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From a GRSP Scholar
GRSP: A Year of New Learnings

Anna Ahlstrom - Sponsored by the RC of Thomasville - 2017-2018

When I came to Georgia in the beginning of August, I was equally nervous and excited, and did not really know what to expect. At first it was a big cultural shock. I constantly encountered new small things in the American culture that were different from what I was used to, such as wearing shoes inside, saying "sir" and "ma'am", eating grits for breakfast, and having a prayer before dinner. Then there were of course also the bigger differences - differences in values, beliefs and politics. At first, I found this quite hard to deal with, because I was unused to interacting with people who have other views or background than me. However, I am now truly grateful that I got to experience that. Because thanks to those experiences, I broadened my perspectives on the world, became a better listener, and gained a deeper understanding of American values, cultures and life-styles. I really believe that has made me more open-minded as a person.

When I look back on my GRSP year, I am amazed by how much I have done. Almost every weekend, I have gone to a new place or tried a new activity. I have learned how to sing country songs, make grits, climb rock walls, play beer pong, feed horses, do Pilates, and bake cornbread. I have eaten more cake pops, drunken more lemonade, and had more peanut butter sandwiches than ever before.

These experiences have all been amazing and played a big role in making this year so great. Yet, thinking about the people I have gotten to know is really what makes me smile the most when I look back on my GRSP year. In my host family I found the best little host sister I could possibly ask for. In school I found some wonderful friends, who are already talking about visiting me in Sweden. In the group of GRSP students I found people who have been like a second family during this year. Being a part of that family has meant more to me than I can possibly describe. No matter if we were having a legendary New Year’s Eve celebration on a beach in Mexico, or if were simply sitting on the floor in an old Airbnb house playing cards - we always had a great time together. I hope that our friendships will last for the rest of our lives. Despite the cultural shocks, occasional homesickness, and some moments of crisis, I will not for a second regret my GRSP year - and that is mostly thanks to all of these wonderful people. I am now looking forward to going back home to Sweden, but I am also sad that my year here in Georgia is coming to an end. It has been unforgettably amazing.

Posted by Lynn Clarke
May 8, 2018

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