One of the most unique things about studying in Lund is it’s organized student life. Many universities have student unions, however none are quite like Lunds. The first “Nations” were founded in 1668, based on geographic regions in Sweden, and historically students who came from that area would join the according nation. For example students from Halland province would join Hallands Nation, and students from the East would join Ostgota. In the modern day all 13 nations are open to anyone who wishes to join, and offer a wide range of activities to be involved in. This includes putting on cheap student meals and lunches, cinema nights, pubs and clubs, as well as organising day trips such as hikes and other outdoor activities. Whilst every nation will offer the basic activities, each has it’s own speciality, for example Kalmar nation focuses on outdoor activities, whereas Sydskanska nation aims to be the go to place for electronic music. This makes the small town of Lund, with a student population of around 40,000, seem a lot bigger as there is an activity on most days of the week.
Sydskanska Nation (AKA SSK), where I became a Foreman.
What makes the nations even more successful is that they are all entirely student run, and rely on volunteers to make their activities happen. This is quite unique and as a British student I found it hard to believe that people would volunteer their time so freely. However after getting involved with a couple of activities, I discovered what makes them so special. I first volunteered as part of a pub team, and the Foreman (the person in charge of the activity) made the atmosphere very social and welcoming for the workers. I ended up becoming very good friends with him, and after taking part in a few more activities, I decided to sign up to become a Foreman myself. In true Swedish tradition, the nation meeting where new Foremen are voted in took around 3 hours, and was conducted entirely in Swedish. Whilst this wasn’t the most exciting start, it was followed by some free food and drinks. I signed up for the Kafe Matine post, a film evening on Sundays, where my responsibilities included cooking a vegan meal for around 40 people, and choosing one of my favourite films to show. This was quite hard work to organise at first, however being a Foreman also brings quite a few perks.
The first of these was a weekend trip, where all the Foremen at the nation were taken to a large cottage 1.5 hours from Lund, in a lovely remote location by a lake. We were cooked a meal, and given a “small” supply of free drinks. An aspect of Swedish social life that is very different from what I had experienced before was the focus on “organized fun”, and an evening with the nation often involves a lot of games and challenges. The cottage also had a sauna by the lake, making the weekend very relaxing and fun. Overall becoming involved and volunteering with the nation was one of the highlights of my time in Sweden, and I would recommend it highly for anyone considering studying in Lund!