Letter to Future Study Abroad Students:
To my awesome fellow adventurers,
When you leave to study abroad, an important thing to consider is getting involved in some kind of club or community service organization in your host university or community. It is a great way to meet people and it allows you the opportunity to try out new things. I had the wonderful pleasure of studying abroad at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden (for those who do not know, Uppsala is on the eastern side of Sweden just north of Stockholm) and I got involved by joining a club. I knew when I went that I would be the only Chico State student at Uppsala; therefore, I needed to try and find my niche. Before leaving I did a bit of research on the clubs at Uppsala University and found that an overwhelming majority of the students there joined these things called “Nations.” There were thirteen of them to choose from and they were all based off of the thirteen regions in Sweden.
Historically, students attending Uppsala University joined the nation of the region in Sweden where they were from. Today most people just join whichever one they want to in terms of what they are interested in. I joined Kalmar Nation, which had a hipster, hole in the wall vibe to it with old bookshelves, brick walls, dim lighting and a great stage for performances. It offered anything from photography and painting groups to crazy club nights called Katushka with live Balkan Punk bands or pub nights featuring stand up comedy performances. I got involved with Kalmar Nation through Spela, which was the Open Mic night held every three weeks. This was my first experience ever playing guitar and singing for an audience and I got to do it in Sweden! Pretty crazy!!! I didn’t know I was brave enough to do something like that, but I ended up playing at them on about ten different occasions and made a lot of friends. One night I even performed with a talented Finnish cellist and we played Of Monsters and Men songs that we’d spent hours practicing for in my dorm room. Those are experiences I will keep with me forever.
So for those going abroad, DO NOT be afraid to branch out and try new things. That is what studying abroad is all about of course! I guarantee that you will learn something about yourself and find new things you enjoy. I didn’t know what the heck Balkan punk music was until I got stuck in a mosh pit full of Swedes spazzing out to a live performance from White Trash Family. But it turns out that Balkan Punk music is actually pretty darn good and I wouldn’t have ever had any of these experiences if I hadn’t gotten involved in my nation. So get out there and join a hiking group or a language club or play at open mic nights; whatever floats your boat. Just have fun exploring and learning in the country you decide to make your second home.
IP, Uppsala, Sweden