Hej week three! This week includes –> Day 18: National Library | Day 19: Student Blogger Get-Together | Day 20: Skansen | Day 21: Art and Oktoberfest | Day 22: Swedish Candy | Day 23: Ferry Tour | Day 24: Outside Stockholm
Day 18: National Library
Monday morning I had Affective Neuroscience where we talked about social emotions and psychopaths which I love (if that’s okay to say?) because Criminal Minds is one of my favorite TV shows. We learned that psychopaths have mirror neurons that support observational learning/imitation as well as Theory of Mind meaning they can represent another’s mental state, but they do not have an emotional response that can be congruent with someone else’s emotional reaction (empathy). If acting callous or manipulative, they know perfectly well what they’re doing because they have Theory of Mind (the impact of their actions on another person), but they have no capacity to feel what that person is feeling. Yay for fun brain facts!
After class I did some work and then grabbed lunch at Oktav at DIS with a friend — I finally got a picture of one of the delicious meals that Oktav has! In the afternoon, I had Swedish class where we talked about food (mat) and drink (dryck), and now I can finally say “I would like to have a cinnamon bun and coffee please” in Swedish…or so I thought. After class, I went with a friend to get fika at Stenugnsbageri Fabrique, but I chickened out at the counter and ordered in English. Perhaps I’ll get there someday 😌 We walked to the National Library of Sweden in Humlegården and did some homework. To prevent theft, the library security asks you to put backpacks/jackets in a locker room, so we carried our laptops and miscellaneous study materials to the gorgeous room pictured below. Afterwards, we took the train back to Hornstull and had dumplings and more yummy homework for dinner.
The workload at DIS is pretty different (less) than my home university, but it also varies based on what classes you take and what you’re used to at your school. For example, the Swedish Crime Fiction class essentially has to read a novel per week, which is either your usual pace or a crazy amount of reading. I would say that a lot of classes are based on participation and attendance (so just show up to class) with few, if any, quizzes and tests. My classes in particular have essays, projects, and a couple tests, but in general it’s manageable (for now 😳).
Day 19: Student Blogger Get-Together
In Medical Ethics on Tuesday morning, we talked about utilitarianism and the concept of well-being. We were asked who we thought had a “better” life: Hugh Hefner (Playboy magazine founder and Bon vivant) or Nelson Mandela (first South African president and anti-apartheid activist imprisoned for 27 years of his life). So there’s some food for thought 🙂 In Affective Neuro Lab, we continued working on our top secret experiment which involved finding pictures of infections and feces, so that was a blast!
After classes, the DIS Stockholm student media team (yay bloggers!) met up, took the ferry to the island of Fjäderholmarna, and had dinner together. The island was beautiful, and I had my first official Swedish meatballs and the pale ale from the island’s brewery next door. We got the Instagram of our super nice server, and it was cool to meet and talk with a Swede who wasn’t so private or closed-off which is a generalization but still refreshing.
Day 20: Skansen
Wednesday’s Field Study was a trip to Skansen with my Swedish Language and Culture class. Skansen was founded in 1891 and is the oldest open-air (outdoor) museum with animals, houses, and farmsteads from all over Sweden. The tour took us around to see Nordic animals like moose, lynxes, wolverines, seals, and some pigs and cattle that are kept as part of a conservation project preserving the agricultural heritage. They also had traditional Sami huts — the Sami are one of the world’s indigenous people spanning Sweden, Norway, Finland, and a peninsula in Russia, and they domesticated reindeer.
After the tour, we ordered fika in Swedish at Café Petissan in Skansen, but perched in the courtyard was an evil seagull that was swooping down and literally attacking people’s cake (my drömrulltårta was thankfully spared). Later after that chaos, another strange encounter occurred. When we were leaving the park, a tourist approached us and asked, in a thick, Southern accent, where he could find an ATM. I was taken aback because it had been a while since I’d heard a Southern accent?? It’s weird how a little thing like that is so noticeable and how quickly you can get used to the mostly generic American accents in class and Swedish-sounding English outside of class.
We had the rest of the day off, so I went shopping with some friends in Södermalm which is a great area for second-hand stores and cute cafes. We went to several stores: POP Stockholm for vintage clothes, Stockholms Stadsmission Second Hand for thrifting, and The English Bookshop for, well, books in English. We ate lunch at a cafe called LYKKE which had incredible sandwiches shown below. We enjoyed people-watching at Nytorget park — Stockholm is super serious about protecting its public green spaces and preserving biodiversity!
Day 21: Art and Oktoberfest
On Thursday, I had my Nordic Contemporary Art class where some classmates presented projects on a specific artist’s work as well as art exhibits in town. We then traveled to Bonniers Konsthall where the exhibition called “Undamming Rivers” by Cooking Sections was displayed. It was a pretty heavy but important topic about human practices/diet affecting the environmental crisis and climate change as well as how global food production impacts Swedish ecologies — the focus mainly on salmon. I highly recommend looking at the website about the exhibition and appreciate the research and thought put into it.
Back at DIS for Swedish class, we made extensive culture-idea maps of the things we think of when we think about Sweden — there was a lot of “meatballs,” “IKEA,” and “welfare.” Then we were asked the first word that comes to mind when we think of America — “freedom,” “racism,” “independence,” and “Trump” were some frontrunners. It was a cool lesson, and I’m really glad I’m taking the class not only to learn Swedish but to get a better idea of the culture with all of its strengths and flaws.
That evening I went with some friends to our first SSIF class at Stockholm University. We signed up for BodyCombat which was super fun — I highly recommend Yasmin’s class if you go. BodyCombat is a high-energy martial-arts inspired workout class, but SSIF includes everything from badminton to basketball to barre classes.
After that workout, we went to an Oktoberfest event in Stockholm! They had the traditional beer and live music (lots of ABBA covers), and we bought some souvenirs — yes, I got a wig.
Day 22: Swedish Candy
Friday’s Medical Ethics class was a deep dive into the classic Trolley problem and all of its variations like the footbridge problem. It was really cool because some neuroscience got tied in when discussing the regions of the brain activated when making an impersonal decision (pulling the lever) versus different brain activity when making an emotional decision (pushing someone off a bridge to stop the train). I’ve noticed that a lot of my classes are interconnected in little ways, and it’s rewarding to realize and make those connections.
That night we had a much-needed, chill night-in. We went grocery shopping and bought a bunch of Swedish candy for a taste testing. An interesting cultural thing in Sweden is that some people treat themselves to candy only on Saturdays — it’s called “lördagsgodis” which literally translates to “Saturday candy.” So on Saturdays (or even Friday nights), you’ll see lots of people shoveling bagfuls of candy at stores with a wall of bins like the one below!
Day 23: Ferry Tour
On Saturday I went with a friend to get brunch in Södermalm. We tried two different places — one had no tables and the other had a 1.5-hour wait 😮💨 — until we landed at Cykelcafé Le Mond. Quite ravenous by that point, we had high hopes for some French toast, but it was devastatingly disgusting. It was described as sourdough toast served with berries, yogurt cream, maple syrup & candied pumpkin seeds, but it was really just soggy bread with a heap of berries, texture-disruptive seeds, bitter yogurt, and MINT. After choking that down, we met up with some friends to go on a cute 3-hour ferry tour that went out to Vaxholm, an island in the archipelago known for its fishing. Because there were almost no seats left inside, we went to the outside benches on the side of the boat where it was miserably cold and windy. After some time, we shivered our way inside where we miraculously found seats at the last available table at the indoor restaurant! I devoured some spaghetti bolognese and burned my tongue on hot chocolate but had a lovely time getting to see the architecture of the archipelago homes and chat with friends.
After the tour, we picked up a bag of Bananagrams to play during dinner at Högalidsgatan before going to Gamla Stan to the Viking-themed restaurant Aifur Krog & Bar. We went too late to see the live music, but the novelty of the place was still so cool and a good time! Afterwards, we made our first trip to MAX Burgers which is an open-late chain in Sweden that was kind of like a fancy McDonald’s (which is already fancy here?) and it was delicious.
Day 24: Outside Stockholm
For my Swedish class, we have a project where we explore 3 different neighborhoods/areas in Stockholm and try to log what we see and talk to locals. So, on Sunday I met with my group and took the metro out to Midsommarkransen, a suburb of Stockholm. The neighborhood was such a change in pace than that of central Stockholm — it felt much more ~Scandinavian~ with lots of nature but also urban buildings. There were lots of young people because of Konstfack, or University of Arts, Crafts and Design, and it seemed good for families or people wanting a quieter chunk of Stockholm.
Back in Hornstull, we got takeout from Thai House Wok, and I don’t know if I was just starving, but it was actually scrumptious — an adjective saved for the most delicious of meals. While we were waiting for the food to be ready, we scampered across the street to the fancy McDonald’s to satiate an Oreo McFlurry craving. Back at Högalidsgatan, a group of us got together to watch David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) which has some scenes filmed in Södermalm and is based on Stieg Larsson’s thriller novel that takes place in Sweden!
That’s it for Week Three!!! Check back in next week for experiences during Core Course Week in Gothenburg 🙂