Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith to reach your full potential. Kameo, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, studied abroad at DIS Stockholm in the summer of 2022. Read her reflections on breaking barriers and embracing the unknown.
I am my ancestor’s wildest dreams. As I inhaled the crisp Stockholm air for the very first time, my aspirations appeared clearer than any exhalation. By way of faith, prayer, and student scholarship, there I was, a first generation Jamaican-American college student studying abroad in Sweden.
DIS fostered a summer of immeasurable training from professionals in my dream careers. For six weeks, I would be learning from renowned photographers and a best-selling author teaching Storytelling through Photography and Travel Writing. We learned from real-world examples and acquired thoughtful insights. From field trips to popular local museums and galleries, to the four-day Study Tour through the Croatian islands, I recultivated my love for the creative process. My study abroad experience is an impressive transition into my senior year of undergrad.
The Power of Self-Belief
Courage is a determining factor for a successful future. You must have strength in the face of anxiety, fear, and grief. Studying abroad is not a simple task. At times, sorrow rings the melancholic bell drawing you closer into anguish. I found myself stuck singing its tune, caught by the homesick bug recalling the distance between Stockholm and Pennsylvania. I broke this heavyhearted chorus with the power of self-belief and realigning with my passions. When I felt down, I painted, which allowed me to remain present and savor my time in Stockholm. Any time you feel low, remind yourself what you are studying abroad for.
“I always believed that when you follow your heart or your gut, when you really follow the things that feel great to you, you can never lose, because settling is the worst feeling in the world.” – Rihanna, 2016
Cultivate New Experiences
Until you release your fear of the unknown, you will never know what life has to offer. Being true to yourself is taking accountability for when you get in your own way. As an introvert, making new friends was intimidating. Anxiety made it difficult to go out. I had to stand firm, swallow my discomfort, and embrace the unknown.
My camera was my shield. It protected me from all nervousness. I would take on Stockholm, camera in hand, capturing photos of the city around me and the strangers within it. Wherever I went I filmed moments, knowing my time abroad will soon come to an end. It was important to meet new people and cultivate new experiences.
In June, I celebrated Midsummer for the very first time in Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum. It was fascinating to witness traditional Swedish culture in real life. I dined on authentic cardamom buns and Våfflor as people chanted and sashayed around the maypole. I wandered around Skansen, admired its scenic views and eclectic zoo, and enjoyed the celebratory energy. Midsummer is a holiday I will look forward to every year.
Dare to Try
The hum of the plane soothes my ears as we ascend into the sky. Thousands of miles above civilization, I feel weightless. Stockholm fostered personal growth within me. Imagine if I did not try. I would not have met my remarkable teachers and classmates. My passions in photography and writing would remain dormant. I would be fixated in my everyday mundane life of school, work, and home.
I am the first person in my family to study abroad. As the youngest child, choosing a different route creates a precedent for the next generation.
I am the first person in my family to study abroad. As the youngest child, choosing a different route creates a precedent for the next generation. My journey as an artist has been a tough one of having to continuously prove myself as steadfast and dedicated to my dreams. I thank God for this opportunity. Every choice I made and lesson I learned has led up to this point. You will never reach your full potential if you do not dare to try.
Learn more about Summer at DIS:
>> Read Kameo’s Summer Writer posts