My name is Chris and I’m an exchange student from the US. I always knew that I wanted to do a semester abroad in Europe. I had been to Europe before this semester with my family, and was hoping to study abroad somewhere like Switzerland or Germany. As I researched my options, nothing seemed to go as I had planned. The classes wouldn’t transfer how I needed them too, the tuition was really expensive, there was language requirements that I didn’t meet, ect. I finally met with my advisor at my home university and he showed me a few options I hadn’t considered, one in Denmark and one in Sweden. At this point, I pretty much just picked Sweden and had no idea what to expect. The only things I knew about Sweden before coming here were Ikea, Volvo, and cold winters. As I got ready to leave after Christmas, I got so many questions from friends and family saying things like “Why are you going to Sweden?” “Are you sure you want to do this?” and I couldn’t really answer them. I hoped that it would be a good experience, and I had all these preconceived ideas about what my semester abroad would be like, but I really had no clue.
Upon arriving in Sweden in January, I was kind of in shock. There was snow everywhere (I’m from Texas, where snow doesn’t exist). I remember trying to buy a train ticket in Stockholm, and asking the lady for a ticket to Jonkoping (at the time I thought it was pronounced Jawn-Coping) and seeing her look at me all confused. I remember getting to the train station in Jonkoping and being taken to Ekhagen and meeting the landlord. It was around 10PM and he insisted on walking me around the whole outside area and explaining everything to me as it was snowing and like 20 degrees (like negative something Celsius for all you non Americans). When I finally got in my empty room I remember thinking “where the hell am I?”
The first few weeks took some getting used to. My first night, I tried taking a shower, and was really confused as to why my entire bathroom floor was covered in water when I was done. I took the wrong bus line about 5 times before I figured it out (busses also don’t really exist in Texas). Grocery stores freaked me out. I accidentally bought soured milk somehow (why does that even exist?) and also learned that there is a difference between a toaster oven and a real oven. The whole kickoff thing was fun, but confusing. Who are these people in the weird overalls, what is a “Sexkreation”, and how is there a university run night club, with alcohol? *gasps*
As the weeks went by, I got more adjusted. I started saying hej hej, got my Swedish residence ID, learned how to take a number literally everywhere I went, and accepted the fact that on days when I slept in I may only see a few hours of daylight. I started trying to learn Swedish online to kill the whole “Americans can only speak 1 language* stereotype, which is going bra I guess (you see what I did there?) and started traveling more. As I started to venture out into other countries, I had the weirdest thing happen. Even though I saw so many awesome places this semester and met so many amazing people, at the end of every trip, I always had this weird good feeling inside of me when I got back to Sweden. In Sweden, almost everyone speaks English, and really good English, like better than me English. People (for the most part) are nice, everything is easy to figure out, everything works (usually). As time went by, Sweden became like a second home to me without me realizing it, which I really didn’t expect.
Overall, this semester has definitely been an unreal experience. From the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been, I couldn’t be more grateful for it, and I am sad to see it end, even though I would sell my kidney for some real Tex-Mex food right now. So to answer all those people from home who’ve asked me “Why Sweden” I say, Varfor inte? (I hope that means why not, or this entire semester was a waste).
My name is Chris Kucera and I’m an exchange student from Texas. I’m 21 and in my third year of my marketing bachelor, with an emphasis on supply chain management.