Barbados | Time is Relative


Every country I have lived in has their own unique perspective on time. In California, people generally try to run “on time” meaning arriving within a +/- 10 minute window of the event start time, with the main exception being “fashionable late” to parties. In Germany the stereotype about Germans being punctual is an understatement. In northern Germany in particular, if you are anything less than 15 minutes early, you are late. Before I understood this nuance of “on time” I would often arrive to upset company. The conversation would generally go something like this (but keep in mind it probably sounded must harsher as it was in German): 

Friend: “Angie! I was so worried, where have you been!? We agreed on meeting at 12:17*. It’s 12:18!!!!”  

Me: “…Sorry I was one minute late.”  

Friend: “ONE MINUTE?! I expected you here 16 minutes ago!”  

* It was common for meetings with people to start at oddly specific minute increments. 

In Ghana there was GMT. Not Greenwich Mean Time, but rather “Ghana-Maybe-Time.”  (Ironically enough, Ghana actually is in the GMT time zone!)  

UCEAP Advisor in Ghana (during orientation): “If an event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m., arrive at noon and bring a snack and a book. Or simply be mentally prepared to wait until it actually starts.” 

GMT was very subjective, sometimes events would “only” start 30 minutes late, and other times they would not even be set up by the designated start time. Even my courses at the University of Ghana would frequently start 30-45 minutes late. Being someone who is very involved in German culture, it was very difficult for me to adjust to GMT; however, it most definitely taught me the virtue of patience. 

In Barbados the phenomenon is referred to as “Island Time.” Island Time is known as “a certain slack attitude toward the clock” and to be honest, I’m still unsure how much time to allot myself (or not to allot myself rather) before getting to an event. For example, a few weeks ago I went on a cruise around the west coast of the island. The flyer for the cruise said “Boarding at 11 a.m., Setting Sail at Noon Sharp.” Not wanting to miss the boat, I promptly arrived at 11 a.m. only to find that the crew for the ship had not even arrived yet. We finally set sail until after 2 p.m. When people invite me to events, I generally have to ask what time they actually want me to arrive. One would think that after seven weeks of living here, I would finally understand the time schedules; however, unfortunately I do not. I can say that “Island time” and Ghana’s GMT have taught me to relax and reflect in situations where I would not normally do so. It’s liberating to not live the fast paced city live I had while attending UCLA.  

Seeing as UWI is in the middle of midterms I have spent most of the past week studying (and catching up. I got behind when my family visited last week). I have also been resting because I caught a double ear infection cough from too much swimming. 

I did have time to make delicious banana bread. Food is expensive here on the island because just about everything has to be imported, so we followed the recipe as close as we could… and I accidently added a third egg because I wasn’t paying close enough attention. But it turned out delicious so no complaints! We also don’t have a beater, but we figured out that when we are improvising, a blender works just as well!  There’s also always time for ice cream, no matter how much studying you have to do! 

I was texting an old friend this morning on WhatsApp, and as they exclaimed how excited they were that I was coming home soon, it made me realize how little time we have left here in Barbados. Sure, we still have two and a half months left, but in the grand scheme of being gone for 11 months total of traveling, two and a half does not feel like long at all. We are on the last leg of our trip, which means graduation and job hunting are right around the corner. I think I will seize my island time experiences as much as I can for the next couple months before getting back to bustling California. 

 Finally, sports are picking up right now. Possibly one of the only reasons I am looking forward to coming back to California at the end of May is so that I can watch the SF Giants at AT & T Park again. I’ve watched the Giants BEAT the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the past two years, but I have not been able to catch a Giants game at AT & T Park since I have been living in Los Angeles. I always wear my SF Giants baseball cap to keep the sun off my face here, so it will be nice to see the team I have been supporting internationally!  

Don’t forget to watch UCLA in the upcoming weeks! UCLA basketball is currently RANKED THIRD IN THE COUNTRY! With March Madness right aroundthe corner, this is particularly exciting! (For those of you that do not know, March Madness is a huge NCAA college basketball tournament that runs for the last two weeks of March every year.) This year, I have been teaching some of my Bajan friends about basketball, in exchange for them teaching me the rules of cricket, and we have all agreed to watch and support UCLA in the tournament. I wear UCLA affiliated clothing most days, simply because it’s what my limited wardrobe consists of, but I wish I had larger sizes to distribute for everyone to wear. As long as they don’t wear red, we should all be in the clear! GO BRUINS! 

Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017:

Barbados | The Foreigner’s Guide to Understanding Bajan Buses!



Living in a country less than one third the size of the city of Los Angeles would make you think it would be easy to get around. But while there are many busses on the island, as a foreigner, they can be quite challenging to navigate. So here it is folks, “The Foreigner’s Guide to Understanding Bajan Buses!”   

Hold on tight, you’re in for a treat! Most buses in Barbados have rails and handles bolted to the walls and seats for people to hang on. You’ll want to hang on even while sitting down, trust me! Buses in Barbados can feel like roller coasters without seatbelts. 

Keep in mind that in Barbados people drive on the left side of the rode and the driver’s side is right. There have been many times in low traffic areas where I have waited for a bus on the wrong side of the road.  

 Most busses in Barbados do not have set time schedules. It would just put more stress on everyone if they did, because they would never be on time. Rather than leaving at a certain time, they leave once they have reached max (or close to max) capacity. If you get to a bus terminal and are directed to hop on an empty bus, you might be waiting for quite a while. There are three main types of busses in Barbados: ZRs (pronounced Zed-Rs), Minibuses, and Blue buses. Please note that all buses charge the same fare regardless of distance: $2 Barbados. 


 ZRs, also known as music busses, are modified 14 passenger vans owned by a private company.

The original seats have usually been taken out, and new ones are brought in to maximize seating. I’ve traveled in ZRs with over 30 people packed into one. The “mate” who collects the money from passengers is a master of human Tetris. They always seem to find new innovative ways to cram more people inside to maximize profits. (There was even an event at UWI Sports Day called “Pack a ZR!”) These buses are well known for blasting Bajan music, zooming down roads at racing speeds, and stopping wherever people ask (as compared to at bus stops) even though getting off a bus anywhere other than a bus stop is illegal. They can be identified as white vans with a maroon stripe. The ZRs usually take shorter routes along the South and West Coasts are more commonly seen driving through residential neighborhoods. Usually there is a doorbell to press to signal to the ZR driver that you want to disembark. The horns that these buses use sound like squeaky brakes! While I would not recommend the ZRs if you are severely claustrophobic or prone to motion sickness, I think that they are a blast and everyone visiting Barbados should experience them! 


  • A true Bajan experience 
  • Pick up and drop off anywhere (do not need to wait at a bus stop) 
  • Often able to provide change for up to $50 Barbados if you do not have small change for bus fare 
  • Accept $1 US as fare payment 


  • Common to sit on a stranger’s laps to maximize space  
  • Do not have posted schedules or routes  
  • Can be very claustrophobic  
  • Predominantly travel on the south and west coasts


Next we have the Minibuses which can be identified as being yellow. I’ve been on quite a variety of Minibuses. Some are nicer than Californian public busses, and others are completely falling apart. You never know what you’re going to get until you get on the bus. While these busses run the occasional secluded route, I most frequently see them traveling from Bridgetown (the capital of Barbados also known as B-Town) in the south to Speightstown (SP-Town) in the north. While the Minibuses often accept bills larger than $2 Bajan, they do not always, so it is a good idea to try and have exact change when getting on these buses. Unlike the ZRs, the Minibuses do in fact pick up and drop off people predominantly at bus stops. Particularly during rush hour these buses get very full but seldom decline entry to new passengers. While locals are accustomed to this, I have seen tourists have panic attacks due to the capacity of the bus. Finally, in order to get on these buses you must gesture to the bus driver to stop by holding your arm out at a bus stop. If you simply wait at a bus stop and do not flag the bus down, they will not stop for you. In order to get off these buses, there are usually doorbells on the sides of the bus; however, sometimes you must press a lump in a black strip that lines the ceiling. (I assure you, that will make much more sense if you are on the bus!)  


  • Larger than ZRs 
  • Frequently run along the west coast (sometimes three will pass by within a five-minute period) 
  • Accept $1 US as fare payment 


  • Very full during rush hour 
  • Do not always have change for bills larger than $2 Barbados  
  • Do not have posted schedules or routes 
  • Predominantly travel on the south and west coasts 

Blue Buses

Finally, on the bus front we have the blue government operated buses. These buses require exact change. If the smallest bill you have is $5 Barbados, then you are going to be out $3 after paying for bus fare. However, these buses do have an online posted schedule. That being said, I have never seen them run on time. The blue busses travel all over the island, whereas the Minibuses and ZRs are more heavily concentrated on the south and west coasts. In order to get off these buses, you usually have to pull a black string attached to the ceiling. If you press the red “stop” buttons, nothing happens (as I learned the hard way) and the bus will not drop you off at your intended destination. 


  • Travel all over the island 
  • Posted online schedules and routes 


  • Must have exact change 
  • Do not accept US dollars as payment 
  • Only pick up/drop off at bus stops  

Rather than buses having flashing neon signs with destinations like Californian buses, most Bajan buses have a laminated sheet of paper on the front windshield that states the bus’s final destination. The ZRs also have numbers on the back that indicate a certain route. If you’re ever unsure if your intended stop is on the route, simply ask the driver. They are very friendly. Very few minibuses and ZRs run on Sundays, as it is seen as a day of rest. 

Unfortunately Google Maps has not been programed to handle the Barbados public transit system due to unset schedules and constant changing routes. If you’re ever in doubt, just ask a local, they are always eager to lend a helping hand! 

Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017:

Barbados | Church and the Farley Hill Experience



In the spirit of trying new things while studying abroad, I decided to take up one of my Bajan friend’s request to accompany her to church. Growing up in a nondenominational Christian household, I am no stranger to attending church; however, I knew very little about the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. Although Anglicanism is the most popular denomination in Barbados, there are several different prevalent denominations, including Seventh Day Adventist.  

While studying abroad in Ghana last semester, religion was a very important part of the local culture. The exchange students would often joke that the locals would only want to talk about family, school, and religion. Although I did not attend church while living in Ghana, there was an on-campus organization that held a church service very close to my dorm. The services were often so loud that it felt like there were speakers broadcasting it into my dorm room. In Ghana, it was common to have church services on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, as well as all day on Saturdays and Sundays. On some occasions, we were actually happy that the electricity was out because it meant the service could not be broadcasted through giant speakers at full volume. Because we essentially attended church five days a week in Ghana without intending too, we didn’t feel the need to physically go to the service; but it was something on my Barbados bucket list because it is such as big part of the culture. 

My friend picked us up at 9:45 AM and we began our drive to the service. Unfortunately, we were rather underdressed for the occasion, but my friend said it didn’t matter because everyone knew we were visitors because we were the only people in the congregation who were Caucasian. It was a longer service because they were celebrating communion. Later I learned in the Seventh Day Adventist denomination, communion is celebrated at the beginning of each quarter. Although I could not understand the preacher very well, it was interesting to listen to him. I sat next to a very kind stranger who realized I couldn’t understand the preacher and let me read her Bible from her tablet. Halfway through the service, everyone from the church walked downstairs to wash each other’s feet, as is customary at Seventh Day Adventist services. At first I was apprehensive about touching a stranger’s feet, as I don’t like feet to begin with, but my friend’s daughter persuaded me to go with her. She taught me about the sentimentality aspect of cleaning someone else’s feet (which only consists of pouring clean cupped water over the top of someone’s feet). She taught me how the act symbolizes humility and is also a way used to “clear the air” after people have been fighting.  

After we went back up and listened to the rest of the service and the church members participated in communion. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. Some of my friend’s friends even offered to take us parasailing before we come back to California. Everyone wanted to meet us, we must have met over 60 different people. After the service, it is customary for everyone in the church to eat together. Everyone brings food, potluck style, and sits in small groups enjoying their feat. Although it is not required as part of the religion, Seventh Day Adventism encourages vegetarianism. We had the best vegetarian feast I could have ever imagined. We are even meeting up with one of the church members to learn how to make the (DELICIOUS) lentil patties and cashew/walnut spread! The community was very welcoming and overall it was a positive experience. 

After church, we went to Farley Hill National Park. For anyone visiting Barbados, Farley Hill is a must-see attraction. The view from the top was specular and we were able to see the grounds of the once regal Farley Hill. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, the park was almost completely empty, which only added to its beauty and serenity.  


At the top of the hill there is a beautiful view overlooking Barbados. Unfortunately, it was a little bit foggy the day we went, so the view was obscured; but being a San Francisco Bay Area native, I’ve always enjoyed the fog. It was truly a site for sore eyes.  

 If you are in Barbados, one of the best parts about visiting Farley Hill is that right across the street is the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. While I have not yet gone, I’ve heard amazing things about it and when I visited wild life reserves in South Africa last November, they were one of the best highlights of the trip. 

The moral of the story here is don’t be afraid to try things that are totally different from your routine at home. You never know what experiences will find you. 



Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017:

Sweden | What You Need to Know Before Studying Abroad in Lund 



Deciding to study abroad is a big decision—let alone trying to determine where you are going to study. Somewhere where you ski on your weekends? Somewhere where you can travel to different countries easily? Somewhere where you can learn a new language or maybe you want to test out the language skills you learned in high school? I know before I studied abroad, I had a lot of questions I wanted answered, and for many of these questions, it was difficult to find a clear answer. In this blog, I will endeavor to answer some of the questions I had before coming here. 

Are classes offered in English, or are you expected to speak Swedish in your courses? 

At Lund University, luckily, there are courses offered in English. If you want to test your Swedish skills, courses in Swedish are available. There are also language courses you can take throughout your time in Lund in order to become proficient in the Swedish language. 

Do I have to take any language classes while I am here? 

UCEAP requires you to take an introductory language course while you are at Lund University. This class only takes two weeks. If you arrive in the fall, this class will not interfere with your regular classes. If you arrive during the spring semester, there will be a week of overlap between your regular semester courses and the language program. Note: it does say that the Swedish language course (SUSA) is optional on Lund University’s website. However, this does not apply to UCEAP students. Unlike for other international students who are attending Lund University, this program mandatory. If you are worried about the class, you can take it pass/fail instead of for a letter grade. 

Do I need to use Swedish in everyday life? 

Because Lund is a college town, most people speak English. At the stores or on campus, you just merely have to say “English,” and the person you are talking to will flawlessly switch into English. Every once and a while, there will be a language barrier (especially once you head out of town); however, most places have at least one person who can speak to you in English. If there isn’t, you can always use Google Translate. I get around just fine without knowing how to speak Swedish. However, learning how to read a little Swedish (which you’ll learn in your SUSA class) is helpful for figuring out buildings, grocery shopping, and reading signs. 

I have no idea what Swedes eat besides meatballs. How does the food compare to America? 

The food is not what I was expecting. Every corner has falafel, burgers, or pizza, so the food is pretty typical from an American point of view. There are lots of cafes and a few Asian restaurants.  The biggest difference is in the grocery stores. There is a lot more pork and cheese for sale than back home. So, if you like pork and cheese, you are heading to the right place. 

How does housing work? Am I guaranteed a place to live, or am I expected to find my own housing in a foreign country? 

Not all international students are guaranteed housing, but, as a UCEAP student, you are guaranteed housing. You do not have to accept your housing offer through LU Accommodations, but I highly recommend doing so. The housing market in Lund is extremely competitive, and you don’t want to risk not having housing when you arrive. 

What kind of money do they use in Sweden? How do I get some Swedish money? 

Sweden operates on Swedish Crowns (krona). This is abbreviated as SEK. This is different than what they use in neighboring Nordic countries, so if you are taking a day trip to Copenhagen, keep in mind that some places may not take SEK. To get Swedish Crowns, you have three options: bring it from home, exchange money at the exchange office near the Lund Cathedral, or draw out money from the ATM (which are located throughout town). Some of the nations also may give you cash back if you use your credit card, but unlike in the U.S., grocery stores do not give you cash back. 

Sweden is freezing, right?  

Sweden is quite cold, especially if you are used to southern Californian weather. So far, the warmest it has been since I’ve arrive is 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Most the time in the winter the temperature hovers around freezing, so you will need a warm jacket. It doesn’t get too much colder than 30 degrees, so you don’t have to be as bundled up as you may think. It snows fairly frequently in the wintertime and rain is not unusual, so be sure to pack an umbrella. If you can’t stand cold weather, unfortunately this is not the place for you. However, if you love snow, rain, and cloudy days, Lund is perfect for you. 

I need to conduct research to stay on track with my program. Is there research offered? 

Research is offered at Lund University, but it may not be set up in the way you are used to. Unlike the UC schools, getting a research position is generally not a formal process. In order to become involved with psychology research, I emailed a variety of professors whose work seemed interesting and asked if they had any research I could be a part of. There is no general listing of open research positions (at least not for psychology students), so you have to be a little more resourceful than back in the states. 

Do you have time to travel while you are taking classes? 

Classes are quite a bit different than back home. As a social science major, I only have class one to three times a week. Most of the work for my classes (Political Science and Psychology) consists of take home exams and take home assignments. As long as you are good at staying on top of your work, you should have plenty of time to travel. If you are in the harder sciences, you will have class more frequently; however, many of these classes have breaks. Since so many countries in Europe are close to Sweden, it is practical to travel on your weekends and study during the weekdays. 

Sweden | Visiting the Nation’s Capital


How Do I Get There? 

You have three options to get to Stockholm from your residence in Lund—train, bus, or airplane. You can easily find a flight to Stockholm from Copenhagen (about a 40-minute train ride away from Lund) or Malmö (about a 10 minute train ride away from Lund). If you choose not to fly, you can take the bus, which is the cheapest, but also longest way to travel to Stockholm Central Station. I chose to take the SJ Train from Lund Central Sation to Stockholm. On the SJ Train, you can choose to take the day or night train. While the night train takes longer, you have the option of staying in a sleeping car. I chose to stay in a sleeping car because the ticket is not significantly more expensive and saves you a night at an Airbnb or hotel. Keep in mind, the train arrives around 06:00, so if you are not an early riser, this is not for you. 

Things to Do: 

Take a Boat Tour Around the Archipelago 

Stockholm offers many boat and canal tours during the late spring and summer months. During the winter, these tours are limited, but it is still possible to find one or two still running. I highly recommend taking a boat around Stockholm. Stockholm consists of a series of islands, so the only way to grasp its full beauty is to explore it by boat. Many of the smaller islands are only accessible by boat. 

 Explore the Why the Vasa Sank at the Vasa Museum 

The Vasa was a well adorned Swedish warship that sank during its maiden voyage. The brackish waters around Sweden kept the ship well preserved even though it is nearly 400 years old. It is one of the top places to visit in Stockholm, and there is no question why. You can see the intricate carvings of figurines around the ship’s hull, see pieces of the sails that are still intact, and read about the lives of the passengers that were lost when the ship sunk. The museum is several stories tall, so you can see the ship from all angles. 

Visit Storkyrkan (The Great Church) 

Although admittedly unimpressive on the outside, Storkyrkan is breathtaking once you go inside. Some areas are only for silent prayer and reflection. So if you are going in just to sightsee, be mindful of what section you are in. 

Walk Through the Royal Palace 

Stockholm’s Royal Palace is home to a seemingly endless number of ornately decorated rooms. Each room is adorned with antique furniture, royal portraits, and artfully done architecture. Don’t forget to look up! Many of the ceilings have murals, and some of them even have Greco-Roman sculptures incorporated into them.  If you’re lucky, you might even catch the changing of the guard. During the ceremonial changing of the guard, the military’s marching band plays, and there is a parade. The entire procession can last up to 40 minutes, so if you come during the early afternoon, you should be able to catch at least part of it. Check the times of the changing of the guard before heading to the Royal Palace because it can be quite difficult to see if you don’t find a good area before the crowds start forming. 

Explore the World Without Sight in the Invisible Museum 

The Invisible Museum is something I highly recommend to all travelers. The Invisible Museum is dedicated to help the general population better understand what is it like to lose part or all of your sight. The tour starts by using a typewriter-like device to spell your name in Braille. Next, you are lead into a pitch black room. After you start, you can’t any sources of light. But don’t worry, you’ll have a tour guide to lead you around so you don’t get lost. Throughout the course of the tour, you’ll go through several simulations of daily life, like walking through a house, ordering food, or crossing a street—all while being unable to use your vision at all. After the tour in the dark is finished, you can put on a blindfold and try to do different puzzles and board games that are adapted for blind people. This museum is truly amazing for starting to understand what its like to live without your sight. Please note: if you don’t speak Swedish, you’ll have to book a tour in advance to have it in English. 

Learn About Sweden’s War-Filled Past at the Army Museum 

If you are a war-buff or love weaponry, this is the museum for you. Although modern Sweden is known for being a peaceful and neutral nation, its past was filled with various wars between the Nordic countries and Russia. This museum contains various wartime artifacts from before the 17th century to present day. At the beginning of the museum, you can explore the expansion and restriction of the Swedish kingdom. You can see firsthand the medieval flags and banners that soldiers risked their lives to protect. Eventually, you enter the 20th century, when Sweden officially proclaimed it was “neutral.” However, this did not stop the state from being well prepared in case of war, especially during the Second World War.  The museum ends with a collection of present-day guns, including some (of course unloaded) ones that you can touch and hold. 

 Experience Nordic Culture in the Nordic Museum 

The Nordic Museum is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in Nordic culture—both past and present. The museum has a collection of Nordic clothing, toys, and furniture. Additionally, you can learn about how table settings have evolved based on both time period and occasion. The museum also has a temporary display. When I visited, it was a simulation of the Northern Lights, which you can see from the Northernmost Nordic regions.  

See the Whole City at Skyview 

Skyview is located at the Ericsson globe— the largest spherical building in the world. Once there, you can go in one of two spherical pods that travel to the top of the globe. These pods offer panoramic views of the city, so if you want to see Stockholm from a bird’s eye view—this is the best place to go. 

Christine Pahel studied abroad in Lund, Sweden, in Spring 2017:

Sweden | Things to Do in Malmö


Get Your Residence Permit 

Prior to arriving at Lund University, UCEAP students are required to apply for a residence permit. While all the paperwork is completed back at your home university, it is in Malmö where you finish applying for the residence permit. The immigration office is most easily accessible by bus. I recommend taking an interregional bus straight there instead of transferring from the train. At the immigration office in Malmö, students have their biometrics taken. After a short waiting period, successful applicants will receive their permit in the mail. Note: always carry your residence permit with you, especially when traveling. Immigration officers may ask to see it, and if you have surpassed your 90-day period for being in the Schengen Zone, you’ll need to it prove that you have the right to stay longer because of your studies. 

See the Turning Torso 

The Turning Torso is a landmark of Malmö designed by Santiago Calatrava. This skyscraper definitely steals the horizon of Malmö. With its intricate twist, this architectural feat is difficult to miss. If you are unable to make the 25-minute walk from Malmö Central Station to the seaside where the building is located, don’t worry. You should be able to steal a glimpse of the building from many locations throughout town, especially near Malmohus.

Shop at IKEA 

In Sweden, IKEA products are everywhere. 95% of the furnishings in my apartment, from the bed to every last piece of silverware, are from IKEA. The first few weeks here, I noticed that the glasses throughout town looked remarkedly the same until I realized: they are all from IKEA. Whether you need to furnish your barren bathroom or just want to design your dream apartment, you are bound to go to IKEA during your time in Sweden. Take a break during your shopping to enjoy some Swedish food in the café. It is one of the few places I’ve been able to find Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce. Unfortunately, there is no IKEA in Lund, so you’ll have to travel to Malmö if you want to go to IKEA. Luckily, Malmö Syd Svågertorp station drops you off right outside of IKEA. 

Walk through Slottstradgarden 

 Slottstradgarden is adjacent to Malmöhus Castle. I recommend stopping here either before or after your visit to the Castle. It has a charming Swedish windmill and wide open spaces for reading a book, taking a walk, or playing Frisbee with some friends. 

Relax in Kungsparken 

Kungsparken is a large park that is also adjacent to Malmöhus Castle. The park has quaint streams and a large pond that are gorgeous to look at. It also has large spaces for playing sports and walking trails. 

See Malmöhus Castle 

 Malmöhus Castle is located by both Slottstragarden and Kungsparken. It still has its moat, though it is less intimidating when you see ducks swimming in it during the springtime.Visitors have the opportunity to explore the inside of the castle. Part of the castle has been retrofitted as different exhibits, including a natural history museum. At the natural history section of the museum, you can explore the formation of earthquakes, see a collection of taxidermied animals from around the world, and explore the skeletons of various wildlife. The natural history museum is geared towards being family friendly, so it’s a good place to take visiting relatives. In addition to the natural history museum, the castle contains an aquarium. The aquarium hosts both fresh and salt water marine life including seahorses and jellyfish. It even has a nursery section where you can see baby fish and other aquatic species. When exploring the aquarium, see if you can find Nemo and Dory! The castle also has an art exhibit that contains antique furniture and paintings. If you prefer modern art, there are also modern art exhibits as well. If open, there is a conference like room off to the side of the art exhibit that hosts a magnificent organ. If you are lucky, you might be able to steal a peak at it. After the art exhibit, there is a temporary exhibit section of the castle. When I went, it was on the Romani people.The castle also lets you explore the guard towers. You can walk around the tower, peering outside like the guards once did. On your way towards the next part of the museum, the hallway gets dark and you can barely see the museum poster in front of you. If you turn on your flashlight on your phone to better see the museum description, you might notice something in your peripheral vision—a skeleton still bound by chains. Without a flashlight, the skeleton is practically impossible to see, making you wonder what the conditions were like in this prison portion of the castle. The last section of the castle has a warning that it isn’t for children—this is the section focusing on the prison. The first room has a wall of photos of past prisoners. As you continue, you learn about the rats and lice that invested the buildings. The attempts to scare you with dramatic music and enlarged photos of lice were a little brought down by the adorable mouse playing on its hamster wheel in the same section. As you moved on, you learn about the people who were executed in the castle. Warning: this section really isn’t for children. The room is dark, filled with gruesome stories, and in the background you can hear a guillotine dropping and the sound of it chopping. This dark section is the last section of the castle open to visitors. 

Remember the Past in Gamla kyrkogården 

Gamla kyrkogården is a graveyard from the early 1800s and is still being used to this day. While that may not sound like somewhere fun to visit, it has the atmosphere of a park. Many people walk through or relax there during a sunny day. 

Shop at Triangelm Mall 

Triangelm mall is easily accessible by train from Lund. Whether you are looking for jewelry, home goods, restaurants, or a dress for a ball, this mall has it all. If Nova Lund doesn’t have what you are looking for, I suggest checking here next. 


Christine Pahel studied abroad in Lund, Sweden, in Spring 2017:

Sweden | How is Lund Different From UCLA? 



 Lund University is Not a Unified Campus 

Lund University is spread throughout the town in little clusters in place of being one continuous campus. This means there is no one campus housing, but this also means that you can live practically anywhere in the city and still be close to a part of campus (and its WiFi!). 

No Sports Teams 


Well, sort of no sports teams. Some nations have the equivalent of our intermural sports teams, but there are no football teams or even soccer teams. People still cheer for Swedish professional sports teams, and in the mall you can even find American baseball hats (though much to my disappointment, no SF Giants). If you are a sports addict, sorry, this probably isn’t the place for you. However, if you want a place that values education before athletics, this is the right place. The campus doesn’t even have a gym. There are gyms located through the city and free outdoor gyms for those who like to work out. 

You Call Professors by Their First Name 

This really threw me at first because it’s something I’d never think about doing back home. However, the Swedish educational system is pretty informal. In class and via email, you are expected to call professors by their first name, not by their title. To them, this is a way of insuring that in the classroom you feel that you are being treated like a peer in the field compared to just a student. 

There Aren’t Any Protests On Campus 

Granted, UCLA does not protest nearly as much as UC Berkeley, but I am still used to seeing protests as I walk to class. In Lund, or Sweden in general, this would be incredibly rare to see. I heard that Swedes only protest one day a year. While I doubt this is true, the fact that I’ve only seen one group protest during my time here makes it pretty convincing to believe. Instead of being active for your cause through protests, Swedes favor discussing concerns. Even this isn’t very commonplace though because many Swedes are expected to keep controversial thoughts more or less to themselves (Sweden is a country that promotes unanimous decisions). 

It’s Freezing 

Literally, quite often. If you came to Sweden and didn’t expect cold weather, you made a big mistake. While it’s not always freezing, it doesn’t exactly get warm either. It’s spring time as I write this, and people are still going around downtown with heavy and down jackets in the middle of the day. Unless you have a high tolerance for cold and windy weather, you probably won’t be getting much use out of those pair of shorts you packed.  

No Flyering 

UCLA is notorious for Bruinwalk—an area where student groups hand out flyers to recruit people to join their clubs and come to their events. The major downside to this is that Bruinwalk is constantly littered with flyers from people who were too polite to say no and flyers that were blown away in the wind. In Lund, people are never handing out flyers. There are posters on the walls of buildings advertising events and occasionally some group outside with a table, but no flyering. Sweden highly prioritizes the environment so no flyering also means no litter. 


Lund, and Sweden, love breaks. In a two hour class, more likely than not you’ll have a 10-15 minute break. For every hour of class after that, expect another equally long break. Throughout the day, people are expected to take fika breaks and enjoy some coffee and some nice sweets. Even at work, people still have several fika breaks throughout the day. 

The Age of the City  

It’s shocking how much history surrounds you in Lund. Lund was created before Copenhagen was even considered a main city. The cathedral in the center of town dates back from the mid-1000 A.D. The local museums have medieval relics from the surrounding areas. Next to the Main University Building, there is a little mound surrounded by stones with Nordic runes written on them.  One day walking back from campus, I found church ruins located within an average looking building. You’ll never know what you’ll find. 

Education is Free (for Citizens) 

Many Swedes and other international students don’t understand why I spend so much on college. In Sweden, university is not only free, but students get paid to attend. Unfortunately, as an exchange student, you still have to pay tuition. EU students studying in Sweden also receive a free education. So, if you are an EU citizen and fall in love with Sweden, you have the opportunity to complete your Master’s program there free of charge.  

Grades Aren’t on a Bell Curve 

In Sweden, curves aren’t a thing. Before you get terrified, this works to your benefit. They aren’t on a curve because they don’t need to be on a curve. I had to explain to a Swedish student that our tests are usually designed so grades naturally (or artificially through curving) fall on a bell curve. In Sweden, if you do a good job, regardless of how other students do, you’ll probably get a good grade. On my first midterm in my psychology class, approximately one-third of the class received As. In one of my friend’s engineering classes, only one person in his entire class failed the course. 

 If You Fail, It’s Not a Big Deal (for Lund University Students) 

At Lund University, professors offer retakes for all their exams—usually more than one. This is without needing a doctor’s note or needing to retake the class. If a student failed, they just merely retake it. No questions asked and no consequences. Before you start thinking that you can slack off during your time here and miss a few of the exams, this policy doesn’t apply to UCEAP students, even if they are in a course with other LU students. The same policy as back home applies: if you fail a class the first time or miss an exam, it still counts as an F on your transcript. So don’t miss any exams, even if other students and professors say you can. 

Christine Pahel studied abroad in Lund, Sweden, in Spring 2017:

Sweden | Sweden versus The United States of America



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: