Better than expected

Sarah Bohlin studied in Heidelberg for four months and fondly remembers her stay in Germany.
"I had a great time; better than what I had expected. The best thing about the exchange was probably getting to know people from all over the world. It gave me such an international network. Now I can go to lots of different places in the world and visit friends if I want to. I would also enjoy inviting friends to Sweden to show them what it’s like over here."

Fantastic study environment

Heidelberg is a beautiful, likeable city.
"As it wasn’t bombed during the war it’s pretty different from other cities in Germany; it almost looks like something out of a fairytale. The student life was fantastic with lots of activities on offer, which made it really easy to get to know people. The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organization was very active. Among other things they arranged evening acitivites and trips in Germany and Europe."

Supportive 'buddy' at the university

Sarah really appreciated the university’s ’Buddy Programme’.
"I made a very close friend that way. My ’buddy’ showed me around the university and through her I got to know a lot of locals. It was great and I recommend that programme to everyone. It almost surprised me that I could make so many friends in such a short period of time. There’s something about the Erasmus atmosphere that makes people bond easily. It didn’t take us long to form a tight group of friends."

Tempted to go abroad again

Heidelberg won’t be Sarah’s last experience abroad.
"I’ve started thinking about studying or maybe working abroad. I know that there are many possibilities. I wouldn’t mind going back to Germany, or to England. Actually I could go anywhere! Once you’ve done an exchange you feel like going abroad again. Once you’ve got to know people from other countries it’s no longer that ’daunting’ to travel. Erasmus is like an introduction to the world. You become more open to other cultures and you realize how much you can learn from them."
In a globalized world it can be important to be able to deal with other cultures, regardless of your career path.
"Exchange studies are important as they make you understand that it’s fun to get to know new cultures", Sarah says, "and you may also learn a lot about yourself along the way."

An ambassador for Sweden

"As an Erasmus student you easily notice cultural differences between different countries”, Sarah says. ”You also gain a new perspective on your own culture. For instance it’s not that easy to explain why we eat fermented herring in Sweden. You become aware of your own culture in a new sort of way. I realized that you easily become an ambassador for your own country. In Heidelberg I was ’the Swedish girl’. But here I’m just me. It was different, on good and bad."

Homesickness in the modern age

When, occasionally, Sarah got homesick she was grateful for today’s modern technology.
"The first weeks I spoke to my mother on Skype every day! I wanted to keep her updated about everything. But towards the end I wasn’t in touch as frequently and she nearly got a bit upset, although she knew it was a sign that I had a really good time. When I was about to go home it was mid August and the weather was stunning. I studied quite a lot and I also had a really good time. We went swimming and had lots of ice-cream (there’s delicious ice-cream in Heidelberg!). It was a bit hard to go back to Sweden!"

Everything served on a plate

"With Erasmus you get everything served on a plate," Sarah says. "You’re offered a scholarship, you get a credit transfer for your course, you get the chance to get to know other students very easily. Even if things are not perfect the whole time, there is almost always a solution. I think you should do an exchange in order to get a new perspective on your life. Here in Stockholm you have your course or programme, your friends, your life, but the world is big and worth discovering. Take the chance while you can!"

Interview by Clara Tortellini. Translation from Swedish into English by Karin Persson.