Katherine, Deakin Arts/Law student
Bodo University College, Norway (Summer program)
Uppsala University, Sweden
In July 2003 I spent three weeks in the town of Bodo in northern Norway, undertaking an international relations Summer subject. Although only there for a short time, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found it to be highly valuable to my degree. I had the chance to live and study with students from all around the world, was introduced to new learning methods, and was able to sample some of the Norwegian lifestyle: seeing the midnight sun and living in 24 hour daylight, camping out in the wilderness, and eating reindeer meat.
Upon my return to Melbourne I was determined to fully immerse myself in the exchange experience by spending a semester abroad. I decided to continue my exploration of Scandinavia, having loved what I'd seen so far, and chose Sweden as my host country. During my exchange I regularly found myself thinking what a great choice that had been! I lived in the town of Uppsala, home to approximately 40,000 students, 1000 of which are exchange students. Uppsala University was founded in 1477, and it was a privilege to be studying at an institution that is so steeped in history and tradition.
Going on exchange broadens your perspectives in so many ways - academically, socially and culturally. On the educational side, it was a real learning curve to be studying with students from so many other countries, and to be continually analysing issues from a European perspective. However, my exchange also taught me many things beyond the classroom. Each day seemed to bring new challenges and experiences, such as surviving subzero temperatures, trying to make sense of the Swedish language, developing an addiction to Swedish-Eurovision music and having to use a bike as the main mode of transport (a real challenge on the icy roads home from the pub!).
Like many other exchange students, travel was a significant part of my semester, with Sweden offering so many amazing sights and events, and the rest of Europe being just an internet-fare away. Highlights included sailing the Stockholm archipelago, celebrating the Swedish festival of mid Summer, attempting to learn the basics of skiing, traveling to St Petersburg and Moscow with 200 other exchange students and wandering the streets of incredible cities such as Prague, London and Amsterdam.
Although it sounds like a cliche, my semester in Sweden was the best six months of my life. It gave me the chance to learn about another culture, develop academically, see amazing parts of the world and build lifelong friendships. I can highly recommend the experience to anyone as being the most worthwhile part of your degree.