A matter of perspective

Do foreign people suddenly become deaf upon arriving in Lund? Does a quiet or noisy city feel safer? Everything is relative. ”Safety depends on the eye of the beholder”, says Lundagårds student life columnist Catalina Ordoñez.

I have an inside joke with my foreign friends who used to live with me in Lund. We said that the first impression of living there is that you have become deaf. Everything is silent. The streets, the stores, the school. I come from a big city in Colombia where the noise from people and traffic is everywhere at anytime. Silence is rare and even a sign of insecurity.

So, I was relieved when I moved to Helsingborg. My first day was New Year’s Eve, and I enjoyed the loud fireworks for a few hours. Celebration and noise was everywhere. People, cars, parties, music. Suddenly, I wasn’t deaf anymore.

A few months later, an acquaintance texted me about her concerns to come and live in a student accommodation in Helsingborg. Someone had told her to choose a place in the north, instead of the southern part of the town – in the ‘favelas’ of Helsingborg. I laughed out loud at the ridiculous comparison and assured her that it was not true. Whoever said that has never been to a Latin American slum.

But the idea kept haunting me. Was I in danger? Is Helsingborg as dangerous as they say? A simple Google search link south Helsingborg with words like ‘unsafety’, ‘vandalism’ and ‘crime’. I found that in 2018, the district was listed as the most unsafe area in the entire southern region of the country.

But something is not right. Contrary to everything my parents taught me when I was young, I have walked the street alone in the middle of the night and nothing has ever happened to me. I always felt safe. “What could happened? I’m in Sweden”, I usually think.

But as I refined my gaze a little more, I discovered some odd situations. The car noises I hear outside my window at midnight might not be random. They almost have a schedule every night. That suggested to me that there are illegal races taking place next to my building. And the corner store that stays open late into the night is likely to sell more than just cookies to fill those midnight cravings.

However, it is all speculation of course. Nothing gives me any indication of real crimes happening in my neighbourhood. So I decided to investigate further. I needed some perspective. I had to see with my own eyes why the south has this reputation, and how it is unlike the north.

The contrast between one neighbourhood and the other is obvious. You could see it in the houses, in the conditions of the streets, and in the people passing me. Back in the north, I felt deaf again.

I guess the perception of safety depends on the eye of the beholder. Maybe from my perspective the south is a safe area, full with crowded places and noisy people. It has some resemblance to my hometown.

Perhaps me, a Latina in sweatpants, walking down the streets in the north part of the city, can be intimidating or threatening for a Medelsvensson. Even though the most dangerous thing I can do is write about it.