Sophie: Leaving Lund

Sophie_6a

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.

Sophie_6b

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.

Sophie_6c
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.

Sophie_6d
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!

Sophie_6e

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!

Sophie_5a
Söderåsens National Park in winter – it would be just as gorgeous in summer, I’m sure!

Sophie_5b

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!

Sophie_5c
Dalby’s National Park – the smallest in Europe!
Sophie_5d
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.

Sophie_5e
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!

Sophie_5f
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.

Sophie_5g
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

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.

Sophie_4a
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!

Sophie_4f
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!

Sophie_4g
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

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

 

 

Sophie: Arrival Day in Lund

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!

Sophie_2a.jpg

 

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.

Sophie_2b

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!

Sophie_2f

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!

Sophie_2g

  • 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!)

Sophie_2h

  • 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.

Sophie_2i

  • 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!

 

Sophie

Lucy: Final Thoughts

I’ve been back in New Zealand for a little over three weeks now, and it honestly feels surreal. I now see what people mean when they say it feels like they never left. These past six months have been a whirlwind of amazing experience after amazing experience, and being home it almost feels like it was all a dream. I didn’t really know where to begin when I thought of trying to sum up how I felt about my trip so I thought I’d give a few of my favourite moments from my time abroad…

As I’ve said previously, I chose Europe as my exchange location so I could travel far and wide and I’ve certainly taken advantage of the proximity. I’ve totalled 20 countries in the six months I’ve been away from home, across three continents. In particular, a month long solo trip I did in November was one of the most rewarding adventures I’ve ever done. I travelled to Istanbul, all around Egypt and Jordan, then to Prague and Paris over a period of 25 days and, despite the isolation you feel while travelling by yourself, the freedom and independence I felt while away made it so rewarding. I am now the queen of packing my whole life into a carry-on suitcase – plus, I made some new friends along the way!

Lucy_5a
Best screensaver ever
Lucy_5b
Ticking things off my bucket list!

Another incredible opportunity I had was participating in the Student Nobel Nightcap, which is the annual after party hosted by university students for the attendees of the Nobel Prize awards which are held in Stockholm every year on December 10th. I signed up to work on the night as well as helping with the lead up to the event. This was a really cool way to meet people from all over Stockholm, and serving champagne to Nobel Prize winners was a bonus too!

Lucy_5c

Finally, my exchange would have been nothing if it wasn’t for the amazing people I met in Stockholm. I can truly say I have made some friends for life, who I have shared this crazy, once in a lifetime experience with. They were also the hardest thing to leave and we’re already planning various reunions, although New Zealand has never felt so far away than it does now.

Lucy_5d
A traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner

If I could give any advice it would just be to go for it. Moving abroad is something you never feel like you’re ready for, but eventually it will feel like the easiest, most rewarding thing you’ve ever done. Not everything is as glamorous and effortless as pictures make it seem. There were definitely moments of crippling homesickness, nights sick in bed just wanting to be with my Mum, and the dreaded December where all the Kiwi summer pics started rolling in and I was facing -24 degrees. However, through these moments I just had to remember why I left in the first place.

Lucy_5e
A Kiwi, a couple Brits, and a couple Canadians walk into a bar

This will be my final post for the 360 International blog. I hope anyone reading this has been inspired to take the plunge and go on an exchange of your own. If you have any questions, or want to chat, feel free to contact me on lred135@aucklanduni.ac.nz or reach out to me on Instagram where I’ve posted heaps more pictures at @lucyredwood.

Tack så mycket Sverige, I’ve had a wonderful time!

Lucy_Signature

Lucy_5f

Lucy: Travelling Europe

Hello again!

I have decided to dedicate this post to my travels during my six months abroad. Travel was one of my driving forces for leaving on this experience and I found each country I visited extremely rewarding!

The main reason I chose Stockholm University was because of its proximity to the rest of Europe. I am lucky enough to have travelled a fair bit of Western Europe before, but Scandinavia was an area completely unexplored to me so I was super excited to see a bit more of what it had to offer.

Copenhagen –

My first stop was Copenhagen, which was just an easy five-hour train ride from Stockholm. Copenhagen is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever visited. Everything and everyone just seemed 10 times cooler than anywhere else. Incidentally, Copenhagen was my first choice of exchange universities. I really loved the city, but after spending only 48 hours walking the streets, the insanely expensive prices of living there made me realise that Stockholm was a slightly better fit for me!

Lucy_4a
Touristing!

Bergen –

One of the first trips I made with the friends I met on my exchange was to Bergen, Norway. This was a result of Skyscanners ‘everywhere’ option, which lets you see the cheapest flights to any destination on a given date, which became my best friend while overseas. Bergen is the rainiest city in Europe, which we only figured out after we’d booked our flights and for the most part, it lived up to the title!

Lucy_4b
Bergen’s waterfront is filled with beautiful colourful buildings

There are so many amazing ways to explore Norway’s unique environment. Unfortunately, the weather wouldn’t allow us to do any of the more extensive tracks, but we managed to hike up Mt Ulriken, which was beautiful. Later, the sun miraculously came out just in time for a boat trip around the local Fjords.

Lucy_4c
Harder than it looks!
Lucy_4d
A quick break in the clouds making the Fjords look even more stunning

Kiruna –

This was by far the best trip I made on my entire exchange. Despite visiting many countries around Europe, I felt I hadn’t spent enough time exploring my home turf. Kiruna is a small town up in the Arctic Circle in Sweden, where the sun barely rises, but when it does, the scenes are unparalleled. Ten of us took a one hour flight up to the top of the country and checked ourselves into a small lakeside cabin just outside of the city.

Lucy_4e
Our back garden…

Kiruna was cold like none of us had ever experienced before, getting down to -24 degrees at some points, but this only added to the experience. We had booked a local dogsledding tour, but other than that our days were spent wandering around the area we were staying in. One of the best nights of my entire life was spent watching the northern lights with all the best friends I had made on my exchange. We were so lucky to see them as bright as we did, which locals said was super uncommon for the time.

Lucy_4f
All ten of us had never seen the lights before

What surprised me most about my exchange was how rewarding I found just exploring the areas surrounding Stockholm. I intended for my exchange to allow me to travel far and wide in Europe, when really the most gratifying areas of my travel were those around Scandinavia.

Lucy_4g
Rugged up in -20!

I’m so lucky to have been able to experience so much of Scandinavia and beyond.

On my next post, I will (reluctantly) be back in Auckland and reflecting on what an amazing time I’ve had. It’s extremely bittersweet but as you can see, it will be nice to be back into a Kiwi summer!

If anyone has any questions feel free to email me on lred135@aucklanduni.ac.nz

Until then,

Lucy_Signature