Here are five things I love about studying abroad at Westminster College in Utah, United States:
1. Outdoor Life
One thing I absolutely love is that there are so many possibilities for outdoor activities in Utah. My college offers different camping trips and hikes during the week so that you can discover the area and easily meet new people. If you want to plan a trip yourself, there are a lot of possibilities around Westminster College. Utah and the surrounding states have some of the most beautiful national parks in the world. Before classes began, my friends and I rented a car and discovered Yellowstone and luckily, we still have fall break and Thanksgiving holidays later this semester to discover even more amazing places. The next thing on the list are Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National park. One thing to mention is that it can be really difficult to rent a car if you’re under 21, so be prepared for that!
The classes at my college are very different to the classes at home at Mälardalen University in Sweden. Some of the main differences are that the class sizes range between ten and twenty-five people, attendance is obligatory, and that you are assigned homework from your teachers. At the beginning this was very new to me, because the system in Sweden is totally different, but I also realized that this gives teachers the opportunity to use a lot of different learning approaches. In one of my marketing classes for example, we got a client from a startup to work with. Our task was to create a marketing plan for him and to give him advice on how to advance his business. Another thing I really like is that the teachers are always available for questions and that in most courses we do not use typical coursebooks/textbooks, but instead we read biographies and guides, which are lot more fun to read.
3. Campus and Events
In the first week I spent so much time on campus that I almost didn’t realize that there’s more to discover in the neighborhood. That’s because the campus has basically everything you need. There is a coffee shop, a cafeteria, a library with a beautiful view, a gym, a swimming pool, and so much more. Often there are also fairs and events on campus. Every few weeks there is an event on campus, where you can play games together, get food, listen to live music, and simply hang out with your friends. One on my favorite event so far was the disco skating night, where we went to a roller-skating rink and skated to 80s music. However, if you ever get bored on campus, you can easily go downtown and check out places like the capitol or the temple square.
4. “Hey, how are you?”
To be honest: when I first came to the U.S., I experience real culture shock. I think most of it was because I arrived two weeks before college started and had pretty bad jetlag and way too much time to analyze everything that happened around me. As some of you may know, most Scandinavian people (I am from Germany, but have lived two years in Sweden) do not like small talk, so I was not prepared for everybody to be so chatty. No matter where I went, everybody was so talkative and curious. It took a while to get used to this, but now I absolutely love it! It makes approaching people so much easier and the atmosphere in general so much more relaxed. Even though it was weird for me in the beginning, I am sure the reverse culture shock will be much worse.
5. College Housing
Since I have started my studies in Sweden I have always lived in my own apartment (which I share with my boyfriend), so I never had the opportunity to experience “real college life”. One thing I love about living on campus is that all my friends are only a few doors away, which makes it easy to meet up spontaneously. Our residence hall even has a basement, which is perfect for playing video games or having movie nights. For every floor there is a resident assistant, which plans events for the whole floor.
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