Eskil Calmered Tersmeden: NC State University: North Carolina, USA

Last changed: 04 January 2024
view from a mountain in North Carolina

Traveling to the southern USA with only my luggage, backpack, and stereotypes of how everything would be and look like: I can easily say that this semester has been the best of my life. Studying at NC State was an experience unlike anything else, it is a university that has everything from a 9th story high library to a 4000 square meter gym and over 600 student organizations. It was a different world for me speaking English on daily basis and learning a culture they call “Southern hospitality.”

What made you choose this university for your exchange studies?

Going on exchange is something I knew I always wanted to do and experience. Everything started for me looking at Slu:s portal MoveOn database where you can investigate different universities across the globe depending on several factors such as major, undergraduate, or graduate student and more. Then I chose my top three universities, all from different countries, hoping that they would approve me as an exchange student. Before this even started, I had only heard good things about NC State from one of my professors who did his PhD – Doctor of Philosophy in forest management, the same major that I´m in. Also, NC State is one of the best universities when it comes to forest management in USA.

How did it go with the preparations such as finding relevant courses, visa, housing and so on?

First, the preparation for studying abroad is long and quite arduous during my time in it. But with lots of contact and help from staff from SLU and focusing on one step at a time, it is all done quicker than you know it. The application process can be divided into three sections:

• Apply to SLU
• Apply to the host university (selecting courses and attend pre-departure orientation etc)
• Finalize your acceptance (including housing process, travel planning and applying for visa.

Finding the right courses in a country with another language and system can be hard and confusing, so my best advice is to speak to both your home and your host university for help and advice. My housing situation did go everything but smoothly, arriving in Raleigh late at night having contact with a landowner by e-mail that were supposed to rent out an apartment for me was not in town that day. I stayed at a hotel the first night and had to find somewhere to stay for a few days before I could move into the apartment. Luckily, I could crash on a person's sofa which I met through a Facebook group for students looking for housing. When the time came for me to move into my apartment, the landowner disappeared, and I got swindled on my housing plus the money for one rent. Thanks to the four girls who let me stay on their sofa for the first week I was able to sign an agreement with NC State housing to live on campus during the semester. I have four new friends for life and have now learned the lesson to be more careful about housing and strangers.

Which were the courses you took, and will you be able to transfer the credits?

Hardwood management, FOR 408:
My favorite course taught me how to manage diverse types of hardwood forests through different silvicultural methods in a wide variety of environments applied by the goals of its landowner. The forest management system Shelterwood system on oak inspired me to write my project on managing white oak for whisky barrels production. Our teacher was pedagogic and allowed an environment in and outside of the classroom for thoughts, questions, and reflections about anything.

Forest Soils, FOR 472:
I was quite happy with this course even though the lab sessions were a bit messy and could have been organized in a better way. We went to a few labs outdoors which worked out much better, and we learned from them.

Tree genetics and Biology, FOR 411:
The teacher of this course was both pedagogical and entertaining while explaining quite difficult things in a way that usually was uncomplicated to understand. This course or “class” as they say in USA focused on tree breeding in the southern US of Loblolly Pine but also on the basics concept of genetic and seed orchard development to propagate the best genetic material. We went on an enjoyable field trip to Goldsboro where we got to see stands in real life and the teacher ended up taking us to a proper southern restaurant and paying for it.

High Intensity Conditioning, HESF 113:
A class I took outside of my major was this workout class which we had about 50min two times a week consisting of intensive hit exercises working out the whole body in one session. Taking a class outside of my major made me meet new sorts of people while looking forward to doing an exercise as a break from the regular studies.

I will transfer my credits in all my courses except high-intensity conditioning which I happily took anyway. My overall impression of the education and its structure is good. They gave me an appropriate balance between homework, exams, and presentations even though I could have wished for more labs and field trips since that is what gives me the best view of the reality in forestry. FOR 408 is highly recommended if you are looking to widen your knowledge of unique forest types (especially hardwood forests) in North America and South America.

Did you get the help you needed from the host university and from SLU?

By attending meetings, orientation sessions and reading all the important together with asking plenty of questions SLU and NC State were exceptionally good at informing us about all kinds of stuff. I must give extra credit to the mobility team for responding quickly and being immensely helpful when I called and e-mailed them all the time.

What was a “normal” day during your exchange? Any interesting activities?

The life of a student is often very varied depending on the flexibility of the time before and after classes. Anyway, the typical day would start with scrambled eggs and coffee followed by a 20min walk to school where I had some classes before lunch and after lunch. If I did not go for a workout during the day, I would be rock climbing or playing volleyball in my intermural team during the evening (intermural being self-created teams that face against other made-up team at the university).

I also went to multiple cookouts with both other exchange students and with my American friends who I made there. One interesting activity was when I showed them how to make our Swedish “Glögg” with spices and red wine. When the waiting time of 7 days had past, the “Glögg” was qualified and ready to be consumed and we threw a party where we enjoyed this everage and shared our knowledge about cultures in between by having broad conversations about underestimated topics in life.

What is the most important revelation you had thanks to the exchange experience?

Coming from a smaller country far up in the northern hemisphere where history and tradition is old and important, together with being from the countryside, I knew that I was going to be a distinctive minority in the USA. Differences between countries in all their glory, the most important revelation was the southern hospitality. Which is a friendly social behavior of being kind at first approach, so that further talk would not be as awkward or weird in any way. It was easier to have a small talk about anything with people because Americans are not as subspinous or surprised taking to strangers as we are in Sweden. 


Name: Eskil Calmered Tersmeden
Exchange at: NC State University, North Carolina, USA
Programme at SLU: Forest management
Period of exchange: Spring 2023