Anabelle - Lund University

Integrated B & M Engineering
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

As a software engineering student at Lund University, I took courses from the Computer Science major. The system at LTH (the engineering faculty at Lund) was quite different to UQ. Instead of studying 4 courses in a semester as a full-time student, you would usually study 2 courses for the first half of semester and 2 for the second half. It made it a lot easier to focus on the work because of this split, but it also made the coursework itself a bit more intense. I took EDAN65 (Compilers) and EDAN20 (Language Technology) in the first half, and EDAN95 (Applied Machine Learning) and EDIN01 (Cryptography) in the second half. I enjoyed the course content a lot, particularly in the Language Technology course. Assessment at LTH is also quite different to UQ. There is no ECP, and assignment weighting aren't split by percentage, instead they are usually pass/fail. The lab assignments can be done in pairs, which I would strongly recommend as I learnt the hard way how hard it can be to complete the labs by yourself.

Personal experience

I learnt so much on exchange, about the world and myself. Living in another country and experiencing a different culture in that way was really insightful. I went from someone who felt so confused and disoriented by the different language and climate, to someone who felt really at home by the time they left. Lund itself is a university town, and is at a very different scale to Brisbane. I could walk for 10 minutes from my place in Lund and would find farms and the countryside. Yet I could also take a train for 20 minutes and arrive in Malmö, the third largest city in Sweden. Or catch a train to Copenhagen, which took less than an hour. The closeness of places in Europe took quite a while to get used to. I was able to do some more travelling on breaks from classes, which gave me a lot of insight into the different cultures within Europe, and how it works to be a part of a global community in the form of the European Union. Australia can feel so far away from the rest of the world because of geography, but going on exchange reminded me of how close the world really is.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus in accommodation provided through the university (through LU Accommodation). Accommodation is very competitive in Lund, so it was very helpful that the university guaranteed my accommodation as an exchange student. I lived in Eddan, a set of three apartment buildings in Linero. It was about a 15 minute bike ride (up a hill) to LTH, the engineering faculty.

Compared to some accommodation, Eddan was far away, but compared to Brisbane, a 15 minute bike ride was great. Eddan housed exclusively international students, which made it easy to make friends as we were able to bond over an unfamiliar experience. I shared my apartment with 5 other international students, with each of us having our own bedroom and bathroom and sharing a communal kitchen/dining/living area.

Costs

My cost of rent over the semester I lived in Sweden (midAugust to end of January) was around $3700 AUD. I budgeted around $1800 AUD for food throughout my time in Lund, and ended up spending closer to $1500 AUD. Grocery prices in Sweden were comparable to them in Australia.
For travel, I saved a lot of money by staying in hostels and getting budget airline flights and taking trains. I mainly visited museums and other cultural attractions, so I spent quite a bit on tickets to gain entry sometimes.

Challenge

The biggest challenge was the social aspect. I was on the other side of the world from all of my friends and family, with a 9 hour time difference. It was fairly lonely at first, and it was a bit difficult with limited access to my support network back home. But over time, it got better. I made new friends, and organised weekly videocalls with my family. By the end of my exchange, I felt at home.

Professional Development

I developed my technical skills through the courses I took. I was able to do natural language processing and applied machine learning courses, which greatly expanded my knowledge of that field. The labs I did were very hands on, which enhanced the learning experience. I also learnt more about how the tech community functions in Sweden, and Europe more broadly.

Highlight

There were so many highlights, I don't know where to begin. It's like all of these smaller experiences come together and just made exchange amazing.

The highlights would be:

  • Making gingerbread and lussekatter (a saffron bun for St Lucia's Day in December), and drinking Julmust (the Swedish Christmas softdrink), with my Swedish friends, and making so many that we had to try and split up who would take the leftovers home on their bike. 
  • Working on assignments in the computer labs in the basement of E-Huset, where the doors are 10cm thick because the lab rooms were bunkers once upon a time.
  • Being able to walk out onto the balcony of my apartment on a clear day and being able to see the roof of the cathedral, to the Lund University Buildings, to the skyscrapers of Malmö and the Öresund Bridge across to Denmark. 
  • Another highlight was attending the Junction Hackathon in Helsinki. Helsinki is a beautiful city I wouldn't have visited otherwise, and ended up being one of my favourite places.

Top tips

My top tips would be to do as much research as possible. There is financial assistance available from UQ, HECS loans and other means that can help out with the costs. I would also encourage engineering students to save their Part B electives for exchange, as it is a lot easier to get credit for exchange subject on these studies. Talk to people who have gone on exchange - they provide a lot of insight.