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Weeks 5 & 6: Göteborg och Finnhamn och Skansen (Oh my!)

Hej! It has been a while since I’ve blogged. Förlåt! So this week’s post will be an overview of my busy adventures the past two weeks!

The most notable trip that happened two weeks ago was during Core Course Week. My core course, Public Health and Migration, took a trip to Gothenburg ( Göteborg, i svenska) to visit another city in Stockholm, spend time together, and visit museums and lecturers to learn more about migration and health in Sweden. The same day we arrived – after a 3 hour train ride – we visited the Emigrant House, a museum illustrating the history of immigration and emigration to and from Sweden.

The Emigrant House in Gothenburg

Our charismatic tour guide took us back in time on a journey to leave Sweden through Gothenburg, to the southern UK, to finally Ellis Island. We learned that more than 25% of Sweden’s population left the country in the late 1800s because of poverty and economic opportunity in North America. It was fascinating to compare the emigration rates of that time with the current immigration trends in Europe, especially Sweden. It makes me very grateful for other methods of transportation, too, because boats from Europe to North America sounded dreadful.

Also, we visited the World Culture Museum and discussed what happens when different cultures meet. We discussed things like the tragic legacy of imperialism, religious pilgrimage, forced migration, and climate refugees. Our tour guide helped me better understand that history is not just about good people and bad people (clearly, some are worse than others), but that people and groups are complex. Boiling history down to a basic “us versus them” mentality limits ones understanding of the past and the future. This was my favorite part of Core Course Week.

Gothenburg had many fun things to do. I went to an art museum and saw my first real life Picasso! We ate a lot of delicious food and felt underdressed for basically all of our meals. Also, I explored a church building that was purely white and gold – simple, yet beautiful.

Our Core Course Week in Gothenburg was a lot of fun, but the travel was exhausting. We returned to Stockholm in the middle of the week and continued discussing our core course for the rest of the week. I am happy that my classes are interesting and I am learning a lot through them. Thanks to Jad and Melody for organizing the week and making it a trip to remember!

Fast forward one week and come with me to Finnhamn! This is an island located in an archipelago, five hours east of Stockholm by ferry. About 70 DIS students (led by Jim, Esme, and Maddie) made our way to stay at a hostel on the island for a weekend.

The excursion was great because I was able to get closer to many of my classmates and I had a lot of fun exploring the forest on the island. Sweden has a public policy called “allemansrätten” which is the “freedom to roam”. This means that most natural spaces belong to everyone. There are almost no private property signs in the country because almost all the land is public (besides private buildings and houses, of course). This makes natural spaces very accessible and promotes environmental protection. I spent hours and hours exploring the natural beauty that was this island. It felt really liberating to get away from the city because it reminded me that Sweden is not just colorful architecture and progressive public policy, the wilderness in this country is breathtaking.

Big thanks to the leaders of this excursion! It was an incredible weekend!

Besides traveling outside of Stockholm, life has become a bit more routine now. The excitement of a new city has started to wear off and the reality of tests and homework and school is really sinking in. I’m still having a fantastic time here, but I am learning that if I want to switch up the routine, I have to decide to. I need to keep it interesting by exploring and learning and doing as much as I can to ward off the mundanity of the academic routine.

Which is why I would like to conclude this post with pictures from one of my favorite places I have visited in Stockholm, Skansen! Skansen is the world’s first “open air museum” where one can see history of old town Stockholm, Nordic animals, native plants, and a beautiful view of the city. I ventured there this week when I didn’t have a field study on Wednesday and was happily surprised at how much I loved the zoo.

Some key take-aways from Skansen included:

  • Reindeer are much smaller than expected. But wildly cute and entertaining.
  • Climate change is scary because flowers are blooming MONTHS earlier than they should be, but at least we can enjoy them for now.
  • Wolves are super cool and I could watch them all day.
  • Bison are the epitome of majesty.
  • Esme loves cows. A lot.

Thank you for reading!

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