After two days of travel via Sydney, Guangzhou and Amsterdam, I finally arrived at Copenhagen Kastrup Airport in the early hours of a Tuesday in January. After making my way to the main arrivals hall, myself and other students from my flight were greeted by a group of mentors in bright blue shirts from the University. Surprisingly, the mentor and first person I spoke to on arrival was actually from New Zealand! We were assisted in purchasing our train tickets before journeying across the strait between Denmark and Sweden via the incredible Öresund Bridge.
Arriving in Lund, more mentors greeted us, and we were taxied to a university building for new international students. We were provided with all sorts of information and tips before grabbing our keys and heading to the accommodation. It was an exciting time stepping through the door of the sizeable and well-furnished two-bedroom apartment. The bedrooms were filled with a desk, bed, bookcase, laundry basket, bedside table, two lamps, and a wardrobe, along with enough floorspace left over for a game of twister.
The city itself was very different to one you would find in New Zealand. It was very compact and well organised, centred on an historic cathedral built 700 years before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi! The city comprised of an array of different building styles, from quaint and colourful houses to modern technological centres and various university building throughout, all connected with cobbled streets and plenty of cycle paths. Although it was very cold and dark in January when I arrived, there was still a charm to the city. But the real magic came as it got warmer, as the city became filled with the greenery of parks and trees, which perfectly complemented the buildings.
Life on campus offered plenty to do every week, with the several student-run “nations” hosting their own pubs, clubs, yoga sessions, brunches, etc., any of which all students were welcome to attend. I even volunteered as a bartender and cooked brunch a few times, which was actually easier than it sounds, and a great way to meet new people. Besides the nations, the university itself offered plenty of orientation events for international students, including games and movie nights, races around the city searching for clues, and general mingling events such as pub nights. This was topped off with a performances by a Swedish choir and the University’s brass band during a welcome night in the historic Main University Building.
The overall experience was one that shaped me for the better. And despite the pandemic, I still had a fantastic time meeting lots of new people from around the world.