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Need for Swede: C of I student heads to Sweden

Bright red, double-decker buses raced by in the left-hand lane. The London Eye and Big Ben stared from opposing sides over the Thames River. And below the famous clock tower, C of I student Morgan Mesias and a dozen classmates explored the British capital during a 2015 winter term study abroad experience with professors Steven Maughan and Sue Schaper.

Though it was her first time traveling abroad, Mesias didn’t feel encompassed by a foreign culture. It was, as she said, “tame.” Her appetite for being lost in a new world of exciting adventure wasn’t completely satisfied. So this fall, she is going back to Europe for five months of study at Linköping University in Sweden.

“I’m excited, I’m ecstatic,” Mesias said days before she left. “I’m already there.”

Mesias, an art major, is the first College of Idaho student to study in Sweden. Linköping University has a vibrant exchange program, with 1,000 students from around the globe taking part each year. So in addition to being immersed in Swedish culture, Mesias will get a global experience. Her roommate, who she’s already been in contact with, is from Japan.

“A liberal arts education focuses on gaining different perspectives, and having an international understanding of culture is essential,” said John Ottenhoff, C of I vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty.

Mesias will be taking classes in the humanities, including “Terrorism, Violence and Religion” and “Nordic Culture.” She’ll also experience the intricacies of Nordic culture every day while interacting with locals and bicycling over cobbled stones in a century-old city.

“Those little caveats [of Swedish culture] will be the most interesting and complex things for me to embrace, and that’s what I’m looking for,” she said.

After returning from London and learning about the Swedish study abroad opportunity, Mesias only had seven months to make her dream a reality. Needing to raise $5,000, she worked two jobs all summer, saving every penny, while obstacles and paperwork piled up.

But even when Mesias felt stressed and ready to give up, her family and friends continued to support her goal. After finally receiving her residency permit, the feeling that she is going to live halfway across the world in Sweden sank in. And she’s going into the experience with an open mind.

“I have no expectations,” Mesias said about her adventure. “I hope for good things. I want to be able to create connections with friends and people across the globe.”

When it comes to speaking the language, Mesias only knows how to say apple, man and woman in Swedish. But she’s looking forward to expanding her vocabulary, and eager to arrive in Scandinavia.

“I had my suitcase packed last week,” she said.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. The C of I has a legacy of academic excellence, a winning athletics tradition and a history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.