As the year draws to a close and I’ve successfully navigated through my first term of my year abroad in Sweden, I feel that now is a good time to reflect on what has been a fantastic couple of months. I’ve met some great people who I’m sure will be friends for life, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel around Sweden and to many other countries (visiting 4 new capital cities in the process). So, without further ado, here are my highlights of my 1st term in Sweden:
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As August was coming to an end, and I had just been to Amsterdam with a few friends, it was time to fly to Copenhagen and then travel to Sweden to finally start my year abroad. Moving in was stressful at first, but it was great meeting lots of other international students from all over the world, from Canada to Australia and plenty of other places in-between. After some great activities organised by my mentors, including a treasure hunt and several corridor parties, I went to the official welcome party for international students, where I also met some other English students on exchange. I also started learning the Swedish language as soon as I arrived, and would later pass the introductory course on offer.
As term began and the workload was only small at this stage, I went to Copenhagen (the capital of Denmark) with a friend of mine for a fantastic day trip. We took the chance to explore the city by boat as well as chill out in a cafe overlooking the harbour. There is so much going on in Copenhagen, that I will have to go back, and since it is only a 45 minute train away, I’m sure I will on multiple occasions.
Since a friend of mine brought his car from Germany and I was itching to go travelling, I travelled to Helsingborg with a few of the people I met in the first week. We drove along the west-coast of Sweden to the city, walked around Helsingborg itself and then we took a ferry to Helsingor in Denmark, home to Kronborg Castle, made famous by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
One of my favourite experiences thus far was another road-trip, when four of us decided to travel through southern Sweden, visiting some beautiful lakes in rural Sweden, and then stopping off in Vaxjö on the first day, before settling down in Kalmar for the evening. We would then explore the beautiful island of Öland the next morning, and then looked around the city of Karlskrona on the way back to Lund.
A week after my sister had visited for her birthday (which also coincided with the end of exams and Halloween), 5 of my closest friends and I spent an amazing weekend in Stockholm, seeing all the major tourist attractions (including a tour of Swedish Parliament), experiencing the hustle and bustle of the old town, as well as getting a taste of the capital’s nightlife. It certainly brought us closer together and it was fantastic to see the capital city. I will definitely be going back in the summer.
Also in November, three of us woke up extremely early to spend a day in Gothenburg. We looked around several churches, spent a few hours wandering through Slottskogen nature park, visited the famous art museum, and went to Sweden’s largest Christmas market at Liseberg Amusement Park.
This was undoubtedly the highlight of my travel adventures. As the term was drawing to a close, two of us spent a weekend visiting the respective capital’s of Finland and Estonia, staying at a hostel in Helsinki close to the red-brick Uspenski Cathedral. It also meant 2 flights in 3 days which is pretty exciting, although I think I’m now pretty fed up of airports. This trip also gave me the opportunity to try out my new camera for the first time.
On the Saturday morning, we got the first ferry over to Tallinn and spent the day exploring the Estonian capital’s medieval old town as snow was falling, and we treated ourselves to a traditional Estonian meal with an Estonian beer. Tallinn is also home to a number of spectacular panoramic views overlooking the city.
On the Sunday, we jumped on an early ferry to Suemenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage sea fortress just off the coast of mainland Helsinki. It was mightily cold but it was great to walk around and it was a great start to our final day in Finland. Before getting our flight home, we visited Temppeliaukio Church (the Church of the Rock), made use of the extensive tram network and experienced some breathtaking views at the top of the Olympic Stadium Tower.
With only a few days of my first term remaining, I realised that I had not yet properly visited Malmö, a city very close to Lund. Therefore, as many of my friends were busy with exams or had already gone home, I decided to spend the morning exploring the city, visiting a few of the churches as well as spending a few hours in Malmö’s Modern Museum.
The next couple of days, my last in Sweden until January 8th, would be some of the best, which included celebrating my friend’s birthday, and having one final night-out with the McLund gang before bidding many people farewell.
So, all in all, I’ve had a great first term in Lund and Scandinavia as a whole, and although I’ve been having a great Christmas with friends and family, I can’t wait to go back!