Jane - Lund University

B Arts/Law
Semester 2, 2018
I left a part of my heart in Sweden, but I have brought a bit of Sweden home with me.

Academic experience

I studied Comparative European Legal History (15ECTS) and Global Legal Cultures (15ECTS). Something I really liked about the Swedish academic system is that courses are generally studied one at a time rather than simultaneously. This meant that for the first half of semester I studied Comparative European Legal History and for the second half I studied Global Legal Cultures. I liked being able to focus on one subject at a time and really engage with the subject matter on a deeper level.

One challenge that I had to deal with was the large amount of group work. For one course, group presentations accounted for approximately 25% of my grade. Luckily, my group was generally very good at communicating and coordinated our schedules to allow us to work collaboratively.

The enrollment process was very simple. I had 8 courses pre-approved by UQ and then Lund accepted 2 of them. Once I arrived, I had the exchange coordinator at Lund sign off on my enrollment form. For each course, there was a pre-registration date for finalising online enrollment and then registration was completed by attending the first class.

Personal experience

I gained so much from my exchange. I made friends with people from all over Europe and connected with such a diverse range of people.

I had a lovely time exploring the south of Sweden. I hiked, cycled and even managed to find friends with cars to explore Skåne. I also managed to visit Stockholm and Oslo on my weekends. Before exchange, I did some solo travel in central Europe, which was a wonderful experience.

I learned a little bit of Swedish and managed to practice French both through making friends from France and by attending a language cafe at a local school.

Accommodation

I lived in the town in international student accommodation. I really liked living in a studio because it meant I could cook my own food and have a place to truly call my own. The host university pointed us in the direction of LU Accommodation (which was who I ultimately had my housing contract with), but generally housing was for the students to arrange.

I would advise future students to consider all the housing options, not just LU Accommodation. Housing in Lund is competitive, but there are many options and several housing providers. While it is of course reassuring to have a fixed housing contract before arriving in Lund, I had several friends who had arrived without fixed accommodation and were offered housing on arrival day.

Costs

Rent depended on where you lived (the more central, the more expensive) and in what type of accommodation (studios were more expensive than corridor rooms). It would be roughly comparable to a shared house in the inner Brisbane suburbs.

Food, as in groceries, were very affordable; food, as in dining out, was not (unless the food in question was falafel!). There were, however, other ways to find affordable food for those who were not keen to cook for themselves. The student nations offered affordable lunch and dinner options, and if you volunteered at a nation, you would receive a food ticket to use at another time.

Almost everyone in Lund owns a bike and rarely catches public transport. This means that commuting was 'free', once you bought a bike (which could then be sold at the end of semester). Public transport was roughly the same as Brisbane adult prices. The cost of travel to other parts of Sweden depended on how far in advance you booked your tickets. There were low-cost flights that departed both from Copenhagen and Malmö.

It is very difficult to advise on a budget because it really depends on how you plan to live and what you want to spend your money on. It is very easy to spend money in Sweden, but it is equally very possible to live on a student budget. That said, perhaps $10,000 (including any grants or loans) would be a reasonable budget that would leave room for some travel.

Challenge

One of my very close friends had a personal tragedy while I was in Sweden. I found it very difficult to not be able to be physically present to support her during that time. Eventually, I managed to call her regularly enough to be able to monitor how she was coping. I also reached out to my friends in Sweden to make sure I had some support myself. We are both now back in Australia and I know she is surrounded by her friends and family.

Professional Development

I was able to develop my language skills both by learning some Swedish but also by participating in a language cafe project at a local school where I was an English- and French-language tutor. I learned a lot about interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and how to communicate more effectively.

Highlight

I joined a Swedish choir and was able to be part of a Lucia concert. Lucia is a celebration of St Lucia which happens on the 13th of December, roughly coinciding with the darkest time of the year. The concert takes place in total darkness, with the only light coming from the singers' candles and from the crown of candles worn by the Lucia. I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the concert and it is a magical memory I will cherish forever.

Top tips

Join a group or take part in an activity that allows you to be part of a community. For me, this was joining a choir. For one of my friends, this was joining a volleyball team and for another friend it was participating in a church youth group. You will be away from your friends, family and normal support network while on exchange so it is incredibly valuable to find a place where you feel like part of a community while you are away from home.