Sophie: Leaving Lund

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This was one of the hardest things I have done. There is still so much of Europe
that I want to travel, there are so many people that I want to meet… I absolutely
fell in love with Lund, as a city and a university; and there are so many friends here
that are so dear to me. It is hard to fathom leaving Lund, and not returning after a
weekend away; and it is even harder to think that for so many of my friends here,
this is the last time for at least a year or so that I’ll see them.

However, it is only when you truly miss something that you know you had
something worthwhile. So, sad as I am to be leaving Lund, I know that the
friendships and memories I’ve made; and all of the things I’ve learnt, whether in
classes, in my own head about myself, or about the world around me; these are all
things that make this experience worthwhile.

I cannot recommend a university exchange highly enough. It is an incredible
experience, and unlike any other form of travel you will ever have the opportunity
to do.

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For those of you who are nervous -as I was going into this, thinking that 7.5
months would be a long time away from home, and would be hard to get through know
that it is much easier than you would expect.

You are surrounded by people who want to make connections and travel and
spend time together, so you won’t be lonely. You can call, video-call, and message
friends and family back home any time you like. But you will be so busy, and so
excited, that these few months will absolutely fly by. Now that it has come time to
leave Lund, I can’t believe how long it has already been since I left home, and I
can’t believe that I don’t want to return just yet! I love my friends and family, and
thought I would get homesick fairly easily… I won’t lie, there have definitely been
days when it was harder to be away from everyone back home, and when I’ve
missed people and places. But on those days, I would video-call the people I miss,
and it’s almost as good as having them here with me. And I would go and spend
time with my friends here, and be reminded that I have people here who love and
support me now too.

It seems so monumental, leaving home to run to just about the opposite end of the
world… and it is. It is a massive thing to do, but an incredible, wonderful, magical
massive thing. Trust that you will find friends here, and that you will be so busy
having so many incredible experiences, that it will be worth the days and brief
moments when you wish you were home instead of here.

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Me finally learning to bike hands free in my last week in Lund! Woo!

For me, this was also my first time moving out of home, as I live with my parents in
Auckland. I loved having a bit more freedom and living on my own! It doesn’t feel
lonely, as all of the uni accomodation means that you always have options to hang
out with people, and it’s easy to make lots of new friends! You can get apps and
things to help you manage your budget if you’re worried about that. It’s honestly
so worth branching out and giving it a go!

After all, everything here is temporary. It wasn’t as hard as I had thought, to leave
NZ and everyone that I love there, because I always knew that I would be coming
back soon enough.

Comparatively, it is hard to leave Lund. I know I might never be back
here, and that even if I did return, it would never be the same, with the same people here, or the same experiences.

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Yes, you can barely tell that it’s me; but that is in fact a photo of me sitting in front of the Northern Lights. Not at all ashamed to admit that minutes earlier I had been crying about how incredible the world is, and how lucky I am…

So my advice to anyone reading this, whether you’re only thinking about an
exchange, or whether you’ve already committed to it, and you’re a bundle of
excited-nerves and don’t know what to do with yourself: take the leap and enjoy it.

Don’t feel guilty for leaving your friends or family, or partner. Do it for yourself –
know that it will be one of the best things you will ever do for yourself, and know
that you will be back in NZ sooner than you imagined. I have spent so much time
on this trip marveling at the world around me, and wondering how it is possible
that my life, ordinary little me from New Zealand, could ever be so incredibly
magical. The fact at the end of the day is that if you want your life to be magical,
you have to go out into the world and get stuck into it all!

My best memories are the times that I decided to invite everyone over for a potluck dinner; the time we put on a ‘kiwi classics’ playlist and I jumped up and sung my heart out with the other kiwis, despite being one of very few people singing (and I do not sing well); the times we wandered into the snow in the dark and stood for an hour to see the
Northern Lights; the times I spent travelling Turkey by myself despite having been
scared about the political situation before going; the times I biked for an hour to
spend a sunny afternoon at the quarry; the times I ran outside in jandals to try and
catch snowflakes on my tongue with my Canadian friend dying of laughter at my
joy at seeing snow; the times I went to various sittnings, not necessarily knowing
anyone else that would be there, and made new friends and slowly learnt to sing
Swedish songs!

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I am so grateful for the luck that I had that made my time in Europe so amazing,
and I am so grateful to the amazing people I met who contributed to making my
time here so wonderful; but I am just as grateful to myself for going out into the
world and just doing it all! Giving it all my best effort, taking the time to enjoy every
moment, and learn whatever I could; and knowing that I have accomplished many
things to be proud of on this trip.

So do it! And love it! And love yourself for having the courage to do it!

Sophie

Sophie: Awesome Stuff to do in and around Lund!

There is so much to do in Lund! You don’t necessarily need to travel out of the country, or even the city to have a good time! There are lots of ways to get out into the nature around Lund, which is stunning in both winter and summer! Whether by bike, bus or train, lots of beautiful places are easily accessible! Check out the local national parks such as Dalby, Söderåsens, Kullaberg lighthouse, and Ven Island!

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Söderåsens National Park in winter – it would be just as gorgeous in summer, I’m sure!

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In summer, it is also well worth checking out the Dalby Quarry if you want to have a swim on a sunny day! It’s a gorgeous bike ride from Lund, but if you’re worried about the heat and trying to carry water with you (as there is nowhere to fill up drink bottles at the Quarry), then buses make the trip shorter and easier! There is also a BBQ at the Quarry which makes for a great lunch or dinner away from the city!

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Dalby’s National Park – the smallest in Europe!
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The Quarry on a sunny day!

Lomma beach is also a good bike ride or an easy bus ride out from the city, and makes for a nice day out in summer!

It’s just as nice to take time to hang out in the city though – a picnic in the Botanical gardens is gorgeous in summer, and great fun if you can get a frisbee or a ball to throw around from one of the op shops.

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Enjoying a bike ride around the summery fields in Lund!

In winter, it’s great fun to have pot-luck dinners or parties with a good crowd of people, or get together with a couple of friends just to cook dinner or do some baking!

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Baking kannelbullar, YUM! Everything tastes better fresh out of the oven!

Recipe for kannelbullar (cinnamon buns): https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/ cinnamon-buns/

TDC parties are popular in the university corridor-accomodation, in which every room in a corridor to come up with a different game to play (people can opt out if they want to!) and people move around in small groups from room to room playing the different games!

Sittnings are also great fun – a formal 3-course meal, for which people generally dress up, which involves lots of singing! Swedes will all have official song books (but for sittnings they will often print out a songbook too, so don’t stress!), and they’ll pass them around during the dinner for everyone to sign! Write whatever you like in there, or nothing if you prefer! My favourite thing to write is that “Kiwi fruit are named after New Zealand’s native kiwi bird, and were originally called ‘Chinese Goosberries’!” because frankly not enough people know that, or know that a kiwi bird exists in the first place.

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Getting excited for a fun and funky Valentine’s Day party!

Other things that are neat to do in Lund:
• Kulturen Museum (most of it is outdoors, so potentially better in nicer weather, but would be gorgeous in winter too!
• Historiska Museet (History Museum of Lund! They’ve got a couple of little bits from NZ in here which is cool!)
• Museum of Sketches
• If you’re keen to have a cosy typical Swedish experience, the Malmö Sauna is awesome! You heat up in the sauna and then jump in the ocean! A must-have experience while in Sweden!
• Check out what events the International Desk, the University Nations, and ESN Lund all have on – there are often game nights, study nights, and options to cook/work for the uni nations, or weekend trips.
• Working for the Nations is a great way to make new friends, and get free food! I really highly recommend it! I especially loved doing the baking nights, or cooking lunches for the Nations! Make sure to check for Facebook pages for “Workers at X Nation”
• I highly recommend joining the Kalmar Nation Spex show – whether you’re performing, or helping out backstage, it’s so much fun! One of my friends did it, and it’s one thing I really regret not getting into while I was here! Every Nation will do a Spex show, but Kalmar is the only Nation that does it in English (which is more fun, both because you understand what’s going on, and also because the audience gets to participate in these shows by yelling “retake!” at the actors!)
• Check what holidays are on – Valborg (Walpurgis) is the biggest holiday in Lund, on April 30th each year, and great fun to be a part of! Also, because Sweden is amazing, they have holidays for all of their sweet treats! For example, kannelbullar is October 4th, and semla is the Swedish treat for Shrove Tuesday.

Sophie

Anshula: Birmingham

As I arrived on Aston Webb Boulevard after 48 hours of relentless travel, Birmingham was pitch black at 11 pm but Old Joe (the clock tower) towered proudly over the sprawling campus. With the campus on a daunting hillock, it felt like entering Hogwarts for the first time, and I knew I was ready for the magical ride that was going to be this exchange.

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I never thought my first play performance at university, would be while on my exchange! We performed a pantomime of Treasure Island. Interestingly, the opening number – Shiver Me Timbers – was based on the New Zealand Haka; so it was nostalgic to sing and dance to it! Being the only international students in the play team of about 50 Brits was definitely an exciting and welcoming experience.

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I was doing courses under the Business and Psychology departments, so I went to their course scheduling workshops to get my timetable sorted: highly recommend arriving earlier than the class start date to attend these! It was often easier to get a response in person as over 200 exchange students can have vastly differing requirements, which can be difficult to understand via email.

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Courses rarely had assignments and were mostly assessed at the end, but this is changing in the 2019-2020 session as Birmingham attempts to make assessments more distributed throughout the semester. Lecturers are very understanding and helpful, so make sure to introduce yourself at the beginning of the semester!

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Accommodation wise, it is best to apply for Bournbrook or Jarratt Hall as they are close to Bristol Road, which has cheap supermarkets like Aldi and Tesco and is the hub of social life at university. For those preferring to be catered, Shackleton Hall at the Vale has the main dining areas (although the meal plan can be purchased even if you are not at Shackleton).

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This was the first time that I had moved from a halls to a flatting situation, so it was a huge learning experience! It was also the first time that I was going to fully cater for myself, so have definitely learned some quick, healthy meals. I would recommend being open, engaging and patient with cultural differences as there are quite a few even between NZ and the UK!

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Handy tips:

  • Take the 61 or 63 bus from outside campus for 1 pound only to the city centre!
  • Plan weekend travel beforehand: book buses/trains earlier as prices rise like flights!
  • Recommend joining clubs, especially those that we don’t have at UoA! 😉
    • Harry Potter Club
    • Dance Club Latino
    • Pole Fitness
  • GYM MEMBERSHIP IS LIMITED AND GETS SOLD OUT MONTHS AGO SO PURCHASE ONE AS SOON AS YOU GET YOUR VISA!!!
  • Put yourself in new situations (socially and otherwise); you might find new hobbies! Eg: If you are an outdoorsy person, try origami or board games with friends and try to have different social circles both in and out of class so that you don’t restrict your social activities or travel to the interests of one group
  • Must-visit places: Cardiff (Wales), Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Liverpool, Scotland, Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace), London (of course

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  • Get in touch with the Careers Network at UoB if you want to plan a future in the UK
  • Network with UoA alumni in Birmingham or even just professionals in your industry of interest
  • Keep a list of people you meet (professionals and friends) so that you can keep track later on: Facebook and Linkedin are not enough!
  • Budget! You can only work part time if you get a visa for the whole year, there is much less contact hours here than UOA so it is possible to work
  • KEEP A TRAVEL DIARY and/or vlog
  • Invest time in a good ol’ Spotify playlist
  • Write down your priorities for your exchange before you leave, and take note of how they evolve during and after your exchange
  • In decreasing order of priority, write down your reasons for choosing your countries/universities in the Prospective Host Universities form. Sleep on this list and note how these reasons (or their order or priority) evolve with time and as you interact with other exchange students. Potential reasons: Travel, University/department rankings, Professional networks, Stepping stone to future study/career
  • Learn proper cooking for at least a month before you go on exchange
    • Must-haves: portable rice cooker and mixer/chopper/blender
  • Birmingham was my FOURTH choice and I was hesitant to accept it but in hindsight, I would not change it for the world! Do not let the lack of your first/top 3 choices put you off the best experience of your university life 😀
  • Try to vary your experiences as much as possible but do not let your FOMO (fear of missing out) exhaust you. This is YOUR exchange and there is no such thing as too much or too little of travelling/clubbing/socialising: do what feels natural!
  • Having said that, be bold because it is, after all, a once – in – lifetime experience! 🙂

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WHAT I HAVE LEARNED

  • Exchange is more than worth the stress and sleepless nights. That is all 😉

MESSAGE TO OUTGOING EXCHANGE STUDENTS (TO BIRMINGHAM OR ELSEWHERE):

  • If you have any inhibitions or fears regarding your exchange (or are just losing sleep at 3 pm), call me on Messenger and I am happy to chat about absolutely anything!

Roald Dahl once said: “Those who don’t believe in magic, will never find it”. I’m glad I did (and still do), because I found Birmingham!

Anshula

Tana: Home

Hi guys!

This blog has been especially hard to start writing because I refuse to come to terms with the fact that my exchange is now complete and I am back home in New Zealand. Don’t get me wrong, it feels great to be reunited with my family and friends, but at the same time a little bizarre. In Berkeley, I felt as though that was my new life, and I had gotten so comfortable with my routine. In fact, I think it’s the little things that I’m going to miss the most like walking to class with my friend Amelia or lying down in the glade and admiring the night sky while my mates and I reflected on life. To come to think of it, I have now become very dependent on social interaction and don’t know how I’m going to cope for the next couple of weeks since my friends here are busy studying for exams.

Regardless, I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to go on this exchange and spend the semester studying at UC Berkeley. For any of you who are reading this and still haven’t decided on whether or not you should go on exchange, my advice to you would be to definitely take the plunge. It has been the experience of a life time and I would not trade these past couple of months for anything else!

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Another serene sunset in Berkeley

Not only have I made unforgettable memories and lifelong friends, but I have also obtained a greater passion for my studies and am further motivated to secure a successful career. Next semester, I plan to join more clubs on campus and diversify my skills. Additionally, I have gained a stronger desire to continue travelling and have already started learning Spanish so as to be able to speak four languages! Most importantly though, I adapted to live independently and by doing so, I now have more confidence in myself and my abilities.

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How am I supposed to say bye to such a beautiful campus?

I’m so thankful for the 360 Exchange Program for helping me expand my horizons and attain a new outlook on life.

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My first roommate and newest best friend!

I hope my blogs have given you some useful insight on what to expect at UC Berkeley. Thank you all for reading and to those of you who have emailed me!

So long!

-Tana

Tana

Shannon: Endings and Beginnings

I struggled with writing this final post because I will never be able to accurately express my gratitude for this experience in words. This exchange has been beyond what I could have ever dreamed and I am so glad that I took the leap.

During my time here, I tried to remain open to new experiences but sometimes fear of the unknown would cripple me—especially since this was my first time solo travelling. I am a planner which was incredibly helpful when I was organising all of my paperwork beforehand. However, this was not so helpful when things didn’t go as planned, which is inevitable when you go to a different country. I’ll be honest—if you decide to go on an exchange, it isn’t easy but it is definitely worth it.

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These three cracked me up-spotted on the streets of Dublin.

There were times when I felt like a kid at Disneyland as I got excited about the Georgian buildings and scenery. However, I also felt so homesick and lonely sometimes that I would hide in my room, trying to hold back tears. If anything, what really got me through this experience was my faith and the support of loved ones. Instead of containing my fears and stress, I could hand it over to God and confide in close friends and family. It’s so important to stay in contact with people in your life who can support you in those difficult times because they will keep you grounded.

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My amazing flatmates from all over the world!
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Aoife, a leader at my church & the reason for my Butler’s addiction.

You may think that when you’re travelling, your friends and family don’t want to see you constantly bombarding their newsfeed with photos but I can assure you, they probably want to share those experiences with you and know that you’re ok.

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One of many home-cooked meals. It accomplished my goal: A. Show Mum I’m eating well and B. Satisfy my taste buds.
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I baked as well, taking study procrastination to a whole other level…

As I look forward to the future, I am excited for more adventures. Even though the fear and stress were struggles, they made me stronger. While I did come here to finish my degree, this experience was really about how it’s ok to not always have a plan. Sometimes, the best adventures aren’t the planned ones, but the spontaneous ones where you can try something different and step outside of your comfort zone. As Miss Frizzle in The Magic School Bus says, you should “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”

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Classic jump shot in the beautiful Dún Laoghaire-a seaside town just a bus/DART ride from Dublin city centre.
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Squashing myself into the tiny staircase of the James Joyce tower-inspiration for the first chapter of Ulysses!

Overall, I just want to encourage you to take a leap of faith and give the exchange experience a go. It is scary and there are a lot of things that you won’t know about the place you’re going to, but you can learn so much. I know that as I go forward, Ireland will always hold a special place in my heart and I will remember this experience and what I’ve learned from it for the rest of my life.

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Squashing myself into the tiny staircase of the James Joyce tower-inspiration for the first chapter of Ulysses!
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A final throwback to the wild beauty of the Wicklow Mountains

Thank you for following my journey and I hope that what I’ve shared has encouraged or helped you in some way. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out (shannon.murphy012@gmail.com) and all the best for your future adventures!

I can think of no better way to end this series of blog posts than with an Irish blessing so:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-Unknown

Shannon

Rachel: Home

Just in case there aren’t enough cheesy one-liners out there about studying abroad, I’d like to add that it’s definitely an unforgettable experience. It’s quite a bittersweet feeling to have finally landed back in New Zealand. The places I visited, the friends I made and the memories I formed make me want to do it all over again.

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A perfect birthday memory

Engineering at UoA has a very specific schedule and NUS is notorious for being strict with their initial acceptance of modules (courses). So like many exchangers before me, I went over with only two confirmed classes out of the four I needed. There was nothing I could do until the module add/drop period that happened during the first week of classes. Looking back, it was the biggest hurdle that I had to overcome, mentally, before I could commit to my exchange. At the time, the idea that I might have to delay my graduation did not sit right with me. When you add in all the pre-departure anxiety and the various concerns, I felt very hesitant about it all. Now at the end of the tunnel, I would like to report back that the experience definitely outweighed all my worries. If I were to decide again, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

And of course, you’ll experience ups and downs when you’re so far from home, the occasional wave of loneliness, the sporadic moments of FOMO hearing the stories of your friends back home and the odd time and time again of feeling a bit lost. For me, I did find some comfort in recognising that it was okay to feel such, and its human to feel the ups and downs no matter where you are.

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The classic tourist spot with an excellent light show at night
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A spot close to Chinatown – the contrast of the buildings’ styles always stops me in my track

 

My exchange may very well be the part of university I look back to the most fondly, for I would encourage everyone to take a leap of faith and, just go for it.

Rachel

Daniel: Looking back on a semester in Granada

Kia ora whānau!

Not gonna lie, I’ve been dreading the moment in which I had to begin this blog. I dreaded that moment because it would mean that my time in my gorgeous little city of Granada has come to an end. However, I’m choosing to look back at my time and smile at the unbelievably enriching experience I’ve had that I will bring with me back to NZ, and through my entire life (prepare for cheesiness and emotions). Here we go.

Favourite memories

Dinner nights with pals – nothing beats a wholesome night in with friends. Not only did I get to eat some of my friend’s traditional foods (Argentinian empanadas, Puerto Rican mofongo and French crepes) but these were amazing nights of feeling like I was really at home away from home.

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Ok yes, this is brunch..but you get the idea!

Road trip with friends to the beach – after a semester of fast paced, intense travels, my friends and I decided to take a chill (and crazy cheap) road trip along the east coast of Spain to spend a week laying on the beaches – as you can see, it’s been a tough life.

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Surely I’m dreaming? Views of Alicante

My journey with the Spanish language – On my first day at uni in Granada, I felt like quitting all my classes and backpacking Europe – I barely understood a word. But after keeping at it, making friends with Spanish speakers (most important step!!) and forcing myself to function in Spanish, I survived the semester (and enjoyed it!) and now feeling ready to tackle Latin America with this new-found skill. Language barriers often scare people away, but I promise it is the greatest challenge you’ll tackle!

Things I’ve learnt

Budget – A quick word on money – plan this out well!!! I have made it to the end but probably would have benefited from a little more financial planning at some points..

The importance of people – You never know the kind of people you’re missing out on meeting until you move to the other side of the world alone. The amount you learn from meeting people who have completely different backgrounds and thought processes to you is invaluable. It can be scary but opening yourself up to new people will open your mind and challenge your thinking!

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Exchange doesn’t change you, it brings out who you are! – I hear a lot that “exchange changes you”, but in my opinion, it allows you to be who you really are without any pressures or expectations. Don’t go into an exchange expecting to change, instead take every experience as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and add to who you already are.

And above all, I’ve learnt you just have to put your heart and soul into having the best possible time, whatever that may mean to you. Remember how long you spent planning to get there, so live in that moment! I couldn’t recommend an exchange more, it has been a priceless learning experience and 5 months I will never forget. I’m returning to NZ with Spain in my heart and a hunger for more new experiences, ready to plan the next journey.

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I’ve got you and your stunning views in my heart forever Granada

A huge thanks to all my friends and whānau for supporting me and everyone who read these blogs! I hope they’ve been helpful as you plan your very own exchange, and feel free to say hey or ask any questions if you see me around. But until then…

Safe travels and good luck!

¡Buen viaje y mucha suerte!

Daniel

Sophie: Travelling While Studying

Just to make it clear from the outset here: I do not endorse skipping uni. You’ll find that your time in classes here at Lund is just as much as part of every other piece of your exchange, and because of the structure of the university (where you’ll do two papers for half of the semester and then two different papers for the second half of the semester), you don’t get as much class time as you think.

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Sintra, Portugal

Definitely try to attend all your classes, as that’s where you’ll meet new friends, both international and local! And enjoy your classes, and the experience of studying at a different university! It’s absolutely amazing! I really really loved some of my classes, and when it got to halfway through the semester and they stopped, I found myself caught off guard and wishing the courses would go on for longer! So make sure you make the most of it!! I was lucky with my university schedule for the first half of the semester, as I had long weekends every week, which allowed for lots of travel while staying on top of my uni courses!

However, despite my relaxed schedule, I am more thankful that one of the first friends I made here at Lund was another girl who was very keen to travel, and we sat down together and just booked a few things straight off the bat, and started talking about travel plans!

She told me she’d known international students who had come to NZ and only started travelling late in their semester abroad and not done everything they wanted to, and she was determined not to make that mistake! I am so grateful, as it is definitely easy to get caught up in the excitement of arriving in Lund and meeting so many new people, and especially as we arrived in winter, it is much cosier to stay indoors and do fika, or dinner, or pot-lucks, or parties, than to think about venturing out into the cold! And at the start of semester, you might also be feeling a bit cautious about trying to budget your money to make sure it’ll last the whole trip too. But don’t let that stop you!

Travelling in amazing, and there are so many places to go, whether you go far or near! I have a couple of friends here who made it their mission to travel around Sweden and Denmark as much as possible, almost every weekend! They used trains and buses, and saw so much of both of these beautiful countries! So whether you go far or just stay close to home, and whether you’re on a budget or not, just get out there and get going!

One of my friends made the excuse most of the semester “I’m too disorganised and lazy to bother looking through everything to book a trip”, but he managed to do some awesome trips too! If you use Road2Rio or Omnio you can easily see buses/trains/ planes for whatever route you’re looking at, and Skyscanner and Google Flights are both great for finding flights too! And then use HostelWorld or booking.com to sort out your accommodation easily (the maps make it easy to see which spots are close to the city centre, or close to train stations and such) to find a cheap hostel, and you’re good to go!

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Going up the Eiffel Tower! Yes, so touristy, but it was incredible!

‘Moovit’ is one of my biggest recommendations for anyone travelling anywhere – it’s fantastic for public transport within a local area (much more reliable than the recommendations that will pop up on Google Maps!) and makes getting around pretty much every city in Europe a piece of cake! It’ll even show you where you are on a map so you know where to walk to the stop/station, and where to get off! And if you ever do get lost, it is so easy to wander into any shop or cafe, or stop pretty much anyone on the street and ask for help!

Don’t assume that everyone speak English, as some people dislike that, but if you politely ask for help and ask if they speak English, you’re fairly likely to be able to find someone who can point you in the right direction! And if you ever get really stuck, pull out Google Translate! It’ll get the point across well enough! I also find that if I at least try to learn “hello” and “thank you” in the local language of whatever country I’m in, local people really appreciate it and love the effort! Would highly recommend making the effort to do that!

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Irish coastline reminding me of home in NZ!

Travelling Europe has changed me in so many ways. I have had so many wonderful experiences (and a few stressful ones that we’ll call “learning curves”!), meet so many amazing people, and learnt so much about myself. Some trips were solo, some trips were with friends, some trips were with people I barely knew. In every way, each adventure was different, incredible, and so so special. I have memories that I will cherish for years to come, and friendships that will span continents and lifetimes.

Travelling while on a university exchange is so special too – it is like no other travel you will ever do in your lifetime. You are surrounded by young people from all around the world, who also want to travel and have new experiences and meet new people; and you have a home to base yourself in, which makes the whole experience much easier, as you create a home for yourself there and don’t spend so long being homesick for NZ.

You have an opportunity over here to create yourself as whoever you want to be. Nobody here knows you, or has any preconception of who you are as a person, or what to expect of you. You have the freedom to be anyone and anything. It is an incredible opportunity that we don’t have in our day-to-day lives where people feel like they know you, and they expect you to act and react in certain ways. You grow so much as an individual when you have the opportunity to leave it all behind for a couple of months and see who you are when you have no expectations on you. It is such a beautiful opportunity. So make sure you make the most of it, be conscious of this opportunity; be conscious of reflecting on your experiences, your actions and reactions; be conscious of who you want to be.

And also be a conscious traveler – don’t assume everyone will speak English; try new languages, food, experiences, music, dancing styles as part of respecting, appreciating and experiencing new cultures; try to be conscious of the carbon footprint of your travelling too; and try to represent NZ well!

Sophie_4h
Marching in the student protest against climate change in Madrid! Amazing to feel such a sense of togetherness with so many people I’ve never met, chanting in a language I don’t know, with signs I barely understand…all united for a common cause for the good of the whole planet and everyone on it!

Sophie

Daniel: Making the month of my final month in Granada

Kia ora everyone! If you can’t already tell from my previous blogs, I’m in love with Granada. From day one I’ve been captivated by its cheap and delicious tapas culture, the relaxed lifestyle and buzzing nightlife. As I’m now in my final month here, I’ve been trying extra hard to make sure I see everything there is to see and get amongst the city as much as possible, so here’s a few ways I’ve been enjoining living in the south of Spain!

The Alhambra

If you know anything about Granada, you know that the Alhambra is probably the most famous part of the city. The Alhambra is a gorgeous palace with historical documents that date back as far as the 9th century. Something I love about Granada is the fact that it has a lovely mix of modern, student life whilst maintain so many elements of its rich history I finally managed to get my ticket (free for Granada residents!) and go see this amazing site with my own eyes. Let’s just say I was NOT disappointed. This was also a pretty amazing exam study break!

Daniel_4a

 

Granada Pride Festival

Going to a pride festival has always been something I’ve wanted to do but never got the chance, so what better time to get amongst it that here in Granada? Granada in general has a super open and accepting vibe, and this crazy and colourful festival was proof of that. Hundreds of people of all ages and identities came together to celebrate pride and well, it was beautiful! Very happy to have had this wonderful event to my list of memories here in Spain.

Daniel_4c

 

Travelling

I have definitely mentioned this in a previous blog, but I’ve also been taking advantage of the cheap and quick travel opportunities! You definitely don’t realize how far away we are in NZ until you come to Europe and snatch a $50 bus to another country!! During a public holiday (of which Granada has many…not complaining) my friends and I packed up our stuff for a week in Lisbon, Portugal. If you’re looking at doing an exchange anywhere in Europe, make sure to check out the cities/countries around you and make the most of this amazing world of easy travel!

Daniel_4d

 

And of course, I’ve also been indulging in the world of tapas, exploring the caves up in the mountains of Sacromonte and having flat dinners with my friends. Also, these past few weeks have inspired me to put myself out there and keep exploring even when I return to Auckland – it can be easy to get comfortable, but no matter where you are, there is always something to explore.

Daniel_4e

 

 

Will chat to ya’ll in my next (and final) blog where I’ll try to put all my thoughts and feelings on this whole experience into one blog!

 

Daniel

Sophie: Food in Sweden

In Sweden, the most traditional dish is meatballs with Lingonberry Jam – and it’s
fantastic! For the most Swedish experience possible, go to IKEA and have the
meatballs there – they’re really good! You can buy food in IKEA too, and get some
to take home with you! They have fantastic vegetable-balls also, for people who
are vegetarian or vegan!

The Swedish meatballs are also really easy to make – I made a vegan version of
them with some friends one night! One friend was Swedish, so I don’t have a
recipe to share unfortunately as he was simply working off his memory, but you
can try the recipe in this link if you want to experience it yourself! It works pretty
well to follow the classic recipe for Swedish meatballs, and just replace the mince
with a meat-substitute mince, and use vegan alternatives for milk/cream/butter/
eggs, as that’s what we did for our dinner, and it turned out delicious!

Swedish meatballs: https://cafedelites.com/swedish-meatballs-recipe/
Swedish veggie-balls: https://www.karissasvegankitchen.com/vegan-swedishmeatballs/

 

Typical components of the meal aside from the meatballs are the Lingonberry Jam
and the brown-sauce (essentially like gravy, but over here referred to as ‘Brown
Sauce’) to go with the meatballs; and then potatoes (either mashed, boiled, or
roasted), cooked carrots, and peas! Overall a perfect dish for a cold winter’s night!

As a student here in Lund, you will find that eating out generally isn’t super cheap,
but falafel (or kebab) is very common, and Lundafalafel is widely agreed to be the
best falafel place in the city! They only take cash though, which is handy when you
have some extra kroner you want to get rid of, but otherwise don’t forget to get
some money out before you stop by there!

Shady Burgers is another popular spot among students, as it’s not overly
expensive, but in my opinion it’s well worth whatever extra you pay if you you go to
Tugg Burgers! Sooooo good! And their kumara chips are just as good as their
burgers! In my opinion, Surf Shack is also better than Shady Burgers, without
being quite as expensive as Tugg, and it’s a super relaxed spot that pretty much
lets you create your own burger! It’s right next to the Botoulfplatsen too (the main
bus station in the city centre), which makes it super handy to find!
(Can you tell I really like burgers?)

All of these places have good vegetarian or vegan options too, which is neat! If you
are vegetarian or vegan, you’ll find it fairly easy to find food around Sweden!

Regardless of whether or not you are or aren’t vegetarian or vegan, I have to
recommend Truefood cafe! It’s just great food! And if you are vegan, it makes life
easy! But unfortunately not one of the cheaper spots to eat out in Lund…

Ebba’s is a fantastic spot for a fika*, open fairly late every day, and with amazing
food! I figured it was good when local Swedes recommended it, and it certainly
lived up to expectations! So so good!

ALL TIME FAVOURITE: My absolute #1 spot in Lund to meet friends for fika* was Hoppipolla! If you go there, you’ll understand a lot about who I am as a person. Hoppipolla itself has a lot of personality! It is fun, funky, friendly, social, charming, and absolutely adorable! Maybe not everyone’s scene, but I find it absolutely gorgeous and cosy, with amazing food to boot! They do lots of vegan cakes (not that people who aren’t
vegan can tell the difference with these yummy bites, so don’t be put off if you’re
not vegan!), as well as fresh sandwiches, and the most amazing salads I have had
in my entire life. As someone who isn’t a big fan of coffee myself, the Nutellino
coffee that they do here is delicious! (basically Nutella and coffee, so it would be
hard to be bad, but it’s definitely worth trying when you need a warm pick-me-up!)
The Italian owner is just as lovely as the cafe itself, and I can’t recommend it highly
enough! Point of pride for kiwis: they have a “Mount Maunganui” tea towel hanging
up as a decoration on one of the walls!

*For anyone confused: FIKA
Fika is the act of meeting up with friends and having coffee (or some kind of drink)
and a snack (often a sweet treat!). Asking someone to go for a fika is essentially
asking them to meet for a coffee and catch up. Fika is an awesome part of
Swedish culture!

Sophie