College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Unusual Exchange Experience in the COVID Background

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has stopped many people’s travel goals and imagination, but Wendy YUEN Hoi-yan from CityU’s Department of Public Policy still decided to study abroad in Sweden by joining the College’s outbound exchange programme during the Semester B of the academic year 2020-21. 

Having heard a lot about the education system, environmental policy and arts in Scandinavia, Wendy chose Uppsala University, a historical research-intensive university founded in 1477, to be the destination of her adventure of a lifetime. She set off for the journey in January 2021, while the global confirmed cases spiked dramatically. “I certainly felt the fear at that time. The fear of being infected in a foreign country with limited knowledge about their healthcare system was holding me back,” she shares. However, she realised that as long as she keep good hygiene, others are not up to her control, so she quickly overcame the fear. 

The courageous move was rewarding. During her time in Uppsala, she studied a lot about sustainability, environmental politics, European politics and welfare policies. She found everything that she learnt was valuable and helped her explore her area of interest. Although all the classes were conducted online, she was able to meet other students staying in a nice student residence.

Apart from its strong academic standing, Wendy chose the Uppsala University also because of its proximity to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. It gave her the advantage of being able to travel around the vast and beautiful country. She recalls the experience of travelling to northern Sweden by a 16-hour train ride and seeing aurora standing on a ginormous frozen lake the most unforgettable part of her semester-long exchange.

Wendy says while she cannot compare her experience with a “typical”, COVID-free exchange, she would do it all again in a heartbeat. She describes it as “very reflective”. “Being able to submerge myself in a different culture have changed my perspective on life and made me more confident to communicate,” she says. Academically, she finds the courses she took interesting and says all that she has learnt is still vivid till now. Studying environmental politics and experiencing the environmental system in a sustainable country like Sweden made it even more memorable. 

Cover photo: (From top to bottom, left to right) Skiing with corridor mates, tasting the famous (or infamous) Surströmming (stinky fish), standing on a frozen lake and being surrounded by spectacular scenery, having a Chinese New Year dinner with foreign friends… these are just some of the memorable moments Wendy enjoyed in Sweden.