By Kathy Tse, Exchange to Lund University, Sweden
These past few weeks, in conjunction with my studies and weekend trips (since my last entry I’ve travelled to Stockholm (it is such a beautiful capital!) as well as Berlin and Hamburg of Germany. Tomorrow I will be heading to Gdansk and Warsaw of Poland!), I’ve also been training myself to do more of what I’ve never done in Vancouver before, which is biking! I know, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this too, but I’ve never been an outdoor person and biking was never something I had been motivated to try (my friends tried to teach me once but was quite unsuccessful). But when I arrived in Lund two months ago, my attitude towards biking changed.
At first, it was a bit of a sight for me that almost everyone in the city biked. I knew from previous exchange reports that many students bike and that Lund was a relatively easy city to get around to, but it never occurred to me that there would be any incentive for me to join the crowd. However, within the first week of orientation, almost half of the new students already bought a new or second hand bike, and within the second, almost all. I was asked as to why I didn’t purchase a bike, and I even remember hearing the former vice chancellor giving her one most important advice at the university’s welcoming ceremony, “Buy a bike!” It was indeed a moment of internal struggle before I finally decided to purchase one. Even though I didn’t know how to ride a bike at the time.
Of course, I later realized that although the city’s transportation system is relatively well, a bike in Lund is almost equivalent to a car in Vancouver (minus the speed). With a bike you have your own autonomy. You can go to places the bus might not be able to take you to and can have the flexibility of going wherever, whenever according to your own biking route. This seemed perfect for those who liked late night parties as well as those who liked to rush their way to class (you see this phenomenon especially early in the morning). It was also perfect for students because it was less costly than taking public transport or renting a car, and Lund actually has a very well biking infrastructure that contributed to their success as being rated as one of Sweden’s most environmentally conscious cities (You can watch a one minute news clip from BBC news : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8393475.stm). Oh, and as a result, the city doesn’t have any traffic jams, something I wish would happen in Vancouver!
So in the end, I became so impressed by the biking culture that I started joining the harmony and have been enjoying the rides through the streets, feeling quite healthy, accomplished that I learned something out of my usual comfort zone, and just having that extra bonus to my exchange program.