Kaden, Haverford College, studied with DIS Stockholm this past spring 2019. As a transgender person, they recognized the potential risk of living in a country with a very different culture to their own. However, after an amazing experience with their Homestay hosts, they quickly felt more welcomed than ever.
“For the first time in my life I actually had queer adult role models who could teach me my community’s history and show me that having a normal life is actually possible for me, which is not something I had ever been able to see,” Kaden shared.
Sweden is a progressive country, legalizing same sex marriage in 2009, which was over six years before the United States. Sweden even ranked in the top ten most rainbow-friendly countries in Europe. However, as a member of a marginalized group, you learn to weigh the dangers and benefits of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
“As a transgender person, putting myself into a new household with a family I did not know was not something I could do easily. But I decided to take the risk anyway. After all, I was going to Sweden to learn about the people and their culture and to learn my heritage language as best I could,” Kaden said.
Kaden’s Homestay hosts, Sara and Annie, made a huge impact on their time abroad. It’s one thing to explore a new culture, make new friends in classes, and travel around Europe on Study Tours – but it’s a whole other thing to be truly accepted by a new environment and a new community.
“Living in a Homestay was the best way for me to truly immerse myself in Swedish culture. I was hopeful that I would be matched with a family that was at least a little bit understanding, but I ended up with something so much more. Living with Sara and Annie for four months was an amazing experience for so many reasons,” Kaden said.