Before I begin, I’d like to first explain what Skåne is. To put it simply, it’s the South of Sweden known for the area that was under Danish occupation for quite some time. They have their own flag and a slightly different tongue to that of the rest of Sweden known as Skånska. If you ask anyone from here what they think of the way someone from Stockholm speaks, they’ll simply look at you with despise as just about everyone from Skåne takes pride in it.
This has become very apparent during my stay here. While I’ve yet to explore much of the Northern parts of Sweden, other than Stockholm, it’s so interesting to see how different a place can look only five hours away. Five hours away in Australia gets you to a place that looks like a whole lot of nothing but one you’re familiar with, whereas Stockholm, also a city, has completely different architecture, public transport systems, and most notably people.
When looking back at my time so far here in Malmö, it’s been an overly positive experience. The University itself is really lovely and while I do like Flinders, it’s nice to not walk a long way to get to classes. Also talking about convenience, Malmö is just that, convenient. It’s so easy to get around, the buses are on time and frequent, same with trains, everything is in walking distance if you don’t mind the extra travel time, but most notably everyone rides bikes everywhere. I was not that keen initially, but after warming up to the idea, I’ve gotten myself a bike and have begun riding around. Oh and I also can’t forget it’s a short 30 minute trip to Copenhagen, now that is convenience.
One thing I was really looking forward to was meeting Swedish people. I wasn’t too sure what to expect at first, and the ideas I was given prior to arriving were pretty inaccurate. Malmö is an interesting city because of its diversity which is something that starts to decrease the further north you go. You’ll find that there is a surprisingly large variety of food that goes hand in hand with the diversity.
This becomes really apparent though when you go to University or go out where you will see a mix of people from all different parts of the world. It’s a concept familiar to me back in Adelaide, but it’s really interesting seeing what the equivalent is in a city like Malmö. When talking about Swedish people however, they were also quite diverse. The stereotypical idea of the Swede, at least in Malmö is quite different in terms of how they look but there are quite a few interesting quirks that they all seem to have.
Firstly, they are quite reserved initially and do need to have a good reason to interact with new people that doesn’t involve just small talk. They also take some questions a lot more seriously than I normally would, for example if you ask someone how they are or about something in particular, they generally will tell you a lot more than you bargained for. Finally, they tend to appreciate the quiet moments whether it be sitting with friends in the library on a gloomy day or going for a walk around the country side. Overall I really do like the Swedish culture in general.
So far though the experience has been great and I have pictures to show for it. Even the view from my place each night is lovely, and the sun not burning you after being outside for half an hour is also pretty amazing. The next couple of months I’ll be doing more travelling around the Nordic countries and around Europe too, so I look forward to sharing those moments later.
Thomas O’Donnell, Bachelor of International Relations is undertaking an exchange during S1 2019 to Malmö University, Sweden