Isabelle - Lund University

B Advanced Science
Semester 2, 2018
There are no words that can describe how extraordinary the experience of an exchange in Lund is.

Academic experience

The semester in Lund is divided into two periods, in which you take one to two courses to a maximum of 15 credits/period. In the first period I took two courses designed for exchange students: An Introduction to Information Security (SASC01) and Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science; Concepts, Challenges and Approaches in Sustainability Studies (SASI03). Information Security was a fairly straightforward course – with only two non-compulsory contact hours each week, and the assessment required for a passing grade being two weekly quizzes. The class size was also very small – there were about ten students taking the course. Sustainability Science and Environmental Studies had two three-hour sessions a week and the assessment involved individual and group assignments. This course provided a broad overview into a vast array of sustainability issues and the approaches of tackling them and it was particularly interesting to learn about from a Swedish perspective. In the second period I took a master’s course that is equivalent to the undergraduate MICR2000 at UQ – Biology: Microbiology (BIOR18). This course was very intense – with classes often every day from 10-4pm. I would recommend this course if you are looking for a challenge and are comfortable working independently in a lab environment. 

Compared to UQ, classes in Lund are much smaller and more like high school, in that you get to form a close relationship with your class mates and lecturers. As I went on exchange early in my degree (second semester of second year), I struggled to find biomedical science courses for which I had the prerequisites. I also took the introductory Swedish course run in the orientation weeks (SUSA11). I would highly recommend this course not only to learn a little Swedish language and culture, but as a way to meet people as the majority of friendships I made in Lund were formed in this course.

Personal experience

My exchange in Lund was easily one of the best decisions of my life. Without a doubt the friendships I formed were the highlight of my experience. We always had something to do together, whether it be Nation events, fika, potluck dinners, exploring Lund or nearby towns in Skåne, which meant that there was never a dull moment. I also did many trips with exchange friends during the semester, one of which being the trip to Swedish Lapland. We decided to go through a company called Scanbalt Experience as it was less expensive than the trip that ESN Lund organises, and we all had a fabulous time husky sledding, snowmobiling, ice climbing, cross-country skiing, watching the Northern lights, swimming in the arctic ocean and popping into Norway to see the fjords. A trip to Lapland is definitely a must while on exchange in Scandinavia. Also, as I went on exchange in the Autumn Semester I was in Europe over Christmas – so a group of friends and I decided to rent an Airbnb near a lake in a forest for a couple of nights. This was a really nice way to come together one final time before saying goodbye, so I would highly recommend doing a cabin weekend even if you’re not in Sweden for Christmas. My time in Europe really pushed me outside my comfort zone, gave me a huge sense of accomplishment and taught me to make the most of every opportunity.

Accommodation

There are two main means of obtaining accommodation in Lund – LU Accommodation and AF Bostäder. I applied through LU Accommodation as this was the first to open and was offered an ensuite room at Eddan in a four-person flat/corridor. Eddan is a bit further out than the other accommodations, but still is only a 15-minute bike ride to the centre. It is also a fairly new complex – my building was only built the year prior, which meant the facilities were very clean and functional. The local grocery store (ICA) is only a five-minute walk or 2-minute bike-ride away. I enjoyed living at Eddan as I had the ability to socialize with my flat mates and others in the building, but as I lived with fewer people to other corridors such as at Sparta, Delphi or Parentesen, I was generally always able to come home to peace and quiet. Having my own toilet and shower was also a huge bonus. Many students struggle to find housing in Lund – so I would recommend accepting any offer you get. However, if you apply as early as possible with LU, you are likely to be offered a place. I would also recommend trying to live in a Swedish corridor – as Eddan only houses international students, my opportunities to meet Swedes were limited.

Costs

Sweden, although considered an expensive country, is similar or even less expensive to Australia for most items. Rent was significantly cheaper, but groceries, public transport and general shopping items were comparative with Australian prices. Your budget will depend on how much travel you want to do. I did a month of travel before my exchange through Italy, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, did trips during my stay in Sweden to Denmark, Poland, Spain and Portugal, Ireland, Iceland and Swedish Lapland, and travelled after my exchange for a month to the UK, Belgium, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic and Italy. Therefore, I needed to budget significantly more than UQ’s recommendation of $12-15,000, spending approximately $16-18,000 for everything in the entire seven months. However, with less travel or travel to cheaper countries, a smaller budget would be easily manageable.

Challenge

The biggest challenge I encountered on exchange was the experience of travelling solo. I travelled for a month by myself before going to Lund, and never having travelled solo before I was nervous about being fully independent, personal safety and whether I would actually enjoy the experience. However, I found that google maps made navigation a breeze, close friendships were easily formed so although I was travelling solo I was rarely alone, and by taking basic precautions I never encountered issues with safety. I found the experience very empowering and I gained a lot of confidence. I even loved the experience so much I decided to spend at least a couple of weeks solo travelling after my exchange. I am grateful that I chose to travel solo rather than opt for a group trip as not only did I save a lot of money, but I really enjoyed both the freedom of being able to decide exactly what I wanted to do every day, the challenge of navigating on my own and the wide variety of people I met.

Professional Development

Exchange really improved my confidence, giving me skills to cope in a wide variety of unfamiliar situations. The fact that I knew I had a limited time in Europe meant that I adopted a “make the most of every day” mentality, which, as cliché as it sounds, has motivated me to take every opportunity that will contribute to my personal and professional development in my life in Australia.

Highlight

It is very difficult to name one experience that stood out to me, as I really loved every aspect of exchange. After the friendships I made, I would say that I really liked the experience of living in a Swedish student town. The Swedes are very environmentally orientated, and this was evident in their lifestyles. For example, household waste is sorted into 5+ categories, the local buses are powered by biogas, and I never once saw a disposable coffee cup in Lund. It was really nice to see how easily these environmentally-friendly practices were integrated into their lifestyle. Furthermore, everyone gets around by bicycle, which means transportation is essentially free if you sell your bike at the end, and the town is well set up for this with many bike paths separate from pedestrians and the road. Lastly, living in a student town gave me a sense of belonging that I have not found elsewhere. Running into friends on the street, and easily being able to organise things to do together because of our close proximity and large amount of free time meant that I really felt at home in Lund.

Top tips

Go on exchange! These seven months were the best of my life, I grew so much as a person, made incredible lifelong friends and had a lot of fun of exploring so much of Europe. It was unbelievably easy to make friends in Lund, especially with the design of the orientation weeks organised by the University. Definitely make the most of being so close to so many European cities, easily reachable by bus, train or plane (you will learn to love Ryanair!), but also try to make the most of your time in Lund. Lund is a really special place to live. Half of the population are students, so there is always something to do and the town is really buzzing with energy. Everywhere in Lund is easily reachable by bike, which means organising activities with friends is very simple. Take every opportunity to fika, eat the kladdkaka at Ebbas, buy a bike, sign up to a Nation (student run clubs), go to a sittning (formal dinners), explore Skåne, and say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Lund has a charm and warm feeling that I have not seen anywhere else in Europe, and very quickly becomes a place you call home. Take full advantage of the incredible student life Lund offers, as from my conversations with other exchange students it really is unparalleled by any other University.