Aaron Smith

Where did you study abroad? How did you choose your programs?
I studied in Linköping University in Linköping, Sweden. I chose this program because it was the program promoted by the Cognitive Science Department. Additionally, I tend to get hot easily and I figured Singapore, more than any other option, would leave me looking like I ran a marathon every day. Lucky for me Linköping did not disappoint and I was kept nice and chilly without freezing. In all honesty, I expected it to be much colder than it was. To my surprise, Linköping was more mild than Chicago winter my entire time there.

How has studying abroad changed your global perspective?
Studying abroad has changed my global perspective, by breathing life into it. Before this experience I had never left the continental United States, and my travels within its boundaries was minimal at best. Then suddenly one day I hopped on a plan and traveled across the ocean. While in Linköping, I met and became friends with people from all over Europe and beyond. I rubbed shoulders with Swedes, Singaporeans, Chileans, Iranians, and Frenchmen, just to name a few. The vastness of perspectives and stories I heard, opened my eyes to my need to see more if I am going to be a true global citizen. I would be lying if I said I didn’t catch the travel bug, and I can’t wait until I get a chance to go on my next adventure.

How did classes you took abroad differ from courses offered on campus at CWRU?
The major difference is that in some of my classes I was given experiential learning. Instead of attending lectures and later taking a test on the material, I was given a group project working with a local Swedish company. The lectures I received helped me progress through the project and it all culminated in laying the ground work for the company’s upcoming projects. The whole experience felt less like a class and more like a real, and in my opinion, enjoyable job.

What was one thing you did abroad that you couldn’t have done in Cleveland?
This question is hard to answer. I did so much I couldn’t do in Cleveland, like going dog sledding, feeding reindeer, taking a train ride across the Öresund Strait, traveling above the Arctic Circle or visiting the Ice Hotel. If I was forced to pick just one to talk about I would have to say that seeing the northern lights was definitely one of my favorites. It was a breathtaking experience.

What advice do you have for students who are considering study abroad?
In short: DO IT!! My time abroad was easily one of the greatest experiences of my life. Whether its short-term, a semester, or even a year, you should go out and experience the world. I now have friends all over the world, new places I can’t wait to see, and a new perspective on the world we live in.

What places are next on your bucket list?
An easier question would be where don’t I want to go. I’ve had my eyes on Japan for some time but, who knows? I currently have open invitation to visit France, Denmark, the UK, Singapore and Germany.