Studies abroad take Liberty High School sophomore to Sweden
January 29, 2013
By Hannah Grandine
Claire Good, 15, a sophomore at Liberty High School, spent fall far away from home, studying abroad at the International School of the Gothenburg Region in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Claire, who has always had dreams of traveling and studying abroad, was encouraged by her father Jerry Good, who has also traveled.
“Developing friendships at a young age with people in other countries, by living in their country, creates a lifetime of rich memories that remain vivid in your mind forever,” Jerry Good said.
In Gothenburg, Claire lived with her father’s friend from college, Håkan Nilsson, and his wife Ellen Boonprasit, who is Thai. Claire, who is half Thai herself, felt at home with the couple.
“It was nice because Ellen would cook Thai food,” Claire said. “They were both generous and really kind to let me stay with them.”
Claire arrived in Sweden on Aug. 16, and started school at the International School not long after. The school, filled with students from different places all around the world, was exciting.
“I remember walking in and seeing all these different ethnic cultures, and I was so liberated,” Claire said.
While at the International School, Claire took classes similar to what she would have taken as a sophomore at Liberty. Her biggest surprise was how well she connected with the other students.
“When I first went there, I was kind of warning myself that I may not have friends, or I might not fit in,” Claire said. “But, when I was going to a school that had people of all ethnicities and all backgrounds and stories, everybody was different, and so it was easy to make friends because there was less judging and labeling.”
While studying abroad, Claire was allowed a lot more freedom than she was used to at home. She used the trams and busses in the city of Gothenburg to get around on her own. She relished the freedom and spent as much time as she could exploring and spending time with the friends she made.
“I really loved everybody that I met there,” Claire said. “I was surprised that I met so many awesome people. I talk to people from there all the time, and I hope we can stay in contact.”
As she spent time in a new country, away from everyone she knew, with a greater independence, Claire believes that she grew quite a bit.
“When I was in Sweden, I could practically feel myself changing, making new discoveries about the world and about myself, and finding different perspectives from meeting a bunch of people who had different perspectives from me,” Claire said. “It really broadened my horizons.”
Claire is aware of how lucky she was to travel while so young, and is grateful to everyone who helped her make it happen, including her parents, her host parents in Sweden and her counselor at Liberty, Kay Hutchinson.
Though Claire did miss her family, friends and American pizza while she was away, she would not trade her time there for anything.
“When I came back, it was hard to believe how much I had gained from the experience,” Claire said. “I had to sum up a lot of courage to be able to leave everything behind, but once I did, it was incredible. I would like to encourage everyone else to do the same if they have the chance.”