The best part of study abroad

…is studying. Yes, I’m serious — just bear with me.

You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a while. Most of my time has been occupied by school work, and I’m in the midst of finals as I write this (instead of the three papers I have due next week). But while the workload at DIS is heavy, even compared to William & Mary, I don’t mind putting in the effort.

Over the last four months, I’ve learned so much by experiencing a new culture and being completely self-sufficient for the first time. But, I think I’ve undergone a more significant change: I’ve learned to love learning.

My high school and college experiences have been defined by extreme competitiveness—with peers but more so myself—that gradually eclipsed my curiosity and passion for learning. I think a lot of American students can relate. I put too much pressure on myself and value into my grades, and I stopped participating in class out of fear.

While I definitely still care about academic achievement, being at DIS has helped me let go of the cut-throat, competitive urge to succeed that I grew up with.

The classroom where I had Swedish Language & Culture, Human Trafficking & the Sex Trade, and Public Health Emergencies & Health Crisis Management.

At the beginning of the semester, most of my DIS professors explicitly told us that they didn’t want us to prioritize our course grades, or even think about them at all. My peers and I reacted with laughter. But now, nearing the end of my time here, I’m glad they set that precedent.

I can confidently say that this semester was the first time I’ve ever felt comfortable learning for the sake of it, participating without fear, and letting myself make mistakes. I think some of that had to do with my course letter grades not transferring back to William & Mary, but most of it was due to my DIS professors, our small class sizes, and the broader Swedish norm of not prioritizing academic achievement.

My Public Health Emergencies & Health Crisis Management class on the last day, featuring our professors, Jad and Ridwan.

My classes here certainly weren’t easy — I had to push myself to think and communicate in new ways every single day. But, for the first time in a long time, I enjoyed it.

Now I have to get back to writing those papers! 🙂

2 thoughts on “The best part of study abroad

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