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Tristen Best

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Economics & Public Policy. Data Science Minor
Program: Exploring Economics in Scandinavia
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Term: Summer 2022


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I heard about my study abroad program while taking Dr. Kalina Staub’s ECON 101 course in my 1st year at UNC. I always wanted to learn about Economics from a perspective outside the US and take my studies a step further. Once I discovered the program was open for students after 2 years of being canceled due to COVID, I knew immediately at the interest meeting I would regret passing up this opportunity. Another unique aspect of this particular program that drew me in is that you receive graded course credit for the UNC course and the class schedule is full of unique excursions outside the classroom.


What did you learn about yourself?
I discovered that I am a happier version of myself when I allow myself to experience new adventures and opportunities. It can be hard to adjust to a completely new environment but part of my growth abroad is attributed to going out of my comfort zone. After discovering how to use public transportation and navigate the beautiful city of Stockholm, it gave me the confidence and freedom to explore and seek out new cultural experiences. Some of these cultural experiences included celebrating Midsummer in Skansen, trying IKEA meatballs, and eating dozens of kardemummabullar but it’s those small memories I can appreciate. One of the aspects of Swedish life I learned abroad and still try to practice every day is lagom, which means “just the right amount”. I truly believe this mindset of achieving lagom is part of me and a constant reminder of what I can accomplish.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
This is probably the most difficult question people ask because I did so much during my time in Sweden and met a lot of amazing people. I would say the memory that sticks with me the most is one of the weekends where my classmates and I took a day cruise to Helsinki, Finland. We all stayed up late and sang Karaoke together, sat on the deck and saw the beautiful sights of the Baltic Sea, and bought souvenirs at the outdoor markets at the Helsinki port. I think what makes it even more special is that this short trip was an idea one of my classmates came up with and we all decided to do it together, becoming even closer friends by the end.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
It is a natural feeling to feel uncertain about the new environment you are in while abroad. I remember my greatest fear was getting lost or feeling homesick during my stay in Sweden. One thing I quickly discovered was that other students in my class were experiencing the same feelings and our best support system was each other. I also felt comfortable approaching my instructor Dr. Staub because she made it clear that she would support us. The UNC Study Abroad Office provided a lot of resources before I departed the US, including information that helped me feel more secure and I could reference while abroad.


How do you identify?
First Generation College Student, Scholarship Recipient


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Don’t ever feel guilty about having a budget and sticking to it! If you are a scholarship recipient and worried about spending too much of your savings during your travels, don’t worry. I was able to find friends who were able to spend similar amounts of money and we helped each other find fun activities that didn’t make a big dent in our savings.