Vendela Källmark, editor-in-chief at Tidningen Lundagård, Lund University’s student magazine in Sweden, reflects on her day at work.
My alarm clock wakes me up at 7am. I listen to the news, half asleep. Once I get up, I get dressed, brush my teeth and take a walk to get to the train. I read a book, listen to a podcast or write my diary on the train. I use my noise-cancelling headphones to keep other people’s voices out of my head. I am tired.
I live in Malmö, a city which is internationally known for its extensive gang violence, explosions and very visible drug dealing. Someone called Malmö “The Chicago of Sweden.” Which is a laughable exaggeration, at least for anyone who is not a member of a gang. Malmö is a multicultural haven, with a lot of restaurants, and the ocean is very close by. I live in the middle of what is sometimes considered the ”worst part” of Malmö – but I have never felt more unsafe there than anywhere else.
Malmö is approximately 15 minutes by train from Lund, where the university where I have studied, and now guard through the student magazine, is located.
Lund is a city where I have fallen in love, been heartbroken time and again (at least I thought so) – and then fell in love again. I have been drunk and hungover. Received good grades on exams, and less good ones. I’ve lived through moments of exhaustingly hard work and light moments of joy. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as they say.
Since July 1, 2019, I have been working as the editor at Tidningen Lundagård, which is the student magazine of Lund University. It is a full-time job and for the first time in the magazine’s history we have three full-time female editors.
Lundagård was founded by a Swedish philosopher named Gunnar Aspelin. This was in 1920, which makes Lundagård Sweden’s oldest student magazine. This year, Lundagård is celebrating its 100th year of publication, which we will acknowledge with a ball on Sweden’s National Day, June 6. We have invited former editors and editorial staff. We also invited the king and hope he’ll be able to make it.
The paper is issued eight times a year, and we publish articles on the website daily. We currently have about 80 volunteers who write, photograph and illustrate for the magazine.
My two colleagues and I were elected in April 2019. That day was dreadful. I usually try to hide how dramatic I really am while at work, but I’ve read Brené Brown and I know that showing yourself vulnerable is the way to real success, so here goes. It felt like my stomach would turn inside and out. The hour before the meeting where we would be elected (or not!) I locked myself in a public bathroom and listened to Enya’s “May It Be” on repeat for what felt like hours. I looked to the ceiling, I held my own hand. I was dreaming and suffering from the thought that my dream might be taken away from me that very day.
Something I wished for so longingly in the past has now become my everyday life.
Working here has its moments – like choosing interview items, preparing questions, and interviewing them. For example, Horace Engdahl, who is a somewhat controversial member of the Swedish Academy (the ones who choose who’ll receive the Nobel Prize in literature), or comedian Jonatan Unge, who was named Sweden’s funniest man in 2019.
There are also less fantastic moments. Like when the economy is slow. When the hours of work exceed ten hours, even twelve, or when you recognize that one typo which then forever imprints on your reputation. At least it feels that way.
But most days are honestly like every other day.
When I come to the office in the morning, I drink a cup of coffee. If I’m lucky there is some kind of milk in our little fridge. I eat a crispbread sandwich (knäckebröd) with butter at my desk, swallow vitamin supplements and exchange a few words with my colleagues.
As I sit in my desk chair and wait for the computer to start, I look out the window. If I’m lucky, I can see the cathedral tower, Domkyrkan, through the window. Sometimes it is difficult to see clearly, especially during the dark months from November to February. Then you only see the contours of the towers, like dark shadows against the deep blue sky.
Our round office is located in the tower of AF Borgen, which is a building that was built by and for students and was completed in 1851. Our office has been here since the newspaper was founded in 1920. On the walls we have illustrated caricatures of former editors and during the summer of 2021, portraits of me and my colleagues will also adorn the wall.
In winter, it is a very cold room, and all-year-round, it is a difficult room to furnish. Still, most people who step over the threshold burst out: “it’s so nice in here!” For those who spend all of their time in it, the room loses some of its charm. But sometimes, when the crows fly outside of our window, or the sun sets between the two towers of Domkyrkan, or we have an inspiring meeting, I have to agree. It is a beautiful location.
I have been writing for Lundagård since spring 2017. At that time, I studied Theatre Theory and Practice at Teaterhögskolan in Malmö. I remember that my first text in Lundagård was supposed to be about Siste April/Valborg, a big celebration for the students as they celebrate spring and its light. No matter the weather the students gather outdoors and have a picnic in the park, drink beer and attend any of the hundreds of events that usually take place that day. I was supposed to write about the weather and interview a meteorologist, väder-Nils or “Weather Nils.” I talked to him on the phone, but since it was several weeks until the end of April, he couldn’t say very much about the weather forecast. The article became some kind of portrait of Väder-Nils and his experience of Siste April/Valborg in Lund. What’s a girl to do?
I decided to submit my contribution at deadline. I was somehow pleased with it, since the circumstances weren’t really in my favour. But as anyone who has had an editor (or parent) knows, excuses are not an attractive appeal. When I got the document back from the former editor Linus Gisborn, it was completely marked in red. Apparently, it wasn’t good enough. I had to try again. And again. And again.
Over time, I got fewer comments, fewer red marks, and soon even uplifting words! Now I hand out marks like free candy. I comment as if I’ve never done anything else. My ambition is to make them grow, just as I know I have grown as a writer.
All in all, being an editor at Lundagård is a very stressful job. The feeling that you always have something more to do, or should do, can sometimes be overwhelming. But with help from our wonderful volunteers – honestly, I am so impressed by some of you – we manage to get by. And when everything goes well, or someone tells you that what you have written was engaging, or disturbing, or, I don’t know, comforting, it feels like you have done something that was worthwhile. And that means nothing less than everything to me.