Get Schooled: Swedish Style


Sofia Viglucci, highlights contributor

Sophomore Sara Saliamonas discusses the past four months she spent in Sweden.

Sofia Viglucci, highlights contributor

For most International Baccalaureate (IB) students at Gables, actually taking advantage of the opportunity to study in other countries is not even considered. Sophomore Sara Saliamonas, however, recently achieved her lifelong dream of attending school in Sweden.

For the first semester of this school year, Saliamonas attended school in Stockholm, Sweden, living with her aunt and uncle in their apartment in the city.

“Ever since I was in second grade I knew I wanted to live in Sweden. I used to go there every summer and I grew close with it. I wanted to experience Sweden as in everyday life, not just as a vacation. It’s hard to really understand its culture and language when you’re just there for a month during the summer. That’s why I decided to go,” Saliamonas said.

When asked about her personal attachment to Sweden, and why she chose to spend the first four months of her sophomore year in such a far-off country, Saliamonas said she is half Swedish, and has been closely affiliated with the country for as long as she can remember.

“My mom is completely Swedish, making me half Swedish. Everything I do regarding my family somehow connects with Sweden; I even call my dad’s mom “Farmor” which is father’s mother in Swedish, even though she isn’t Swedish herself. Sweden is like a second home to me. I feel safe when I’m there; even the language brings me comfort,” Saliamonas said.

Saliamonas said that although her school was in a foreign country, many of the students there were English-speaking, and many were also from other countries, attending school in Sweden for an unforgettable experience.

“The experience has brought me even closer to Sweden. The school I went to was an English speaking school so not all of the students there were Swedish. Many of the students came from different parts of the world so I was able to learn about many different cultures and lifestyles that I don’t think I would have been able to learn about here,” Saliamonas said.

Aside from simply being across the globe and having an utterly different language from that spoken in Miami, Sweden also has  a remarkably different school schedule. Rather than having a fixed schedule of 7:15 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. every day, the school system in Stockholm changed each school day.

“On Mondays we started at 10 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. but on Tuesdays we started at 8:20 a.m. and ended at 2p.m., and it varied more throughout the week depending on events going on in school,” Saliamonas said.

As for transportation, Saliamonas said that was another aspect of Stockholm that was quite unlike her routine here in Miami. While in Miami, most people use cars to get around, Saliamonas said that in Sweden, the majority of people use public transportation, such as the metro. There is also an astoundingly large amount of people who use bikes to go to and from work and school every day.

While Saliamonas said she is glad to be home, she misses Sweden, a place she called home for four months of her life. The independence and personal freedom Saliamonas experienced  during her stay in Sweden has also contributed to her personality  and characteristics.

“It is a bit more difficult than I thought it would be to adjust back into the life here. I had forgotten about how warm it really is here. What I miss most about Sweden is the people there. Everyone is very welcoming and accepts you for who you are. But, I feel that something I have brought back with me from Sweden is that I have become a more independent person and I feel that I am able to look after myself,” Saliamonas said.