My name is Pontus Löfgren and I am spending an exchange year in Riverside, California. Riverside is not the stereotypical vibrant city with a beautiful beach that I am sure you imagine a Californian city would be. Instead, it is actually a pretty dull city in the eastern part of Greater LA. But that does not really matter; being in a state that has so much to offer is just fantastic!
When you are 9000 km away from home, things can be quite different. One such thing is culture. To me, us Swedes are analogous to oranges: in order to enjoy an orange you must first cut through a thick peel, but once you have done that, it tastes great. We are pretty shy when talking to strangers, but once we get through that initial contact and awkwardness, we are basically friends. Americans on the other hand, are like peaches. Just take a bite and you will taste that delicious fruit right away. But in the middle there is a super hard pit that you really cannot crack. The Americans are generally easy-going and enjoy making conversation with strangers. However, when it comes to becoming real friends, you need to be patient and work hard to crack that pit!
Also, when you are 9000 km away from home you start to realize how fantastic home – Sweden and Lund – is. For example, I miss the ease of moving around in Sweden with public transportation. Before I bought my car, I felt imprisoned in this city because of its poor public transportation system. But with a car, you really feel free to explore all of California and its vicinity. Secondly, I miss Lund’s generous student-life with our lovely banquets and our unique traditions, like softball at Parran. Most of all, I miss the lovely taste of sill and besk, and being with my friends.
So far, I have been to Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, among other places. In about a week, I am going for a hike in snowy Yosemite with a Spanish girl and a Singaporean guy who has never seen snow. There is so much to do and see. If you ever get the opportunity to attend a year of exchange at a UC campus, I can guarantee that you will have a great time. But owning a car is really important, so save some money during the summer before you leave.
And by the way, my visa allows me to work as an intern for as long as I have been studying here. If you know anyone who is looking for a hard-working business-student, please let me know!