Unexpected Friendships in Sweden

Guest post by Junior studying HR and information systems, Olivia Ling. During Fall 2019, Olivia studied abroad with a Foster Exchange with the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. 

“Olivia, I’m going to Malmo and Gothenburg for the weekend with a friend! We would love to have you there!” This text popped up on my phone on Wednesday of the first official week of school from a friend I had met during Introduction Week. Unsure I wanted to go, I put it to the side and promised myself I would think about it later and come up with an answer. 

The first week of school in itself was difficult. I was dealing with the stress of getting my bike stolen and finding a replacement, navigating the grocery stores where everything was in Danish, and combating the inevitable feelings of loneliness and homesickness. The Introduction Week (basically the equivalent of orientation week) festivities had died down and I was left to my own devices to keep the friendships I had made during Introduction Week intact.

Thursday came and went and the topic of the Sweden trip was brought up once again. I was adamant about staying in Copenhagen and getting more acquainted with the city in order to help myself feel more settled. A friend of mine had also told me that it’s better to spend the first three weeks of exchange in the city you were studying at–after all, I would have the entire semester to travel around Europe. But at the last minute, on a whim, I quickly booked my bus tickets and my hostel room and packed my bags to go to Sweden—because you only get to go abroad once so you should at least try to do it right! This ended up being one of my best decisions during my time abroad. 

What was supposed to be a 3 person trip turned into an 11 person trip. Friday afternoon, we hopped onto our Flixbus (the European equivalent to BoltBus) and were on our way. During the day, we went sightseeing and saw places such as the Malmo Castle and Gothenburg Botanical Gardens. Because this trip was so last minute, a lot of our trip itinerary was planned on the fly. Not being a big fan of spontaneity, this stressed me out a bit at first, but as the trip went on, I appreciated the mystery that every day would bring. I really learned to let go and go with the flow. 

Through time spent with each other for extended periods of time, deep friendships were built. I left the trip with friends from the UK, Germany, Australia, and Macedonia. People who were once strangers became close friends. New inside jokes were developed and lifelong memories were made. Some of the people on this trip would become my best friends during my exchange semester abroad.