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Three years ago, in 2010, I was part of the north2north exchange program between the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and Finnmark University College in Norway. I enrolled in this program to broaden my knowledge in a different culture and on different subjects than I was studying in Canada. This experience caused me to rethink my career, where I was going to live, and what I was going to do with my life.

Shawn_KristiansandIt was only a matter of months after my exchange program had ended that I made my first trip back to Norway. My quick return was motivated not only by the beauty and unique culture of Norway, but also by some close friends that I met on this exchange program. Many friends that I made during that time I still keep in close contact with today. Since my first return I have come back to Scandinavia three times, with every experience enlightening me and bring me closer to the life I now live.

A little less than two years after the exchange program had ended I was finally graduating from college in engineering. I had only one goal and that was to move to Norway and continue my life there as an engineer. I boarded the first flight I could afford to Scandinavia with nothing more than a backpack and some dreams. A couple weeks later I was starting my first day of work as an engineer in Kristiansand, Norway.

225,13482As you can see, the north2north exchange program has changed my life in many ways. I have learned one language and I am on my way to learning another. I now have an interesting career in a different country, one that has given me the opportunity to expand and to travel the world.

The north2north exchange program is also where I met my fiancée; she was one of the close friends I mentioned earlier. I now live happily with her here in Kristiansand and I couldn’t be more thankful for the path that this program has set me on. You never know what you’re going to get out of life or where that next decision is going to take you but if there’s any lesson to be learnt here, it is that it’s definitely worth it to take the path less traveled. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised.

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The interview was first published in Shared Voices Magazine 2013.

To read Shawn's original student profile, click here.