Don’t be lazy, be crazy – exchange semester in Uppsala, Sweden
“Why do I always look for new challenges when it is so comfortable at home? “ Those were my thoughts right before boarding the plane to go on my Erasmus+ exchange semester in Uppsala, Sweden. Even though I was excited, I couldn’t help but feel a little bitter about leaving my safe environment behind. Little did I know.
Thankfully, all that bitterness was gone as soon as my Swedish buddy picked me up from the airport & took me straight to my first Swedish BBQ. I felt like a part of something right away, which was an incredible start to my semester abroad. Little did I know how much better it was going to get from there…
Friends are what make a place home
See, the thing about Erasmus+ is that you will never be alone. Not in a creepy way, but fact is that there are so many exchange students from all over the world who, just as you yourself, moved to this new country, not knowing anybody. It’s a strange situation that brings people closer together in a very short amount of time. But what about the Swedes? I’m going to be honest here, Swedes are not easy to get close to. But if you make an effort to become their friend, they will warm up to you and will always welcome you with open arms.
In general, community is an extremely important thing in Uppsala. One of the unique & super cool things this student town has to offer are Nations. Nations are best described as non-political student associations where brunches, concerts, yoga sessions and many more things are organized. Life never gets boring in Uppsala, I can tell you that. I can’t even begin to describe all the awesome things you can do in Uppsala, just have a look here and google “Gasques“.
As every self-respecting exchange student would do, I also travelled quite a lot. My Erasmus+ friends and I took every opportunity to discover the Nordic area. Norway, Lapland, the Baltic States or even Russia – we travelled them all. The freedom and flexibility to travel that much is something only an Erasmus+ semester can offer you. We knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Appreciate the little things
Thinking about my semester abroad now, I can see how my perspective shifted. I went to Sweden expecting everything to be similar to how I know things from home. Culture, university system, values. I mean, we’re all Europeans, right? But what I learned is that the little things are what make the differences. Seeing stay-at-home dads with their kids at the playground, casually drinking coffee in a church, or having a crazy idea and not just receiving negative feedback were moments in which I noticed: this country is different & I love it. That’s the cool part about Europe: we are united in diversity and should be celebrating our differences. After all, they are what make our cultures so interesting and the EU so fascinating. Thank you Erasmus+ and happy 30th anniversary!
I get it now. I really do. Leaving our comfort zone is an uncomfortable but necessary step towards a much happier & richer life. This painful step is a small price to pay for all the amazing things that will follow. Leaving helps us grow as a person & make unforgettable memories with people who enrich our lives in ways we didn’t even know were possible. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And I hope you won’t miss your chance either!
You can still apply for an Erasmus+ semester until May 17!