Swedish exchange program sparked spirit of adventure in young student

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— I am a graduate of the 2010 Swedish Exchange program, and since the moment I was accepted, there hasn’t been a day that has gone by when the experience doesn’t cross my mind.

By the time the application period for the Swedish Exchange program came around, I was excited to apply, yearning for new experiences. The process was tedious, but I earned a place in the program not knowing of the impact this experience would have on my life.

Staying in such close proximity to the students from Sollentuna, Sweden, for six weeks required me to find a way to bond with new people, regardless of who they were. My exchange student, Sofia, was the sweetest girl I have ever met but was shy, nonetheless.

Initially, connecting with Sofia was a challenge. However, as the exchange progressed, so did our friendship. Four years later, Sofia has visited me in Steamboat twice, and we stay in touch by emailing and using Skype whenever possible.

I gained a lifelong friend, but I also learned more about myself and my aspirations thoughtout those six weeks almost four years ago than any other period in my life. The exposure to unique places, such as the Swedish Archipelago, sparked my desire to travel the world.

Many Swedish families own a “summer house” in the Archipelago. Our group was fortunate enough to visit one of these houses owned by the parents of a student in the program. Although the water was a frightening 45 degrees and bits of ice still were trying to melt, we went waterskiing and wakeboarding. It was moments like these that truly bound us together as students and lifelong friends.

Finding similarities and connections between seemingly unrelated places and people is a powerful experience. The opportunity to meet people from across the world is one that should never be underestimated, and Steamboat's Swedish exchange program provided me with that chance.

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