Daniel Swedberg, a college student from Sweden, is visiting Albany this year through a Rotary program that allows foreign students to study in America.
Swedberg, who’s staying with Bill and Laura Calhoun, is taking classes at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus.
Daniel Swedberg is a Swedish law student who is spending a year studying in Southwest Georgia. This is a second installment of a series of periodic articles on his experiences.
I have now been here for four months and have just embarked upon my first Christmas break. I can honestly say that I am not missing home, and this is because of several factors. Firstly, reports have reached me saying that my home area is now completely covered with deep snow. I am very happy to be in a place where I do not need layers of jackets and thick boots as I want to walk outside. Secondly, I have a one-month long Christmas break! At home I would get off just before Christmas Eve, but still have my huge term exam in the beginning of January.
After some very intense months after I arrived here in August, things have slowed down (a little bit) as I have grown accustomed to life here in South Georgia. An elimination of things that occupied a good deal of my time in the beginning is the main cause for this. This includes setting up a bank account, buying a phone (I have now had three different carriers ...), getting a Georgia driver’s license and buying a car. Now you are probably wondering why these things would be so time consuming. All I can say is that you should all value your Social Security number!
Enough of those small obstacles, which everybody living in another country will experience. I have been around in Georgia and its surroundings more than most people would imagine. The first Rotary event held place in Rabun County in the Appalachian Mountains. This was in the end of August and it was actually nice to get away from the heat and the gnats for just one weekend. It was also here that I first met the other 54 students from all over the world, coming to study for one year in Georgia. That same weekend I also visited Atlanta and its own World of Coke, CNN and the Aquarium. Soon thereafter followed a scalloping trip to the Florida panhandle, another Rotary event in South Atlanta, amongst other things. Worth mentioning is that during this time I started pledging for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity at Georgia Southwestern, in which I got initiated just recently.
Ever since I arrived here, I have made both conscious and unconscious efforts to learn the rules of football. I have been to number of (state champions) Deerfield-Windsor’s games here in Albany. In the beginning, I must admit, I had no idea what was happening on the field, it just seemed to me that every player was running towards the “ball.” However, I did learn and I had a good incentive to do it because, in mid-September I went with the president of the Albany Rotary Club to Athens, to watch my first Bulldogs game. Needless to say it was an incredible experience. Not only the game itself, but also the tailgating and the entire atmosphere around Athens that whole weekend were amazing. For me however, the only thing was that I had failed to recognize the importance of wearing the right colors for the day. That was easily fixed after buying a Georgia t-shirt and hat, and I suddenly felt people looked at me a little friendlier ...
The college football experience did not end with the Athens visit. In October, I had the luck to be taken to an Ole Miss game in Oxford, Miss. Even though that game ended with a loss for the home team, it was a lot of fun and the things surrounding the actual game were similar to those at the Georgia game. The month also included a weekend in Savannah which I enjoyed. We visited the eight air force museum and a lighthouse. Too bad we could not go in the water due to strong currents.
During the last month, a Rotary weekend was held in Sandy Springs and Alpharetta. Although it included only things I had already done, it was as always great just for the fact that I met the other Rotary students. The connections I get from knowing them all lead to more opportunities when it comes to exploring Georgia. So far I have visited students studying in Atlanta and Athens, but now that I have a car I am going to travel around even more, for sure. I also got visited by my dad during November, which was great, and probably contributes a whole lot to the fact that I am not homesick. I had looked forward to showing him around the area and especially the campus in which I reside. As he is also a Rotarian, he enjoyed attending some American Rotary functions.
Did I ever have time to study? I did, at least the few weeks before the finals. Since the scholarship I am on is cultural in its nature, I am fortunate to have previous university experience. As I have already studied for two years at home I am accustomed to a lot of reading and a heavy workload, enabling me to explore the state and get to know people. So far I have very much enjoyed going to college in Americus. This might be due to the fact that I have chosen classes after interest because I am not pursuing a major. But it is also because of the nature of the college concept. In many ways Georgia Southwestern is different from the University I go to at home. The huge difference in size is one thing. Another thing is the campus, where Georgia Southwestern (and probably most American colleges) have a distinct area for the college. This area has the residence halls, cafeterias, sports facilities, the class buildings, and the administrative offices. Where I am from you are responsible yourself for finding somewhere to live, something to eat and somewhere to do your sports. No RA’s, Campus Police etc. While this makes for more freedom, I enjoy being “taken care of” for a change.
I am now looking forward to spending some time here in Albany during my Christmas break. However I am not going to stay here for the entire time. Christmas will be mainly celebrated in North Carolina, but before that I will be visiting Chicago for a couple of days. This trip will surely make me appreciate Southern Georgia’s mild winter climate even more than I do now.