Lund wasn’t my original number one choice for exchange, but boy I’m glad I changed my mind. If you want to immerse yourself in a foreign language, be able to easily travel to other European countries, and live in a thriving student town, then Lund is for you. When they said it was a student town I didn’t originally know what to think, but one of the best things that the Lund student life has to offer are the Nations. The best way to describe the nations are that they are the Swedish equivalent of sororities/fraternities except less exclusive, where you can sign up to a nation and get discounts on all their great events, but still have the access to go to the events of all the other nations. Sittnings are another great social event that the Swedes are great at hosting; a 3 course dinner with lots of singing (yelling) and drinking. Aside from the great social live that these nations bring, the city itself is made up of a good portion of students, so there are just so many people of similar ages to meet out around the place.
Here’s a few starter pointers I have discovered on my experience so far;
- Living in Sweden is not as expensive as people say; they also say Australia is an expensive place to live and with that, I would put the prices of most everyday items on par with Australia.
- Meat is very expensive here, so be prepared to go slightly vego for a few months.
- They do amazing pastries at even the most general stores (hello chocolate croissants and cinnamon rolls)
- Download citymaps2go! It will be your best friend on absolutely every trip you take in Europe.
- Travelling to another country can be the same price if not cheaper than travelling interstate in Australia, so as much as study is important, squeeze in as many weekend trips as your semester will allow. In saying that, also leave some weekends free to live it up in Lund.
- Make sure you pack clothes to go out in. It may have been the first welcome party and -12C, but I quickly learnt they have things called coat checks here – make the most of them and wear nice clothes underneath your giant coats.
- And for the girls, heels aren’t a thing here; pack some boots, nice tops and jeans and you’re set!
- Your perspective of weather will change. If you start in the Spring semester like I did, the weather will hit double digits and people will be out lying on the sunbeds in the town centre. You’ll also start calling 13C ‘warm’… and mean it.
- Buy a bike. Within the first week preferably, or all the good ones will be gone.
- Lund is small. Even the accommodation that looks furthest away is still relatively close and easy to reach by bike, so don’t sweat it when applying.
Some recommendations on places to go:
- Ride to Lomma beach! It’s 10km but relatively flat once you get going so it’s just a really beautiful ride in general.
- Ebba’s café for the best kladdkaka (chocolate cake)
- Govindas has an amazing daily vegetarian lunch
- Inkognito sells the greatest cheesecake ever
- The nation brunches are really good, especially for the price of only 50 SEK! I’d also recommend volunteering to work at a nation, as the people are so much fun to work with and you’ll also find yourself scoring free food.
- Travel to other Swedish towns like Ystad, Gothenburg and Helsingborg as they’re really not that far away and very beautiful!
One of my largest worries about going on exchange was homesickness – and trust me, I definitely thought I was the type to get homesick. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in the past 5 months, is that you can miss your family and friends without being homesick. There has not been one time since leaving Australia that I’ve thought to myself ‘I want to go home’, and you also shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t get homesick. You’ll honestly be way too busy meeting new people, seeing new places, having new experiences and going to parties to give it too much thought. I also thought that one semester would be hard to get through and that a year would be too long, but I regret not doing a year. The semester itself is only 5 months and it will be the quickest 5 months of your life, so if you get the choice go big or go home.
Another pro tip is to plan to travel, but don’t book yourself in too early as you’ll meet many people who want to go to the same places you do. So many of my weekend trips have been with people I have met at my accommodation, and have even got to go to their hometowns. The beauty of meeting people who live in nearby countries, is that you may just be lucky enough to be invited to their house like I was. As much as wandering through a city yourself can make you stumble upon hidden treasures, you get a whole other experience being shown around by someone who knows the city. Either way, travel travel travel. ESN also organises some amazing trips – I myself travelled to Helsinki and did the Lapland trip they organised, which was expensive but incredibly worth it even if you don’t get to see the northern lights.