By Kathy Tse, Exchange to Lund University, Sweden
I just love food. Especially good food. So when I came over to Sweden, I had all kinds of expectation about food. I knew that Sweden was famous for their meatballs (köttbullar in Swedish), bread and desserts, but what I didn’t know was that in Lund, I would be able to taste all kinds of international dishes, as well as be able to network and establish connections with peers through these food events. And believe me, food plus talk is one good thing you can enjoy in life.
In one of my Swedish cultural studies classes (SASH 42-Swedish everyday life), we learnt that food serves as a social institution. It’s a way of bonding people together through the sharing of food, and it’s a way of establishing each others identity through the conversations that we partake in. Obviously, we learnt this because in Sweden, relationships are quite important to people. That’s why one of the most common everyday life activities a Swede or anyone living here could participate in is Fika.
Fika, in English, means, “to have a cup of coffee” but can also mean “having a coffee break with someone”. So to fika someone might mean that you are having a cup of coffee, enjoying some sweets, and having a conversation with a friend. These three components often come hand in hand, and having been here for almost two months now, all I can say is that I’ve been drinking more coffee than I have in ages. Cinnamon rolls too, for that matter (Did you know that cinnamon buns originated from Sweden? That’s why there is a Cinnamon Bun Day here, which just past last week on October 4th).
But most importantly, aside from the food and drinks, I’ve been bumping into a lot of interesting people this way. Since Lund University and the school nations (they are equivalent to school clubs) hold a number of events, such as International Dinner Nights, lunches, parties, sittnings (this is a Swedish student tradition where students sit together to enjoy a three course meal but sing drinking songs in between), and crayfish parties (this one just ended but it’s also a Swedish tradition during the end of summer where cold crayfish is served), there were numerous opportunities to learn about the culture and economy of other countries, improve my own networking skills, and just have plain fun eating, drinking, talking, and dancing. I also had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner just last week and it made me feel right at home.
So if you ever plan to travel abroad or go on exchange, and you would like to meet new people, just be sure to join their food events. It’s bound to be a conversation starter and you’re bound to have fun trying new food.
Oh so did I tell you how much I love cinnamon buns now?