First of all, if you have any doubts or questions about whether or not to study abroad forget them now and just go for it. I went to Sweden for one semester, I spent 5 months in the country and I can promise you that those 5 months were the best months of my life! In part because things were new, and I was really excited to leave Tennessee, but many other things played a part in making this semester so great. The first thing and probably most obvious are the people. I’ve met some of the most amazing and incredible people while abroad. Friends for life without a doubt. When you go abroad no matter where you go you will find people, maybe even love in certain people. So be warned, this makes leaving very hard. But don’t think that this makes it not worth it, if anything the strength of friendships brings you back together and pushes you to far greater adventures and feelings than you ever thought were possible. And after all, if we have emotions in our very nature why should we even consider suppressing them or hiding from them. The love and connection alone that I experienced were well worth the cost of the program (and that’s not to mention everything else). I’ve had no greater feeling of being alive than feeling those relationships.
Now that all the sappy stuff is out of the way, we can talk about the place and the adventure of it all. I went to a small little coastal city in the south of Sweden called Kalmar. I am fully convinced that this is the greatest city in the entire world and don’t even try to change my mind. With a rich history and connection to nature this place just suits me. Every day in spring/summer was spent cycling around, playing beach volleyball, swimming in the sea, enjoying a fika (Swedish coffee break) and much, much more. The weather was outstanding also. Once the Swedish winter ended it was amazing to be outside and enjoying the sun (I have pretty much been sunburnt constantly since the end of March haha). This brings me to the culture. If you know nothing about Sweden, they are often considered “nearly perfect” and I really love the Swedish culture. I adapted to it almost instantly. Wherever your travels may take you, it is endlessly important to put effort into immersing yourself in the culture. I began learning the language when I got there and love conversing with people and ordering food in the native tongue. It helps so much with a good experience to be immersed in the native culture.
Last but not least, (actually it is probably the main reason for my studying in the first place) is the opportunity for travel. Not only are you living in another country, but you can explore and adventure in many other places as well. I am currently on a train going around Europe. But during my semester I took many trips to surrounding areas that I sadly do not have enough space to talk about. But it was awesome. In short, if you have any doubts, go for it. Step out. Feel. LIVE.
Chirstopher Hickman is majoring in Marketing. He spent a semester studying abroad in Kalmar, Sweden through USAC.
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