Today is my first day home after my two week study abroad to Stockholm, Sweden and Amsterdam, Netherlands. I can honestly say this was one of the most impactful experiences I have ever had. From learning about the countries healthcare and higher education systems, so simply experiencing the fashion and culture, my worldview has been expanded greatly. I’m already looking into going back and maybe even studying abroad for longer than just two weeks. I’d say my favorite parts were visiting Stockholm University and learning about higher education in Sweden, as well as hearing from a former sex worker in Amsterdam.
Hearing how Sweden handles education, and how it is so drastically different from the United States was honestly, mind-blowing. Learning how students take one class a semester, but still have an average graduation time of three years is crazy to me. What is even crazier is that higher education, including many graduate programs, are completely free and paid for by the government. People still take out loans, but it’s to pay for their living expenses, not actual school. It is also less stigmatized for people to take a year or semester off and then go back to studying, and there isn’t any financial penalty for doing so.
In Amsterdam, sex work is legalized and there is a neighborhood known as the Red Light District which is the center of prostitution in the city. It was insane to learn how sex work is truly viewed as work in the Netherlands, and there is very little forced trafficking or sex slavery. I think something that shocked me was that even though you could technically “buy sex”, it didn’t affect how men as a whole viewed women. I honestly thought that making sex work legal would make more prone to view women poorly, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem in the Netherlands.
Overall, this trip was absolutely incredible, and truly an experience I will never forget. I want to continue to travel the world, and I hope to keep learning and expanding my worldview. Also, seeing Harry Styles in Amsterdam was pretty cool too, and I think I’m still reeling.