Michelle Tran, Sweden, Lund University (Sociology)


1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?

My biggest fear was being so far away from home and traveling by myself. I did not travel that often, if at all, prior to studying abroad. I had many reservations about being on my own, but I eventually came to love it. Lund became a second home to me and I even did a solo trip to Lisbon, Portugal!

2. What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?

I wish I had taken more time to learn Swedish. I did a few weeks of Duolingo to prepare for my time there, but I think taking at least a quarter of Swedish would have helped tremendously.

3. What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to UCSB?

Classes at Lund were similar to ones at UCSB. However, my favorite class, Introduction to Social Work in Sweden, was slightly different because it was more hands-on. We went on field visits to social organizations in Sweden and learned so much from the social workers!

4. What is one of your best memories from abroad?

One of my best memories from abroad is completing the Trolltunga hike in Odda, Norway. Trolltunga, literally meaning “troll’s tongue” is a rigorous 14-mile hike that on average takes eight to ten hours to finish. I was enamored with all of the beautiful and surreal sights I saw during the hike. The hike itself was also quite a challenge physically and mentally, but I was and still am proud of myself for finishing it.

5. What was your biggest challenge abroad?

My biggest challenge abroad was trying to adjust to the Swedish language. Although many, if not all, Swedes speak English, they are usually more comfortable speaking Swedish. I lived in a hallway full of Swedes and often felt left out when they would switch to Swedish when they were not addressing me. However, I knew not to take this personally as it reminded me of when I speak Vietnamese with my parents and my friends are around.

6. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?

I love that Swedes take a lot of time to relax and are not constantly on-the-go as we are. They have a custom called “fika” where they take short breaks to gather with people and drink coffee and nibble on sweets.

7. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us
about your experience.


8. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?

I miss the vast variety of cheeses they had. My favorite type of cheese that I tried was prästost (or priest cheese).

9. How have you changed since your time abroad?

I believe I am more independent and self-reliant now. I remember at the start of my time abroad, I would always rely on my friends to figure out where we were going, how we would get there, etc. But by the latter half of my trips, I was doing this on my own. I was the one who planned for transportation and housing and navigated. I went from following them to being the one who leads.

10.What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?

If you can fit it in your schedule, definitely study abroad. It does not really matter where you go, what matters is what you make out of the experience. Learn about the culture of your host country and be sure to spend time with locals–do not just spend every weekend traveling. Also, be careful not to fall into the trap of hanging out with only UCEAP students!


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