Manuel Collado of Vera Cruz, Mexico, always knew he would study abroad, but never considered Sweden until he became a student at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Collado, who will graduate from Bethany in May with a bachelor's degree in finance and accounting, spent the fall semester at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden. He began looking into study abroad opportunities during his sophomore year and learned about Bethany's exchange program with Linnaeus.
“I had considered other countries like Spain but really wanted to experience a different culture from my own,” Collado said. “I planned on going abroad during college but never looked at Sweden as an option. I ended up loving it.”
He enjoyed his time in Sweden so much that Collado is hoping to return there sometime next fall. He is very attracted to the Swedish culture and is looking for another chance to live there, he said. He hopes to pursue a post-graduate degree or find a job working in finance. He said being a Spanish-speaker will help him find work opportunities in his field.
As a student at Linnaeus, he said the biggest difference between college in Kansas and Sweden is that class attendance in Sweden was not required. Although having more free time came with more responsibility, Collado said he enjoyed having the opportunity to travel around the country and to attend the many festivals and events that took place while he was there.

Active people with a healthier lifestyle
“I think the hardest part for me was getting used to the eight hour time difference,” Collado said. “I really enjoyed the culture and the mindset of the Swedish people. It is a very healthy lifestyle. People are very active, ride bikes everywhere and eat healthier. I really enjoyed that.”
Collado played golf for Bethany College his first two years but after an injury was unable to continue. Traveling gave him an opportunity to observe what life is like for others. He was impressed with what working life was like in Sweden. “There seemed to be a very pleasant work environment,” he said. “Because of breaks and time off, employees seemed less stressed and happy with their jobs. There seemed to be a high-quality work life regardless of a person's job level. That is what got me thinking about looking for a job in Sweden.”
He was also able to meet people from all over Europe during his travels in Sweden and found most people to be very open-minded and accepting.
“The experience of living in another country opens your mind and you realize you and your country are not the center of the universe,” he said.
Collado believes his study abroad experience taught him to be more open to possibilities and to see that people are more alike than different. “I learned that borders are just lines drawn on a map,” Collado said. “Studying abroad gives you a different perspective on your past beliefs.”
After commencement ceremonies in May, Collado will return to Mexico but is making plans to get back to Sweden in August.

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Life Made Sweder

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the web at www.bethanylb.edu.