Hello! I’m Chloe, and I study English with a minor in History. I recently spent five weeks in Sweden, where I participated in the Summer School for Sustainability at the University of Gothenburg. The Summer School brought together over 150 students from 37 different countries to spend the summer in the beautiful, sustainable city of Gothenburg. With five different courses united by the overarching theme of sustainability, the course used the United Nations’ Global Goals as inspiration for a sustainability-based curriculum.
As a humanities student, I opted to take the course ‘Justice: Ideas and Ideals in Fiction, Philosophy, and Religion.’ Whilst the course complemented my studies of English – for example, we studied plays such as The Merchant of Venice and Antigone – it also gave me the opportunity to go beyond my usual areas of study. The course was challenging but also enjoyable and eye-opening, particularly as the different backgrounds of the cohort led to a wide range of insights and perspectives on the topics we studied.
Whilst the prospect of going abroad alone was initially daunting, I soon settled in, and ultimately had the most amazing experience in Sweden. With everyone in the same position, it was easy to make friends – I even made some in the airport! The morning after our arrival, the university hosted a Welcome Ceremony complete with live music from a local band, speeches from academic staff, and fika (vaguely defined as taking a relaxing break to enjoy coffee and cake with others).
Perhaps the most exciting part of the summer school was the extensive programme of social activities, and the opportunities to explore the city of Gothenburg. The Summer School team organised various activities which enabled us to explore and also to socialise with our fellow students. We had some exciting study visits, for example a visit to the Western Sweden Chamber of Commerce, and another visit to the GoCo Health Innovation City, where we were given a presentation on the future of sustainability within healthcare innovation and collaboration.
There were also non-academic activities and excursions planned for our enjoyment, such as day trips to the local towns of Marstrand and Varberg. There was a Kubb tournament run by the student ambassadors, Cornelia and Hanna, in Slottsskogen park – whilst the majority of us had never played the Swedish outdoor game before, it was great fun, and the sun even made an appearance for the afternoon! We also had an excursion to the Gothenburg Botanical Gardens, where a member of staff took us on a guided tour. There were also Karaoke nights arranged by students on the Summer School, which were great fun for everyone. A particular highlight is our Paddan Sightseeing boat tour, which took place in very heavy rain, but was enjoyable nonetheless!
One great feature of the Summer School was the amount of free time we had to explore Gothenburg on our own terms. For my course, we only had to be in class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we had the time and flexibility to engage in various activities. One of my favourite activities was visiting the Southern Archipelago island of Styrsö, where we swam in the ocean and ate the most amazing Greek salads at a small local restaurant. The free time also gave us the opportunity to explore nearby Scandinavian countries – I was lucky enough to visit both Norway and Denmark with some course mates whilst on the summer school, and I absolutely cannot wait to go back and explore more of Scandinavia one day.
We also took our newfound discovery of fika very seriously, and tested out various local cafes – my favourite of these had to be Da Matteo, which was located just a five minute walk from our campus. With our campus located in the city centre, it was easy to go shopping and to find nice places for lunch during our breaks. It was so fun and convenient to explore the local area, and find new hidden gems all the time.
To wrap up the Summer School, we had a farewell ceremony on our final day. Taking place in the same location as our Welcome ceremony, this was a very bittersweet, full-circle way to wrap up what was an amazing experience for us all. With live music and speeches like we had in the first ceremony, we were also presented with our diplomas for completing the Summer School. The ceremony ended with another fika, the perfect way to say goodbye to everybody.
Overall, the experience was absolutely incredible; I gained so much confidence from travelling alone, meeting so many new people, and adapting to a new location. The experience has definitely made me excited to consider further overseas opportunities when I graduate next year, something I probably wouldn’t have thought about much before. I would recommend the Summer School for Sustainability to everybody!