Tarleton State University’s Department of Psychological Sciences took several students on a study abroad trip over spring break to Sweden and Finland where they learned about the educational system in Scandinavia.

“During that experience the students were exposed to Sweden and Finland’s culture, educational systems and their unique approaches to instruction and assessment,” said faculty leader Dr. Jamie Borchardt. “This course was educational psychology and it is set up to enhance their understanding of the theories and research of human development, cognition, learning and motivation, and their application to the processes of teaching and learning.”

Some of the students, faculty and staff who went on the trip are Jeyton Freed, senior communications major; Jeremy Coulston, junior psychology major; Amelia Hicks, junior psychology major; Skylar Redlin, junior psychology major; Felicia Mace, senior education major; Kristen Bowman, junior psychology major; Kelsey Hoelscher; Steven Shirley; Alexandria Presley; Dr. Kimberly Rynearson, faculty leader; Dr. Jamie Borchardt, faculty leader; and Kimberly Jaska, staff leader.

“This was a great experience, which led me to realize how much more is out there in the world,” Kristen Bowman said.

The students learned about eating a variety of foods, how to deal with personal challenges, how to navigate in a foreign country and the difference in how other countries treat genders.

“There were no gender symbols on the bathrooms. Saunas are very popular and oftentimes these were not gender separated,” Borchardt said. “The individuals there did not seem to mind, nor did they seem to think this was out of the ordinary. This seems to be an interesting concept considering the fact that the US has been predominately gender separate until recently.”

Some students shared their thoughts as a group on what they enjoyed about the trip:

“It’s cool to travel with people that you don’t know, as you may be more adventurous with people you are not familiar with. It makes you do things out of your comfort zone, which makes you grow as a person.” “It was cool that we were in a whole new situation and bonded as a group of individuals who barely knew each other prior to this trip.” “We have realized that we are more independent than we thought.” “We have learned a lot about ourselves and what we are capable of. We left this experience with a new global perspective, it helps getting lost once or twice.” The group traveled to an international school in Finland where they saw how the Finnish school systems work.

“Finland in general has some of the best schools and teachers in the world,” Borchardt said.

Here is what the students noticed about the schools:

“I was amazed at how many students went around shoeless,” Jeyton Freed said. “The school afforded students with a lot more autonomy, children were dropped off to walk into the school alone at a very early age,” Dr. Rynearson said. “Non-orderly, no lines, no monitors at lunch, it was so cool that students were able to have an enjoyable experience at school. Kids seem to be happier to attend school, and they might actually want to go to school in an environment like this,” Amelia Hicks said. The students came away wanting to travel more, get out of their comfort zones and experience other cultures.

“Everyone in their life needs to experience going to another country at least once in their lifetime,” Jeremy Coulston said.