Paola Gabriela Paro - 2017 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

The possibility to learn about another culture and the chance to visit the country that I admire.

Why did you choose Uppsala International Summer Session?

UISS was top in rankings about teaching foreign languages, and because UISS provided a whole experience about Swedish culture.

What was your favorite part about Sweden?

I can't choose one unique thing, I love the people, the culture, and landscapes.

Moose park in Sweden

Me in the Moose Park

What made your experience abroad unique?

We experienced traditional Swedish costumes with people around the world.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

Excellent!. They were very kind with us.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

The expensive life in Sweden, but i can't change that because I come from a less developed country so everything is expensive for me.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

Before going to classes I take my breakfast from Wayne's coffee, then at 10 am we have fika time while we chat with classmates, then we study until 12:30 pm enjoying many activities during class. For lunch, we have different restaurants to go to and eat swedish food with friends. In the afternoon we have complimentary classes related to swedish culture. After that we have time to visit Uppsala. Weekends, we would have programed trips to different places in Sweden with guides.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

Go around Uppsala and finding different places to adventure.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

Big rooms with all the facilities.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

You are going to spend almost nothing of extra money here, it is better to invest your money in the weekend trips.

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

I think that the hardest part of studying abroad was being able to adapt yourself to a new educational system and different implicit rules. For instance, the student-teacher relationship in Sweden is very horizontal and that shocked me because at the beginning I was afraid to question some things directly to my teacher. However, that was something extremely enriching for me and now I appreciate it a lot.

Mariefred Lake in Sweden

Mariefred Lake

What surprised you most about Sweden?

Definitely, the people! At the beginning as a Latina, I had many stereotypes about Europeans and especially about Swedes. I thought they would be hard to get to know, and  a little rough, but when you know them better they are the warmest people in the world.  They give you many hugs and I think that was a lot even, for Latinos. Actually, I have a huge list of surprising things about Sweden. Swedish culture is so different from Latin American culture and everything was new and amazing. Of course, I must mention the beautiful Swedish landscapes, they were like dream lands to live in.

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

Well, I went to a language course to learn Swedish and I just knew the basics of English, but that wasn't an obstacle communicating with locals because everyone in Sweden speaks English. I remember that when I tried to practice my Swedish the salesperson was so kind and patient that she spoke slowly to me because she noticed that I was trying to speak Swedish.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Sweden?

I would like to have known that you need to prepare yourself for a harsh life if you don’t have a Swedish personal number. Happily, my study program processed my student card and even without a personal number I could enjoy student benefits (in contrast I would have expensive bills to pay).

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

Sweden! I loved everything about this country. The good and bad because in general, they do everything to prioritize peoples wellness and quality of life. However, I met many people from Germany and they were amazing too.  I think I would like to visit or to take some courses in Germany.

Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden

Castle in Mariefred

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

Studying abroad opened my mind and pushed me to rethink my plans beyond my country. Meeting people so different and so equal to me was amazing and destroyed my stereotypes was so funny too. Academically, studying abroad improved my knowledge and expanded my contact network.

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Sweden?

It is better to have some institution or friends who is going to receive you in Sweden because it would be hard to live on your own. Everybody told me that Sweden is most beautiful in summer, especially for holidays; however, I love winters and I would like to visit Sweden in winter.

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?

I loved so much of Sweden that now i'm planning to move to Sweden and study there.

Would you recommend your UISS to others? Why?

Of course! It is a life changing experience, especially if your culture is totally different. You are going to be in the safest place in the world with the friendliest people.