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Alexandra Gray

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Psychology BS & Anthropology
Program: UNC Psychology in Stockholm
Location: Stockholm, Sweden & Copenhagen, Denmark
Term: Summer 2019


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I always wanted to study abroad. Since I am a dual citizen, of the UK and USA, I am aware that different cultures are shaped by different experiences and belief systems. One way to experience different cultures is to live in the country to experience it first-hand. After declaring my major as Psychology, I searched the “Heels Abroad” website for study abroad programs in psychology. The UNC Psychology in Stockholm program peaked my interest because I would spend three weeks in Stockholm studying social psychology and then three weeks in Copenhagen studying positive psychology. I attended an information session where the professor shared some of her previous experiences in Stockholm, and this made me very excited about the program. As I was toying with the idea of a career in social or positive psychology, this study abroad seemed perfect.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I love travelling, meeting new people, and being exposed to different experiences and different cultures. I learned that I am passionate about what interests me, willing to take risks, open to opportunities, willing to share and listen to others’ ideas, and that friendships are extremely important. I thrived on this study abroad because I was surrounded by positive-minded and passionate people; just like me!!! The friendships I made on this study abroad, both in Stockholm and Copenhagen, will last well into the future. As a bonus, since the social psychology class taught in Sweden included other UNC students, I am now part of a small group of psychology majors who I can meet regularly, discuss psychology topics that interest us, and support one another through our junior and senior years.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories was our class tour of Gamla Stan, the historic district of Stockholm. During this tour, I learned so much about the Swedish people, their heritage, and their culture in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Our tour guide was from Croatia and he presented the information in a very humorous fashion, making everyone laugh and feel at ease. The tour felt very inclusive, which was important since it was one of the class’s first trips together and we were still getting to know one another. The guide provided plenty of opportunities for the class to ask questions about the history and heritage of Gamla Stan. It seemed as though everyone in the class participated during the tour by either asking questions of the tour guide or answering questions posed by the tour guide or other classmates, which was amazing. During this tour, I had time to get to know some classmates and the professor. I visited Gamla Stan several times after the tour as I thought it was is a beautiful part of Stockholm.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Embrace every opportunity that comes your way while you are studying abroad; interact with the native people as much as possible, enjoy and learn about the historical sights, and experience their culture. The cities that you visit have so much to offer whether it is new cultural experiences or opportunities to learn more about yourself. Take opportunities to have fun with your new friends by travelling within the countries you are studying in as well as to neighboring countries. In my case, my most memorable visits outside of Stockholm and Copenhagen were to the old city of Uppsala in Sweden, a beautiful city an hour outside of Stockholm, and Oslo and Bergen in Norway where the scenery, particularly the fjords, were breathtaking.


Would you do it again?
I would do it again in a heartbeat because of the people I met, the places I got to see, and the cultural experiences I had. This experience has shaped my future.


How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
Before studying abroad, I was unsure whether I wanted to focus on social or positive psychology, but my study abroad program answered this question. In the first three weeks, I took a social psychology course in Stockholm and in the second three weeks I studied positive psychology in Copenhagen. I was interested in both fields, but I wanted to find out more about the content and the current research in each field. I loved the positive psychology class and now know that this is the field I want to study further as a career path. This course was the starting point for me to begin to learn more about the field, the researchers and the current research being conducted in the field, and resources I can use to learn more about careers and opportunities within positive psychology. From a personal perspective, it taught me to share and listen to different ideas, make informed decisions, to create opportunities to attain your goals, and never give up!!!!