1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB?
During my time abroad, I took 4 classes- the first two classes were gender study classes: “Gender, Citizenship, and Migration”, and “Gender Social Change, and Modernity in Scandinavia”. I used both of these classes as credit towards my general education requirements at UCSB. The second two classes I took were specifically for my major. I took “Media at War” and “Swedish Film” I found that all the classes I took while abroad were more relaxed than my classes at UCSB. I would say they were relaxed in the sense that due dates were not as strict, Citation format was optional, classes were smaller, and more discussion based, and finally attendance was not usually taken, however missing class meant that you missed information and therefore could potentially reflect poorly on your grade.
- What was your favorite class abroad?
My favorite class while abroad was “Media at War”, because while I am a Film student I tend to find more interest in the conceptualization and topic of media. In this class we took an in depth analysis of how both film and still photography have effected society during times of war.
- Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience.
The city of Lund, Sweden is a very student-oriented city; in fact a lot of students compare its atmosphere to that of Isla Vista. With that said, because the city is so student oriented the school makes it very easy to volunteer and get involved. When you become a student at the University you will join something called a “Nation”, essentially this is a student run organization that throws fun events such as: parties, game nights, brunches, sporting events, and dinners. I was in Halland’s Nation, and attended most of their events, but I also volunteered to be one of four chefs for a ninety-person dinner. I got to make dinner with my friends in a large kitchen, with very little cooking experience and serve the dinner to the host Nation that was putting on the event. It was a very fun and exciting experience, but overall Lund University offers countless ways to volunteer and get involved.
- How would you describe your host institution?
I loved Lund University, I would describe it as a friendly, big, and beautifully quant University with a wide variety of classes and subjects to learn. I absolutely loved the concept of “Nations” which really allowed me to meet more domestic students from Sweden, since I was in an international apartment building. Overall, Lund University is a very prestigious and beautiful University that helped me grow as a person.
- Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join?
Lund University offers the option to join a student organization called “Nations”, essentially there are different student run Nations, and you get to pick which one you want to be in. Different Nations offer different perks, and once you join a Nation you then can start going to the events that are offered. These include, but are not limited to parties, brunches, sports events, and movie nights. Not only can you attend events, but you can also volunteer to help at these events, and you can earn “Nation dollars” which give you free access to Sunday brunches or some parties.
- Describe your housing situation.
I lived in a five-person apartment building called Eddan, about 10 minutes bike ride outside of the town center. I had my own room, bathroom, and shower. I loved living in that building, it was full of international students, and I was even housed with another student from UCSB.
- Where did you eat most of your meals?
I ate most of my meals at home, there was a grocery store (ICA) very close by my apartment, therefore I was able to save money by grocery shopping every week and preparing meals for the upcoming week when I would have to be on campus for long periods of the day.
- How much was an average meal? Do you have any budgeting tips for future students?
An average meal in Lund was about $12. However, that is the average, if you were expecting to go to dinner or Lund at a nice restaurant then you should expect to pay around $15, however, you could get cheap falafel for about $4. It depends where you are eating, overall, I would say you should try not to eat out very much if you are trying to save money.
- Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals?
No, vegetarians and vegans would be fine. I ate a mostly vegan diet, the local grocery store in Lund has a wide variety of Vegetarian and Vegan options, and restaurants will understand and accommodate for dietary restrictions.
- Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad.
I went to a local restaurant named VED in Lund and ordered one of their wood-fired pizzas with shrimp and muscles on it. It was the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted, and very reasonably priced for such a large pizza.
- What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?
I miss the midday “Fika”- this is a break in the middle of the day where you get coffee and a Cinnabon type treat. It is a chance for students, and adults to take a break from their day and interact with one another over coffee.
- Describe your host city.
Lund was an amazing little city, I would describe it as more of a college town. There is a large presence of college students who are attending Lund University and living in the apartments throughout the city. However, there is also a family presence in Lund as well because the town center is surrounded by suburban homes with children.
- Was it easy to get around?
It was very easy to get around, I would say that buying a bike in Lund would be the best investment. I lived about a 12-minute bike ride outside of the city center and biked to class every day. When the weather got colder I was able to take the bus which stopped right outside of my apartment building and took me into town in about 15-minutes. The train also is a very good way to get around if you need to go to farther places such as- Malmö for shopping, or Copenhagen to catch a plane.
- Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students?
I felt very safe in Lund, overall, I never felt scared or nervous walking alone at night. Nor did I worry about my safety while waiting for a late bus. The city of Lund seemed to me to be very safe, especially for women.
- What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city?
One adventure I can absolutely recommend if you go to Lund would be to take the regional bus to a town called Lomma (the bus takes about a half hour), and to visit the beach there especially in early August when the weather is nice and warm. I found my experience there to be very comforting, especially coming from Santa Barbara it was very nice to see the ocean again.
- Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad.
The main difference I recognized while in Sweden was the noise distance between Americans and Swedes. Generally, Swedes talk much quieter than Americans, and this was proved to be true when I went out to a local bar with a group of Americans and we were by far the loudest people in the entire place.
- How did you handle culture shock?
There was no culture shock for me, everyone in Lund, Sweden speaks English and if very accommodating if you need help and ask for it. Overall, I had a great time and felt right at home.
- What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?
I was shocked by the amount of dad’s pushing strollers, and alone with their new born infants in Lund. This is because Sweden employers are required to offer men paid paternity leave, unlike the United States. As a result of men being required to take a minimum of six months paternity leave, fathers are able to build a more independent bond with their young child, and furthermore it lessens the pay gap between men and women in Sweden. That one small change in Swedish society and culture has made for one of the most equal countries in the world.
- Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad.
My favorite travel story was when I met up with my best friend Keeva in London. I arrived on the weekend and she picked me up from arrivals at Gatwick International airport, the entire weekend was spent relaxing at her family’s house there after we attended London Carnival. Carnival is a large Caribbean festival, with reggae style house music. The experience was amazing and even more I got to experience it with my best friend from UCSB.
- What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?
My biggest fear about studying abroad was actually about traveling there. For some reason I was worried about the logistics of traveling to Sweden and finding my way around rather than worrying about making friends or having a fun social life. Obviously traveling there went fine, and UCEAP makes it very easy to figure out where you are staying and how to get around. Furthermore, making friends is even easier than that, like I said earlier everyone (including locals and people from abroad) are very friendly and welcoming.
- What was your biggest challenge abroad?
My biggest challenge while abroad was motivating myself to go to class when the seasons changed. Since I’m from California and spend almost all my time in Santa Barbara I was not use to the cold fall and winter seasons. Not to mention that when the seasons change the sun sets significantly earlier (around 3pm). As you imagine it is very difficult to motivate yourself to go to lecture when it’s cold, dark, and rainy outside.
- How have you changed as a result of your time abroad?
I have changed in many ways from my time abroad. I think most notably would be that I am a more self-aware person. I mean that in the sense that I recognize how large the world is in comparison to my individual and immediate world that I sometimes overthink. My perspective on life and my role in it has changed as a result, I feel as though larger opportunities have been made available for me as a result of my time in Europe.
- What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?
My biggest piece of advice while abroad is to say “yes” to things that you usually wouldn’t. Try new things and meet new people because that is the best way to grow as a person. Self-discovery is one of the key ways to inner happiness and that is made through putting yourself in situations that you have never been before. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone is pursuit of enlightenment.