Gimme Gimme Gimme Fika: Studying abroad in Sweden – Jade McBride

This time last year it was confirmed that was going to be studying at Lund University in Sweden for one academic year. I can safely say it’s been the most challenging but incredible experience of my life.

I was initially attracted to Lund due to the variety of course choices and its ranking. The University is currently in the top 100 in the world and is the most international university in Sweden. After speaking with previous students, hearing about the student culture and seeing the beautiful campus, I knew Lund was the place for me.

 

Accommodation

Before making the big move, there was a lot to organise. The university does well to keep in contact with exchange students from March until you arrive. One of the biggest challenges was securing accommodation. There is an evident housing crisis in Sweden, especially in student cities such as Lund. It’s therefore difficult to be offered accommodation immediately. The university has its own agency but the majority of students are placed on the waiting list. AF Bostäder is a popular alternative – it’s a foundation leasing corridor rooms (both furnished and unfurnished) and apartments to students. It is through this organisation that I eventually found somewhere to stay – but not until two weeks before I flew out! I was offered a contract for a corridor room in Ulrikedal – approximately a five-minute bike ride from the law school, which is in the very centre of Lund. Rent can vary depending on if the room is furnished and the location; my rent was approximately £280 per month.

My advice for any students going to Lund for their exchange would be to start looking at private flats as soon as you know you’ve been accepted to the university – Blocket (https://www.blocket.se) and Bopoolen (https://bopoolen.nu/) are good websites to use for this. The best advice I can give, however, is not to worry; everyone finds accommodation at some point and there are lots of developments in Lund at the moment, creating more student complexes for the future.

 

Orientation weeks

Prior to the beginning of my studies, I made sure to participate in the orientation weeks organised by the university’s International Desk. I was sorted into a mentor group before arriving and met so many new people in my first two weeks, both international and Swedish. The university also arranged a variety of events during these weeks, including ‘Taste of Sweden’, hikes to national parks in the south of Sweden and welcome parties. It was through these first weeks I met the most incredible people, some of whom I now consider my best friends.

 

Courses and studies 

The university has a good mix of public and private law courses. In Glasgow, students normally study three or four subjects at a time; however, in Sweden, one course is taught for ten weeks and usually concludes with an essay submission or oral presentation. I’ve only studied one course where a written exam has been the form of assessment.

I chose to study Introduction to Swedish Law, European Business Law, Maritime and Transportation Law and Environmental Law in an International Context. The majority of my courses have had both international and Swedish students participating. It was really interesting to learn in such a global environment and being able to discuss course topics in relation to our home jurisdictions. I found all of my courses to be very intellectually stimulating; the only difference is the workload in Lund is not as heavy in comparison to a typical year back home. The contact hours at Lund are significantly lower than Glasgow, so I’ve made sure to use this time wisely by immersing myself in the student culture and to travel as much as I can.

I also took a two-week Swedish language course at the beginning of the year. This is offered to all exchange students and I’ve found it to be particularly helpful when shopping and ordering food in cafes/restaurants. The lectures are very interactive so I found it to be a very enjoyable class and would definitely recommend to any prospective students.

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Life outwith law school

The best part about studying in Lund is the student culture. Students make up the vast majority of Lund’s population, so it’s no surprise the city is number one for student life in Sweden. There are events nearly every night of the week; my favourites included pub nights, live music, city tours of Copenhagen and sittnings (i.e. fancy dinners and lots of Swedish singing), but there are many more to choose from.  There are twelve student nations (essentially large societies) across campus, each having a distinguishing factor. For example, I joined Sydskånska nation, known as the nation for music. Becoming involved in the nation culture is an integral part to being a student at Lund, with something for everyone to enjoy.

I’ve also been fortunate to travel frequently since moving to Sweden. Copenhagen airport is only a 35-minute train journey away, so it’s easy to travel around Europe. I’ve managed to take a trip at least once a month and have visited St. Petersburg, Prague, Berlin, Krakow, Budapest and Stockholm! I also took a road trip to Hamburg with some friends I met here, which was definitely was one of the highlights of my exchange.

 

Good to know

Here are some extra tips if you are thinking about studying at Lund University:

  • Fika is an integral part of Swedish culture; translating to ‘have coffee’. Cake and pastries are also very much encouraged.
  • The cost of living in Sweden is higher than Glasgow se prepared to spend more on weekly shops and alcohol than usual.
  • The currency used in Sweden is Swedish Krona (SEK). £1 is approximately 10 SEK – I’d recommend using a Revolut card as it lets you convert money instantly and is very handy when travelling across Europe.
  • At orientation students are given a COMVIQ SIM card so you don’t have to worry about switching phone companies.
  • Invest in a bike – this is the most common form of transport across Lund and it’s possible to cycle from one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes.

 

Overall, I would highly Lund University as one for Glasgow law students to select for Erasmus. Living in Scandinavia really does open your eyes to a different culture and the opportunities available to international students are second to none. I’ll be leaving in June thinking of Lund as my second home and many new international friends. It really is the experience of a lifetime.

If you would like to read more about my experiences in Lund any my travels on my year abroad, I have my own monthly blog here: https://littlespaceofthoughts.wordpress.com/category/erasmus/

 

-Jade McBride

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