Goodbye Purdue and America

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This is it. This is really happening. The day I thought would never come is almost here; it’s time to say goodbye to Purdue.

It’s true what they say – studying abroad really is a life in a year, not a year in your life. I almost feel like a completely different person after this experience. I’ve learned a lot within my field of study and about life, and even about myself. I’ve learned my best is always good enough no matter what, and there are more important things than being perfect.

But most of all, I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve met people from all over the world who I hope will be my friends for life. I’ve been on amazing trips to Toronto and Tennessee. And I’ve shared many special moments on campus with my American and international friends.

A few of my favorite moments are not special at all, just spending time with my friends in the grass on a warm day are memories that make me smile. That tells me it doesn’t matter where you are and what you do, what matters is who you’re with.

But I will miss this place, not only the people. Purdue and the U.S. represent the college life I’ve always dreamed of. Purdue made me feel part of something bigger than just going to school; the campus is about community, not only about education.

Thank you for following my journey in America. Unfortunately, this will be the last blog post about my experience. But there is one remaining thing for me at Purdue, one thing that will make my American experience complete: graduation.

Purdue will let me take part in the graduation ceremony, even though I’m not officially graduating from here. I get to wear a cap and gown and graduate with my friends, just like I’ve seen in the movies.

That will be a day of tears, both happiness and sadness. How can I enjoy graduation to the fullest when it means I’m saying goodbye to the best experience of my life? But I hope it’s just a temporary goodbye, that I’m coming back in the future.

Once a Boilermaker, always a Boilermaker.

Summer in the U.S.

The semester has come to an end. For most American students, this is probably the happiest time of the year; they either face a nice summer break (unless they take summer classes, but who does that?), or the start of their future career.

But for exchange students, this is an emotional and sad time. Our time at Purdue and in the U.S. is over. We have to leave our amazing friends and the beautiful campus to go back to our “regular” life.

But before we do, many of us travel for a couple of weeks to make the most of our American experience. And since we are on a student budget, we want to make affordable trips. This website has gathered a few of the most affordable destinations in the U.S.

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Yosemite is one of the most affordable destinations.

On the list, there are popular destinations such as Yellowstone, Washington D.C. and Key West, but there are also some interesting choices I wouldn’t have thought about, like Savannah and Nashville.

Personally, I’m going on a road trip with my parents. We will either go to St. Louis and Chicago, or drive to New York City and make stops along the way. If you have any tips what to do between Indiana and NYC, please share.

For those of you who will stay at Purdue over summer, it won’t be completely event-less. Purdue Salsa Club will give classes, so contact them if you’re interested. There will also be yoga classes and movie nights. Check this out for all upcoming events.

Indiana thunderstorms

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Pink lightning over CoRec yesterday.

One thing I find fascinating about Indiana are the thunderstorms. Since I got here last August, I’ve experienced two big ones. When they happen, I sit by the window or go outside to watch them for hours.

My roomie makes fun of me; she can’t understand why I find them interesting. She is used to the Indiana thunderstorms so they are no big deal to her. But they are the most extreme weather I’ve ever experienced.

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My roomie is making fun of me on Facebook.

When I tell people here that I enjoy the thunderstorms, they, like my roomie, think I’m silly. They ask me: “Why do you care about thunderstorms; doesn’t Sweden have northern lights, which is cooler?” Yes, we do, and that’s why I find Indiana thunderstorms fascinating, because we don’t have them.

Sure, we have thunderstorms in Sweden, but they are very modest, and they are over within minutes. Here they can go on all night. And the lightnings are all over the sky – it’s like different storms going on at the same time.

During the storm yesterday, a few other international students and I went outside. What we saw was something we had never seen before: the lightning made the sky pink. It was like a light show in the sky. What do you think of the Indiana thunderstorms?

My American dream

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Line dancing in a barn, “Hannah Montana: The Movie”.

Have you seen “Hannah Montana: The movie”? It’s a movie for kids, I guess, and it’s not very exciting, but it had a great impact on me. Everyone that studies abroad in the U.S. chooses to do so for a reason. I found some of my reasons in “Hannah Montana”.

The movie takes place in Tennessee – on the beautiful countryside where people use horses for transportation and the idea of a party is line dancing in a barn. “Awesome, I want to do that,” Ida, 18 years old, thought.

But the dream of going to America started a few years earlier, thanks to another movie. It’s a little embarrassing to admit this, but “High School Musical” is the reason I fell in love with studying in the U.S. The movie just made it seem so fun to go to an American school with all its student clubs and athletic programs, and the fact that people just randomly start singing and dancing in class was very appealing.

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Having fun in the cafeteria, “High School Musical.”

It was a little disappointing to come to Purdue and realize that people use cars instead of horses, and that no one breakdances on the tables or sings in the cafeteria. My American dream was maybe a misconception, but one department where Purdue delivers is the student clubs. I get my share of my childhood dream dancing in the salsa club and attending other clubs’ events.

I’d like to think of my Purdue experiece as if it’s a movie itself. I’ve experienced some of those college clichés you see in American movies: I’ve made friends with the athletes, I joined a student organization, I’ve been asked out by a stranger, and I’ve been to a barn wedding – things that Americans might overlook, but are typically American to the rest of the world.

The road led to a barn

We thought we were lost, that we had missed the turn. Because we had been driving on this narrow road surrounded by corn fields for ages. Two more minutes – will we make it on time? But then we saw it: a beautiful, cozy barn decorated with lights, candles and flowers. We went inside and sat down. I felt butterflies in my stomach and a smile across my face. That’s when the music started and the bridal couple walked down the aisle.

Last week I went to my first American wedding. I had no idea what to expect except from what I’ve seen in the movies. My idea of an American wedding is to have the ceremony in a nice garden or in a charming barn. So imagine my happiness when I found out that my vision of an American barn wedding came true.

The wedding was different from the Swedish ones I’ve been to. The setup of first ceremony and then reception is the same, but the content is different. The biggest difference I noticed was that the American wedding ceremony revolved around religion, which the Swedish ones don’t do to the same extent (although weddings in Sweden might be the most religious thing we have).

There’s one tradition at the Swedish weddings that this wedding didn’t have, but I don’t know if it goes for all American weddings. When the bride leaves the reception room for the first time, to go to the restroom, for instance, all girls run over to the groom and kiss him before the bride returns. Same goes for the guys when the groom leaves the room.

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An American experience: countryside, sunset and a wedding in a barn (to the left).

One part I liked about the American wedding was the father-daughter and mother-son dance. It was kind of emotional to see how they “said goodbye” to their old life and family, and started a new one together.

Another thing I enjoyed was when the bride threw her bouquet for the single ladies to catch. The other girls were committed; they dove and tackled their way to the flowers, and I happily moved away watching them fight over it.

But my favorite thing was by far the line dance. Yes people, I got to line dance in a barn at a wedding – that’s one of the most American things I’ve experienced. My American experience is complete.

The life without a computer

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A few weeks ago, the most awful thing that could possibly happen to a person of the technology era happened: my computer got the blue screen of death. In less fancy words, it broke and the only way it might be fixed is to turn it in to a repair shop, which would cost 200 dollars, according to my roomie.

There’s no way I’ll pay that much for a computer I planned to replace anyway when I get back home to Sweden. So, I decided to live the last two months of my college time without a computer. At first, it seemed like a stupid idea; how am I supposed to do school work and watch Netflix? How am I supposed to keep my social media alive?

The first day of my new and, what I thought at the time, horrible life, I realized how much free time I had without a computer. All these hours I normally spend on social media and entertainment I could spend doing something more meaningful. I started spending more time with my friends and going to more events.

I kind of had to focus more on my “actual” world rather than the virtual one. Exchange students spend limited time in another country and we should make every day count. We can experience so much more of the culture and college life if we don’t waste our time in front of a computer screen.

Another positive effect my computer-less life has is actually on the school work, which I thought would suffer from it. Instead of procrastinating in front of my computer in my room for God knows how long, I had to start planning my school work and being more efficient. Having to go to a computer lab to work creates a better balance between school and free time; in the lab I work harder than at home because I don’t want to spend all day in school, which gives me more free time.

The life without a computer makes me feel more in touch with myself; it makes me focus more on who I really am, rather than how I present myself online. I’m not saying that you should stop using computers, but I suggest you spend less time on them. Especially if you’re having a once-in-a-lifetime experience like study abroad. Get out there and make amazing memories. If you don’t, you have nothing to post on social media anyway…

Call Sweden

Sweden is the first country with it’s own phone number. Yeah, it’s true, it’s no joke, though I thought it was at first. The tourist association of Sweden encourages anyone to call the Swedish number to talk to a random Swede. The purpose is to increase communication between countries, and rise awareness of Sweden.

In an article it’s said that suggested topics to talk about when you call the Swedish number are Swedish things like the northern lights and meatballs, but you could really talk about anything. This could possibly develop a kind of friendship, and according to the article, “people who live in this cold, often dark region of the world would really like to make some friends.”

I don’t know if living in the “dark region of the world” is the reason Swedes want to make new friends, but I would definitely want to talk to random people from all over the world. Talking to random international people must be a great way to learn about other cultures and to get an insight in what life is like in different countries.

Right now I’m skeptical if this will work, though. I can imagine how people call this number in non-serious ways, as a joke. But I hope there are some interested people out there that would like to learn about Sweden and share their own experiences.

Preview: CCO’s last career workshop for international students

Are you an international student and want a career in the U.S.? Purdue CCO helps you with that. Today and tomorrow they are giving the last set of workshops in the International Workshop Series.

Same content will be offered both days. The workshops are about career topics you can reflect and work upon during summer, such as resume and cover letter development, internships and volunteer work.

  • What? CCO’s career workshop.
  • When? April 11 and 12, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
  • Where? STEW 320.
  • Who? For international students.

Purdue student Vasudha Shah from India said the event will be helpful, since she doesn’t know what to do to get a job in the U.S. Listen to a part of her interview here:

Bridges and badminton bring students together

Bridges International is an organization on campuses all over the U.S. They focus on connecting international students with American ones. The organization is all about providing service, social networking and spiritual conversation for international students, although most of the students involved are not Christian.

In order to make this happen for the international students, Purdue Bridges International puts on different events throughout the year.

“We want to give international students a home while they’re here,” said Ryan Zerfas, Purdue Bridges International.

Some of the events are weekly, but once in a while, the organization arranges bigger events such as trips and holiday celebrations. One of the weekly events that brings Purdue students from all over the world together is badminton.

They meet at CoRec every Thursday at 3 p.m. The purpose is to hang out, have fun and make connections.

Ryan Zerfas and Indian student Amartya Dutta talk about Bridges International and the weekly event badminton: