Stephen Hsiang, Sweden, Lund University (Physics)

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

 My biggest fear going into studying abroad was that I would be missing out on a lot of things back home. I thought that I would lose the closeness I have cultivated with my friends at UCSB and that when I would return, I would not have anyone. Fortunately, I have bomb friends. Writing this at the end of my 4th year, I can say that I need not worry because everything turned out fantastic.

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

 I wish I applied for scholarships for my program. There are so many out there up for grabs, and the cost of not applying is much less than the potential reward.

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

 My favorite class I took was a master’s level quantum information class where I learned about the theoretical and physical foundations of quantum computing. Compared to UCSB, the class was smaller so it was easy to get comfortable with the professor. Also, there was a group research project at the end where we got to choose our research topic. The project was a lot of fun and very satisfying.

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

 This is an incredibly hard question. If I had to share a memory with the world, it would be when I took a day off to wander around Southern Sweden on my bicycle. Though I did not get very far, the absurdity of the situation made the sights and smells very memorable. As I explored, I couldn’t help but think what my life would be like if I grew up in the neighborhoods I passed through.

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  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad?

 My biggest struggle that is shared with all of my fellow university classmates around the world was deciding on what I was going to do post-graduation. After studying abroad, the struggle got tougher because a whole world of opportunities opened up for me! What I did was knock curiosities down one by one, because knowing what you don’t want to do is one step closer to knowing what you want to do.

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

 Balance. Lagom. This is something that I resonated with before studying abroad, and it was great living in a culture that upholds the same value. I function the best when there is a balance in my life between education, health, and relationships, and living in Sweden where they respect this idea brought out the best in me.

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

 I did not, but I wish I did.

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

 Something I learned from a Swedish friend was a pre-dinner snack: knickebrod with butter, Kalles and sliced hard-boiled egg on top with a glass of milk. I have been addicted ever since.

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  1. How have you changed since your time abroad?

 I am now more confident in myself and my ability to be adaptable and independent. I realized that your environment has a huge impact on how you think and act, for better or worse. Studying abroad grounded my understanding of who I really was and I now have a better sense of how I want to live life.

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

 One thing I learned about myself was that I enjoy new things. So my advice would be to say yes to as many new experiences as possible and to make time for these events. Don’t fear the unknown, but conquer it.


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