AAI Scholar’s Study Abroad Experience in Sweden
By Ashinaga USA Scholar, Godfrella
About 12 weeks ago, I was sitting at the dinner table eating and conversing with a friend about my study abroad semester in Stockholm, Sweden. Naturally, I was very excited about the prospect of living and studying in Sweden for four months. At the same time, I had zero expectations about what my life would be like in Sweden. What I had was an open mind, and I was very open to learning and living the Swedish lifestyle. To do that, I opted to live with a Swedish host family and take a Swedish language and culture class.
My time in Sweden so far has been fabulous. My host family is amazing, and I feel like I am a part of the family. Even the family pet labradoodle now barks in English and Swedish because of me. I have had the world-famous kottbullar and potatis (Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes) and semla (a Swedish pastry bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream). And I have adopted the typical Swedish escalator etiquette of standing to the right and walking to the left. I am also a student blogger for my study-abroad institution, a job that drives me to observe and reflect on life in Sweden (and, of course, promote the program). I have been learning the Swedish language in my Swedish class. Even though I struggle to understand everything, I can successfully use context to eavesdrop on conversations in the metro during my commute to and from school. Today, I was finally able to read an advertisement in the metro station. This is an outstanding achievement considering that my assignment for Swedish class this week is to see how much Swedish I can understand in my environment.
I have found that Sweden emphasizes having a work-life balance, which is reflected in my schooling as well. My learning must be translated to the real world, so my courses have experiences like field studies and study tours. In some of my field studies, I have visited museums such as The Nobel Prize Museum, toured the royal palace, and conducted a short survey on people’s perceptions of the stock market. My Forensic Psychology class visited Scotland this past week. We saw and spoke with organizations that work with criminal offenders and provide victim services to understand how they practice the concepts we learned in class. These visits greatly informed my exploration of reentry initiatives in Sierra Leone for formerly incarcerated people, which is the focus of my Ashinaga Proposal.
The best thing about visiting Scotland was being able to reconnect with some of my Ashinaga family. I lack the words to describe the joy I felt when I laid eyes on them after three years. From studying abroad and beyond, I am grateful that I get to experience life in a different culture and associate with people. Each new experience makes me learn more about myself and appreciate all that life offers.
Godfrella is an Ashinaga Africa Initiative Scholar from Sierra Leone, studying Psychology in the US. Her kokorozashi is to change the mental health landscape of her home country. Godfrella is expanding the international scope of her studies by spending a semester abroad in Sweden. She was selected from other University of Richmond students to chronicle her studies abroad; you can read more about her experience here: https://athomeabroadschool.wordpress.com/blog/