Abisola Adegunju
Photo: Kristina Modigh

An exchange semester in the United States gave Abisola new perspectives

Abisola Adegunju decided to spend one term of her master's programme as an exchange student in the US. She returned to Gothenburg with new ideas, valuable experiences, and a heightened interest in social issues.

The desire to broaden her perspectives first brought Abisola Adegunju from Nigeria to Sweden and the International Master's Programme in Educational Research (IMER) at the University of Gothenburg. The same desire then led her to the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she spent one semester as an exchange student. 

"I am quite adventurous, so I wanted to see more of the world. I had my bachelor's degree from Nigeria and was pursuing my master's in Sweden. Going to the United States allowed me to experience the educational differences across three continents," says Abisola.

How would you describe those differences? 

"Well, in Nigeria, for example, higher education is rather teacher-centered. The teacher is seen as the sole knowledge creator, the person with all the information, and the students are recipients. Whereas in Sweden, it's more student-centered. When you attend class, they ask for your opinions. They're like, 'What are your thoughts on this?' And in the US, I found it to be quite similar – also student-centered. However, student life there differs a lot from Europe."

What was student life in the US like for you?

"I loved every bit of it. I lived on campus and had the complete 360-degree experience of being an American student. They have a lot of different clubs and activities that you can join. You can attend yoga classes, painting sessions, and everything. It's truly diverse, social and fun."

My advice is: Take that bold step. It will require some time and effort, but it will be worth it.

And education-wise? 

"I found the courses I took to be very interesting, particularly those related to social justice in higher education. I learned a lot about inclusivity and even started to look at buildings differently. Now I'm like, 'These doors are so heavy – how would someone in a wheelchair access this space?' It truly opened my mind to new ideas."

What advice would you give to students who are considering an exchange semester?

"My advice is: Take that bold step. It will require some time and effort, but it will be worth it. You need to start early. I began planning my study abroad almost a year before I finally went. But I'm so glad I did it."

You've just completed your masters' in Educational Research here in Gothenburg. What's next?

"I'm very pleased that my hard work has paid off, and I've been accepted into a Ph.D. programme at Miami University in Ohio. Because of these experiences from different continents, I was able to position myself and present myself better in my application. I'm very excited for this next step in my life."


Text: Kristina Modigh