Studying abroad has been an amazing experience so far. Many things have exceeded my expectations and many things had not even entered my mind before arriving. I have learned a lot about myself and the way a country like Sweden functions. Reflecting on my past few weeks my three biggest takeaways so far are:
- There are bad parts of studying abroad
- Things make sense in time
- America is very different
When you see photos and hear stories about previous students studying abroad it can really seem like it’s just months of nonstop adventure and enjoyment. It’s easy to forget that you will be living a normal life and doing normal things and with those normal things comes some really hard and difficult times. Sweden is a cold and dark country, although it has a lot of great aspects, the lack of sun can cause some serious issues with mood. There have been days where I’ve been very upset and I’m not sure why, and these are days I didn’t expect to have. I forgot that just because I am not at University of Pittsburgh anymore doesn’t mean the stress of school goes away. Exams are still hard and actually can be more difficult in a place you are not familiar with. Things like these are important to recognize and prepare for before coming and I wish I had been more aware of that.
Adjusting to a new city is difficult, and upon arrival I really felt discouraged. However, it just took some time to realize that everything will fall into place and work out in due time. I don’t have as much difficulty biking anymore, in fact I was able to bike to a town 15 kilometers away which is something I never imagined being able to do. I am also becoming familiar with where things are in the city and how to use the bus system without having to use google maps every time.
When you think of America versus Europe I am aware there are differences. However, being that both places are considered the Western world I never imagined the amount off differences I would see and the subsequent culture shock that came with it. I have been to Europe multiple times before but on such an extended stay you are more in tune to the subtleties that differentiate the cultures of the two areas. I am thankful to have that experience though because I have been able to learn much from it and come out with a more open mind.