Forming Lifelong Friendships in Sweden
By Molly Siegel
School: Brown University, Class of ’23
Major or concentration: Public Health and International and Public Affairs
Semester abroad: Spring ’22
When I made the decision to take the semester away from my best friends at Brown University in tiny Providence, Rhode Island, I was told that “abroad will be the best semester of your life”. Keeping that promise and mantra in mind, I packed my bags, said my goodbyes, and boarded what felt like the longest flight to Stockholm, Sweden.
I was the only person on the 50-person program from my school, and saying that I was nervous would be the understatement of the century. Though I consider myself outgoing, I was very scared that making friends would be the hardest part of going to a new place: I couldn’t have been more wrong. The friendships I made in Stockholm will last forever, and these are people I could not possibly imagine my life without, no matter how near or far we are to each other now that we have all returned to our respective schools.
I loved my semester in Stockholm for endless reasons. Through my courses, I learned to see human behavior at work through a new lens and even how to order my morning coffee, or fika, in Swedish! With the program, I explored new areas of Sweden, traveling to Sandhamn Island in the Stockholm archipelago and 500 miles north of Stockholm to the Arctic Circle for breathtaking views of the Northern Lights. But I am and always will be a people person. The memories I have with the people from my program are full of nothing but pure bliss: laughter, kindness, and a genuine love of life. Having this unique experience with such an incredible cohort of people was an irreplaceable experience. Though it took me a little bit of time to find my place and to find myself with my friends, I could not be more grateful for the people that I got to spend the best four months of my life with.
I always thought that abroad would feel like a vacation from real life. While many times I had to pinch myself to remind myself that this was the amazing life I got to live, the people I spent my time with truly made Stockholm the best home away from home that anyone could ever ask for. It was the smallest things that made me feel so safe and secure in such a new place: having a friend who sent me a new song to listen to each morning on our daily commute to class on the tunnelbana, having a group of girls to try new Swedish dishes out with each night, or eating my way through the city by trying out new hot dogs (also known as a korv) with the rest of the people in my program. The people that I met on the Swedish Program were all unique and incredibly special in their own ways, but we all had the same common thread: a passion for adventure and trying new things. From cross-country skiing in the surreal Arctic Circle to getting to travel across Europe during spring break, each day held so much joy.
Most importantly, I still have that support system, just a text, Facetime call, or even a short drive away. The friendships that I made abroad are cemented in my life and hopefully will always be. As I write this, it has been roughly a year since I moved to Stockholm. Even as time passes, I become more and more passionate about how blessed I am to have these people in my life. I have already been able to visit friends from abroad at their own schools and have been able to host them at Brown. Getting to see all my favorite people get to know each other is such a source of joy in my life.
We all plan to reunite in just a month at a school that many Swedish Program students go to, and I already know it will be an unforgettable weekend. Though we may not all have the exact same interests or experiences, we are all irreversibly bonded by taking Erik’s Swedish 1 course, by the feeling of seeing a familiar face on the tunnelbana, and, most of all, by the fondness we have for the amazing city that is Stockholm.