Malmö: Week 1

NOTE: For some reason, all our posts were deleted so this is a repost 🙂

Hej! Jeg heter Tom och jag är 21 år gammal. Jag kommer från Melbourne, Australien.

For those non-Swedish speakers, my name is Tom and I am a 21-year-old from Melbourne, Australia.

I have recently arrived in Sweden as part of the Border Crossings exchange project. From La Trobe University in Melbourne, I have ventured halfway across the world to study at Malmö högskola. I will continuing my studies in International Relations at Malmö and am extremely excited about the upcoming semester. My semester at Malmö will be the last semester of my bachelor’s degree so I am looking forward to using it to explore the opportunities Sweden, and Europe as a whole, offer.

My first impressions were not what I expected. I had imagined a sleek, simple Scandinavian city (maybe I had let IKEA shape my expectations too much) but arrived in a sunny, vibrant and distinctly European city. Coming from the relatively young country of Australia, it is always amazing to be in a place that has nearly 800 years of history. Everything from the mix of old and new architecture, the canals, the cobblestone streets, the multiple city squares and the literally thousands of cyclists are so very different from anything in Australia. After arriving at Malmö centralstation I had to navigate my way to the accommodation I had booked. I will admit, I did get lost however all the Swedes I asked were very helpful and accommodating.

Arrival Day at Malmö högskola was the beginning of some exciting times! Something I had been working towards for months was finally here! From the moment I met the Malmö representatives at Centralstation I felt at home. The people were friendly and welcoming and perfect role models for the myth of Swedish efficiency. I cannot speak more highly of the whole introduction programme organized by Malmö högskola. Hats off to the International Office who ran a serious of interesting lectures on all things Swedish and combined these with some great social events. Highlights included the ESN Games (where my team won the tug-of-war; I’m kind of a big-deal in Sweden now), the World’s Biggest Kräftskiva, or Crayfish Party (a giant party in the biggest square in Malmö, celebrating the recent crayfish harvest), the Malmöfestivalen (a massive free festival which included free concerts including the Hives and some other amazing Swedish artists I’d never heard of prior such as Hoffmaestro) the walking tour of Malmö and the bus tour of Österlen (where we finally caught our first glimpse of non-Malmö Sweden! We were shown the Glimmingehus, the best preserved castle in Scandinavia, and Ales Stenar, which is Sweden’s take on Stone Henge). I have never done another exchange, so I don’t have much to compare against, but I’m fairly sure the team at Malmö högskola run a world-class introduction program for their international students!

One of my biggest regrets so far in life is that I never learnt a second language. It angers me that the Australia doesn’t value multilingualism as much as countries in Europe and Scandinavia. As such, I jumped at the opportunity of a free Swedish language course at Malmö. Whilst, with all due respect to the Swedes I’ll be living with for the next 6 months, Swedish is probably not the most useful language, it is the first step towards bigger and better things. The two weeks of Swedish language classes was a challenge that I found extremely beneficial and that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a great feeling the first time I conducted a coherent conversation with a Swede without having to revert to English. I intend to continue with part-2 of the language course and hopefully can improve my language skills (it is always a challenge to practice Swedish with a Swede, as they always want to practice their English with a native English speaker!).

I had my first day of actual classes today, which was certainly a struggle after the amazing two weeks of fun and partying. So far so good, but be sure to check out my next blog for further updates!

Hej då och stanna säkert!

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