I arrived the day before Arrival Day, as I was worried there would be massive queues for room keys and such! The day was absolutely magical when I arrived, and the Skånetrafiken app is fairly easy to figure out to show you where you’re going on buses and to buy the bus tic ket on the app, but you can also just by a bus card (like an AT card) at the train station and use the buses that way!
I had been trying to be super organised, and had managed to buy all of the bedding and things I needed for my room from various people second-hand on the Facebook group, and once I dropped my bag off at my accomodation I spent the day running around the city on buses to pick everything up, which was a good way to get to know the city!
Arrival Day itself proved to be easy to navigate, and not overly-crowded. This was because for this Jan-June semester (technically the second semester of the year in Sweden), there were only 600 international students arriving; whereas the first semester had 2000, and from what I’ve heard had people waiting for a long time. So either take that into account and arrive before Arrival Day if you can (the airports and trains are all easy to understand to get to Lund, and once you’re there it’s fairly easy to figure out the buses and such! It’s really easy to arrive by yourself!), or else consider the benefit of the Jan-June semester.
Important note: another reason Jan-June is a better semester to go is that the other semester can be mentally and physically very tough when you transition from beautiful summer into cold and dark winter. If you arrive in January, there is already much more daylight and the excitement makes everything seem better, and it’s easier to cope until it starts getting properly warmer and brighter! Many exchange students who have been here for both semesters have said that this is the better one.
It’s also important to note that in the semester when more students arrive, you are less likely to get the student housing. Even in this quieter semester, I know a couple of NZ students who didn’t get the uni housing (if that happens, don’t worry, you can stay in a hostel or the uni guesthouse, and everyone seemed to be able to get their accomodation sorted out very quickly).
The uni housing is all good for various reasons – Delphi is the best for parties and is very social; Sparta is really close to the uni and also fairly social; Eddan is the newest and nicest accomodation (that’s where I live, and we get our own bathrooms and showers in each room too! Spoilt! However, it’s not especially social as there is not space for a couch in every corridor, just a dining table in the kitchen). Everywhere has different benefits, but overall they’re all perfectly nice to live in!
Personally, I would recommend doing all of the activities that they sell tickets for at Arrival Day – it’s the best way to meet people, to get involved in all of the activities! My absolute favourite and #1 recommendation had to be the half-day hike though!! One of the best experiences in Sweden for sure! The hike is very relaxed – you go at your own pace and do whatever level you prefer, and just enjoy the stunning scenery! I wasn’t sure what to expect when hiking in winter, as I’ve never done it before and get cold very easily, but it was fantastic! Just take a good waterproof jacket, a beanie, and some good gloves!
Pre-arrival day, sign up to do the Swedish Language course during orientation! It’s another great way to meet people, and the exam isn’t too stressful (only multi-choice questions, but even if it goes badly they let you resist exams here in Lund! That goes for all of your courses!)
It is important that you don’t miss your meeting with your course co-ordinator within the Orientation Week! At Lund uni there is no “swap and drop” period for courses! However the staff are very helpful – I know someone who missed meeting with their course co-ordinator and had a clash with their courses, which was resolved in the end!
Tips for your first days in Lund:
- Keep in mind that everyone else just also wants to make friends, and anyone will be happy if you just walk up to them and say hi and start a conversation!
- Get a bike as soon as you can! You save money, and make friends!! Everyone bikes everywhere, and it was super fun biking back from the big Welcome Party at 3am with new friends who were all going back to the same accomodation (great way to get to know other people in your building too!).
- You can buy bikes on the Facebook second-hand group, but there are also second-hand bike stores in Lund which will offer a wider variety of bikes (the people are Banks Cyclan are lovely and have helped me fix up my bike even though I didn’t buy it from them! Wish I had though, as I don’t know much about bikes and got one that’s not the right size…whoops!).
- When buying a bike second-hand, apparently you should aim to spend around 1000 SEK – less is probably getting you a bad bike, and more is a rip-off. It’s worth investing in a good bike chain though, and bikes are commonly stolen in Lund! Although that hasn’t actually happened to anyone I know here! (Best to chain the back tyre to the frame of the bike, as that is the hardest to remove and therefore the bike is less likely to be stolen).
- Lund is very relaxed, so not many people tend to wear helmets when cycling, which is ideal in winter because you need a big beanie on to keep your ears warm!
- Always stick to the right-hand side when cycling, and try to stay in the cycle lanes on the footpath, and you won’t have any issues!
- Enjoy getting to know your corridor-mates (essentially flat-mates in Eddan, but some of the buildings have big corridors of 15-30 rooms with large communal kitchens that can have lots of people cooking in them at once), but it’s also good to make sure everyone gets into good habits from the start, mainly referring to keeping the kitchens and bathrooms and such clean (it can be annoying if you end up with corridor-mates who leave dirty dishes sitting in the sink for ages, or use kitchen pots for storing food in the fridge so no one else can cook in them…)
- Supermarkets: ICA is the most common, and is reasonably-priced; Coop is unnecessarily expensive; and Willy’s and Aldi are both rather far out of town but everything is a little cheaper, and you can generally buy things in bulk more, which is handy! When you’re not sure what something is in Swedish, ask the people around you! Most Swedes speak English really well, and are friendly and helpful!
- You’ll get given a Swedish SIM card at Arrival Day, and it will be easiest to visit the table set up there and make sure you get the card up and running with credit! (Some people didn’t end up putting credit on at Arrival Day and ended up buying themselves new SIM cards because it was confusing to load the initial credit I think)
- A lot of students buy themselves a wifi router, depending on their accomodation. Eddan for example doesn’t have wifi, but using an Ethernet cable is annoying, and is frustrating when using wifi on your mobile phone, so I brought a router for myself. You might pay between 300-400 SEK for a new one (the second-hand ones sell on the Facebook page very quickly!!). If you want to invest in a better one, you might be able to spilt the cost between another flat-mate in the room next door to you! The main electronic store in Lund is called “Kjell and Company” (pronounced “Shell and Company”, interestingly!)
- The Nation club-system at the uni can be confusing to start off! There are lots of Nations, but they’ll all run social and sporting activities, and balls! (Picture from the Lunds Nation Finnfesten 2019 ball-sittning! Sittnings are great fun, and you should definitely attend at least one while you’re here!) But essentially, it doesn’t matter what Nation you join. Regardless of your Nation, you can go to the events for any Nation; and also work with any Nation, which is heaps of fun and a great way to meet more people without spending money on a night out! Bonus: if you work at a Nation you get free food during the shift, and tickets for free food later on, and a thank-you dinner later into the semester! If you work at lots of different Nations then you not only meet lots of new people, but also get lots of free food and get to go to all of the thank-you dinners!
* Signing up for a specific Nation is only important if you are wanting to get the Nation housing in the event that you don’t get uni accomodation.
- Check out ESN Lund – they’re the student-run club that organise the awesome trips! I managed to get a place on the Council (totally worth trying out for – you
meet neat people, get to suggest ideas for trips and events, and can apply to go on some of the trips for free!!); but it’s easy to just sign up to be a member, and go on the trips! Well worth checking out which trips they’re running and which ones suit your schedule at the start of the semester, and planning any of your own travel around those! The ESN trips are always heaps of fun because it’s just a big group of students, and you get to meet awesome people – primarily other exchange students, to be honest! Travelling is a great way to bond with people and get to know them well, and create long-lasting friendships here! Some of the closest friends I’ve made here have been because of the ESN trips I went on!
- Personal recommendation: either of the Finland trips! An incredible experience, and really great discounts on all of the activities there, meaning that I did things I might not normally have done because of the student-budget life… It was crazy adventure, and one of the overall highlights of my entire trip!