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: