Ever since I was a child, I have dreamed of traveling the world. Within the past couple of years, this dream has grown to involve learning about food and business through traveling so I can one day attain my ultimate goal of owning and managing a successful restaurant.  Food has always been a passion of mine- eating it, making it, learning about how it’s made.  I could watch documentary after documentary on the fermentation process of cheese alone.  Anthony Bourdain is my muse.  I believe that food brings people together, whether it’s sharing a beer with friends or slow cooking a stew and partaking in the miracle of watching a tough hunk of pork metamorphosize into a tender, fatty dish that tastes like love.  However, I know that the restaurant industry is a daunting place to start a business venture, as it has a high fail rate.  I am majoring in business management to develop necessary business skills to raise my chances of success and become more responsible with money, because if I were any less disciplined, I would have already blown my savings on hole-in-wall taco shops and Pad Thai.

So this winter, I applied to a study abroad program where I could delve deeper into hard business skills while seeing another corner of the world and experiencing a business culture that I very much admire.  I applied to the Sweden study abroad program to take a supply chain class at Jönköping International University. I applied to Sweden in particular for multiple reasons.  First of all, I have been abroad to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria so I know the approximate area (even though they are separate countries) and love the landscape and weather.  I also thought that since the countries are fairly close geographically, that I would be able to fit in after previous experience abroad.  I also know that Sweden is an English-speaking country.  Even though they speak Swedish, most everyone knows English, so communication abroad would be very easy for me and I wouldn’t have to learn another language.  Most of all, though, I wanted to experience Sweden’s culture, in particular, its business culture.  Sweden tends to have a very humanistic approach toward work.  They provide paid maternity and paternity leave, and many companies have adopted shorter business weeks with long lunch breaks to contribute to the health of the worker.  Sweden also puts a huge emphasis on education and caters to the individual needs of the student, which is a quality that I strongly value.  When I am there, I want to observe these cultural differences and see how they affect work ethic and output.  I am also ecstatic to have the opportunity to partake in the Swedish education system at a college level and to see how I like it.

Of course, I will eat lots of Swedish food.  I was happy to learn at a study abroad meeting that Sweden, like Germany, also has Turkish culinary influence so I will be able to eat lots of Döner kebab too.  Döner (which I like to eat in a sandwich), is a delicious Turkish dish comprised of meat cut from a spinning kebab, which is put on a pita, bread, or other platform, and garnished with tomatoes, cabbage, white sauce (much like tzatziki), red sauce (spicy), pickles, etc.  It’s very similar to shawarma or gyro, and it is delicious.

I have completed all my study abroad forms, so all that is left to do is book my flight, attend a meeting, and get set up with which apartment I will be staying in once I reach Sweden.  I could not be more excited to go on this new journey in June, and I eagerly await the new friendships, knowledge, and tasty food that await me in Sweden!



UCF business exchange Sweden


Döner kebab


Parental leave in Sweden



Lauren Polson

UCF College of Business Student