Swedish Student Offers Insight
While Preparing to Graduate
May 26, 2004 :: No. 263
Fullerton is a long way from Lysekil, Sweden
. . . not only in terms of geography but also in culture, language
When Solveig Haugen arrived in Southern California
in 1999, it was her first trip to the United States. On Sunday,
she’ll prepare to graduate, summa cum laude, from Cal State
Fullerton with a bachelor of arts in communications. She is among
459 international students who are members of Cal State Fullerton’s
Class of 2004.
“In high school, I thought I’d pursue
a career in medicine,” she recalled. “I never really
thought about the field of communications. It wasn’t until
I arrived in America, that I realized such a degree program existed.
I love it — communications combines language, speaking, writing,
business — it’s a perfect field for me.”
Haugen did know that she wanted to study abroad, however.
“Because of the European Union, it’s
easy for Europeans to move around to different countries,”
she said. “Many of my friends had studied abroad, and I wanted
to experience the culture of a different country.”
Ideally, she was looking for someplace warm and coastal;
that led her to Southern California.
Haugen originally started her studies at Citrus College
in Glendora, staying for two years with a host family. When she
completed her studies at Citrus, she transferred to Cal State Fullerton.
“It was such a culture shock when I first arrived,”
she laughed. “At first, I couldn’t believe everyone
had a car. In Sweden, we usually walk, bicycle or use public transportation.
Here, that is almost impossible.”
And although Haugen did speak English when she arrived,
she had been taught “a proper British-style of English.”
She quickly learned that Americans speak less formally than their
“My host family was originally from Mexico,
and they mostly spoke Spanish so as an extra bonus, my Spanish improved
quite a bit too,” she said. “They were also wonderful
cooks so I got to eat a lot of Mexican food.”
Haugen also was surprised at how multicultural Southern
California is. After transferring to Cal State Fullerton, she moved
into a Fullerton-based apartment with a roommate, purchased a car
and continued to focus on her studies. She still manages to return
to her native country twice a year: at Christmas and in the summer.
Fluent in five languages — Swedish, Norwegian,
English, French and Spanish — Haugen hopes to work for an
international company, where her knowledge of languages as well
as communications skills can be utilized. To that end, she has interviewed
with a few companies, mostly on the East Coast, to see about securing
employment following graduation.
“While the job opportunities are greater in
America, I still think of myself culturally as European,”
she said. “I can work up to a year in America after my graduation
and I’d like to do that. I’m guessing that at some point,
I’ll return to live in Europe but I will always remember my
time at Cal State Fullerton and all the people who helped and encouraged
Haugen’s College of Communications commencement
exercise is scheduled to begin at or after 9:45 a.m. Sunday in Titan
||Valerie Orleans, Public Affairs,
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