Everyone is different. Every person on this earth has their preferences, hobbies, passions, opinions, etc. There are no two individuals who are completely the same, and that’s a great thing. Our differences are what makes us unique. However, there is one thing that I feel most us have in common. The one thing most people have in common is the desire to travel. I feel as traveling is one thing that everyone loves to do. Whether someone is just going a couple of states away or going to a whole new country; the excitement is always the same.
The downside to this incredible passion that everyone has is that sometimes it can be expensive and people might find it harder to afford trips, especially at a younger age. That shouldn’t stop people from traveling though because I firmly believe that traveling, especially to a different country, is something that EVERYONE should do at least once in their life. One way young adults can travel easily (I’ll make a separate post for people not in college) is to study abroad! Studying abroad is such an amazing experience and can open up so many opportunities for college students everywhere. I’m currently on my semester abroad, and it’s the best decision I could have done because if I hadn’t made this trip, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the time or money to travel until a few years after university.
Here are ten reasons why you SHOULD study abroad while you’re in university!
- Travel. I mean, this one is the most obvious one. While you are studying abroad, this is your time to shine and visit even more countries while you’re away! Don’t take this for granted and travel to as many places as you can while you’re away. It can be pretty cheap too if you do it correctly.
- Learn a new language and culture. One of the biggest reason why I wanted to study abroad is that I’ve always been interested in different cultures and languages. If this is something that you’re interested too, definitely go abroad! Especially if you go to a place where English isn’t the mother tongue; I think this makes things more interesting.
- Become more aware of the world. Not going to lie, before going abroad I didn’t know much about other countries and cultures. I was the American who only knew about America, and that was it. Since living in Sweden for a month, that has changed. My world view has changed so much over the past month, and I’m consistently learning new things!
- Become More Independent. There are plenty of ways to develop your independence. Heading off to university, getting your first apartment, etc. However, I think that studying abroad is the biggest way to boost your independence. When I left for college, I became more independent and did a lot of growing up. Since I left for my term abroad, my independence has skyrocketed. I’m not longer just a three-hour drive from home. I’m about an eleven-hour flight from home now and six hours ahead in time. That changes you and forces you to grow up even more because you’re parents and family aren’t just a car ride away anymore.
- Career Opportunities. Depending on what you’re studying, a term abroad can be what you need to make yourself stand out more for future internships or jobs. Employers love to see students who do a term abroad. It shows them that you can deal with different situations and leave your comfort zone.
- Making new friends! I love meeting new people; especially people from other countries. Studying abroad is a great way to make lifelong friends from all over the world! I made a great group of friends so far from Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, England and many more places!
- Learn more about yourself. Throwing yourself into a whole new environment is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and find out more about who you are as a person. While abroad you will quickly find out what you’re good at, what you’re not so great at, and what you should improve on!
- It can be cheap. Study abroad is probably one of the easiest ways to travel as a student. Between the help of financial aid and scholarships, all I had to pay for while abroad was my housing and own personal expenses. If you make a budget (and stick to it), it will be pretty easy to afford everything that you need.
- You’ll appreciate your home a lot more. Don’t’ get me wrong; I wasn’t ungrateful for all the things that I have in my life and for my life back home. But, you never how much you’ll miss certain things while you’re abroad. Like, the taste of certain foods or drinks.
- Live a dream. I know for many university students, traveling is a big dream. So, why not take advantage of study abroad? I know my term abroad has made multiple of my dreams come true.
Wow, it has officially been one month since I arrived in Sweden. Can you believe it? I know I can’t. I have been here for a full month, and it STILL doesn’t feel real. It seems like a dream, and sooner or later I will be woken up.
Since living in Sweden for a month, I have learned many different things. The majority of the things I have learned have been cultural differences between life here in Europe and life back home in America. I didn’t think there were going to be so many differences, but there are a good amount so far. Some of the differences are minor, while some came to a shock to me.
Here are the top 10 things I’ve noticed while living here in Sweden.
- Students bring their lunch in university. While there are places on campus to buy lunch, I’ve found that the majority of students here prep their meals at home and bring them to school with them. At university here, there is no meal plan. You either bring your lunch from home, or you can buy something from one of the restaurants or supermarkets that’s on campus. Except, don’t purchase the food on campus. It can be pretty expensive.
- Public transportation is nice. I’m from New York. Not the city, though. We don’t have public transportation unless you’re catching a bus or train into New York City. Otherwise, you’re either walking everywhere, biking, or driving. I’ve found that public transportation here is friendly and easy to use. I got my bus pass, and I can practically go anywhere I need to with the bus.
- Classes are not on a set schedule. Maybe I’m missing something here, or I did something wrong while setting up my timetable. But, I’ve noticed that my classes are not on a set schedule. Back at my home university, I would have two classes on Monday’s and Wednesday’s and then two on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. They would always be at the same time as well. It’s nothing like that here. I’m taking two classes this quarter, and they almost always start at a different time every day. Makes it a bit hard to plan your week, but I’ve been managing.
- Fikapaus är mycket populära. I threw in a bit of Swedish here for you (also because I need to practice, haha). Coffee breaks are very popular here. People drink a ton of coffee here, and it’s pretty common to go out with some of your friends during the day to grab some fika (coffee) and talk with each other. It’s an excellent time, and I thoroughly enjoy this a lot. It’s not like back in America where everything’s rushed, and you don’t get to enjoy your time with your friends. Here you sit down with your friends and just have a great time enjoying each others company.
- “You’re Welcome.” This phrase isn’t one I hear a lot here. After purchasing something, like coffee, I usually tend to say “thank you, ” and the barista would say “you’re welcome.” Well, while living here, I’ve noticed that when I say “thank you,” I usually get a “thank you” back. This confuses me a lot if I’m honest. I don’t know why it’s said back like this. I’ll have to ask my language professor this question, next class.
- Joggers/sweatpants ARE NOT for public. Alrighty, this one was probably the biggest shock for me. Back in America, it’s okay to go out to a store or classes in sweatpants or joggers. I would do it all the time if I didn’t feel like wearing jeans. That’s not the case here in Sweden (or most parts of Europe). People almost never go out in sweatpants or joggers. Those clothing items are for lounging around your house. You hardly ever see people wearing them out in public. I learned that lesson by attending class in joggers, and my friend (who lives in Europe) gives me a look and saying “you do know that in Europe, most people don’t wear joggers in public, right? They are only actually worn when you’re at home or going to the gym, etc.”. And since that day, I only actually wear my joggers in public when I’m heading to the gym.
- Drinking. We all know that America has a pretty high drinking age compared to most other countries. Like, Sweden for example. You can be 18 and order a drink from a restaurant or bar. I’ve never seen a university have a pub/night club on campus, though. At LTU (Luleå Tekniska Universitet) we have a place called STUK. It’s a student ran bar, pub, restaurant and nightclub. I don’t know if other universities in America have something like this on campus, but I know my home university doesn’t. Which is why I found this so interesting because I haven’t seen anything like this back in America.
- Grocery shopping is surprisingly cheap. Overall, living in Sweden can be cheap if you know how to manage your money (that’s something I’m still working on). There is a grocery store here called “Willy:s.” It’s the best place to grocery shop because it’s so cheap. I tend to buy the majority of my groceries for a month at a time, and it’s easy to do that there without spending a lot of money. This month I spent about $60 (about 535 KR) for a month of food. If I did a month of grocery shopping back in the US, with the amount of food I bought, it probably would have come out to over $100.
- Coffee shops have a more “homey” vibe to them. Back in America, I started drinking coffee once I got to college. Once I got to Sweden, I started drinking like twice the amount I use to because 1. It tastes good here, 2. It’s cheaper than America, and 3. Fikapuas with friends. Whether I’m enjoying a matcha latte at Wayne’s Coffee or a vanilla latte at the Espresso House, they have such a friendly and welcoming vibe to them. In America you order your coffee, get it in a to-go cup and leave. Here, if you stay you’re staying there to drink your coffee, they give you a real cup, and you can sit on the couch and enjoy your coffee peacefully. I tend to go to the Espresso House or Wayne’s Coffee when I want a change of scenery while doing homework. It’s wonderful!
- Winter here is a different type of cold. I was always the person who loved the cold back home. I never minded the cold back home because it wasn’t that bad. When I got to Sweden (during January), I experienced a new type of cold. It’s FREEZING here. I see people wearing ski pants while walking outside and now I understand why. Temperatures are supposed to drop to -15 F this week. Send help.
However, I am so glad that I pushed myself to study abroad because it has been on of the best decisions of my life so far. I’m so happy I picked Sweden as my destination, and I can’t wait to see what the next three months have in store for me!