By Varunan Muthiah, Undergraduate student in Business Technology Management, Ted Rogers School of Management
I remember seeing the posters for the Ryerson exchange program my first week of university. I thought it would be a great experience but didn’t think it would ever happen. Little did I know two years later I’d be on a plane to Sweden for 6 months. I didn’t know much about Sweden when applying but I knew it would be a place that would take me out of my comfort zone. This was going to be the first time I was away from family this long and living on my own. I was excited but also nervous. I had heard great things from a student who went there last year but I was still worried. I didn’t know anyone there and didn’t know if they’d have as many food options compared to Toronto. I knew it would be tough but I was determined to make the most of this experience.
The Jonkoping International Business School had set up a lot of events to show us around the city and events to meet a lot of the other exchange students. There were people from all over the world attending this university so I met a lot of people within the first week.
The university had made the first two weeks really exciting. I realized the majority of the exchange students were living in the same student accommodation as me. This meant I was less than a minute away from all my friends. It made going out super simple and everyone went out together. We had lots of parties and there was a student run club that everyone would go to every Wednesday. By the end of the first month everyone had already become friends and we were planning trips together.
The university also offered great trips to Finland and Norway. These trips were once in a lifetime opportunities. In Norway, I got to climb a glacier, kayak in an almost completely frozen lake and climb a small mountain.
Norway is one the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to and I recommend everyone to go. During the trip to Finland I go to see the Northern lights, ride a reindeer pulled sleigh, go dogsledding, and even tried ice fishing. The experiences were unbelievable but it’s the people who I went with that made these trips so great.
When travelling with friends, you become close with people very quickly. Being in Europe meant flying to another country was super cheap. I flew roundtrip to Italy for $60. Denmark was also very close and I was able to take a train there and back for around $100. I’d suggest using the hopper app, or sky scanner where you can find flights as cheap as 10 euros roundtrip.
Travelling with your new friends is a big part of being on exchange. I suggest you take the opportunity to travel but you won’t always get the chance to meet people from all over the world. I recommend making a good group of friends before setting out on travels. Making international friends means even when you travel after the exchange you have people who will be your personal tour guides in their countries. I’ve been wanting to go back to Europe and travel more but I know it will pale in comparison to the times I had studying abroad.
Doing this exchange was the best decision I’ve ever made and I hope everyone can take advantage of this great opportunity.