I’m Lauren Voigt! I am a 3rd year Human Development and Family Sciences major at UT Austin. I am from San Antonio, Texas and have never lived outside of Texas. But now I am. I am spending my spring far far away from Austin on an exchange program in Uppsala, Sweden.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I began planning for this trip. I booked my flight, paid for housing, found someone to sublease my apartment back in Austin, but nothing about this experience felt real until I actually left. It felt like I was doing a project, solving a puzzle as some sort of third party audience member— I was just watching this whole thing unfold and spending a weird amount of time looking into Sweden.
But then I was alone in an airport and I felt it. I was actually doing this. I was the one in Sweden. For nearly six months. And I was actually going to be away from my family and friends for those six months. And I knew no one in the country. I didn’t know how to speak Swedish. I didn’t even know when my classes started. I got very overwhelmed.
A few movies and four airplane meals later, I was in Sweden. I was tired as could be, but even so, things started to look up. Customs was ridiculously simple. All of my bags arrived. My AirBnb hosts picked me up from the airport, we arrived at their home in Märsta, and they welcomed me to Sweden over a cup of tea. That night we talked about education, life, family, and what was to come for me. We ate dinner as a family and they served me Thai mango and dragonfruit that their friends had sent them. They told me about their lives, how they met, and prayed over me. After a night in their home, my nerves had calmed. I felt comfortable and at ease. Everything felt right. Sweden felt right.
The next morning they drove me to the University shuttle, I said goodbye to my new friends, and began my journey to Uppsala! After a quick debriefing from the International Office, I received the keys to my apartment and started the process of getting settled in this new, weird life of mine.
I have only been here a little over a week, and I don’t really know what I’m doing. It is cold here. The sun sets at 4pm. I only have class one night a week. I have already gotten locked out of my room and broken my bike key in a frozen lock. I have been to IKEA three times already and consumed an ungodly amount of coffee and sweets. But I am making it! The town is beautiful and I wake up to church bells and snow! I am surrounded by so many cool, interesting people from all over the world! None of us know what’s going on or what Sweden is really up to. They sing a lot of songs here and everything is a tradition. We are all very confused—but it’s fun, it’s new, it’s exciting! And I think it is all going to be okay!
This post was contributed by Lauren Voigt, a 2019 Global Ambassador.
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