The Maroon

The Life of an Exchange Student

Emilia Spangberg, Staff Writer

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On the 14th of August my life changed. I left Sweden to seek new experiences and learn about another culture here in America. It’s one of the biggest decisions that I have ever made: to leave everything that I ever known to start a new life in a country where I don’t know anyone. I don’t regret a single second of it.

This is my new home, and going back to Sweden is the last thing I want at this moment. I do luckily, still have a lot of time left here, however in one week after school ends I’m going back to Sweden his year will just become another memory, but one I could never forget.

A question I often get is ‘why would you want to become an exchange student?’ for me, that’s a simple question. Just to experience something new, something different; and become a part of a different culture and step out of my comfort zone. Hopefully this year will help me grow as a person as I improve my English, which I already feel that I have started too.

Saying goodbye to everybody that you know and love because you won’t be able to see them for ten months should be a hard thing to do. This what I thought originally, I thought it would be difficult at first and then get better with time. I have never even been away from my parents for longer than two weeks. As it turns out, I haven’t missed them at all. I believe it’s because I always have something to do here or something new going on, and  I haven’t even really got the time to start thinking about home.

When I landed in America and realized I was actually here, I started shaking because I was so nervous when to meet my host family. I almost forgot how to speak English all together and everything felt so surreal. At the same time, I was really excited and couldn’t wait to start this journey.

Everything in America is very unlike Sweden. In my experience, the school here is much easier than in Sweden. For example, every single test in Sweden includes only free response questions, that you need to elaborate on. The Swedish school also give you more responsibility over your education, because nobody is there to keep reminding you to do your work or to take a retake. If you fail, you fail. Sometimes you might get the chance, if you’re lucky, to do an additional assignment to get your grade up.

Sweden does feels safer in many ways, such as People are not allowed to own a gun unless you are a hunter. Driving is also a concern of mine,because drunk driving rarely happens in comparison, plus the way people handle themselves  in traffic, such as people changing lanes through solid lines.

However, people tend to be more outgoing here. Strangers can start talking to you, and it doesn’t feel like your trapped in your own personal bubble. In Sweden in would take a lot for someone to start talk with a stranger in the store, but here I feel like it happens all the time. I guess that the reason behind why swedes act like that, is that we are a little more afraid of strangers and what we don’t know. If we get the opportunity to just keep going with what we are use to, we would choose that over being exposed to a new awkward situation that we don’t know how it’s going to end.

Being an exchange student makes people feel like you’re special, people treat me like I am  a foreign student. Many questions are constantly being asked of me, but students are nice and are very interested of what I generally have to say about Sweden.


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The Life of an Exchange Student