I’ve always been an explorer and a traveler, and I thought that an exchange would provide me with an opportunity to see a new part of the world, meet new people and get experiences I couldn’t get in my town in Sweden. So to go and study psychology in Canada was a dream come true.

I’d heard a lot of good things about Canada and wasn’t disappointed upon arrival. The people were so open, friendly and helpful, and I felt very welcome. I did my semester at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, in the far west of Canada. Vancouver Island has forests, mountains, beaches and many other beautiful places. I love nature and the diversity of places, so even if I find the nature back in Sweden more than perfect, I was happy to explore a new kind of environment, different-looking mountains and forests.

Hanna Eriksson / Climbing

The studying was intense: it was a lot to do, and a whole new system to get used to. In Sweden we often take one course at a time, but at VIU you have all your courses running parallel throughout the whole semester. But the courses were super interesting, and the teachers were great, so I enjoyed it anyway. On the weekends I tried to get out and explore the beautiful island. We hiked on the mountains, went wave surfing, climbing, skiing and exploring. A lot of fun!

I loved my semester in Canada in many ways, and I am so happy that I went there. But in a weird way it also made me appreciate my home even more. To see signs saying “private property” in Canada made me so thankful for the freedom we have in the Scandinavian wilderness, where you can walk wherever you want and you are all sharing the nature – it’s no one’s property.

I would love to go back to Canada one day. The country is so big, the mountains massive and so cool, and there are so many places I would like to go to: explore more of the Rockies, maybe visit the far North where so few people live, and just hang out with more Canadians, such great people. I think I will take a lot with me from Canada. To be a psychologist you have to be able to meet different kinds of people in different situations, from different cultures and with different backgrounds, so just meeting people from all around the world has helped me with that.

I can encourage everyone who wants to go abroad to just do it. You have nothing to lose, just a lot to gain!

[Originally published in 2015 Shared Voices magazine]