Study Abroad at Uppsala University!
In Sweden, I attended school at Uppsala University. Unlike at Keene State College, my home university, there were not any dorms for students. Instead, the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE), who was responsible for me while I studied abroad, arranged for all the American exchange students to live in housing communities where we got to have our own bedrooms and bathrooms. In addition we all shared a living room, kitchen, and laundry facilities with foreign exchange students from all over the world. If that doesn’t scream awesome, then I guess I don’t know what does!
Speaking of screams, the neighborhood where I lived (Flogstavagen) had a nightly tradition known as the ten o'clock scream. Every night at ten o'clock students in the neighborhood would jump onto the balcony or swing open their windows and scream at the top of their lungs to the stars above. This tradition was started almost 10 years ago to help students relieve stress. There are some days when I really miss this old tradition.
During the day, I took advantage of the bike trails that crisscrossed all over Uppsala's boreal and urban landscapes. Somedays I would I hop the tram or the bus systems known as Biogasbussen; both which enabled easy travel from Uppsala to cities and towns all over the country. When I lived in America, the word ‘travel’ was not in my vocabulary. However, after experiencing the luxury of Sweden’s public transportation system, I became infected with the travel bug and just couldn’t get it out of my system. I wanted to see it all! It was as if I was chasing the very essence of life itself down the tram tracks and through the cities.
Studying at the University did not obstruct my travel ambitions, though. In fact it inspired and enabled me to get out into the world and see it for myself instead of through my textbooks. As Gandalf the Grey once said, “The world is not in your books and maps; it’s out there…”
Interestingly, all my professors at Uppsala University were extremely supportive of student travel and laid back about course structure. At Uppsala University, I wasn’t faced with the brutality of taking four courses at once for twenty weeks with no time for myself while education was constantly being shoved down my throat. Instead, I took one class at a time and replaced it with a new one every five to six weeks. If that’s not luxury course work, I guess I don’t know what is! Without the constant stress of homework breathing down my neck I had more time for family, friends, fun, and travel.
Having less homework at first felt weird, but it really gave me a chance to reflect on myself inward and ask myself important questions such as ‘what do I want?’At first I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. All I knew was that I wanted to taste and savor life while I had the chance.