The cultural mix among students at Lund University forms a part of the University’s wealth. Students should recognise and utilise this invisible wealth, writes columnist Saahil Waslekar.
Probably for many of us, the very first thought associated with culture is country. As international students, we are naturally curious about each other’s backgrounds. Although, a country is merely defined by political borders and culture can either be diverse or different.
Students learn about each other through several vertical checkpoints. The most basic includes, ‘where are you from, what are you studying and for how long are you in Lund’. This legitimate ice breaker opens the door to further mutual understanding. Gradually, friends begin noticing finer details. These details include, food and outing preferences, manner of speech and even action and reaction to situations, among other observations. As each person is unique and we land up making many friends in Lund, it becomes increasingly evident when a friend establishes culture, either as a point of exchange or as a protective shield.
Culture, is usually discussed just after the ice breaker. It serves as a catalyst that transforms curiosities into confirmations. Beyond this point, the actual diversity in culture is most commonly visited through lunch and dinner gatherings where traditional home served recipes are imitated using Swedish ingredients. A gentle ‘skal’, ‘ganbei’, ‘sante’ or ‘brindis’ follows. An individual cannot be made up entirely of his or her cultural traits. Using, ‘but in my culture’, confirms, though indirectly, that the friend recognises to be different owning to culture. If this happens too often, you might want to reconfirm your friendship status.
All those who like to remind that their culture is different are chameleons. A chameleon is the most common known lizard to camouflage. Just like a chameleon such individuals prefer to be known only on the surface, using culture as a protective layering. On the contrary, we find polar rabbits. These are those students who like to share the less known colourful splendours of their culture and maybe a secret or two about themselves. Finally, there are students who do not recognise the culture mix in Lund, instead, only country. These students spend all their time with fellow students from their home country.
At Lund University, the cultural mix makes it impossible for there to be one definite colour. The mix produces umpteen beautiful colours. All of which should be experienced.
Then again, what is colour, if not visible?