Humans of BHS: Leah Gusfors

Foreign exchange student Leah Gusfors shares her experience navigating a new country and culture.


Don’Keyviyen Gray

Swedish foreign exchange student and Bryant sophomore Leah Gusfors. Gusfors arrived in the U.S. in July.

Deeya Rohant, Staff Writer

Standing at the departure gate, sophomore Leah Gusfors waves goodbye to her friends and family as she sets out from Stockholm, Sweden. For the next ten months, she’ll be living in a new country and experiencing a new culture, all without her family beside her.

Gusfors didn’t always plan on being a foreign exchange student. In fact, she found her current exchange program, EF Exchange Year, by accident. 

“There’s this website, where I was reading about it, and then I accidentally got a call from them because I had to do some login thing. And, well that’s where it all started, and then I just never stopped because I kept reading about it and it just seemed interesting,” Gusfors said.

Gusfors’s interest in foreign exchange stemmed from her interest in learning English, which has always been her favorite subject in school. 

“I wanted to know more about the language and the people here, and kind of like the culture and stuff like that. It’s very interesting,” Gusfors said.

Although she considered other countries like Ireland or the United Kingdom, Gusfors felt they were too close to Sweden. In the end, she chose the U.S. because she wanted to experience a new culture. When she first arrived in the U.S., Gusfors stayed at a camp in Pennsylvania, where she got to know other exchange students. 

“All the exchange students from Sweden, we have this group chat where we talk about our problems and how things are going,” Gusfors said. Gusfors has not only made connections with other exchange students, but also students here at Bryant.

Gusfors’s host sister, Bailey Begley, who also attends Bryant, introduced Gusfors to some of her friends when she first arrived, and Gusfors also made friends through her club soccer team. Gusfors said that while she hasn’t struggled to meet new people as much as other exchange students, it’s not always easy, either. 

“It hasn’t been very hard to talk with people,” Gusfors said. “But it’s definitely kind of hard to me, because I have to always interact with different people and try to be social and actually talk with people.”

While Gusfors hasn’t had too much trouble making friends, she has struggled to get used to the food. 

“When I first got here, I thought it was kind of hard. I would say when you go out to eat here, which you do a lot more than you do in Sweden, you get bigger portions and everything is bigger, in general, and the food is, I would say it’s not very healthy. So that was very different,” Gusfors said.

Although she struggled with the food, the hardest part about coming to the U.S. was leaving her family behind. In Sweden, Gusfors lives with her parents and two younger siblings. 

“Everyone plays soccer in my family, so we’re very involved with that. Everyone loves music, so I miss that a lot,” Gusfors said. Gusfors has a large extended family and often meets up with them outside of Stockholm.

When she left Sweden, Gusfors was worried about her younger sister, who’s four, because she didn’t really understand why her older sister was leaving. Gusfors also struggles to find time to talk with her family because of her busy schedule. 

“Today at lunch was the first time I talked to them in two weeks, so that’s very hard,” Gusfors said. “I don’t really have time to talk to them because of school and the time difference.”

Although she misses her family, Gusfors is actually thinking about staying in the U.S. for longer than originally planned. Through her exchange program, she can work at a camp in the U.S. and welcome new foreign exchange students here, which would allow her to stay longer. In fact, Gusfors has enjoyed her time here enough that she’s considered moving here in the future. 

“I’ve actually really liked [the U.S.]. I could definitely see myself moving here in the future. Maybe not Arkansas, I don’t know,” Gusfors said. “I wanna experience and see more parts of it. But I really like the language and how people interact with each other.”

According to Gusfors, she’s enjoyed her time in the U.S., even through all the struggles.

“I have really had a great time since I got here, and of course I miss my family. That has been, like, my main problem, that I miss my family, but I have never regretted coming here,” Gusfors said. “I’ve gotten to see stuff that like, no one in Sweden will like be able to see and like, created memories that I never would have created if I wouldn’t have come here. And I feel like I could do so much more while here.”