Scandinavian Studies students practice Swedish culture at Mälardalen University

Dec 14, 2011 | Student

60 students are currently enrolled in Scandinavian Studies at Mälardalen University. They have come to Sweden in order to study the Swedish language and Swedish culture. Our Lucia Day celebrations are a good example: every year, the students rehearse Swedish Lucia songs and perform a highly appreciated Lucia procession for the staff at the School of Education, Culture and Communication. This year was no exception, and 17 Scandinavian Studies students from all over the world participated in the procession.

- Our Scandinavian Studies students here at the University think it’s fun to learn about Swedish traditions and experience Swedish culture and history, says Victor Hennius, International Coordinator at the School.

In total, 100 students are enrolled in Scandinavian Studies at Mälardalen University, but 40 of them study in Barcelona. The students come from different places in the world, for example Germany, France, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Korea, and Italy. They have different backgrounds and interests – but they share an interest in the Swedish language, culture and history.
Prior to the Lucia procession, the students rehearsed 5-6 times. German Anna, who was one of the attendants to Lucia, doesn’t think it was that hard to learn the songs. She only needed to practice a few times, even though she had never celebrated Lucia before.

- We don’t celebrate Lucia in Germany, she says, but we do have Nikolaus: he comes in the night before 6 December and puts sweets into our shoes, though only if we’ve cleaned them – otherwise he’ll put in coal. Nikolaus is also celebrated at school.

Malin, who like Anna is from Greifswald in Germany, used to celebrate Lucia when she was a child, as her mother is from Sweden, but she never spoke Swedish at home. She doesn’t think there are as many traditions in Germany.

- We don’t celebrate Lucia or Midsummer, and we don’t have crayfish parties. But Christmas we celebrate, with Santa Claus and presents on the evening of 24 December and Christmas Mass at church, says Malin. In Germany, most people go to church at Christmas, even if they don’t do it during the rest of the year.

This year, both Anna and Malin will celebrate Christmas in Sweden. Anna’s parents are going to come and there’s going to be a really traditional Swedish Christmas, with baked ham and other Christmas food, in a cottage in Köping. Malin is going to celebrate with her mother’s relatives in Norrköping.

- It’ll be a vegetarian Christmas, so that’s going to be good, she says.

Just as many other Scandinavian Studies students, Anna and Malin had already studied Swedish in Germany and thus knew a little Swedish when they came to Sweden. The students’ proficiency varies, however, so each semester, three Scandinavian Studies courses on different levels are offered, so that everybody can find the most suitable for them.

- A great spirit of solidarity is developing among us international students, says Anna. All Scandinavian Studies students know each other, and many of us also spend some of our spare time together.