Guide to studying abroad
Paris. Lyon. Linköping. Chicago. Cecilia Le Ridou’s studies have enabled her to see the world and discover herself.
“Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to live a different life,” she says.
As a 17-year-old, Le Ridou spent a year at the Swedish School in Paris. It left her wanting more. Now she’s 25 and studying Business Administration with French at Linköping University in Sweden. This fall she’s heading to DePaul University in Chicago thanks to an exchange program between Swedish, French, and US universities.
Before applying for the exchange, Le Ridou did her research, especially regarding which school to choose in America – an important decision with a bearing on her final degree.
“At some universities I’d gain an MBA, but DePaul will give me a more technical Master’s degree in information systems. For me, that was the right choice.”
Any student coming to a foreign country will have some practicalities to deal with. When Le Ridou arrived in Chicago, she had nowhere to live. To start with, she stayed with some American acquaintances, and then at hostels.
“When I did find a flat to share, we had no furniture,” she says. “Things take a while to sort out, but you get there in the end. Leaving the security of home is the very thing that attracts me to travel.”
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Living the dream in London
In another part of the world, Isabel Liliegren, 20, shares a flat with two friends. Navigating the London housing market was, she says, a true nightmare at first. She slept on a friend’s mattress for a month while constantly searching for available places. At one point, she and her friends almost paid €12,000 for an apartment that didn’t exist.
“I’ve seen so many shabby places!” Liliegren says. “Mildew on the walls, people sharing rooms. The pictures in ads are often inaccurate, contracts are hard to understand and there can be hidden fees. That was the toughest period of my life.”
Liliegren came to London to study tourism management. The student experience at her institution has not been exactly what she expected, but it has provided a valuable gateway to the world of work.
“There’s no organized student life at the school,” she says. “It’s not like the university life many people associate with studying abroad.
The course tutors include professionals such as hotel owners and restaurateurs, with valuable industry connections. This has helped Liliegren find a job at a small gastropub in Fulham, the Harwood Arms.
“During my first year, I was so tired,” she says. “I came home around 2am, then went to school the next morning. It didn’t work. I’ve had to be very clear with my employer about what I can manage in combination with my studies.”
Liliegren is living her dream. Within two years, she will have earned her bachelor’s degree. And she’s not aiming to return to Sweden – she plans to study wine in London or France.
“I simply cannot see any resemblance between the person I was before leaving for London, and who I am now,” Liliegren says. “I built my life here, without knowing anybody, and it turned out great.”
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Text: Sofia Stridsman and Emma Olsson
Published: January 22, 2016