Here’s the facts: Swedes are a pretty environmentally conscious bunch. In fact, here in Växjö the city bills itself as the “Greenest City in Europe.” Since 2000, the city has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 34 percent, and is a center for alternative energy research and development.
But most students I know don’t work in the field of green energy, and are usually – ahem – just a little on the financially strapped side. But the fact that Linnaeus University is the only “American-style” campus (where everything, including housing, is in one place) in the country sure helps for those who want to make a difference.
Let’s be honest: living on campus has a lot of advantages. First, there’s the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable (though usually not advisable from a fashion standpoint) to wake up three minutes before class, forget the shower, and arrive wearing your pajamas – what I like to call good time management. And second, with the number of transportation options available, saving the environment is not only possible, but can be fun too.
So without further adieu, I present to you Ben’s Campus Transportation Guide 2011. Let’s take a look:
Go anywhere in Sweden and you’ll see what amounts to just about everyone, their brother, and their dog Spot riding bicycles. Seriously, according to Bike Europe, more than 500,000 bikes were sold in 2009 alone – meaning about one in every 20 Swedes bought a new bike. And why not? They’re fast, easy to maneuver, and unlike back in the United States not likely to get stolen if you use a lock. Plus, nothing says “Swedish style” like a bright, shiny red bicycle with a basket in front, the purpose of which I am yet to decipher with the advent of the backpack. The problem, though, is that they’re usually pretty expensive, and as I can personally attest, not very fun to ride in the snow.
Advantages: Fast, easily maneuverable, stylish
Drawbacks: Expensive (starting at around 500:- for a low-quality one), uncomfortable in wintry weather and rain, dangerous (need I explain why?)
When you’ve got time and want to get exercise – or are too uncoordinated to ride a bike – nothing beats hoofing it. It’s a great way to explore campus (especially at Linnaeus, where nearby are some of the prettiest forests on earth), and unlike other modes of transportation you can actually hold a conversation while moving. And in terms of staying in shape, you burn about 189 calories per hour taking a casual stroll at a pace of about five kilometers an hour. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes – high heels or snowshoes are usually not recommended.
Advantages: Easy, allows for conversation, good exercise
If you have to burn fossil fuels, and want to stay warm when travelling long distances in nasty weather, then you might as well take the bus. Buses in Sweden are safe, reliable, and decently fast. They’re usually on-time, and have many stops so you don’t have to go all the way across town to find the nearest one. However, they are often quite expensive (in Växjö, an adult ticket is 20:-, and good for only two hours), with infrequent service nights and weekends.
Advantages: Quick, travel long distances, reliable
Drawbacks: Expensive, infrequent service some nights and weekends
There’s a plethora of other transportation options available, ranging from the somewhat common (skateboards, scooters) to the bizarre (roller skates, pogo sticks). All have their own advantages and disadvantages (particularly roller skates, which require shedding every drop of human dignity). Use at your own discretion.
Overall, there’s nothing quite like living on campus. It’s fun, exciting, and as you’ve probably heard just a few times, life’s a journey, not a destination. And with the above ways of getting around campus, you can make that journey quite an experience.
Or you can take online courses. Couch potatoes rejoice.