We’re excited to announce the winner of the StudyUSA scholarship and to share her journey from Sweden to Santa Barbara City College.
Following a Dream
Karin Eriksson is an international student from Sweden who has navigated her way through uncertainty to pursue her dream of studying in the USA; it’s safe to say that she made it.
For me, it was all the financial fears of not being able to afford paying for school and living expenses — it was the fear of not knowing whether I had to go home or signing a lease not knowing if I’d be able to stay. But it worked out in the end, and I’m happy I went for it!
Karin’s story started much like many of yours. Growing up in Sweden, she had a comfortable life — one that she could have continued and been content with. She chose not to accept that kind of life, however, and stepped out of her comfort zone challenging the fears that crept up in her mind. She chose the road less traveled and hasn’t looked back.
As she recently said during an interview, “If I would have found peace in staying in Sweden and just accepting the situation, I wouldn’t have been here today. A lot of the time when you do have that passion that drives you forward, in the end, it brings you peace because you often reach what you set your mind to, and I think that’s a very peaceful feeling.”
After a tumultuous journey that included a gap year after high school that turned into a longer gap than expected because of Covid, and a last-second train ride that kept one year from turning into two, Karin finally accomplished her goal of reaching Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). Although studying in the USA has been everything she had hoped for and more, the reality remains that navigating through life in a new country hasn’t been without its challenges.
Karin explored a number of options to aid her in covering tuition, living expenses, and the rising cost of gas. She was able to get CSN student loans from Sweden, but they didn’t cover much at all considering the cost of studying abroad. Between working before college, student loans, the CARES Act offered through SBCC, scholarships, and a part-time job as a barista that she is very grateful for — she’s been able to fund her education. In her words, “I’ve been able to figure it out. I’ve been here now for three semesters, so it’s definitely doable.”
Though much of her time has been spent on her studies and her job, her love for art has been something that’s kept her grounded during her time at SBCC. Having something to turn to, and people to turn to has been incredible support:
When I first came to the U.S., my roommates and I all got Covid the first semester. When we were in lockdown in our house, we would just paint every day. We painted our couch table, and it kind of just gave us a creative outlet and we could express our emotions doing something together. So it brought us closer, but then also kept us calm and gave us something to do.
A Word of Advice
As someone who exemplifies resourcefulness and determination, Karin understands the bigger picture. If your goal is to make your study abroad dreams a reality, it’s important that you believe it’s possible. She offers this advice to any student following in her footsteps:
I think I also had those financial fears coming here. In the end, you can make it work as long as you do apply for scholarships. I know there are a lot of scholarships you can apply for even before living in the U.S. I thought I wouldn’t win one, because I think everyone thinks that — but a lot of scholarships are for international students. Apply for as many scholarships as possible.
To students who are deciding whether to study in the USA, she says, “I think everyone should study abroad or even travel for a little bit because it gives you a bigger picture of the world and a broader view.”
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