Growing up in the Midwestern United States, I had always been enchanted by the idea of visiting Sweden. However, my reasons were more complex than the usual excuse of having Scandinavian heritage - primarily because I spent my childhood summers learning Swedish at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota. It was there that the idea of going on exchange was planted in my head, and I eventually chose to take a gap year abroad with YFU after my high school graduation. However, when I first boarded my flight in Madison, Wisconsin at age 18, I would have never guessed that I would have grown to love the country of Sweden so much during my exchange year that I would want to stay.
When I finally did arrive in Lund, Sweden, I immediately fell in love with my surroundings. I became very close to my host family and aside from everyday life, I became involved in many different activities outside of school and improved my Swedish immensely. However as the spring semester began to draw to a close, I knew I absolutely did not want to leave Sweden. The country had truly become my home and I knew I had to find a way to stay and live there. However I did not have to look far, because the answer was right in front of me...I could apply to university in Sweden! Lund University is a world-class institution, and after filling out a few forms to have my grades transferred I was accepted into the Bachelor’s program in Development Studies, where I study economics and political science with focus on the developing world.
As I am now finishing my third year of living in Sweden, I can say that taking the chance and applying to stay and study in Sweden was the most adventurous yet rewarding decision I have ever made. University life in Sweden is even more fun than being an exchange student, and I have become involved in several different student organizations, which allow me to do everything from playing music to exploring and developing my leadership potential through sending other students abroad on exchanges and internships. This is possible because I made the initial leap and went abroad with YFU, a platform that has allowed me to travel the world and most importantly, discover myself.