By Kayla Krause
It was 3:20, ten minutes before one of the last classes of the day. There was a group of Swedish students sitting together in their Public Relations class. They were discussing, in their native tongue, their summer vacations in a very bubbly, happy manner when someone unexpected walked into the room. They all turned to look and see one of their own walk through the metal doors in the basement of Humanities Hall. It was a girl who wasn’t supposed to return for the fall semester. Her plan was to only study for one year and then return home to Sweden. However, Ulrika Berg had her own plan in mind.
Ulrika is a 19-year old sophomore at C.W. Post. She first came to Long Island University in Fall 2009. Undecided on what major to choose, Ulrika enrolled in courses of various disciplines, ranging from English to Theater and Acting and even to Macroeconomics. She took Introduction to Public Relations and became intrigued. “It was the first time I actually wanted to read a textbook,” admitted Ulrika. “And then I discovered that I was pretty good at it [Public Relations].”
From then on, Ulrika seemed hooked. “It was like I just fell into it. I read the course outline and it seemed fun and easy,” she said. “I just didn’t know it’d be this fun and this easy!”
In Sweden, Ulrika says Public Relations is more theoretical. According to her, they do not use the term PR, they call it “Media and Communications Science.” There’s a scarcity of jobs, and it’s more like a marketing job than a Public Relations job, Ulrika recalls. In America it’s very straightforward; each agency is designed to create a message and deliver it to the correct audience in the most effective way.
“It was because of PR that I continued my second semester here,” said Ulrika. The only problem was that she did have another, very different life at home in Stockholm. Her entire family, and even her horse, Chameur, was anticipating her return home. Ulrika competitively rode horses since she was five years old, but it wasn’t until Chameur got hurt two years ago that Ulrika saw the opportunity to travel and study abroad. “If I couldn’t ride my horse anymore, I figured, why not take this chance?” Ulrika recalled. “So one day I was talking about it with my mom and then the next week I was here at Post!”
But it was only supposed to be for a year. “When I was home in Sweden this summer, I was thinking about it, and there’s not going to be another time when I get the chance to do this,” she remembered. “When else am I going to be able to finish and get my bachelor’s degree in a profession that is interesting and fun for me?”
From that moment on, Ulrika had made up her mind. She plans to finish her schooling at Post and hopefully work for a PR firm here. “After a year of working, I don’t know what I’ll do,” she says. “Maybe I’ll stay in the states and continue to work or maybe I’ll go home and try to bring this type of PR to Sweden!”
Like Ulrika, there are many other international students here. Actually there are over 750 of them, representing 53 different countries. Some are recruited from the office of International Admissions, while others simply find C.W. Post all on their own, which is what happened in Ulrika’s case. However, it is once these foreign students make it to Post that they can truly experience America. International Student Union (ISU) helps the incoming foreigners adjust to the area. “We do workshops for students to help them learn how to get their drivers license or apply to an on or off-campus job,” says the vice president of ISU, Sarah Mendoza. “Every year we take the students on a circle-line cruise around New York City, which is one of the many featured trips during the international student orientation.” Ulrika enjoyed seeing the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan while on this trip. “This was my first visit to NYC and it made me realize I chose the right place,” she recalls. “This is where I want to be.”
It seems there are quite a few Swedish students who have the desire to study in America, as there was an influx of 12 new Swedes in Fall 2010, which enlarged the group to about 52 Swedish students altogether. A majority of this group are business majors, according to the director of International Admissions Ian Wright. However he also states that each year there is a handful of them who choose PR as their major.
For now, Ulrika will continue to enjoy her time here. Who knows maybe while she’s in her PR class she’ll devise a new plan, one to stay in the U.S. for good.
By Kayla Krause