My life-changing semester abroad in Sweden

Alexandra Myszkowski in Sweden with Northern lights in the background

When I first heard about the semester abroad program, I thought I wouldn’t be selected. I was ready to let the chance go by, but after some serious thought, I decided to apply for the fall semester in Sweden. The idea of living abroad was something I had dreamed of for a long time. I’ve lived at home in Mississauga my whole life and commuted to Toronto for my studies, so I was ready for a change.

A big push for me came from a friend I met at the Ted Rogers School. He spent a semester in Scotland, and his stories inspired me. He talked about the amazing people he met, the support he received, and how the whole experience changed his outlook on life. I couldn’t help but want the same for myself. With a future in business, I knew a semester abroad would be a fantastic opportunity to learn about the global business scene. Plus, I got interested in Sweden during an HR course at TMU, where we discussed Nordic living. It seemed like the perfect fit.

Alexandra Myszkowski feeding a reindeer in Sweden

My time at Jönköping University was beyond anything I imagined. From day one, I was welcomed into an incredibly friendly community. Jönköping’s kickoff experience is one of the best in Sweden, and I was lucky to be part of the winning team. I collected patches, went on amazing hikes, tried new foods and even experienced a moose safari! One of the highlights was travelling to Lapland, seeing the Northern Lights, leading a dog sled and feeding reindeer. Did you know you can kiss a moose if you hold a potato between your teeth? 

A really nice part of Swedish culture is fika, which is a daily coffee break where people slow down to enjoy a coffee and some pastries, usually with friends or colleagues. It’s all about relaxing and connecting with others. As a student, I was happy to find that produce often goes on sale, making it easy to eat fresh food at a low cost. The beaches are also surprisingly warm in the summer. I even learned that Swedes rip apart their pizza with their hands because it doesn’t come pre-cut — definitely a learning curve.

Living with nine roommates was wild (definitely not the norm, by the way), but it was a blast and taught me so much about sharing space. I made lifelong friends and got to experience so many new things, from exploring nature to enjoying the nightlife.

What really made this experience special were the skills I gained. I learned to take care of myself, manage my time and adapt to new situations. I was able to work with the student union and joined associations like the Students for Sustainable Action Events Committee, where we organized sustainable events for all students, and the JIBS International Crew, which focused on making semester exchanges fun for everyone. We even had a Go Exchange fair where my team got to highlight how cool Canada is by preparing different foods, giving out pins and providing a flag for everyone to sign. I was able to bring the signed flag home with me and I love to reminisce about my time abroad while looking at all of my friends’ signatures and warm wishes.

Alexandra Myszkowski on boat in Sweden

Looking back, I couldn’t be more grateful for my semester abroad. It’s made me consider pursuing a master’s degree in Europe after I graduate. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, I say go for it. It’s a chance to step out of your comfort zone, experience a new culture and grow in ways you never thought possible. Trust me, it’s worth it!