BARSTOW Graduation is on a June horizon for two Swedish externs living in Apple Valley and earning college credit at Chaparral Physical Therapy in Barstow.

Until March 9, Karin Wieslander, 27, and Ulrika Andersson, 29, were taking classes on campus at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, northwest of Stockholm.

That's when the two, who aspire to be professional physical therapists, arrived in the High Desert.

The connection was initiated, and has since been fostered, by Sherri Szabo, a physical therapist herself and alum of Uppsala University.

Szabo currently works at Chaparral, but spent 15 years in Sweden. She contacted the college and volunteered to host any interested students at her Apple Valley home.

Enter Wieslander and Andersson.

The pair are midway through a five-week externship and, so far, have helped Szabo with patient evaluations, exercises and pain relief.

"We do a little bit of everything, just to get a view of it all," Wieslander explained.

While training, each also contributes to a joint thesis in-progress that they'll need to finalize before graduation.

Asked about prospects of work back home, the two sounded cautiously optimistic.

"It's kind of hard because physical therapy (opportunities are) so broad," Wieslander said. "It's kind of hard to know what you want to do."

Potential areas of work in their field, to name a few, include in hospitals, convalescent homes and clinics, she said.

Andersson, who like Wieslander, was required to intern somewhere new every semester (overseas was optional), sees benefits to the wider array of choices their field seemingly provides.

"Everywhere I've been, I've liked so far," she said. "That's good. I can go anywhere."

In America, "anywhere" for the duo has included trips to Hermosa Beach and Las Vegas with plans to visit San Francisco and San Diego before they return to Uppsala in two and a half weeks.

This stay comes on the heels of last week's visit from human geography students at the University of Exeter-Cornwall in England, who spent the week studying in Zzyzx, including time at the Mojave River Valley Museum and Desert Discovery Center.

Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.