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Spring in Sweden: Escaping the GNU

During her junior year, Ilham Farah took a step outside the Global Network and into Stockholm University.

Senior Ilham Farah had plans to spend her junior year abroad in London and then New York. Fall semester in London was a success, but, unfortunately, Farah never did make it stateside. Instead she spent her spring semester studying at Stockholm University through NYU’s International Exchange Program (IEP). IEP is another option for students looking to study away; instead of going to an NYU study away site, students go to a completely different university and attend classes with students from that country as well as international students from many other universities.

“I wanted to see what it was like to be in a big university,” said Farah. “It was more of a gut feeling [to go to Sweden] than research.”

With a total enrollment of over 70,000, Stockholm University is definitely different than what most NYU Shanghai students are used to. While Farah noted that being an exchange student did let her leave the “NYU bubble,” the cold weather and short daylight hours at the beginning of her exchange led to some difficulties meeting people.

“The way Scandinavian culture is, it’s more introverted… I feel like it takes a while to get to know [Swedish people], but once you do, they’re really sweet,” said Farah. “[But] when it gets warmer, you realize how green the city is, it was just beautiful. And it was a lot more open, people were everywhere.”

While in Stockholm, Farah took both electives and courses that would count as major requirements. However, opposed to credits at an NYU global network university (GNU), which transfer exactly, getting classes at an IEP program to count towards her major took some work.

“I had a thread with my advisor that was, like, 40 emails long,” Farah said.

Farah did, however, manage to get credit towards her business major, and also took classes that only counted as electives towards graduation, such as an 8 credit course on Sweden.

Getting course credit is not the only time consuming part of attending an IEP site. Farah noted that, while not difficult, the application is much longer, as you need to first apply to NYU to be nominated, then apply to the school itself.

But the overall experience was worthwhile for Farah, who noted that she had a great time and would do it again.

“I would recommend it to someone independent enough to go through all the hoops,” said Farah. “If there’s a school [outside of the GNU], go for it…. But don’t just look at the location, go through the university website, look at the vibe, [see if] you would like it. You need to know yourself.”


This article was written by Catt Kim. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Ilham Farah

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