Sweden | Sweden versus The United States of America

BY CHRISTINE PAHEL

Sweden

Sweden has a constitutional monarchy for their political structure. While they have a royal family, most of the power lays with the parliament (Riksdag). Instead of having a president, like in the United States, they have a prime minister, who is selected by the political parties. 

Number of Political Parties 

Sweden has eight major political parties. You read correctly—eight. While I knew that European parliaments tended to have more major political parties, I was expecting two or three more than the United States, not six. These parties are the Social Democrats (the one you’ll hear the most about during your time here), the New Moderates, the Sweden Democrats, the Green Party, the Center Party, the Left Party, the Liberals, and the Christian Democrats. 

Unlike America, Sweden is a Welfare State 

Sweden is a welfare state. It has attributes of both socialism and capitalism. The government provides universal healthcare, regulates maternity and paternity leave, grants paid leave, and provides unemployment benefits among other things. While the government has a fair amount of power in the economic sector, Sweden is a capitalistic society. It is home to global corporations, such as H&M and Ikea.  

Opening Hours for Shops 

 

Shops aren’t open as for as many hours as in the U.S. Most stores, apart from grocery stores, aren’t open everyday, especially in Lund. In Lund, don’t expect to be able to do much shopping after 6pm. Apart from some stores in the mall that are open until 8pm, not much is open, especially downtown. Some places, like the Lund Accommodation Office and the university gift shop, are only open a couple hours out of the day. Keep track of government holidays because not only are almost all stores closed, the university also locks some of its buildings.  

Ice Cream Shops Aren’t Open Year-Round 

I found this incredibly disappointing but not shocking. For months, I walked by two closed ice cream shops every day, without seeing them open once. There were no signs on the door indicated when they might be open again, so it was difficult to tell if they’d ever open, or if they went out of business. One day in early April, I finally saw the shop open, catching me by surprise. I went in an ordered a cookie dough shake and my friend got a licorice one (Sweden really does have licorice everywhere). While the person was getting our shakes ready, we asked about when they’d be open. She replied, “we are only open when the weather is nice.” Since Lund only has a handful of sunny and warm days, I clearly had a different idea of what was considered nice weather. If you want ice cream, you’re probably going to have to get it at a store, unless it is spring or summer. 

 Swedes Are Classy Dressers 

The Swedish people I have seen dress incredibly well. It’s not like back in the U.S. where you just walk around in whatever is comfortable (even if that means pajamas at some college campuses). Here, everyone looks dressed to impressed. I didn’t include this point to worry you if you don’t care about fashion. No one seems to care here about what you wear. Rather, dressing nicely just appears to be part of the culture. Like many parts of Europe, but unlike America, the clothes they choose to wear tend to be dark neutral colors. For instance, most winter jackets you see will be black. This is the norm, but certainly there are exceptions. I chose to wear a green down jacket and a pinkish red beanie during the winter. Needless to say, none of my friends had trouble finding me around town. 

The Language of Movies 

If you don’t want to wait until you get home to see some of the new movies that have premiered, some cinemas offer movies in English. This surprised me. I was expecting the movie theaters to only show movies in Swedish, especially considering every movie advertisement I have seen in Lund has been in Swedish. There is one cinema called Filmstaden that offers movies in English in Lund. It located not far from Botulfsplatsen bus terminal on the south side of town. Be careful though, not all of the movies are available in English. Most movies are; however, the movies designed for kids, like Disney movies, tend to be in Swedish. If you check their website, it will tell you whether or not the movie is in English. I highly recommend going to the movies while you study in Sweden. Get there early because the ads are in Swedish, so it is entertaining to try to guess what is going on in them. When the company name pops up at the end, you’ll be surprised to see what the ad was actually trying to sell.  

Government Control on Alcohol 

Unlike in the United States, the government holds a monopoly on alcohol over 3.5%. Alcohol up to 3.5% can be sold in a grocery store. All alcohol over that amount and that is unopened must be sold at Systembolaget, a government run store. If you are 18 years old or older, you can buy alcohol up to 3.5%, and you can drink at bars or at the nations. To buy alcohol over 3.5% in an unopened bottle (i.e. not from a restaurant or club), you must be at least 20 years old.  

Environmental Regulations 

 

Sweden deeply cares about the environment. In your apartment, you will have three different containers for recycling plus compost bags. This will be sorted into 8-10 different containers outside your apartment. Your aluminum cans and plastic bottles can be returned to most grocery stores. There, they have a machine that you can insert the recyclables into and get store credit. Policies like this have helped Sweden recycles 99% of its waste. Some of that waste is incinerated for energy. When you think of burning trash in America, you probably picture smoke and a lot of pollutants entering the air—not in Sweden. The majority of the smoke is just water and carbon dioxide, and it is filtered prior to it reaching the atmosphere. 

 

 

Christine Pahel studied abroad in Lund, Sweden, in Spring 2017: http://eap.ucop.edu/OurPrograms/sweden/Pages/lund_univ.aspx

England | Day of Museums

BY SAVANNAH SHAPIRO

LONDON

It’s already week 2 for us here in London and we only have 11 more days left in England. On Monday, we had our first classroom session which was on the campus on the University of Westminster. It felt like a normal day of class at UCLA, but felt different as Professor Makdisi talked about the streets on London while in London. I started making the connections to our readings we did and the streets we already roamed in London.  

Tuesday was a day for museums. We started our morning off bright and early and took some time before class to visit The British Museum. It was also the first day where we encountered rain. We were lucky enough to have clear and sunny skies for our first week here, but the rain came at last. Luckily, we were indoors which made it the perfect day to tour some museums.   

The British Museum is so large that you can spend hours and hours wandering through all the rooms in the building. There are over 90 rooms that are dedicated to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome and Greece, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Not to mention, the museum is free! We spent most of our time in the Ancient Greece and Rome rooms, as well as the Egyptian room. My favorite room was the gallery that contained the Elgin Marbles. The marbles that were from the Parthenon in Athens Greece seemed so remarkable that my mind couldn’t fully comprehend what I was seeing.   

In addition to the Elgin Marbles, we saw the Rosetta Stone which was swarmed with hoards of people. The Rosetta Stone was the key for scholars to understand and decode the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. The cluster of ancient hieroglyphics clutter the surface of the stone from top to bottom. Although it was crowded around the Rosetta Stone, it was something definitely worth seeing.   

After The British Museum, it was time for class and we had to meet Professor Makdisi at the Tate Britain. The Tate Britain is the National Collection of British Art and is much less busy than The British Museum. At the Tate, we looked at artwork by Turner and Blake connecting the concepts of our walking tours to the pieces of artwork. We looked at how 18th century was captured both the good and the bad and compared this to the writing of Blake, Hannah Moore and Hazlitt.   

After we finished walking the Tate and finished class for the day, we went back to the dorms and relaxed. We called it an early night and made plans for the next day in Hamstead Heath.  

Savannah Shapiro studied abroad in England on the 2017 Summer Travel Study program “London and the Age of Revolution:” https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/English-London/

England | London Eye, Monmouth Street and the Seven Dials

BY SAVANNAH SHAPIRO

LONDON

Before I came on this study abroad trip, I knew I wanted to do everything I could possibly do within the time I would be spending in London. Our class doesn’t start in the mid-afternoons and varies day-to-day so I try to do as much as I possibly can during the morning.

Our class didn’t start until 2:00PM on our third day in London so five of us, myself included, decided to explore London and go see the London Eye, Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. We started our morning at 9:00 and took the Underground straight to the London Eye. We purchased tickets which cost £25 to take the 30 minute loop on the ferris wheel. I am not the biggest fan of ferris wheels, but this was one ferris wheel that I did like. You could see the entire city of London and get an entire aerial and panoramic view of the city. Our pod was air-conditioned (which as you know, is something I really appreciate when it’s so rare to come by here) and it inches along so slowly that it gives you just enough time to see everything. I would highly recommend to leave early in the morning to go to the London Eye to avoid long lines and a congested area. Later in the evening the line grows longer and longer as opposed to the morinngs where the lines aren’t as bad.  

After we got off the eye, we walked along Westminster Bridge looking up at Big Ben which was surreal. The area was busy, but because we went in the morning, it wasn’t as bad as it normally gets in the afternoon. We walked to Westminster Abbey and looked upon the intricate details of the front of the church.  

During our walking tour for class, we walked down Monmouth Street and to Seven Dials. We were able to see one of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Churches which was featured in one of Hogarth’s print. I remember looking at the same print in class at UCLA and I was able to see the same church that was in the picture. We walked down further all the way down to Saffron Hill to conclude our day. There is a pub down the way called “The One Ton” which was mentioned in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist as “The Three Cripples.”  

It was a long day in London for us, but one of the best days! We were very tired but excited for the next day of adventures.  

Savannah Shapiro studied abroad in England on the 2017 Summer Travel Study program “London and the Age of Revolution:” https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/English-London/

England | English Countryside

BY SAVANNAH SHAPIRO

The weekends are your free time. Professor Makdisi ends class early on Friday allowing you to fly out or take a train to another country which many students did their first weekend here. We decided to stay in England for our first weekend and travel outside the city into the countryside. We booked a tour where it took us to Windsor Castle, Lacock, Bath and Stonehenge. We had a long day and started the day off early meeting our bus at 7:45 in the morning at Victoria.  

 The bus was air conditioned (thank goodness) and the seats were nice and comfy making the trip on the road nice and comfortable. The whole week, we were always planning what to do and where to go, and this was the first time where someone was guiding us where tog o and when to come back which was something that I liked. It felt like a middle school field trip and it was nice for once to have some guidance on what to do and where to go. We didn’t have to worry about admission tickets inside the castle or Stonehenge, everything was already taken care of through the tours which made things that much more simple for us.  

Windsor was so amazing that it is hard to even put into words. The castle was surreal and the rooms inside packed in centuries of history. The crown molding that ran across the circumference of the wall and crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceilings were restored by Queen Elizabeth and transported you into a different time. There were separate rooms dedicated the knight’s armory rooms and old weaponry. I highly recommend exploring The State Apartments at Windsor which include all the bedrooms, weapon rooms and dinning tables of the castle. Certain rooms are closed during specific seasons of the years, but nonetheless every part of the castle that was open was awe inspiring.  

After our stop at Windsor, our tour guide Doug and driver Ricardo took us through the English countryside. We stopped in a tiny little village called Lacock where little houses sat on cobblestone streets. We were again transported in another time period. The cottages were cozy and tucked away on the long windy cobble stoned streets and we were able to wander up and down the pathways. It was like a fairytale.  

Our next stop took us to Bath. Bath felt like a little piece of Italy with its Yellowstone building and Roman architecture. We didn’t go into the Roman Baths although we could. The line was a little long and we decided that we just wanted to walk around the city and into the abbey that was rigt next to the baths. After going into the abbey, we walked down to a tiny little bakery down by the river and ate some pastries. The bakery was tucked away under a building where you had to crouch your head down low enough to get through the window that was the door. We passed a hand squeezed lemonade stand where you could smell the fresh scent of lemon peel. We stood on top of the walkaway and peered down at the gardens taking in all the sights around us.  

We soon made our way back onto the bus and proceeded to travel to our final stop of the day: Stonehenge. We parked next to a field that was littered with red poppies. The poppy filed alone would be worth visiting. A small little bus took us down the 2 mile path that leads up to Stonehenge. We walked up to the stones and fell in awe. It is another monument that is so historic that you don’t realize you are seeing it until you are there.  

I payed £74 for our trip to the countryside which included all of our entrance fees to the locations and a free lunch. Without a doubt, it was the best £74 I’ve spent so far.  

England | Navigating Airports

BY SAVANNAH SHAPIRO

I have never been on a plane by myself. I have never left the country. And the furthest flight that I have ever been on was from California to Arizona. That flight lasted around 35 minutes… Needless to say, I was a little nervous to be flying by myself on a ten hour flight to another country. My flight left at 6:00PM a day before my English program started giving me one day to explore the city. When I arrived at LAX, I was feeling both nervous and excited. My cousin gave me some advice prior to leaving that was extremely helpful for me.  

  1. Give yourself plenty of time before your flight. My flight left at 6:00PM and I was at LAX around 2:40. I wanted to give myself as much time as possible so I could learn how to navigate the airport.  
  2. Take everything one step at a time. Once you arrive at your airport, you check in with the airline you are flying with. You can stand in line to have your boarding pass printed, or you can choose the faster option and go to the automated stations that prints both your boarding pass and luggage tag. Your luggage must be under 50lbs (I had to put my chucks in my carryon because I was a little over oops!).  
  3. Security. Going through security is very simple and easy. You put all your carryon items up on the table and just wait to go through. If you are traveling with a computer, you must take the computer out of its case and put it in a separate bin! Because my cousin told me this before I left, I didn’t lock my carryon and I purposefully made my computer easily accessible. This saved me time and kept me calm throughout the process making everything much easier!  
  4. Landing. The great thing about airports is there is always someone there to help you. Additionally, there are multiple signs with arrows that lead you in the right direction. Once you start walking through the airport, you will go through immigration where you show your passport, an immigration card that your flight attendant will give you (they are also available everywhere in the airport), and proof that you are studying abroad (don’t worry, the IEO office will give this to you).  
  5. Heathrow Airport to London. It’s time to navigate yourself from the airport to the dorms. I landed in Heathrow at noon London time and decided to Uber from the airport to my friends apartment on near Clarkenwell. The Uber cost around $57 in U.S. currency. I wanted to learn more about the city before I traveled on the Heathrow Express and the Underground.  

Quick Tips: 

The app “Citymapper” is extremely helpful when trying to navigate the city. The app has bus routes, times and routes of the Underground as well as the fatest and cheapest options to wherever you are trying to go.   

England | Walking Tour of Trafalgar Square

BY SAVANNAH SHAPIRO

London

Our second walking tour consisted of walking Trafalgar Square, which soon became one of my favorite hubs in London. Trafaglar square is busy and has been busy since the 1830s. Professor Makdisi explained during our walking tour that Trafaglar Square was a beacon for protests and riots during the 19th century. The statue that stands directly in the middle marks the middle of  the congested area and became my personal indicator that I was in the right place and not lost. The area now known as Trafaglar Square was originally known to be Charing Cross, but was later changed to expand the space and create a new urban space. Trafaglar Square is home to The National Gallery, which Professor Makdisi took us to later in the week. Not only does The National Gallery have paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, and Hogarth, but the gallery is also free and air conditioned (something that is hard to find in London). In addition, the National Gallery holds many other pieces of artwork by other artists which collectively amount up to around 300 paintings within the gallery itself.

Running to the East of Trafalgar Square is The Strand which we walked all the way down past St. Paul’s Cathedral. Marking The Strand is an intricate building that is The Royal Courts of Justice. There is a large pillar that stands in the middle of the road with a dragon like gargoyle which used to be a warning for people outside the gates. Severed heads would be placed on the spikes and on the gargoyle statue in order to warn the people that they were a force to be reckoned with. Ahhhh scary!

After we walked down The Strand, we ended our walking tour day at Saint Brides Church. The church is interesting for two reasons: the steeple at the top was modeled after a wedding cake on purpose which explains why it is stacked like a cake and the church has remains and fragments after London was hit by bombings in World War II. You can actually go under the church and see where the church was hit.   

It was only the second day in London but the places we went during our walking tour truly took my breath away. We stopped by St. Paul’s Cathedral which was the heart of the old city of Lodnon during the time period in which we are studying. The design was by Wren and it demonstrates both Egyptian and Ancient Greek architecture. When we were passing the catherdral during our walking tour, Professor Makdisi advised us to look inside the church, but only when their five o’clock mass started. You could not only experience the service that was being held, but also, you do not have to pay to get inside the church during this time. If you wish to see the inside of the church at times that are not during the evening service, you can pay £15 to look inside. Regardless, it is something that is definitely worth seeing.  

Quick Tips: 

  1. Don’t pay to go inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, go at 5:00 PM for free admittance  
  1. Go see St. Paul’s Cathedral (It was one of my top five churches to see in London) 
  1. Bring water! We walk a lot and the days are hot and humid at times, so stay hydrated! 
  1. Soak everything up! This was a cool walking tour! 

Savannah Shapiro studied abroad in England on the 2017 Summer Travel Study program “London and the Age of Revolution:” https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/English-London/