Ida, Oskar, and Samuel are at TUM for an exchange stay via Erasmus+ in the winter semester 2021/22. The environmentally conscious Swedes traveled to Munich by train, because "when time is not an issue, it's the most convenient way". We talked to the three of them about their decision to go to TUM, their 24-hour journey, and what it means to be environmentally conscious in Germany and Sweden. And of course, we wanted to know whether the long journey was worth the effort.
You live together, if I understood correctly. Is it a coincidence that all three of you came to Munich?
Yes we live together, and we also applied for the apartment together but it was indeed a coincidence that we all came to Munich. We had not talked about it before we applied, but it was when we all were accepted that we found out of that we all were going here.
Why did you want to come to TUM in the first place?
We all had kind of the same reasons. We really thought Munich seemed as a very fun city to live in with interesting culture, and also that TUM is a very high standard university.
You said that you enjoyed traveling by train. Would you describe yourselves as sustainable and environmentally conscious in general?
Yes, we all are very sustainable environmentally conscious in general. All of us believe that sustainability is very important and we try to live as environmentally friendly as we can by recycling, minimizing the waste, eating less meat and so on.
Have you traveled a lot by train or bus before or have you also jumped on a plane?
We have travelled both by plane and train before when going abroad. For domestic trips however, we always go by train.
In your experience, who is generally more environmentally conscious? The Germans or the Swedes? What can one learn from the other?
We were actually surprised when we got here for how environmentally conscious the Germans are. We did not expect at all that it would be so much focus on sustainability at TUM and also how easy it is to get vegetarian foods for example. However we have not really gotten so much insight in the general attitude towards sustainable actions here in Germany but in our experience, it is easier to be environmentally conscious in Sweden. For example it is easier to recycle, the electricity comes from renewable energy and also the food culture contains less meat.
Why would you recommend your fellow students (from Europe) to travel by train?
Aside for doing the environment a favor, we believe that it really makes you appreciate the distance. The extra time it takes gives you time for building your expectations for when you arrive. It was more convenient than going by plane also, we never changed trains so we just went on from the train station just as any regular train, which was closer to the city center than the airports and arrived here at Hauptbahnhof right in the city center. Also, you can bring as much luggage as you can carry without the extra cost which is great when you are going away for a long time.
How could you motivate other students to travel abroad in a sustainable way?
Hopefully by reading this they will want to at least give it a try. When time is not a limiting factor, we believe going by train is the most convenient way! Also, you can feel proud of yourself since you do a good deed for the environment and society.
In the meantime you have been in Munich for a few weeks. How do you feel?
We feel great! It has really been a great experience so far. We have attended some TUMi events which were all very fun. We have met a lot of people and made friends with people from the whole world. This is going to be a great year!
So it was worth the trip?
Thanks to the three of you for the interview!