country – after all, you are not simply visiting, but are living in that country. If you choose to live in a student dormitory, you will be surrounded by students from across the world. You will be exposed to new languages, practices and perspectives, and will have the opportunity to travel to exciting destinations. Lund, for example, is located less than one hour away from Copenhagen, meaning that you can, on a whim, decide to travel to Denmark for the day… And be back in Sweden for dinner!
In sum, I would strongly encourage any Adelaide University student considering an overseas exchange to apply – a full semester of new friends, foods, traditions and experiences await you! If you are considering Sweden, simply say ‘ja’ – I guarantee you won’t regret it!
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