By: Matthew Rosenthal, Royal Roads University, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Lund, Sweden
Life here in Lund, Sweden, has been great. The campus is beautiful and the student body atmosphere is something I have never experienced. If you google Lund University, the first image you will see is of the university library. I have spent a lot of time in the attic of the library doing research and writing papers. It is pretty cool to sit in an environment where some of the books around you are from the 18th and 19th century. I can confidently say that old books have a very distinct smell. I would describe it as old, beaten down wet leather baking in the sun. Although, after a couple of cold days up in the attic, you hardly notice the smell.
Here on campus the student body has clubs called nations. They are essentially classy fraternities. I am a member of Västgöta nation (VG), which allows me to get into all of the student activities that happen throughout the week. Every Friday, VG hosts Professor Pong, which is a night consisting of Mario Kart and ping pong, along with pizza and drinks. It is a great spot to meet local Swedes as well as other exchange students. There are more than 10 nations you can join and each have different events they are known for.
I have been lucky so far to have met a trio of local Swedes, that I now consider friends. They are fantastic women that have such interesting lives and past experiences. We all get along really well and they have been helping me learn Swedish. It is intimidating to speak another language to strangers when you are attempting to order food at a café or asking for help locating sweatpants at a store. I took these seemingly insignificant moments for granted at home. Now, having to speak a different language to ask for a bag to carry all the groceries is a daily challenge, but it is a challenge worth taking. Luckily, I have my new friends to rehearse all the basic Swedish questions and answers to get me through the day. I do not need a repeat incident of when I thought I was asking a stranger if I could pet their dog in the park. I must have said something real stupid because she picked up her wiener dog and ran away from me. I am more of a schnauzer guy anyway.