My Study Abroad Experience, and Why YOU Should Study Abroad

Eric Kolb on Tuesday, 18 September 2018. Posted in Student Life, Study Abroad, Vacation / Break

Hi again! I wanted to share some of my experiences from my study abroad trip and hopefully interest others to embark on their own study abroad trip too!

The idea for my trip started in November when I received a general email from RIT that said, “Study Abroad in the Most Sustainable Country in the World”. I had always wanted to study abroad and travel, and this seemed like a really great opportunity for a short-term trip, so I jumped on it immediately. After that, during the semester I took a class called Urban Ecology that focused on the different sustainable pieces of infrastructure that can exist in a city, and how to make a city provide ecological services that most cities do not. This class showed comparisons with the city we would be visiting at the end of the semester, Malmo, Sweden, and Rochester. We were given an introduction to just a few of the things that make Malmo more sustainable and ecological as a city. At the end of the semester after finals week began my two-and-a-half-week trip to Malmo. While this is a fairly short period of time to travel, this was something I had to consider when choosing my studying abroad trip because of the price. Leaving for this trip was extremely exciting for me as my first time studying abroad!

Once I arrived in Malmo, the first thing I noticed about the city were the busses and bikes. The lack of cars in the city made it feel way less crowded and noisy, and the fact that almost everyone was using some sort of public transportation was exciting for me after seeing the dependence on cars in Rochester. Besides that, everyone I met from the city was friendly, kind, and helpful with anything I asked. Every person new English fluently on top of Swedish. The first thing we did in Malmo was visit an Indian Restaurant for dinner. Malmo, besides being known for sustainability, is also known for its food. While I was there, I ate the best falafel I have ever had, Chinese food from one of the oldest Chinese Restaurants in Sweden, delicious Swedish meatballs from IKEA, Brazilian tapioca tacos, and a traditional Swedish dish turned vegan. There was a unique food stop around every corner, and I definitely spent way too much money on food while I was there. It was also really cool to learn some Swedish there since a good amount of the city and the area around the city was not touristy at all which meant that alot of the signs were in Swedish and I needed to figure out what everything said!

Besides the amazing food, there were a ton of cool sights to see in and out of the city. The biggest things that stood out were the parks. Compared to Rochester, the parks here were huge, and there were so many of them spread around the city. You could walk from one park to another in no time and the parks were big enough that you could be completely separated from the city. Besides the parks, every other part of the city was gorgeous. The harbor was also beautiful, and every part outside of city was amazing too.  Almost all the newer buildings in the city were built to be sustainable, and each had a unique design. Compared to cities in the U.S, these buildings felt much more personal and focused on helping the environment rather than just serving a purpose, and the old buildings showed the history of the city. Basically everything was focused on sustainability, and this was really exciting for me. The old buildings were awesome too, and we got to visit the city castle which had a museum and aquarium in it!  

Towards the end of the trip, I had a chance to walk around Copenhagen, Denmark alone after the organized part of the trip was over. This was a completely unique and amazing experience since I was totally alone. I only had one day there, so I saw as much as I could. I visited historic sites, museums, and castles. This was such a fun day and gave me a chance to experience things on my own. Everything was old and had a ton of history, which isn’t really something you get in the U.S. I also had a conversation with my Airbnb host about living in Europe compared to the U.S and many of the differences we have. Being able to have a personal conversation with someone from a totally different place on the other side of the world was extremely enlightening.

My advice to everyone at RIT, and college in general, is to study abroad. Any amount of time, no matter how small, is a chance to learn something about another place and culture that you would never be able to learn at home. Being able to talk to the locals about their viewpoints on life and the world is amazing and gives you knowledge you can use forever. Any possibility you get to travel and learn about a different place, take it. Besides just being able to travel to a new amazing place, learning a skill there gives you an edge in your profession and something you can talk about forever. I am absolutely planning to go back to Malmo, and the trip has inspired me to travel all over the world too.