Living in Lund as an Exchange student

This blog post is more for tips and tricks for living in Lund as an exchange student and my experience in this beautiful, fun cobblestoned city. If you are more interested in reading about Lund as a travel destination, please check out my blog post Lund, all year round.

So maybe you’re reading this post because you’ve been accepted to Lund University or maybe you’re reading because you are considering applying there. I personally think that Lund is a really cool place to go on exchange for the following reasons:

  • The city centre is really compact and the University buildings are spread throughout the centre of the city, meaning you are always close to the centre and everything is easy to get to;
  • You can cycle almost everywhere, reducing your transport costs and giving you a lot of freedom. You can even cycle to the beach;
  • The Nations and student housing buildings mean that there is always a cheap meal or good party to go to if you’re into that sort of thing. There is no shortage of nightlife;
  • Lund is only 40 minutes from Copenhagen (and the airport) by train which means that you can travel to almost anywhere in Europe relatively cheaply;
  • The University has around 42,000 students and majority of those students are living in Lund so there is a really cool vibe in the city. Many of the students are international too and there are lots of events organised by the University and Nations to get to know people;
  • The winter is mild and;
  • Swedes speak better English than most English speaking people.

There were three factors that worried me a little before I went to Lund:

Is Sweden going to be super expensive?

I would say that the prices of Sweden aren’t so different to the prices of Australia. In general, eating out is expensive and alcohol is too but they are expensive in Australia as well. There are a lot of simple ways that you can make your stay more budget friendly, leaving more money for travel. Shopping at the cheaper supermarkets (detailed below), cooking at home as much as possible, eating at places with student discounts (explained later), buying alcohol at the nations rather than System Bolaget (the only bottle shop in Lund), and cycling rather than taking public transport will leave much more of your budget for travel. Lund is actually a bit cheaper than the rest of Sweden as there are lots of places with student discounts. All in all, yeah Sweden is expensive but if you follow the suggestions above, you will be able to experience all the things you want to.

Is Lund going to be too small?

Lund itself is a small city, it’s much smaller than Australian cities but to be perfectly honest, it has everything that you need as a student. There is a nice shopping area with all the things you would need. There is also a really big shopping centre called NovaLund which is a 3km bike ride or short bus ride away from the city centre. If you aren’t satisfied with the things you can find in Lund, it is only a ten minute train ride to Malmö which is the third biggest city in Sweden. If you still aren’t satisfied, you can catch the train thirty minutes further to Copenhagen which is the capital city of Denmark. Copenhagen in Swedish is called Köpenhamn which if translated literally means ‘shopping harbour’ so there is plenty to explore within 40 minutes on the train. Copenhagen Airport is also one of the biggest hubs in Europe so you can fly to almost anywhere relatively cheap. Gothenburg is also only three hours by train and Stockholm is four hours by train so you never run out of places to go if you’re getting bored in Lund.

There are also many things to do in the Skåne region. Lund is really close to the beach and there are many day trips that you can do from Lund that are really nice. These are described in more detail in my other blog posts. To answer my question as to whether Lund is too small or not. I would say that Lund is the perfect size city to go on exchange to. It is nice to move to a relatively small city because it is much less overwhelming and you are able to get to know the city really quickly. It is also a really nice feeling when you see lots of people you know out and about in the city.

Swedish winter! Dark… Cold… Snow?

Coming from Perth, I am used to lots and lots of sunshine. For the past four years I have also chased summer, basically living in Europe during the Australian winter so this was going to be my first proper winter in a while. If you arrive in August, everyone will tell you that the winter is going to be awful and that you’re going to be depressed. Don’t let them scare you. As long as you have realistic expectations, winter in Lund isn’t that bad at all. Things to know:

  • At the end of December, the sun rises around 9am and sets around 3:30pm.
  • There can be weeks of cloudy days and rain.
  • Lund doesn’t actually get ‘really cold’. The temperature rarely goes below -5 degrees at night and for me was around zero degrees during the day. It is a windy city though and that can make it feel colder.
  • It snowed once while I was in Lund and it wasn’t even heavy enough to make it to the ground. The winter I stayed was exceptionally mild but you don’t need to expect major snow storms and blizzards this far south.
  • The city has beautiful lights so the dark can actually be really nice. The Christmas lights go up around November and are taken down in February.
  • There is always a day of sunshine in the midst of the clouds and rain to remind you that the sun is still there. These days are almost even better than summer days. Many of my photos on this blog were taken on sunny winter days.

How to thrive in winter:

  • Buy good water proof clothes. The worst thing about winter is having to ride around in the rain. If you have a good pair of over clothes, you won’t even notice it is raining. The best thing I did was buy a pair of waterproof pants that I could chuck over my normal pants. It is pretty normal to take off outdoor shoes before you enter a building so people won’t look at you twice if you quickly take your shoes and waterproof pants off in the entrance of a building. It’s also so much better than sitting in lectures with wet jeans. A good waterproof jacket and some waterproof boots are also a must. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.
  • Organise things so that you will be occupied. If you don’t have much Uni work, plan things with your friends (taco nights are always a great idea), organise a trip somewhere, volunteer at the nations or find a casual job.
  • Stay active. If you’re not a fan of running (in the rain), join the gym or go to the pool, climbing centre or ice rink (explained later).
  • Eat good food, sleep well and have fun!

Lund Budget Hacks:

Supermarkets:

  • Willy’s. This is by far the best supermarket in Lund. It is huge and cheap. It has everything you need for less than all the other supermarkets. The only downside is that it is right in the North so if you live in the south (like I did), it is a big uphill ride. On the plus, you don’t have to pedal on the way home.
  • ICA. This is another good supermarket with everything you need and an epic bakery section but it is much more expensive than Willy’s.
  • Coop. This is very similar to ICA. Has everything you need but is the most expensive super market in Lund.
  • Lidl and Netto. These are normally really cheap but often don’t have everything you need.
  • Hemköp. This is a bit like a small ICA but they can have really good sales.
  • Market shops. I bought all of my fruit and vegetables from Farfar livs near Botulfsplatsen. This halved my food bills. Sometimes the fruit and vegetables can be old so just look at the things you buy before you buy them and it might feel like a bit of a dodgy shop but the bill is always half of what you expect and half what you would pay in ICA and Coop. There are a few of these market shops around Lund but Farfars was often the cheapest from what I saw.

Nations. The Nations are a big thing in Lund. You have to become a member of one of them to receive your StudentLund Membership which gives you a student card which you need to prove that you are a student for public transport and student discounts. It will seem really overwhelming having to choose a nation because there are twelve but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter which one you join, you can still go to the events and volunteer at the other ones. Nations have a weekly event schedule with most offering lunches and occasional dinners as well as one or two ‘club’ nights per week. The lunches are a great option if you don’t want to cook because they are really cheap cooked meals. Drinks are also generally cheaper at the nations than if you buy drinks from the System Bolaget.

Restaurants: Many restaurants offer student discounts and often their lunch menus are heavily discounted compared to their dinner menus (for the same meals). These are my favourite restaurants which all offer cheaper lunch menus and student discounts.

TUGG Burgers. This place was my favourite. They serve delicious gourmet burgers and the space is really cosy, especially when the weather is nice enough to use their outdoor seating. To find the restaurant, go through the archway next to Broder Jakobs. If you go for dinner it can be a little expensive but if you go at lunch time, you get the same meal quite a bit cheaper. Yum, my mouth is watering at the thought of their food. They have lots of vegetarian options too.

Creperiet. This restaurant has the cosiest seating upstairs. They serve both sweet and savoury crepes which are pretty delicious. If you go at lunch time, they include tea and coffee and have a student discount. It feels fancy for the price you pay.

Govindas. This is a Vegetarian Indian restaurant that does a buffet style lunch, including tea and coffee for a very reasonable price. They also have a student discount. It can be pretty popular at lunch time though so don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a seat.

Fengsson Dumpling House. To find this one, you need to look lower… The restaurant is down stairs through some cellar style doors. The menu is simple but the dumplings are delicious. Most of the seating is outside so if it is raining, have a place to sit and eat in mind. The restaurant down the stairs is really really small. They are cheaper during work days at lunch time and also have a student discount.

Cafes:

Broder Jakobs Stenugnsbageri. This is probably the most popular bakery/cafe in Lund. It has the most cosy atmosphere and is always filled with people. The vaniljbulle is my all-time favourite here but everything is a good choice. 

Inkognito. This cafe has an endless amount of cakes and pastries to choose from and the options are constantly changing. It has a cosy seating area upstairs. I love this cafe but I didn’t go there many times because it always took me too long to decide what to have.

Love Coffee. This is an artisan coffee cafe that sells their own beans. I personally don’t drink coffee so I cannot tell you what it is like but it is popular with coffee connoisseurs. They do have delicious pastries though and a nice outdoor seating area when the weather permits. I highly recommend the almond croissants. Yum. 

Cafe Point. This cafe has really good smoothies. It is also a tiny bit cheaper than all the others.

Espresso House and Wayne’s Coffee. These are two chain cafes that you will find all over Sweden. Lund alone has at least three espresso houses. Despite being bigger chains, they do have nice food and drinks and also offer big tables and power points so you often find groups of students studying here. 

University Buildings. All of the university buildings have cafes too which are moderately priced.

Transport.

Bike. The easiest way to get around Lund is to buy a second hand bike. There are lots of shops that sell these both in Lund and Malmö during the arrival weeks. Be careful though because they try to charge you much more than you should pay so feel free to politely haggle. There are also a few Facebook pages like Buy and Sell Lund where people sell their old bikes. Before you buy it, check that the bike isn’t too rusty, that the chain looks good, that it has gears if you want them, that the brakes work and that it comes with both lights and reflectors. You’ll also need a pretty good lock because bikes get stolen in Lund.

Skånetrafiken. This is the public transport app that gets you all around the Skåne region. You are also able to buy tickets to Gothenburg and Copenhagen on this app. It is really straight forward to use and most tickets have the option to choose ‘Student’ instead of ‘Adult’ so you will get a discount. There is a hidden trick though! If you buy two tickets (ie. for you and a friend) on one phone, you both get a 25% group discount! The only catch is that if you plan on travelling separately at some point, you both need to have the active ticket on each of your phones and it isn’t possible to give the second person their ticket. This is ideal though if you and a friend are travelling to Copenhagen or Gothenburg or somewhere else together.

SAS. You may already know this but SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) offers Youth Tickets on some flights. If these are available (check by putting youth instead of adult) they are often much cheaper and always include a 23kg check in bag and carbon offsetting! This is handy to know if you fly to northern Sweden or somewhere else with SAS.

Student Kortet App. When you sign up with StudentLund, and a Nation, you should download the student kortet app. This is where your student card is kept and the app also shows you student discounts that are available. Lots of stores do offer student discounts though if you show your card so you should always ask.

Skissernas Art Museum: This museum right next to the Main University Library is free for students when you show your card on the student kortet app. It is a nice place to go if you are feeling arty or it is raining a lot.

Staying Active: Staying active all year round is super important and there are a few fun places in Lund that you can go to to get your movement in.

Gerdahallen. This is one of the biggest gyms in Lund. It is located right near the Uni buildings and has something on offer for everyone. The gym itself is fully equipped and there are also multiple classes on offer everyday which I personally really enjoyed. Students of the University also pay less than the general public.

Skånes Klätterklubb. This is a climbing centre in Lund that is a little bit out of town but easy to cycle to. They have both bouldering and high rope climbing. Entrance and shoe hire is pretty cheap as the whole centre is run by volunteers. Next door is an indoor skate centre.

Ishallen. This is in the Sparbanken Arena. In winter, during certain times on the weekends, two ice rinks are open to the general public. This is a super fun thing to do with friends and entrance and skate hire is quite cheap.

Högevall. This is a huge swimming pool building in Lund. It is at the end of the city park (stadsparken) and has a 50m pool, two smaller warm pools and an adventure park with a waterslide. There is also a gym in the building.

Housing. If you have any questions about the housing in Lund, feel free to send me an email. It is quite difficult to get housing though and you have to be really proactive in order to get something. I stayed in a corridor room at Parentesen which is a building owned by AF Bostader.

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