Junior Alex Whitman returned from Sweden a few months ago. Many fellow Comets have been wondering what it was like so the Gazette asked him a few questions.
The Gazette: First, why Sweden?
Alex: Swiss Miss, Snowboarding, Northern Lights.
The Gazette: Right on. How did you get there?
Alex: I started looking at study abroad pamphlets last year. Our school has a pretty good success rate with the shorter programs, so I applied to a five-weeker. I had to write a bunch of essays about why I wanted to travel and then submit a list of places where I'd want to go. I think Sweden was fourth on my list. Once you send in all the material, you just sit around and wait for the program to find a spot and send you.
The Gazette: Maria Deluca said you didn't think you made it.
Alex: I was pretty sure I'd been rejected from the program. I didn't hear from them for weeks. Then the call came and they were like, "It's Sweden," and I had a week to pack my stuff and get on a plane to Stockholm. It's surreal.
The Gazette: What was it like when you got there?
Alex: The key to my trip was my host family. The Olsons were amazing. It hardly felt like I was thousands of miles from home. They took me on trips everywhere, like the opera and skiing in Lapland. They were warm and friendly and very patient with my bad Swedish. And they made me do my own laundry, which I think was a huge growing experience for me.
The Gazette: Word of advice for future travelers?
Alex: You can never have too many socks. Really. I know you think you can just turn them inside out and you've got like a new pair, but that trick doesn't work for very long if you're sharing a small room with someone.
The Gazette: What did you learn from the trip?
Alex: I think the best thing about my experience is that I learned when life makes changes, it does it quickly. You can either go along for the ride or cower under the covers. I had the chance to travel to another continent and I took it, without hesitation. I'm pretty proud of that.
The Gazette: How about the food?
Alex: Every meal there's a potato. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Potato, potato and potato. And noodles. I think I must've gained ten pounds. Which isn't a bad thing, I guess.
The Gazette: What's next for you?
Alex: Graduation, obviously. It's the next big step. After that, the possibilities are endless. The things most important to me are here, my friends and my family. At the same time that's what makes me feel okay about traveling more, I've got this home I know I can always come back to.
The Gazette: Where are you going next?
Alex: There are things I miss about Sweden, sure. But I don't think I'll go back there again. Sweden was like a test to see if I could take control of my life and where I was going. Now that I know that I can, I want to go everywhere. I met this guy at a hostile who spent three weeks backpacking through Spain. I'd love to convince my friends, Liz and Maria, to do that with me the summer after grad.
The Gazette: Would you do it again?
Alex: Absolutely. In a heartbeat. Gripa det dagen.
|Junior Alex Whitman on Sweden: "I think the best thing about my experience is that I learned when life makes changes, it does it quickly. You can either go along for the ride or cower under the covers. Photo courtesy Gustav Olson|