When a once in a lifetime opportunity comes around, why would you let it pass you by? I was extremely fortunate that MMU offers the chance to study abroad both in Europe and further afield in places such as the U.S and Australia.
Due to my financial situation, I didn’t originally see moving abroad as a viable option. However, with further research, I realised that the Erasmus grant would allow me to turn my dream into reality. So, I took the plunge and applied to study at Stockholm University in Sweden.
The Swedish capital is a truly extraordinary and beautiful place. Built on 14 islands, you’re surrounded by water, this means your morning commute can be taken by boat which will get you from A – B. There is so much to see in Stockholm, every week there was another museum or art exhibition to explore, another archipelago trip to take. One of my favourite spots was the stunning 14th-century old town; Gamla Stan. Admiring the colourful buildings and narrow, winding cobblestone streets over a big bowl of hot chocolate almost made you forget about the freezing cold.
The Frescati campus at Stockholm University was equally as beautiful, especially in the wintertime. The interesting architecture of the ‘geovetenskapens hus’ definitely made those 9ams more bearable.
The classes themselves were very interesting, during my first week we went on a fieldtrip around the outskirts of the city this was a great way to learn about the history and culture of my new surroundings. Moreover, the huge international community at the university meant you were never short on new people to meet.
I learnt so much about different cultures and made many lifelong friends from all over the world, it is great to think if I book a flight now I have a bed and a friendly face somewhere waiting for me.
Nevertheless, the experience was not without its challenges and finding accommodation was the biggest one. If you’re lucky you will win the housing the lottery with SU, this accommodation is cheaper and in the best location possible. However, most people will not be that lucky.
I ended up paying an expensive monthly price to someone I found on Facebook. This worked out for me, but there are also scams, so my advice is to be aware, if your gut tells you something is not right, it probably isn’t. If you are persistent, things will work out eventually.
Living in Sweden also offered a massive financial challenge, the cost of living is much higher. I was roughly spending £60/70 on my weekly shop and I had to make sacrifices to accommodate for this. I would choose to save my money in order to travel rather than go out drinking every weekend. This meant I was able to go to Uppsala, Gothenburg, Oslo, Helsinki, Riga, Latvia, St Petersburg’s, Warsaw and more. The Erasmus grant was a major help, but I cannot stress enough that you will need additional savings if you’re considering anywhere in Scandinavia as a destination.
Despite the dark days, cold climate and my empty piggybank, the entire experience has really changed my outlook on the world and of my own self. I have had best experiences and the memories made on these trips will stay with me forever.