Study Abroad: Umeå, Sweden
What is your major?
I am an Environmental Studies major with a focus on Policy and Economics.
Where are you studying abroad?
I am studying in Umeå, Sweden.
How long will you be abroad?
I will spend around 5 months abroad.
How did you choose the program you went on?
After the Study in England (SIE) experience I decided if I could make it work, it was necessary to re-experience Europe in the University atmosphere. My mother has done Swedish painting ever since I was very young despite my dad being the "swede" in my family. I discovered 3 days before I left that my grandfather knows some Swedish! Along with this desire to go to Sweden, which I could not say enough good things about. UMD has exchanges with several Swedish universities including Umeå, where I am. I chose Umeå because after looking through the universities UMD has exchanges with, I decided Umeå was the best fit.
What type of courses are you taking?
I chose a course called Human Geography, Planning and GIS which was a 10 week course, and the introduction course to the masters program. It was very challenging and a really wonderful learning experience. The second course I will take that applies to my studies is called Environmental Governance, it is a 5 week course that looks over Environmental Policy and how the international community needs to work together to fix the global environmental crisis. I am also in a Swedish language course.
What is your favorite memory from your study abroad experience?
I have been hiking in the National Forest, Skuleskogens. The sights and experience was really wonderful. Anything at the wonderful gym available here in Umeå is a good memory. Another great experience was going to see the Umeå Jazz festival with a friend.
What would you say to someone considering studying abroad?
It is important to know what sort of experience you want. UMD has a broad range of possibilities including exchanges with many Scandinavian universities, and the Study in England program which are two very different programs that offer very different opportunities and experiences. If there is an ideal place you want to go, make it happen, but if you are looking for a certain experience go and talk to someone in the SIE office and ask them what sort of program would fit his/her goals.
Outside of class what do you enjoy most?
I enjoy the wonderful gym available here and the lovely friends I spend my days with. The indoor beach-volley ball court followed by a lovely lunch at a nearby restaurant called Skogis is a sure-fire perfect Sunday.
What is your favorite local landmark?
In the city center there is a really great view of the river and a small box where there are often jazz artists and other groups putting on small performances.
What are your living accommodations?
I live in dorms rented through the International Housing Office organized by the University. I have my own bathroom and bedroom and share a kitchen with 6 other people.
What skills are you acquiring abroad?
I have learned three important lessons. 1) The world is a huge, diverse place. 2) It's a small world. 3) People are people. I have learned how to adjust to uncomfortable situations quickly. I have also learned how important it is to observe and respond. When you are in another culture it is important to assimilate. It teaches you that life is short, to make what you can of it, and use what you have to make the best of it.
Has study abroad influenced your academic/career path?
Studying abroad has influenced my perspective on the world and how I fit in it, and how I as an American fits into it.