Exchange to Sweden, Semester 2, 2017
I’m sure that one of the most important things that people think about when they think about possibly going on exchange is where else they can travel whilst they study. Going on exchange is more than just studying abroad, but being able to gain an insight into the different cultures and gaining a more global perspective on the world and some of that comes from travelling and exploring different countries.
One of the best things about studying in Sweden, and Malmö in particular is the close proximity to so many different countries. With Copenhagen airport only 20 minutes away, travelling to different countries and places is pretty easy. Transport around Europe can occur in a multitude of ways and each allows you to see Europe from a different perspective. With transport making it so easy to reach other countries, you realise how isolated Australia really is. Since coming to Malmö, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of different places and living in student accommodation means that there is always someone wanting to travel with you.
This is my first time in Europe, and exchange is the perfect time to explore the diverse cultures and history within Europe. My first trip was to Copenhagen, Denmark, which is only a 30-minute train ride away. You can also catch a bus for around 5 Euros to Copenhagen, which is a more economical option if you want to go to Copenhagen a lot. Although the city is super close to Malmö, the culture, architecture, language and even currency is very different and well worth the visit.
Travelling to Helsinki, Finland was also surprisingly cheap with return flights for less than $100. As the second most northern capital city in the world, Helsinki was pretty cold, but the air was crisp and nice. Despite the temperature having an average of 2 degrees during our 4 day stay, the sun was still out and made Helsinki all the more beautiful. As it was such nice weather, my friends and I decided to buy a weekly pass for Helsinki by bike for 10 euros, which was a pretty cheap and easy way of getting around Helsinki quickly. Finland is the birthplace of sauna culture and going to a sauna is a must. We went to a sauna named Loyly, where we were able to jump into the Baltic Sea, which was such a cool experience, particularly after becoming so heated in the sauna. We were also able to take a ferry over to Suomenlinna, which is an 18th century military fortress. It was very cool to see how the area has been preserved.
When you live in Sweden, travelling to Norway is a must. Norway is a pretty expensive city though, a bit more expensive than Sweden, so you need to be prepared. We caught a bus from Malmö to Oslo and, as a result, we were able to pack food and snacks to take with us. We took one of the worlds most scenic train rides from Oslo to Bergen and whilst it was a bit pricey, it was definitely worth it. The natural landscape of Norway was so beautiful, and I was in awe the whole time at how picturesque it looked.
During my time here my friends and I also travelled to Lund, which is a small town about 20 minutes away from Malmö. The town is a lot smaller than Malmö, and it is very quiet and peaceful. My friends and I spent the day roaming the city and taking in the historic architecture. Visiting Stockholm was also an incredible experience. My friends and I spent the day roaming around taking in the city and culture. We were able to visit, among other things, a medieval museum and the Moderna Museet for free which was pretty cool.
Flights to Brussels are surprisingly cheap from Copenhagen Airport. With return flights for under $50, Brussels is a very affordable destination. The everyday living costs within Belgium are also a lot cheaper than Sweden. The architecture in Europe is a lot different to what I see a lot back home in Sydney, and it was very interesting to see the differences in historical buildings of each country. Whilst we didn’t really have any specific itinerary for what we wanted to see in Brussels, it was amazing to just walk around and explore the city.
Whilst in Helsinki, we decided to take a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia for the day. The ferry only took 2 hours and even had its own burger king on board. We went to Old Town in Tallinn which, like the name suggests, is a town steeped in medieval history. The buildings have been well maintained and still maintain the historic aura of the city. Whilst it is a very touristy place, Old Town is definitely one of my favourite destinations in Europe by far. A lot of the restaurants in the area get into the same spirit, serving food reminiscent of the medieval era and workers are dressed in traditional attire. Although Tallinn is not a destination many would probably think of visiting while in Europe, it is definitely worth your time.
I’ve been very fortunate to be able to visit as many different destinations as I have so far and I’m hoping I am fortunate enough to visit more before I come home. Next month I plan to Czech out Berlin and Prague. If you are thinking about coming to Europe and are worried about being able to travel on a budget, you shouldn’t. There are always cheap flight deals and being able to find the right transport to take you to a destination is only a Google search away. Also asking other international and domestic students for travelling tips makes it a lot easier to plan trips on a budget.
My exchange experience so far has been life changing and the beautiful and diverse cultures, scenery and people in Europe has made me extremely grateful for this opportunity.