Mark - Lund University

B Engineering
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

I found the academic system in Lund to be quite different to that of Australia. The main difference was the fact that the semester is split into two study periods, meaning that the contact hours (for me at least) were roughly half what I was used to at UQ. This gave me plenty of opportunities to explore Skåne and take little trips around the place. I also found that the courses were less focussed on assessment than UQ. There was more importance placed on learning the content (through lectures and non-assessed activities) and if you failed an exam you could re-sit it twice until you passed. This definitely took the pressure off the academic side of things while I was on exchange.

In terms of the courses I took, I had a few problems getting subjects approved by Lund, so probably best to leave plenty of electives for when you plan to go on exchange. I ended up taking a couple of masters courses and some subjects that were only broadly related to the engineering field, such as disaster management and intellectual property law. While not what I had initially planned, I found these courses very interesting and a nice break from the subjects I had been taking at UQ.

Personal experience 

One of my favourite parts of going on exchange was the chance to meet people from all over the world. I found that the first month or so especially was filled with opportunities to get to know people through the assigned mentor group, faculty orientations, nation o-week plus a handful of exchange student events. This made meeting people and making friends really easy.

I also really enjoyed the opportunity to explore Europe while I was on exchange. Never having travelled overseas before I left I was quite keen to get around to as many countries as I could, and little gaps during semester allowed me to make trips to Finland, Spain and the UK, as well as more travelling after semester. This was one of the main attractions of doing my exchange in Europe for me and a part which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In terms of language, all of the Swedes spoke perfect English, which while convenient didn’t provide many opportunities to practice speaking Swedish. Lund University offers a Swedish for exchange students language course at the start of the semester which I didn’t take but quite wish I had.

Accommodation 

I lived in the Biskopsgatan housing area rented through LU Accommodation. I lived with mostly international students in what felt much more like a shared apartment than other dormitory-style corridor setups. The location was also excellent (very central and right next door to a pub), so I’d definitely recommend applying to live there. Most of my friends lived in other international corridors and all seemed to enjoy their accommodation, so I don’t think you can go too far wrong.

Budget 

I found prices in Sweden to be slightly more expensive than Australia, though not much as I had been expecting. Rent was probably the largest expense, at around $130AUD/week (~18500 SEK for the semester). Food was similarly priced to Australia, with the exception of meat which was generally around twice as expensive. Alcohol from the bottle-o (Systembolaget) was quite expensive however drinks from student nations were reasonably priced (a beer was around $4 AUD).

The OS-HELP loan was able to cover all of my living expenses while in Sweden which allowed me to use my savings to travel after the semester finished.

Professional Development and employability 

I’m not sure that my semester of exchange provided me with any hard skills that are relevant to my field - most the subjects I took weren’t directly related to mechanical engineering - but I have no doubt the experience has made me more employable. If nothing else, going on exchange shows that I’m happy to leave my comfort zone and experience new surroundings. It also broadened my knowledge of different cultures and world issues that I would not otherwise have been exposed to.

Highlight 

If I had to pick a single highlight of the trip it would be travelling to Lapland. I went on an ESN trip to Finnish Lapland which was the coldest, most expensive but genuinely most incredible week of my exchange. I was able to go snowmobiling, see the northern lights and swim in the Arctic Ocean (much more fun than it sounds). It was totally different to anywhere I’d ever been before, and I’d definitely recommend it as something to do while in Scandinavia.

Top tips 

Going on exchange was hands-down the best decision I’ve made and Lund University was a great place to do it. Some tips that I’d have for future exchange students to Lund are:

  • Say yes to everything you can – some of my favourite memories from exchange were decisions made on a whim to have a week in Spain or cycle to the beach near Lund. Uni can always wait.
  • Buy a bike and preferably a good one. While my bike did allow me to learn a lot about bike repairs (again and again…) I regret not investing more to get something better at the start.
  • Join a nation. These are the student organisations in Lund which run the student pubs and other fun things and working a couple of times behind the bar is a great way to meet people (especially Swedes). It’s unpaid but you get fed and a night of free drinks too.
  • Get a half-decent pair of gloves. I didn’t find the cold as difficult to deal with as I expected, however having cold hands was never fun. In terms of jackets, I found that being waterproof and windproof was more important than being warm as you can always wear a jumper underneath.
  • Enjoy it while it lasts! I thought it was a bit of a cliché that exchange would go quickly but the six months really seemed to fly past.
Mark - Lund University