Going Abroad!

By Stef Schrooten

When I was picking out studies 3 years ago there was one thing that really caught my eye: the option to do your minor abroad. I had barely started my student life and was already looking forward to this exchange. I had heard stories of older students who said it was the best time of their lives, so I wanted to find out for myself.

About six months ago the time was finally there, I was off to Sweden, the land of the Vikings and tiny meatballs. I had always wanted to visit Scandinavia, but it didn’t really appeal to me as the perfect holiday location. This exchange programme however, felt like the perfect opportunity. It was a country with a culture different than my own, but also not too different. I thought this was important if I wanted to live there for 5 months without losing my head completely. Before I left a lot of people asked me if I was nervous, which strangely I wasn’t. Even though I was going to a foreign country all by myself, I was excited for the challenges that were waiting to face me. As soon as I entered my house I was greeted by my roommates and immediately made some friends that I am still in contact with. We ended up walking around, and the city that I had been exploring through google streetview was now a reality.

After the first few days had passed, the so called rookie period started. This was three weeks of activities and parties organised by other international students who had been living in Sweden for longer. At these activities I got to know most of the other exchange students and friend groups started to form. My friend group was filled with different people from different countries and cultures. It was funny to me to see people who were different from me in many aspects, end up becoming some of my closest friends.

After some time I started to notice that the Swedish education level is lower than the level in the Netherlands. I ended up passing almost every course with an A or B, which is equal to around an 8 out of 10 in the Netherlands. Thanks to this difference I ended up having more free time and me and my friends would go on multiple trips all over the country, with the highlight being a weeklong excursion to Lapland. I ended up going on a husky tour, petting reindeers, exploring cities covered in snow and even seeing the northern lights.

Finally after the fastest five months of my life had past, it was time to go home. We had one final movie night with the group and that was it. There was this weird atmosphere that I can’t describe. Everyone was kind of happy to go home to their family and friends again, but we also realised that there might be people here that we will never see again. My friend group had become like a family to me. There were no parents or siblings around to go to if you needed something. These people I called strangers six months ago were all I had there, and I think that is why we grew so close in such a short time.

For anyone who is still in doubt between going abroad for their minor or not; I would definitely tell you to just go for it. These opportunities don’t present themselves everyday and you should enjoy them while you can.


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