Student experience - Lucy Pittman
Lucy Pittman completed an exchange to Lund University, Sweden, in Semester 1, 2017. While overseas, she exchanged emails with her Grandpa to help combat homesickness. Lucy has happily agreed to share some of these emails with us.
These last few days have been a bit hectic for me – just trying to navigate around Lund and find everything and get subjects organised… Turns out moving across the country can be quite challenging! Finally arrived by train in Lund and have some more check-in things to do, like register and get a sim card, get onto the wifi, and then buy tickets for various events – have so far purchased tickets for a welcoming party on Friday night as well as a hike on Sunday.
Yesterday was another very busy day filled with lots of walking (I haven’t bought a bike yet nor do I know how to take the bus). I purchased some groceries, went to some meetings, helped some people buy new blankets and clothes, and then went to two welcome events last night… meanwhile it’s snowing like crazy outside… I am walking around the streets of Lund with a paper map and a paper bag full of groceries that are deteriorating by the second. Turns out snow is fun for about the first 10 minutes, then it’s just a nuisance!
I have just returned from the north of Sweden (Kiruna) which was an incredible experience.
Think freezing cold remote country mining town – -15 degrees and lots of snow – staying in wooden dorms in the middle of nowhere next to frozen lakes with no running water… I honestly had to wear all of my clothes at once and was STILL cold – and then coming home to no hot shower. But incredible nonetheless – husky sledding on the first day we were given full snow suits, snow boots, gloves, and hats etc. We got to take the huskies on a 12km ride before stopping at a cabin for a small lunch of soup and tea before taking them back. They just loooove running so they were howling waiting for us to take them out and we got lots of pats and snuggling in before we left! Night time was spent cooking group dinners and then boiling the kettle and taking it with us on a walk out onto the lake – of course every night was spent looking for the northern lights but the first two nights we had pretty average/cloudy weather. Nonetheless, we found a little bench on the other side of the lake, sat down, drank tea, and looked at the sky while chatting which was really nice! The last night was spent snowmobiling, which was so much fun… again we got all suited up (even more layers this time) before riding snowmobiles about 20km to the ‘ice hotel’ (literally what it sounds like – a hotel and bar made entirely of ice). On our walk back to the snowmobiles, I look into the sky and yell out "Is that the northern lights?!", to which everyone replies "Noooooooo" and I’m saying "Are you sure? I think it is!" and then eventually the tour guide said it was them, they were just weak. So we run out and all sit down to watch as the green lights get clearer and clearer… not to mention it was a beautiful sky already (stars were out everywhere) and it is just so amazing seeing the sky like that with NOTHING else around – it felt like we were in a dome!
I have been holding off emailing you these past few days, waiting for something exciting to tell you about but to be honest this last week has been relatively uneventful – mostly just personal admin things like replying to messages, doing washing, cooking for myself, doing uni work etc etc. This morning was the same – I woke up at a leisurely 9am this morning, made myself some porridge for breakfast and a tea and got back into bed and ate it….Usually I would NEVER do this but my good friend Liz has gotten me into these bad habits – but it is such a nice way to ease into the morning. I then jumped on my laptop and tried to organise flights to Leeds in June.
I have returned safely from Noway and officially finished all my subjects here in Lund… what a strange feeling! Norway was fantastic and what a great last trip away with friends before the semester finished! We were picked up by Daniel who we were so glad to find out was also going to be our hiking guide for the day.
The climb was to be 22km in total (11km up and down) and I would say for the most part we were walking through thick snow up very steep terrain… the snow shoes were supposed to help but they were so big and bulky that they sort of just ended up getting in the way! Whilst it was pretty overcast, we were told to be careful about getting sunburnt because the snow is super reflective. I found myself sitting on a cold rock mid-hike applying sunscreen to my face. About 5 hours later we made it to the top of Trolltunga, which was amazing (not that the views the whole way weren’t completely breathtaking) and we took the infamous Trolltunga picture sitting on the edge of the ‘tongue’. It took us about an hour to get all of our photos before we had to pack everything up, put our snow shoes back on, and begin our trek back down the mountain.
So here I am now – having completed my last presentation and my 3 hour exam only yesterday! It feels very good to be done but I am also feeling very strange right now… I have had two very close friends just leave Lund and I can see the end is so so near. I went for a walk around my local park tonight and was feeling quite nostalgic – but obviously also so very looking forward to seeing mum and dad! It just seems a shame to be leaving at such a wonderful time of year – the flowers are all in bloom and smelling wonderful, it’s FINALLY warm! (28 degrees the other day, can you believe it?) and it stays light for so long! I think sunset was at around 10pm (but it stays light till nearly 11) and then sunrise at about 4am! I have been sleeping with my bedroom window open recently to get a bit of air in but am frequently waking at around 6am because the birds are so noisy (not complaining, it's very pretty and reminds me of home). I have a feeling that when we go to Iceland we won’t actually get any night time at all. Weird… but also really cool I think! Much, much better than the short days for sure.
So, the next few days will be full of squeezing in last catch ups and farewells with friends, as well as eating and coffee-ing for the last time and visiting our favourite local Lund spots (Dalby quarry for some cliff jumping, maybe look around the town of Jakriborg and perhaps one last ride to the local farmers market!).