When it came time for me to study abroad, I originally had plans to travel to Australia and study on the Gold Coast, but due to COVID, the program was canceled and I was forced to re-evaluate my options. As a substitute, I chose USAC’s study abroad program in Växjö, Sweden because it included the longest length abroad for the cheapest price. I did not do much research on Sweden or the town I was going to be living in but I was excited to step into unknown territory. I did not even think about the fact that I would be living in Europe where every country in the EU is as accessible as states in the United States, which really shaped my experience abroad.
Upon arrival in my new little hometown, I was surprised with how tiny it was which made me a bit nervous about how the next six months were going to go. To my relief, the building I lived in was filled with students from all over the world where everyone was in the same situation as me. I made friends quickly and from these friends, I have learned more life lessons and perspectives of the world than I ever could in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Another component I was concerned about was the Swedish education system. They divide the semester into four periods in which you are only supposed to take one course per period, but, to stay in line with my credits back home, I signed up for two to three courses per period. After attending some classes at the university, I soon came to realize that Swedes value mental sustainability and do not overwork their students (hence the one course per period), but coming from the United States, it was very easy to stay on task, so much so that it allowed me to travel once or twice a month for the whole six month program while still maintaining my grades. I have visited fifteen countries since January and my travels are continuing as I am backpacking through Europe this summer. I did not come to Sweden with much money and thought I would reach $0 much more quickly, and although I have a running countdown until that happens, I am still able to make traveling happen. A major takeaway I had from this experience is how little funding you truly need to see the world.
Share this post: