My name is Kirsty, and I am studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary)/Bachelor of Arts degree. I was lucky enough to participate in an exchange to Stockholm University in Sweden for a semester.
As I am studying education, I was interested in learning more about the world-renowned Nordic education system. Having the opportunity to live in Sweden, as well as continue my studies was incredible. My classes at Stockholm University were extremely enjoyable and informative. In one of my Climate Change courses, half of the students were elderly Swedes who were 70+ years old. Education in Sweden is free for Swedish citizens, so it was very interesting hearing their perspectives, and it was definitely a special experience.
While the first couple of months were rather cold and dark, I was still able to explore my new home and beyond. In all honesty, I actually quite enjoyed rugging up in a thick coat, beanie and snow boots every day, as it is a novelty for a Queenslander. With the friends I made, I travelled to Estonia, Latvia, Denmark and Finland, as well as Göteborg and Malmö in Sweden. The close proximity of countries was extremely convenient as I was able to visit various places.
The stand-out memory of my exchange was travelling to Kiruna in Swedish Lapland (145km north of the Arctic Circle) with four of my closest friends. Although it was extremely cold (-28°C!), we visited the famous Ice Hotel, experienced a husky sled tour, rolled around in the snow (and then quickly retreated back to the sauna), and saw the Northern Lights for three nights in a row, which was extremely lucky.
I found the process of making friends easy – since everyone is in a new and different place, most people were really proactive in making an effort to socialise. I now have friends from all around the world, whom I cannot wait to see again.
My pieces of advice to make the most of your exchange are:
- Experience as much of the culture as you can. Try the local food, learn the basics of the language and explore your new home.
- Take every opportunity that comes your way! Say yes to meeting new people or going to new places with friends.
My exchange in Sweden has been one of the greatest experiences in my life so far. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, and I would recommend it to anyone.