A new adventure has just started! Moving to Halmstad, Sweden got me really excited because I have yet to explore the northern part of Europe. Since I am from Austria, which is a landlocked country in central Europe, moving to Sweden might not sound like a big change, but moving to a city on the west coast with sea access is definitely a unique experience for me. I’m ready for the next 4 months here!
Well, let’s start at the beginning..
I’ll be an exchange student in Halmstad during my master program. Travelling to Sweden by plane and train went quite smoothly. I flew to Copenhagen actually, and then took the train over the Öresund bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden by crossing the Sea. How cool! Cars were going on the top platform and the train was going on a platform right beneath the cars. This was the first time I had to show my passport to the police on the train and it was quite an experience crossing the border while being on a bridge over the Sea. It was a beautiful train ride going north from Malmö towards Halmstad. I was watching my first Swedish sunset while trying to catch a few words of the Swedish language. As I was listening to the other passengers speak, I noticed that Swedish is somewhat similar to German. However, I’m looking forward to my Swedish course so I can talk to Swedes as well.
What I’ve enjoyed the most during my first three days in Halmstad was visiting the Tylösand beach. It’s a long sandy beach and even more beautiful than I anticipated. This area is surrounded by an exquisite golf club and several villas and the locals visit this beach regularly. I was also told by a Halmstad local that every year many people from the east coast of Sweden visit Tylösand. The people here are especially proud of their west coast and frequently say: “Västkusten = Bästkusten”, which means “Westcoast = Bestcoast.” I can’t wait to find out what locals from the east coast say about that. I’ll let you know once I find out.
It is my first time at the North Sea and I must say that I’m very impressed by this beach. Even the way leading up to the beach with a little walkway made out of wood was magical. I could already feel the sand between my toes on these little wood boards and was too excited to finally step into the white sand.
A little breeze was letting my hair fly and when I was finally walking through the sand I felt very much at ease. There were not many people at the beach that day and it felt so peaceful. The weather was also wonderful. We had around 20° Celcius, blue sky, and sunshine. I’ve very much enjoyed this day on the beach with my roommate and can’t wait to go back there to have a picnic or a run on the beach.
I also found out that there are several nice restaurants and bars along this beach, which I have yet to explore. Also, I’ve heard about the Mellbystrand, which is also really close to here as well. This beach is 12km long and therefore the longest sandy beach in Sweden.
Since I’m about to start my semester here at Högskolan i Halmstad (Halmstad University), I’d like to tell you all about a very fun and special tradition that many Swedish Universities have. It is called Nollningen. It is similar to what other schools call Frehsmen Week. “Noll” means “Zero” and stands for Freshmen, who have Zero credits at Halmstad University. Nollningen takes place on and around campus and lasts for 10 full days. As you can imagine, right now on day 4, I’m already pretty exhausted.
But still, this is such an exciting and unique experience that I want to share it with YOU.
At Nollning each program/department/subject area (however you may want to call it) has their own colors, which they wear as a team. There is always a head crew, who are like our guides and who also organize and plan everything for us, and the other group members are the “Zeros.” This tradition helps to build a team and usually results in many new friendships. All the different programs have to follow certain rules and should participate on all 10 days, in order to get the most out of it. However, this is a voluntary event. The groups compete against each other in games, they have their own chants that they shout and songs that they sing, they have their own team spirit and pride.
Now to the head crew, that I’ve mentioned before. They are usually older members of the different programs, who have earned their respect. There is always a General, a Sergeant, and a “Straffmästare” (punish master). The General is the most important one above all the other ones, the Sergeant is very important as well and the Punish Master makes sure that we are always on time and makes us dance or sing funny if we don’t obey one of the rules. There are several other members as well, such as a Mom who takes care of us, a Playmate who plays games with us, and so on. This is what our X-Change Crew looks like:
Btw, X-Change stands for us Exchange Students Needless to say, these past few days have been a ton of fun here in Halmstad and I’m very much looking forward to the next few days of Nollning. If you think about studying abroad in Sweden, I would like to encourage you to take part in these Freshman Events since this is the time when you make life-lasting friendships.
I’m also very excited about the next few months in Sweden and that I’ll be able to share my experiences with you. Stay posted about all the other cities I’m going to visit around here. And I can already tell you that I’ll also visit the very North and hopefully cuddle with some Reindeer and maybe even get a glimpse of the Northern Lights.