The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Column: Growing into a new world away from Sweden

I left Sweden three and a half month ago with the feeling that I wouldn’t be strong enough to face a new country with a whole new culture.

Going abroad, even if it is for a couple of weeks, months or a year, is one of the biggest jumps a person can make. For me, it has been one of the most important things in my life. It has made me grow as a person and I will never forget this journey.

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Even though I always knew I wanted to do this, I could never picture myself in Santa Barbara in November 2010. Little did I know I would actually make my childhood dream come true.

People have always told me that you should do crazy stuff while you’re young, when you have few commitments and you’re still free. This is the time of my life when I don’t need to care for anyone or anything else but myself. No marriage, children, house or job.

I’ve talked to people who are turning 30, with spouse and kids, who regret they didn’t travel while they had the opportunity, and I don’t want to be one of those people.

I heard about Santa Barbara through a Swedish organization called IBS, International Business School, during my last year in high school. They help students through the procedure with paperwork, application forms to the college, and finding a place to stay during the first semester among other things.

I chose Santa Barbara since I knew people who had been here. The thought of living in California for a year, with sunshine nearly every day, was a big factor in coming here. Sunny California is a Swedish persons dream.

When I was 13, I knew that I wanted to go to the U.S. for a year. Once I got out of high school in 2009 and started to work, I decided to go abroad. It was a scary procedure, making a dream come true. Would I really be able to move out from my sheltered Swedish environment?

I thought that it was now or never. Either I take my chance to see what’s outside of Sweden or I stay there and go to a university. It turned out to be the first option and I don’t regret it at all. I filled out some paperwork in March 2010 and suddenly the months flew by and I was on my way to the U.S.

Being outside of Sweden, without my little safety net of friends and places I’m familiar with, has taught me to stand on my own two feet. I’m being forced to be independent in a country I knew almost nothing about and with people I didn’t know in the beginning.

You can sit in a classroom and learn about other cultures, but nothing in life can teach you as much as leaving home for a new country. Everyone should be able to experience something like this. Not only has it taught me a lot about a new culture, it has changed me as a person.

I haven’t been in the U.S. for long, but as the months slowly go by it feels more and more like a home. It is scary how a new place can make you feel so relaxed even though you’ve never set foot there before.

I look forward to go back to Sweden for Christmas to see my family and friends, but I also look forward to come back to Santa Barbara in January to start my second semester at City College.

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