An Australian Summer – Festivals, Internships and Road Trips

By Lauren Howie, The University of Melbourne

4 months is a daunting amount of time. When I first heard that our summer holiday would stretch the whole of November to March I was slightly concerned – how would I fill all those weeks? 

Well not to stress, there is more than enough things to do in summer, whether it is going to festivals, finding an internship or travelling – you name it the list is endless! 

Festivals

Strawberry Fields, Australia

So if you are partial to a boogie in the Australia bush then a few festivals I can recommend are Strawberry Fields, Rainbow Serpent, Beyond the Valley and Hopkins Creek. Some of these have only 700 people, which makes for a completely different experience to festivals back in the UK! If you also want to save some cash then I would suggest volunteering, the hours are short and normally the work isn’t too tedious.

INTERNSHIPS

Dynamic Visuals Office

Study Abroad is also a great time to pursue some of your interests! I’ve recently been considering doing a masters in visual anthropology, so I got in touch with a local production company in Melbourne to see if I could get some experience. I spent a month working for Dynamic Visuals, meeting clients, editing videos and learning the inside world of film! I loved the experience and would highly recommend using your summer to find an internship in something that captures your imagination.

ROAD TRIPS

Queenstown, New Zealand

After my internship I headed to New Zealand to spend christmas with my Kiwi relatives. While there I road tripped round NZ’s jaw droppingly beautiful south island. My favourite spots included the infamous Milford sounds as well as the cutesy streets of Arrowtown – an old fashioned mining village just outside of Queenstown!

Frazer Island, Australia

In January my housemates and I hired a campervan and set off for an adventure along the East Coast. We had the most incredible month lazing on beaches, partying in hostels, cruising the Whitsundays and spotting/ hiding from Aussie wildlife. If you get the chance to go away for a few weeks during your holiday then I would hands down recommend road tripping as your form of transport, not only is it economic but it is a great way to make unforgettable memories!

That’s all for now!

Midway Point – The Highs and Lows of Starting Second Semester

By Lauren Howie, The University of Melbourne

After an incredible 4 months off uni, the stress of essay deadlines, 9ams and rushed breakfasts has become a strange and distant memory.

Before coming out to study abroad I was anxious about my second semester. Would I have friends staying for the whole year? Would I need to find a new house? Would I be ready to go home? 

LOST FRIENDS?

Well I wish I could go back and tell my typically overly worried self to chill out. Although many of the amazing people I’ve met out here will be returning this semester, there are still plenty of incredible people sticking around! Whether it’s your course-mates, friends from work, fellow exchange students or neighbours – there will always be people around you! If your still having doubts then the great thing about starting a new semester is that it’s the perfect time to join a society and meet even more people! Honestly, the likelihood is that you will be so overwhelmed with coffee dates and brunch pals that by week 3 you’ll already be craving some one-on-one time! 

NEW HOUSING?

As for housing I chose to sign a year lease on a house with 4 other exchange students I met in a hostel. I’m really happy we did this as it meant I didn’t have to stress about finding anywhere new over the summer break. It was also a great way to save money as it was super easy to rent out our rooms while travelling! 

HOMESICKNESS?

And finally the fear of being home sick. Although I think of my friends and family at home often, I can’t assure you enough how quickly time passes here! 7 months has flown by and I’m more than thrilled that I get to spend another semester exploring this great city before I go back to the chilly streets of Manchester. 

So bring on the groggy early mornings, half eaten pieces of toast and never ending journal articles – semester 2 I’m ready for you! 

Amster-DAMN!

Moving In

It has been two and a bit weeks now since I moved into my studio apartment in Nieuw West Amsterdam in a building called Maassluisstraat which is part of the DeKey housing company. Prior to moving in I was very concerned about living by myself in a studio after having got used to living in an 8 bed house in Fallowfield and always having someone around for company. I am actually surprised at how much I am enjoying living in my studio here and having my own space, I also think it has probably pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit as you don’t have the comfort of ‘flat mates’ to fall back on and has probably contributed to me meeting more people than I initially thought I would. I was also worried that living in a studio would be quite isolating and lonely but I’ve had neighbours knock on my door to say hello etc when they moved in and my accommodation also had a social event early on which helped create a really warm and welcoming atmosphere straight away.

Continue reading “Amster-DAMN!”

What I Learnt During my First Week at Lund University

#1 General

Lund is a beautiful small city in the South of Sweden. I think the ability to appreciate the landscape of Lund was helped through the equally beautiful weather that was received during my first week in Lund, not going below 23°C and getting as high as 31°C. This was certainly not expected nor packed for, but nevertheless greatly appreciated. The city is made up of many greenspaces and old buildings, with many having their own unique personality to them.

Ebbas Skafferi

The population of Lund is less than 100,000 people, with, on average, there being 40,000 students also in the mix. The people of Lund are very helpful and welcoming, all of whom (or at least thus far) have impeccable English skills, which has made the daunting task of moving to a new country so much less so.

An interesting point about Swedes that I have been told repeatedly since my arrival is that they love to sing, this has been proven to me as within 8 of my welcome activities I have been told to sing and/or sung to.

A useful thing to know about Sweden also is that you get charged an extra 1 SEK if you buy a plastic bottle for the environmental cost, so it is always useful to carry a bottle around as all water is drinkable too. Also good to know, is that any cans or bottles you accumulate can be taken to certain recycling points where you can get 1 SEK per item recycled.

#2 Lund University

The university, just like Lund itself, is very pretty. The buildings are beautiful, some of which are hundreds of years old and covered in vines and greenery.

Lund University’s Main Building
Lund University’s Main Library

Lund University has put on many welcoming events for international students in order to help them feel settled and meet people. Personally, I have over 3 weeks of orientation events. The events and activities are inclusive, diverse and plentiful. They range from Swedish classes, sports days, boardgames, club nights, pub nights, mentor groups, IKEA trips, a pub-crawl to Copenhagen and more. Lund has many international students, inclusive of bachelor, master and exchange students there are over 2000, I believe. However, many exchange students here are only studying in Lund for one semester. In fact, so far, I haven’t met any exchange student who was not British and who is studying for the year.

#3 Transport

Despite Lund being a small city, it still has a very good and reliable public transport system. Buses and trains run regularly until about 1am and begin again around 5am with multiple routes that can get you to where you want to go. Additionally, the buses and trains use the same ticket which is useful if you have to catch a bus and a train to get somewhere for example. The tickets are purchased via a newly introduced app, ‘Skånetrafiken’, which works throughout the region of Sweden, Skåne. The ticket prices are fairly average, costing 18,75 SEK (~£1.59) for a single, 52,50 SEK (~£4.50) for a 24-hour ticket and about £30 for a 30-day ticket. However, this is not the best way to get around Lund by any means. The best, most time-efficient and popular is by bike. The ease and cost of getting a second-hand bike, in addition to the many cycle lanes makes the bike the superior mode of transport even for an unexperienced cyclist like myself. The population of Lund, and the students of Lund University in particular, use bikes to get anywhere and everywhere in the city, whether that be to class in the morning or getting home after the club. It’s what is done.

#4 Alcohol

Prior to coming to Lund, I didn’t expect there to be quite so many different rules surrounding alcohol. Sweden, as a whole, is relatively strict with alcohol. Any alcoholic drink that is stronger than 3.5% is only sold in monopolised government shops called Systembolaget which are far fancier than your classic off-licence. The employees are dressed smartly in waistcoats, shirts and bow-ties. Lund has 3 of these shops in total. They shut no later than 7pm, normally earlier and particularly so on Saturdays where they are closed by 3pm. Price-wise, I would say alcohol from Systembolaget is generally not that much more expensive than at home, however if you are buying a drink from a bar, which is not one of the nations’ bars/clubs, it is pricey. Low-percentage alcohol and alcohol-free drinks can be bought from normal supermarkets across Lund though.

There are other interesting laws regarding alcohol here, for example you are not allowed to cross a road with alcohol in hand and if you are caught doing so it is punishable by a fine. Also, despite the legal drinking age being 18, you are unable to purchase alcohol from stores until you are 20. But you are able to purchase drinks from bars and clubs etc. from 18. Lund perhaps is more lenient with alcohol relatively to the rest of the Sweden as it is one of the only places that you are able to drink outside as this is illegal elsewhere. As a result of this, it is not uncommon to see people sat in the park having a social drink during the warm weather.

I think all of these laws demonstrate the drinking culture that Sweden has, where alcohol is there to be enjoyed and appreciated rather than anything else.

#5 Food

The classic takeaway food here, whatever time of day it may be, is falafel, usually with garlic, chilli and yoghurt sauce on it. There are many places across Lund, and nearby Malmö, which have been recommended to me as great for falafel which I plan on making my way through during the course of my year here. Fika is another part of Swedish food culture which I fully plan on throwing myself into. This is a coffee and cake (or something of the variety) break. It occurs twice per day in work schedules and is taken as a granted thing to do by colleagues. Fika has had its part in many welcome events here.

Fika Time

I would say that food from supermarkets has been the notably more expensive category than home. The big shock came to me when I expected Lidl to be much cheaper than other shops, but it is just a bit cheaper really. I have ranked what I believe is the best value for money (starting from least expensive): 1)Netto 2)Wallys 3)Lidl 4)ICA 5)Coop.