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by Monica Karlstein, staff writer

 

The HPU Web site identifies the University as one of the world’s most diverse, with about 1,400 international students from more than 100 countries. It is not surprising that Japan is one of the most represented countries at HPU, as Japan and Hawai‘i share the same ocean. It is also not surprising that there is a great number of students from Taiwan and South Korea. What is remarkable is how many Europeans come to HPU. Germany and Sweden are the top two European countries represented at HPU.

“ Since I was a child, I have dreamed of going to Hawai‘i,” said Andreas Hedlund-Bratt, a Swedish student who is here for one year. “I saw HPU as a chance to make my big dream come true,” he said.

According to Sweden’s national weather Web site, northern Sweden has had an average of 2.5 sun hours per month during December and January and the whole country has averaged about three feet of snow each winter for the past 40 years. It snows an average of 125 days each year. Perhaps it does make sense that some people from a northern European country such as Sweden long to get away to warmer latitudes.

Hedlund-Bratt’s dream might be a stereotypical Swedish view of Hawai‘i, but it doesn’t explain why Swedes believe they must travel to the other side of the world to catch the sun.

“ It was not just the sun I had in mind when I chose Hawai‘i,” said Alexandra Stromberg, another Swedish student. “It was also the tropical climate, the plants, and animals that are such a contrast to our own geography.”

Surf, climate, and wildlife are not the only reasons Swedes come to HPU. The school offers educational opportunities and diversity that appeal to many young Swedes who go abroad for studies, work, or just adventure for at least one semester before finishing their education. The Swedish National Board of Student Aid is generous in its support of study abroad. For one year abroad, a student can get U.S.$2,940 as a grant and about $19,300 as a loan that they don’t have to start paying back until they finish their studies and start to work.

HPU recruiters visit countries in Asia and Europe twice a year to promote HPU. When Elfi Stephenson, who is the director of the International Center at HPU, was asked why there are so many Swedes and Germans at HPU, she said: “It may help that all recruiters are bilingual and HPU alumni themselves.” In Sweden, HPU is represented at many exhibitions, by several study abroad organizations.

Sweden’s bilingual HPU recruiter Lilian Hallström is a former student who now works as associate director of International Admission. She lives in Gothenburg.

“ It is very good that Lilian speaks Swedish,” said Hedlund-Bratt. “I had a lot of questions about teachers and student life when I still was in Sweden, and when I met her in Stockholm she was able to answer all my questions because she had her own experience from studying here.”

 
 

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