Emily: Travel

Hey everyone! Emily here checking in! What a crazy last 7 months it has been…

I’m not even really sure where to start, but I thought I would try outline some of the wild travel adventures I’ve had for you all.

Simply being in Europe opens you up to a world of travel. You can catch a flight to Barcelona for 19 euros! On exchange I was lucky enough to meet people from all over the world. For the past 2 months I have had time off uni to go and visit these new friends in their hometowns, as well as a bunch of other places.

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In the past 8 weeks I’ve travelled to Ibiza, where I bumped into Ellie Goulding at an Amnesia opening party, Barcelona to marvel at Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, Manchester to visit a friend and party at Parklife Festival, Nice for some French Riviera exploring and croissant consuming, Frankfurt to stay with my pal to discover castles older than New Zealand, Denmark for 8 days of freedom at Roskilde Festival, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London to catch up with some mates and attend Wireless Festival, Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento to indulge in Italian culture and a multitude of pizza, Croatia for Ultra Europe Festival, Hvar island and finally Sutivan, a town on the coast of the island of Brač where I am currently writing this blog post.

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It has been an extremely full on 2 months with A LOT of stories to tell when I return to NZ. I have had the time of my life these past 7 months and could not recommend an exchange program enough to anyone who is interested! Lund, Sweden was a great university where I met so many exchange students from all over as well as Swedish people, as it is a popular destination for other exchange students. Lund is so close to Copenhagen that it enabled me to fly to a new city every few weekends thanks to cheap flights! It’s a European hub for travel with lots of budget airlines flying through there. Sweden was the best choice for me and I loved every second of it. I got a taste of everything in Sweden, from extreme snow storms in January winter time to sunny celebrations in the park for Valborg (a spring event). Valborg is a tradition where all the students of Lund university head to the main park for the day and enjoy music and drinks in the sunshine to welcome in the spring. It is a huge event consisting of about 30,000 students! It was one of the best weekends in Lund as we were able to hang out with all of our friends in one place as well as meeting a wave of new people!

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I will miss all the special people I met on my exchange so, so much. Luckily, the internet makes them feel a little less far away. I will be sure to go back for another visit once I have saved a few more pennies in my bank account! Coming from New Zealand is a huge honour when you are overseas, as most people have such positive connotations with our country and how beautiful it is and always express their desires to go there. I have already offered to host anyone who is interested in visiting and I have some friends coming over from Germany and Scotland during the summer to visit. I have definitely caught the travel bug after these 7 months away and I am sad it is all coming to an end, but I know I will be back in the near future!

As one of my Scottish friends told me, “you may be poor in money, but you will be rich in experiences.” – Kirsten McIntosh.

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Emily: Last Post!

For the final blog post from my Swedish exchange, I would like to share some tips and advice to anyone thinking of heading on exchange. All I can say is that I had the time of my life travelling Europe for 8 months, met some incredible people that I know I’ll be friends with for life, and experienced a completely different education system overseas.

When I arrived in Sweden, the only real culture shock I experienced was the temperature. It was -10 degrees and the wind made it feel even colder! It was early January so Winter was upon us and so it is crucial you come prepared for this weather. Another shock was the language. I have studied German and French but the Swedish language is unlike anything I have ever seen before! However, everyone in Scandinavia speaks almost perfect English, so I did not find it that difficult to function in their country.

I loved heading to Sweden for an exchange and I wouldn’t call it a mainstream destination! Never in my life did I imagine myself living in a place like Sweden or even visiting Scandinavia. ‘Iceland’ and ‘The Norther Lights’ are sort of those far away magical places that you read about in books but never expect to witness and visit yourself. I feel extremely lucky and proud to say I have visited those places at 20 years old, and I will definitely be going back! The opportunities are endless when on exchange. I loved Lund for it’s fabulous town and location. A short 40 minute train ride to Copenhagen meant you could literally be in a new country in less than an hour. Copenhagen airport provided me with the chance to travel to so many new places, usually for less than $50 dollars! You can head to Barcelona for 19 euros for a weekend away! If you are at all interested in heading to Sweden I would encourage you to visit as the people are all so incredible there. They have a very modern, equal society when it comes to race, wealth, and gender. It is not uncommon to see men pushing prams down the street. Lund is a popular destination for exchange students all over the world, which meant that I got to meet people from all across Europe all the way to people from New Zealand and Australia! Leaving New Zealand really opens up your eyes to the vast amount of cultures and people in the world. You meet people with different humour and personalities to anyone I have ever met at home, you become more confident and gain an urge to continue to meet new people and travel! I cannot highlight enough how fantastic the past 8 months of my life have been, and I can’t wait to head back as soon as I can! Going on exchange is like gaining a second home and I will cherish my Sweden experience for the rest of my life, thank you Auckland Abroad for making this life changing experience happen – I am truly grateful for the opportunity to add the world to my degree.

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Food, glorious food: Emily

Sweden is filled with a diverse variety of food. It is most famous for it’s meatballs and surströmming, however, being a vegetarian has meant that I have sought out some other options that Sweden has to offer. It’s a paradise for vegos – every café and every supermarket provides a vast scope of vegetarian alternatives which has made living and eating here beyond easy! One in ten Swedes are vegan or vegetarian meaning they have delicious replacements for all animal products, you can always catch me eating ‘chicken’ nuggets and falafel on the daily!

Food I have cooked at home in Lund

The Swedes value personal freedom and choice very highly, which is why every social event or eatery takes into account everyone’s preferences for food, something I hope NZ catches on to soon! ‘Fika’ is a Swedish tradition and basically means ‘to have coffee’, which is often accompanied by a small sweet treat like a pastry or a slice. Having a fika with friends is a chance to sit down and have a small catch up before continuing through the rest of the day, and many Swedes will enjoy more than one fika a day. I love this idea as it gives you a chance to pause and have a short break to enjoy a coffee and cake with others.

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Food I have found in Sweden

My favourite part of experiencing food here has been discovering their Swedish fast food burger restaurant – Max. They have about 5 different vegetarian burger options (one of which is a vegan pulled pork BBQ burger – my favourite!) that taste better than any substandard McDonalds burger. It reminds me a bit of Burger Fuel at home in the sense that it is still fast food but of slightly better quality. They cost about $8 New Zealand Dollars each as well which is cheaper than Burger Fuel but more expensive than McD’s to give you an idea. All of the uni students are obsessed with Max and it’s always our first stop on the way home after a night out! Sweden is crazy for tacos and there is always an aisle in every supermarket dedicated to taco related ingredients alone. On the subject of tacos, Lund has this great little taco shop that barely fits more than 6 people in it at once but serves up the freshest, tastiest little tacos around. Again, they have vegan and vegetarian options of course so no one has to miss out! Sweden has been a vegetarian paradise for me as I have been able to try so many new things that I would normally have to miss out on back home in New Zealand. I am already saddened with the thought of going home in a few months and having to say goodbye to all this glorious food Sweden has to offer… I will have to hit up Uber Eats to see if they can deliver me some Max burgers back to NZ! Sweden has stolen my heart and my stomach, and it will definitely do the same to yours too if you ever visit!

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Accommodation Awards: Emily

This week our Ambassadors got involved in the bi-annual Auckland Abroad Accommodation Awards, awarding their digs with the most appropriate badge of honour, such as most friendly dorm, most affordable and most cramped but cosy dorm!
Let’s see what Emily has awarded her accommodation in what we consider to be the Oscars of university housing…

Klostergården Student House

*Drum roll please*

I would like to formally award Klostergården Student House with the awards for ‘Fantastic Location’, ‘Best Amenities’, and ‘Most Affordable Housing’.

Allow me to explain this in better detail..

Klostergården Student House is located in the Klostergården area of Lund, Sweden. Surrounding the accommodation is 2 supermarkets, a church, a library, and restaurants (including a pizzeria) all within one minute’s walk from the front door. It is also a 5-minute bike to the town center. However, it is a little far from the University itself and the other uni accommodations. I only have one class a week because most of my work is done online or through group work done outside of lectures, so I don’t find myself having to go into campus very often. When I do have classes, it’s only a 15-minute bike ride or a 25-minute bus ride.

My entrance to Klostergården Student House

Klostergården Student House instantly impressed me with a high standard of living when I first arrived. I am sharing a twin room with my roommate and we have a bed each, a fully equipped kitchen, dining area, desks to study on, and our own bathroom. Everything you need is provided for you, including kitchen utensils, lamps, chairs etc. It is a luxury to not have to share a kitchen and bathroom with a whole floor of students (like we both had to do in O’Rorke), as we can control the mess. Having said this, being in a self-contained unit can mean that Klostergården is not the most sociable accommodation option, as there is no shared space to hang out with others. Nevertheless, I have made many friends here who I visit daily – we often cook dinners together or have movie nights.

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Kitchen area
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Dining Area
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Our Room

 

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Bathroom

 

Klostergården Student House is still definitely a party place! There are no RAs and it is filled with lots of young people who are all international exchange students, so we often have corridor parties before heading to one of the 12 student nations for a rowdy night out! These corridor parties have been a great way to meet neighbours and friends from all over as everyone crams into the ground floor corridors and our rooms to party. These can go until 4 or 5am in the morning! The rooms are surprisingly sound-proof, so when you’ve had enough it’s easy to shut your door and head to bed. We also have a Facebook group chat where we organize events that everyone can attend, just the other week we went out for a Klostergården dinner and basically filled out the restaurant! The location and amenities (plus fantastic friends) make it easy to settle in here.

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Our Corridor
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My roomate Nat at our window
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View from our room

The final award for ‘Most Affordable Housing’ is given to Klostergården Student House because I believe it is a bargain for what you get. I paid my accommodation fee upfront, a total of about $1,800 NZ dollars. This fee includes power, water, wi-fi, a fully furnished flat and free laundry services. Broken down over the 23 week stay, that’s only $78.26 NZ dollars a week! You would never find such a high standard of living (with all the extra bills included) for this cheap in Auckland. Not to mention the great location means we don’t spend a fortune on busses either as we can easily bike anywhere we need to. Overall, I LOVE living at Klostergården Student House and there’s no where else I’d rather be! ♥

I made a video of my first week in Lund, which includes a snapshot of our accommodation. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a-9IjrHs2g&list=PLCE-3jhXhEabCHxq4bxNybLXKPskUDiX1&index=5

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My O-Week Experience: Emily

Lund, Sweden – First Impressions
37 hours after leaving my home and family in Wellington, I arrived safely in Copenhagen. It was a shock to the senses stepping outside into a chilly -10°C, but I instantly fell in love with the icy winter landscape. The next step was departing Copenhagen to reach my final destination – Lund, Sweden. Mentors greeted myself and other fellow exchange students at the airport and directed us to the train that would take us on the short 30 minute ride to Lund.

After picking up the keys to my new home for the next 6 months, I arrived at Klostergården Student House, joining the 200 other international students living under the same roof. I opted for a twin room, complete with a kitchen and bathroom. After spending a full day at IKEA I finally felt ready to settle in. The plain white walls are now plastered with a growing collection of polaroid pictures as well as fairy lights and a New Zealand themed alphabet set.

Cobblestone streets and buildings that date back to earlier than the discovery of New Zealand give Lund its historical and charming atmosphere, making it easy to feel at home here. The snow has been an unreal experience for me as I have never seen anything like it back home in NZ. The locals probably think I’m crazy because I can spend hours playing in the snow with friends, happily abandoning the warm university corridors.

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Lund University hosted many events for their numerous exchange students, including a meet and greet night, a formal welcome from the Vice Chancellor, and a crazy welcome party. During the first week came the time to sign up to one of the student nations. Lund University has 12 student nations which host all of the bars and nightclubs, as well as many other fun and cheap events such as burger nights, brunches, and balls. However, once you are part of a student nation you can attend events from any nation. The city is basically designed around the university, where students make up almost half the population. The students really do run the city. It is incredibly easy to meet like-minded people from all across the globe, and I already feel like I have made some life-long friends here.

Lund is a fantastic destination for travelling, as it is so close to Copenhagen airport where you can find direct flights to practically anywhere in Europe. I have already visited Amsterdam and have flights booked to Paris, Zurich, Berlin and more for March. I am also heading to Lapland in February, 300km beyond the arctic circle, to witness the Northern Lights, take part in husky sledding and hanging out with the reindeer. Bring on some epic snowball fights!

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Sweden

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Sweden is a beautiful country in Northern Europe. You may already be familiar with some of its famous exports (IKEA, ABBA, Volvo, H&M, etc.) but there is so much more to this mysterious place. University of Auckland students can apply to study at one of our four partner universities: Linnaeus University (Education Only), Lund University (U21 including Law), Stockholm University (including Law), Uppsala University (Law only).Each university offers a unique gateway to experience Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.

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Let’s find out more from some of our returned Auckland Abroad students!

On orientation:

“In all seriousness, the orientation day is very helpful, informing you about each campus because there is more than one campus (at Stockholm University), for example I had classes at 3 campuses at once. In reality you will meet some of your 6 month-long friends on the first day.” – Milos Nedeljkov, Stockholm University

“Stockholm University was very welcoming and hosted numerous orientation events that meant I easily got to meet new people. The law faculty specifically ensured that we had Swedish “buddies” that were there to help us with any of our questions and to show us around. I found that the papers were different  as we were in a tutorial setting and I was only taking two papers total in a semester – for me it was an absolute dream.”- Genevieve Young, Stockholm University

“Lund University fulfilled my interest in trying to learn a second language as they put on a Swedish introductory course in the first weeks of university while the International Desk put on a weekly Swedish language café to practice with local Swedes.” –  Joshua Chung, Lund University

“What I loved about Stockholm University was the amount of support that they gave exchange students. International students have the opportunity to be buddied up with two or three other students and a Swedish student, who is there to help you settle into Swedish life. The Stockholm Student Union organises all types of events, including pubcrawls, dinners, local activities, and group trips.” – Abigail Pearce, Stockholm University

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On the lifestyle:

“Living in Lund was completely different to living in Auckland, it has a population of around 82,000 and the city is built around the 350-year-old University. Lund is also considered the best student city in Sweden with its unique traditional student nations and unions which organise events and activities. Lunches at the Nations became a regular occcurence with an almost compulsory Swedish black filter coffee on the side. I was also lucky to become an active member of Östgöta Nation and be there for the annual spring law ball. Overall, I think Lund University is an amazing place to do an exchange if you want a place full of culture, traditions and a strong academic spirit, and I encourage others to apply for their experience of a lifetime. ” –  Joshua Chung, Lund University

“Sweden is quite expensive. Food in supermarkets (the cheap ones at least) is the same and at times cheaper than in New Zealand, however there are other things that are more expensive. Once again just be smart with money. Spend money on something that is worthwhile, for example a trip to northern Sweden for dog sledding and to see the Northern Lights as opposed to buying 6 cocktails in a bar for the same price.” – Milos Nedeljkov, Stockholm University

“Stockholm is a beautiful city, and a great place to live. Because of its size, there is always something to do. The SL metro card gives you unlimited travel throughout Stockholm and is a good way to explore the city.” – Abigail Pearce, Stockholm University

“Lund is made up of 13 student Nations, when you arrive you chose one of the Nations to join but I found out that it doesn’t really matter what one you chose as long as the Nation belongs to Student Lund then you can go to events and work at any of the other Student Lund Nations. Each of these nations include student housing, have weekly pubs and clubs, breakfasts and lunches and they also hold “Sittnings”. “Sittnings” are a unique experience for students in Sweden and Finland, it is a dinner which involves singing and drinking and lots of fun, it can be formal or even a themed dress up. All events are run by students and everyone has the opportunity to work.” – Caitlin McCarthy, Lund University

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“The Swedish climate is interesting and vastly different to what I’d experienced at home. When I arrived in winter, the snow had piled high, it was as cold as -20 degrees, and daylight only lasted for about 5 or 6 hours. This is contrasted by summertime, where the temperature was about 20 degrees, and it felt like the sun never set.” – Aaron Cole, Uppsala University

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My favourite things about Stockholm included the concept of fika, the nightlife, the snow, the outdoor iceskating rinks, the food (swedish chocolate balls, cinnamon rolls, meatballs, chocolate cake), the super efficient transport system, IKEA, the shopping in general, and the architecture, exterior and interior. By far the best thing I did in Sweden though
was travelling to Kiruna and Abisko to see the northern lights, they were indescribable by words, and the fact that we got to ride huskies and climb frozen waterfalls were just bucket list worthy activities. In Stockholm, Summer is a whole other story, the Swedes all come out of hibernation, the sun is up when you leave to go out and rises when you’re going home at 3 in the morning – its a pretty crazy thing to witness.” – Genevieve Young, Stockholm University

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On housing:

“During my exchange, I lived in Kungshamra, a university-owned residence that is one metro stop away from Stockholm University. The buildings are corridor-style, where each student has their own room and bathroom, and shares a kitchen. Living in Kungshamra was a great way to meet people who weren’t studying the same courses as me, and also get to know some of the local Swedish students.” – Abigail Pearce, Stockholm University

“I was placed into student accommodation for international students called Klostergarden. These were studio apartments which I was originally hesitant about but it was in a building with many other international students and it is still very social.” – Caitlyn McCarthy, Lund University

 

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On courses:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the courses at Faculty of Law at Lund University as I got the opportunity to take two courses in EU Law and meet people from different jurisdictions, many of whom will be life long friends. I felt that studying there was more enjoyable as you focused only on one or two courses at a time before moving on to the next.” – Joshua Chung, Lund University

“The education system in Uppsala is different to Auckland, as there is greater pressure on students to direct class discussions. Because of this, contact hours are less as they expect you to be prepared for each class. I was attending about 4 hours of class a week to satisfy a full class schedule. The lecturers were competent and friendly, and we were encouraged to address them by their first names” – Aaron Cole, Uppsala University

“One of the biggest differences between Stockholm University and the University of Auckland is the semester plan. It is common in Sweden for students to take only two papers in a semester, which are worth the equivalent of four papers at the University of Auckland. Students will study one paper at a time, where each course is taught intensively over six weeks. I preferred this way of learning, as I was able to develop an in-depth understanding of the subject at hand. The teaching style is also quite different. Classes are a mixture of lectures and seminars, which means that there is a lot more opportunity to work in a group setting and share ideas with others. One thing I found interesting was the informal relationship between the lecturers and the students – it is considered normal to go out with your lecturer for coffee or lunch!” – Abigail Pearce, Stockholm University

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On travel:

“One of the major highlights of my exchange was the opportunity to explore different parts of Europe during the weekends and holidays. I visited many different countries, but my highlight would have to be my trip to Swedish Lapland where I was able to see the Northern Lights.” – Abigail Pearce, Stockholm University

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“Lund is very close to Denmark and was only a 40 minute train ride to Copenhagen so it was very easy to pop over the border for the day or the night and was also the closest international airport. I was also lucky enough to travel before, during and after my exchange around many countries such as the UK, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Estonia, Norway and Denmark. One of the highlights of my trips was the chance to go to Swedish Lapland where I went husky sledging and snowmobiling and got to see the Northern Lights as well as seeing a Norwegian fiord.” –  Caitlin McCarthy, Lund University

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Top tips:

  • Participate in Orientation
  • Locate the affordable supermarkets – it will help you to save money for trips
  • Share a ‘Fika’ with friends – cinnamon buns, biscuits, coffee, tea mmmm, cosy!
  • Join a Nation
  • Take part in a Swedish Language Course
  • Try to stick to a budget so that you can participate in once in a lifetime opportunities
  • Prepare for the climate by packing adequate clothing – layering is key as well as wool!
  • Furnish your room to make it ‘mysig’ or cozy to have a place to come back to after a cold day – IKEA is always a great and affordable place to start and you can even buy houseplants there!