Q: Initially, what made you decide to study abroad? Why did you choose your program?
A: I decided to study abroad because I had a cousin who studied in Denmark and it showed me that possibility. It is always reassuring to talk to someone who has studied abroad before and that is what the Office of International Affairs always tries to offer students. They want students to look at those alumni before them and understand that studying abroad is an obtainable option.
I chose my program based off location and my major of mechanical engineering. I knew I wanted to study somewhere in Europe, but as a mechanical engineer, Asia would have probably made more sense. Nonetheless, I explored all my options and decided to study abroad at Lund University in Sweden. It was the best fit for what I was looking for and looking back the best choice because I had an amazing experience.
Q: What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
A: The highlight of my experience… That is a very difficult question to answer. If I had to choose one it would be the first day of snowfall. It was so enriching to be a part of that day and experience Swedish culture. Families would come out with their children in sled, suited up ready to ride those white hills. People having snowball fights which is very fun when you have unlimited snow everywhere. And creating snow angels and making snowmen. Just as many people that showed up at parks for a beautiful spring day showed up at the same park to enjoy a beautiful snow day.
Q: What was your greatest challenge abroad and how did you overcome it?
A: Leaving home to go thousands of miles away isn’t an easy task. I had no doubt that I could do it because I consider myself independent from my family, but wow I was wrong. I missed my family and I missed that I was missing important milestones in their lives. I overcame that by remembering that I was in a big milestone myself and that It was going to be over before I knew it so I decided to enjoy it and I called my family regularly to maintain my FOMO “feeling of missing out.” Coming back home, I had a better relationship with my family, and I decided that they are a top priority which they weren’t before I had left.
Q: How did your coursework abroad compare to your courses at UC Merced?
A: The coursework was very independent compared to UCM. All my classes didn’t require attendance because it was ultimately up to us to perform well. My classes rarely had assignments that were graded, but rather you had to complete all the assignments to take the final exam. Lastly, the final exam was our entire grade for the class with the exception of one class having a midterm and a final exam, but if you didn’t do well on the midterm, you are able to dismiss it and take the final for your entire grade. It was different, but I feel that it was equally if not less stressful throughout the semester because we focused on learning the material rather than maintaining good grades.
Q: What did you gain from your study abroad experience?
A: My study abroad experience allowed me to evaluate my relationships and how I as an individual am responsible and in control of all the decisions I make. I have the power to leave a setting or even change the setting. I am literally the reason I was able to study abroad because without me telling myself “Yeah, lets do this, when else are we going to have this opportunity” I would have never started the process. Studying abroad has also made me more decisive. Although I still am indecisive at times, I feel that I can make big decisive decisions like booking a flight or a hotel room or even saying yes or no to others.
Q: What advice do you have for students considering study abroad?
A: Honestly if you want to try traveling or if traveling is a dream of yours, I would definitely study abroad. I want to be that person who travels the world and although I have barely even touched the surface, my dream is literally happening before my eyes and its hard to recognize because I am making it all possible. We forget that we must do something to make our dreams happen. Plus, there are some really cool study abroad programs! I wish I could do just one more, but unfortunately, I didn’t plan properly but you can!
Q: Describe a typical day abroad.
A: A typical day was waking up to a heated room. Getting dressed to face cold weather, all while sweating indoors. Then biking up a hill to get to my campus. I would get to class and have lunch at noon with the entire country it felt. Lunch was taken seriously. Then I would occasionally have coffee in between classes, but others would have it for almost every break of the day. I would then bike on home down hill, make myself dinner and enjoy a night conversation with my apartment-mates.