Penn Abroad: Rising senior Kiersten Thomas in Sweden
Why did you choose to study in Sweden?
I was initially attracted to study abroad in Sweden due to Penn’s liberal arts study abroad program which allowed me to take courses in international affairs and public policy. As a specialist in health and society, with a focus on public health, Sweden’s impressive social welfare program, accessible health care and commitment to social and economic equality were really inspiring for me.
What was a highlight during the semester abroad?
A highlight of my studies abroad was a program-organized trip to the Arctic Circle. We took a 17-hour train to a distant city where we participated in dog sledding and snowshoeing and saw the northern lights. This experience was a clear highlight because it was a huge experience for my classmates and me, and it was such a departure from the activities I would do during a typical semester at Penn.
How do you think your experience abroad can affect your career at Penn and your goals for the future?
Studying abroad opened my eyes to a wide range of social and political beliefs that I had never had close interaction with before. In terms of my academic career, Sweden’s social welfare system was a fascinating side of the United States; but living in Sweden exposed me to its own underlying shortcomings. Studying abroad aroused a desire to gain more global experience in the future. Stockholm was such a clean and friendly city with values that mimic my own personal interests, such as sustainability, social justice and environmentalism.