Michelle Kang, Sweden, Lund University (Global Studies)

 Michelle Kang_Sweden (3)

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

 My biggest fear about studying abroad was that I would not be able to get around town without knowledge of the local language. Fortunately, we were enrolled in Swedish language program for three weeks where we received intensive language training which prepared me for the basics of Swedish communication. Additionally, Swedish people speak the best English as a second language in the world according to a statistic in 2015. So being able to communicate with mostly English gave me a lot of security about being in a foreign country.

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

 The most important thing I wish I had done to better prepare for Sweden is to bring warm clothes. Scarves, gloves, and beanies are no longer accessories in extremely cold weather; they are essential and life-saving! The second thing I wish I did was to be prepared for vitamin D deficiency as days are extremely short during winter in Sweden due to its location in the Northern hemisphere. It can also lead to minor depression if you are not used to the weather. I also wish I had brought more snacks or things that will make me feel more at home as I had to buy more expensive Asian snacks while I was there.

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

 My favorite classes abroad were Gender, Citizenship, and Migration class and Intro to International Law. They were different in that any coursework you do will not count toward the final grade, which is usually 100% of your final exam, whether it is a take-home exam or in class. It makes the responsibility to study and be on track entirely on the student. Class times were longer (2-3 hours) but there is only usually one or two lectures per week, no discussion sections. I really like that my Gender studies and International Law classes both ended up focusing on the Refugee Crisis, which is what I am really interested in.

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

 My best memory while being abroad was when my friends and I took a bus up to Stockholm from Lund, our bus was delayed for five hours and the bus driver could not be located. We took a later bus and finally arrived in Stockholm, we watched the sunrise and ate breakfast. Although super exhausted from the overnight bus, we rallied and packed a full day of attractions in. Dealing with foreign environments really brought us together as we were still trying to figure out our way in Sweden. The five of us bonded over the trip even though we faced many unexpected challenges and became close friends.

  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad?

 My biggest challenge abroad was when I was lost in Copenhagen late at night. Being in an unfamiliar city without accurate public transportation system proves to be difficult because we were trying to get back home. After walking for a long time we finally found a bus stop to go home. I realized at the moment that I can deal with this problem by being more prepared in the future such as checking bus times online to avoid last minute panics when I am trying to get home.

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

 My favorite aspect of my host culture is that the university level student culture has a lot to offer. Student Organizations called “Nations” offer a variety of cheap lunches, dinners, pub nights, and brunches on weekends for students to enjoy. The student organizations were very welcoming and hosted many events for incoming students. I also liked that people were very welcoming to English speakers and were willing to help when I asked them for help. My favorite Swedish thing to do is “fika” it means to get dessert and coffee with your friends. It is very essential to Swedish culture and I made many friends through “fika.”

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

 I volunteered at Student Nations at Lund University. These Nations are run by students and they offer services such as cheap lunches, delicious dinner “sittings”, brunches, pubs, and club events. I volunteered in both the kitchen and in the bar areas. And in return, you are given food and “thank you” events. It was a great way to meet people outside of EAP because I got to work with people from all over the world. I also learned a few delicious recipes and brought them back to California for my housemates.

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

 I miss the idea of fika, which means you go out with friends for dessert, when I came back because it is such a good excuse to socialize with friends while having dessert and coffee.

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  1. How have you changed since your time abroad?

I think now I am more independent and relaxed when things go out of my control. During my time abroad, I learned to go with the flow and often things worked out on its own at the end, and I do not have to worry about being in control all the time. Although it is still important to be cautious and aware of my surrounding as visitors may often overlook dangers of different kinds. I am now better at problem-solving and try to figure out things on my own before I ask for help because help was not always available when I was abroad.

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

 My advice is to be open-minded and not let your fear limit yourself. Studying abroad might be a completely different experience than you had expected but everything will work out in the end so just follow your heart and you will have a wonderful experience. It will feel like time goes by really fast so do not take anything for granted and enjoy every little thing you do alone while abroad.

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