Housing: Music Exploration LLC

It’s the post you have all been waiting for! What exactly is this Music Exploration Living and Learning Community that I have been talking about?! Well, I am here to tell you all about it by answering some questions I’ve gotten.

How many people are in the music LLC?

There are 5 of us plus Mattias who is our music coordinator. Mattias graduated from the Royal College of Music aka KMH so he knows a ton about music and seems to know everyone in the music community around Stockholm.

We all made dinner together for our last event!
What is the housing situation like?

We live in a beautiful building on Sodermalm, which is one of the upcoming areas in Stockholm. Our building has great views and is close to the city center which makes getting to school quick and easy (only 20 minutes!). As far as specific rooming, I live in a triple with two of the girls in the LLC while the other two live together in a room across the hall. It’s nice that we are all close together so we can chat whenever we want. Check out this post for pictures of the view from our housing!

What type of events do you go to?

We have gone to see small intimate concerts, jazz groups, orchestra ensembles, learned how to DJ, toured a recording studio and so much more. I can’t give all of the events away but there is a wide range of activities no matter your interest. They have all been unique experiences and have allowed me to meet incredible artists. It has also encouraged me to go out and find shows on my own with some of the members in the group.

My first Jazz concert!
Is it a huge time commitment?

Not at all! We meet almost every Thursday (except when we are on break) and it’s usually anywhere between an hour to three hours. It usually depends on what type of event we go to.

Do you still make friends with people outside of the LLC?

Of course! Since we have a small community at DIS Stockholm, it is easy to meet people and find similar interests, even if it’s not right away. The five of us in the community have become very close but we also spend time with people outside of the group.

Me and all my friends 😉
What have you learned from the community?

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned, but there are numerous. I have learned networking skills, how to be more involved in music, information about music itself, and the coolest, how to DJ! The music community in Stockholm is huge and you always manage to create connections with people.

Leo, teaching us how to DJ
Do I have to Study music/sing or play an instrument to be in the LLC?

No! Everyone in the LLC has different backgrounds. Some of us are studying biology, political science or English. Some have been singing or playing an instrument for years or just enjoy playing music as a hobby and others really love music!

What has been the coolest thing about the LLC?

The opportunities that it has brought! For me, I got the chance to meet a ton of artists and connect with them which allowed me to expand my music library. For one of my roommates, it has been the experience to record and release her first single! Which you can check out here.

We were with her when she recorded her first single, Restless!

Being apart of the Music LLC has been one of my most memorable parts of living in Stockholm. If you love anything related to music, I would highly encourage you to apply! If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to me. I would love to hear from you! While you’re applying for the Music LLC, start getting excited by listening to my Sounds of Sweden playlist

A Swedish Christmas

Christmas came early for me this year. I know its only early November but I’m excited for the first of many celebrations. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays as I am sure it is for many people. There is something about the coziness that surrounds the Christmas season. The sound of Christmas carols and smooth piano ballads in the background. The smells of cinnamon and spices, peppermint and freshly baked cookies. The knowledge of the bitter cold and snow while being inside with a warm drink in your hands and watching snowflakes fall with the soft glow of Christmas lights behind them. Being surrounded by people who care for you and the sense of magic and excitement that the season brings.

One of my favorite things to do as a child, and still to this day is baking. I love to make Christmas cookies, whether it’s with my grandparents and many siblings and cousins or with some of my closest friends. I’m sure my friends get annoyed every year by my constant plea to make a gingerbread house and then our joint inability to eat even a fraction of it. So when I suggested making Christmas cookies with my visiting host family, my host mom Lena went all out with a Swedish Christmas experience.

When I arrived to my visiting host family’s house, I was immediately greeted by the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg and a mix of leftover Halloween and Christmas decorations. My first introduction to a Swedish Christmas was drinking glögg and rolling out pepparkakka. Glögg is a mulled/spiced wine served warm and with whole almonds and raisins. It might sound strange but the warm sweet and spiced drink was a perfect way to start the evening (of course it was non-alcoholic since it was a school night). We then started rolling out some pepparkakka which is just a gingerbread cookie but thinner than how we would make it in the US.

After getting the cookies made, we started to make dinner, which was (you guessed it) Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. I was honored for my host mom to show me how to make her grandmother’s meatball recipe. I thought it was going to take forever to cook them all, but it turned out that rolling out the almost 200 meatballs between 3 people took the longest. She also showed me how to make the sauce that goes with them because it is a little different than how I would make gravy back home.

After dinner, it was time for us to make the Lussebullar (saffron buns). As we were waiting for the dough to rise, we all gathered around and watched an episode of the newest season of Allt för Sverige (Translates to Everything for Sweden but known in the US as The Great Swedish Adventure). It was great to hear my host family talk about the show and how excited they would be if the got the chance to be on it and meet some of their family that immigrated to the US or Canada. When the episode was over, we got the chance to roll out the dough and make fun shapes.

It was such a memorable experience to have the opportunity to be apart of a Swedish Christmas even though it was so early, now it just needs to snow! It made me even more excited to start celebrating and looking for Christmas activities to do before I leave. I know I am already excited to go to a Julbord (Christmas table) where they serve a spread of other traditional Swedish Christmas foods, shop at a few of the Christmas markets, go ice skating in Kungsträgården, and attend a St. Lucia day service!

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t already listening to Christmas music but I can’t contain my excitement. I will always treasure my time being in Sweden around the holiday season and although I will miss my family once Thanksgiving gets closer, I can’t wait to introduce my family to some Swedish traditions once I get back!

Happy Holidays!

Music Monday: Oscar Soul Experience

Happy Monday! I am alive! I apologize for not posting last week. It’s been a rough part of the semester with midterms going on but I’m feeling pretty good now. This week seems like it will be pretty low key so I am hoping to write an update soon!

I am super excited about the band this week. I know I say that every week because I haven’t found any music that I don’t like. I just had a lot of fun seeing them perform on Friday. My friend and I randomly decided to go to a Facebook event that was recommended. We headed to Södra Teatern without knowing what to expect and had an absolute blast! If you want to join me on November 15th, I will be going to see them again because it was an incredible experience.

About the Band

This week, I am talking about Oscar Soul Experience. The band is made of several members which include: bandleader Oscar Ögren (Vocals & Guitar), Lucas Johansson (Keys), Niklas Krantz (Guitar), Oliver Löwenham (Bass), Noa Svensson (Drums) as well as members on the trombone and saxophone (I couldn’t find their names). The band was started in 2016, since then they’ve has played over 200 shows and toured around Sweden, China, Finland, the UK, and the USA. They are passionate and talented performers who bring everything they have to the table and aim to spread their love for music and soul to bring people together.

Their Sound

The band’s sound is rooted in old school soul and funk with influences from other genres such as R&B, rock, and jazz. Their sound is inspired by artists such as Bill Withers, Al Green, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, and D’angelo. Besides playing covers, they also write and perform original music. No matter what type of music you are into their music will get you off your feet and dancing all night long.

Spotify

What Are Field Studies And What Do You Do For Them?

I know that when I first read that every Wednesday, instead of having class, we have field study days, I had no idea what that meant or entailed. Depending on what course you are taking, they are usually events that pertain to a topic or topics in your class. For example, for my Psychology of Loneliness class, we are meeting with a mindfulness instructor to guide us through mindfulness exercises and discuss how they can help with loneliness

I decided not to go to a bunch of museums when I first got here, just in case I go to any for my field study days and to give me something to do in the winter. One of the places I wanted to go to and happened to go to for my first field study was to Fotografiska, The Museum of Photography. I went with my core course Public Health and Migration to see the exhibit Memories by James Nachtwey.

Memories by James Nachtwey

James Nachtwey is a world-renowned photojournalist who focuses on war, conflict and social upheaval. His images capture the effects and injustices that war and man-made and natural disasters can have on people in a powerful way.

We were looking at his exhibit with the lense of public health and migration. For example, seeing how disasters may influence outbreaks or reasons why people may migrate to other countries.

WARNING: Some individuals may find the images below disturbing

The other exhibits at Fotografiska were equally thought-provoking and impactful, but you’ll just have to come visit Sweden to experience it for yourself!

Lunch at Hermans

Following our class trip around Fotografiska, our professor was kind enough to take us to his favorite place for lunch, Hermans, which is a delicious vegan/vegetarian restaurant. I actually found out afterward that one of my friends who has been to Stockholm had it on her list of recommended places! It’s right up the hill from the museum and has a beautiful view that overlooks the harbor.

It’s great to explore the city by yourself and with friends but the field studies give you a great opportunity to connect the new place you’re living with your studies and experience things you may not have thought to do or would have been able to do otherwise!

Tack så mycket! (Thanks so much) I’m starting to learn a little bit of Swedish! Locals are not fooled.

‘Holm Away From Home

Fika, Music, and More

Settling into Stockholm has come pretty naturally. Surprisingly, I am already unpacked, a characteristic that is somewhat unlike me at home but has helped me settle in much quicker. Besides pack, one of the first things that I did with one of my new roommates was go for a walk and explore the area we were going to be living in.

We found a lot of really nice parks behind our house where we saw lots of people running and enjoying the last of the summer weather as well as a bunch of boats and boat rentals. I can’t wait to go kayaking!

One of the ways my roommate and I got to know each other was by getting Fika (more about this later!) together at a cute cafe down the street.

Fika at Sthlm Raw a super cute vegan cafe. Fun fact: Oat milk is one of the most popular milk options in Sweden since it was created here. It makes a great latte since it foams up so well!

I also got the opportunity to go on an exploration tour during orientation. I made a group with some other students and went to Gamla Stan, which is Stockholm’s old city and home to the Royal Palace. I am hoping to go back either earlier or later in the day to experience the beauty of the old cobbled streets and small shops without huge groups of tourists, but I hear that’s pretty typical.

While looking for things to do around the summer, some of my new friends and I discovered that one of my favorite bands, Bastille, was playing at Gröna Lund, which is like a huge carnival/amusement park. We had an hour before the show started and hopped on the ferry (which is something I’ve always wanted to do!) and had such a great night! We will be going back soon to try out some of the rides!

All in all, it’s been a really great start to the semester and I can’t wait to make a bunch of amazing memories!

A Story Yet To Be Told- The Journey to Stockholm

“So close you can almost taste it…

-Natasha Bedingfield

Flight #1- Chicago, IL

Sitting in the airport waiting for my flight, the song Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield comes to mind. A song that I probably haven’t thought about in over 4 years, yet I find myself feeling like the beginning of an early 2000’s movie. There is of the excitement and anticipation of my life about to change.

The last week has flown by. It was accompanied by lots of stress about packing (you can see my post about it here!) and an overwhelming amount of love and support from my co-workers, friends, and family.

The week wouldn’t be complete without an outing with some of my best friends doing what we do best, eating pizza and playing video games. I wanted to make sure I got a picture of us all together (It’s pretty rare) so I can look back on all the fun times we have and will continue to have when the FOMO (fear of missing out) kicks in later this semester.

Blake, Carter, Cole and I at Up-Down Bar in Uptown Minneapolis. Having a blast playing our favorite classic arcade games and finishing the night with some pizza!

Remembering that it’s not goodbye forever, just see you later!

I never thought I would see Chicago slow down, but the city proved me wrong. Sitting in the airport at 2 am, the silence reminded me of anywhere but the bustling city that I know. Trying to stay awake through the night to acclimate myself to the time change I’ll be facing in Sweden proved to be a difficult task since I am very much not a night person. I did find that the maintenance staff are all very friendly and offered some great comments on my random dancing while trying to stay awake. As the city woke and people started rushing through the airport, I couldn’t help but start to feel as if I was in a music video. The feeling of going through a busy crowd with nowhere to go.

Flight #2- Newark, NJ

I’ve gotten maybe 2 hours of sleep so far and I am so ready to just get to where I need to be. I would highly recommend not having this much time for layovers, I have no idea what to do with myself anymore besides spend absurd amounts of money on airport food.

I had some strange cravings for Asian food and hot chocolate while sleep deprived.

Flight #3- Stockholm, Sweden

The flight went much better than I expected. I was sat between two very nice gentlemen, one of which lives in Stockholm and the other was just visiting for the day before he moves on. The exhaustion from not sleeping helped the flight go by quickly. I don’t remember taking off and woke up only because of the smell of food. The excitement overcame any exhaustion I had once we landed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pine trees! Going through the airport was a breeze, I took the express train and made it to my housing without getting lost. I have to say so far things are looking up.

Updates about my first impressions of Stockholm… COMING SOON

All Of The Things… 4 Months, One Suitcase

When putting my list together for the first time I thought there was no way I was going to fit everything I could need for 4 months of my life into a suitcase. There was a lot of texting my friends (Thank you again!!) about what I should bring and whether it was too much or not, going over the DIS packing list, and searching past DIS bloggers about what they brought (this one was helpful).

Just in case you’re feeling the same about packing, I put together a list of what I brought and some outfit inspiration I found. I ended up spending waaayyy too much time on Pinterest and various other fashion blogs to see what people were wearing.

Clothes

  • Pants (7)
    • Jeans (3)- Light, Dark, Black
    • Black Plaid Pants- for more of a professional look
    • Sweatpants
    • Athletic leggings (2)
  • Shorts (2)-Jeans and Athletic
  • Tops
    • Tanks (2)
    • Plain T-shirts (4)
    • Long sleeve shirts (5)
    • Light sweaters (4)
    • Button-down blouses (3)- I love my button-downs
    • Flannels (2)
    • Light cardigan or jacket (2)
    • Heavy cardigan-My go-to cozy item in the winter
    • Sweatshirts (2)- had to bring my Patagonia pullover
  • Pajamas
  • Workout tank and sports bra
  • Dresses (2)
  • Swimsuit
  • Winter coat
Just a few of my favorite items! Swedes are known for wearing a lot of blacks which is great because that’s what I wear a lot of as well. I did bring some color to make the winter a little easier though!

Shoes

  • Chacos
  • Snowboots
  • Light brown booties
  • White converse- They go with everything
  • Black flats
  • Black boots

Other

  • Blanket scarves (2)
  • Black leather gloves
  • Fun earings (3)
  • Hot water bottle- I love having one during the winter months, great for colds!
  • An assortment of pens
  • Watercolor pallet
  • Small MN themed gift for my visiting host family– Will keep you updated about who they are
  • Umbrella

In My Carry-On

  • Personal ID information- Passport, Drivers License, etc.
  • Printed housing information, Visiting Permit, Itinerary, etc.
  • Phone & charger- With lots of music and podcasts downloaded
  • Laptop & charger
  • Ipad & charger- I love taking my notes on it instead of using notebooks!
  • Journal & my favorite pen
  • Book
  • Basic toiletries-face wash, deodorant, toothbrush &toothpaste, etc. (Will buy most when I get there)
  • Water bottle
  • Medication-Melatonin, pain killers, etc.
  • Vitamin D- Trying to get ahead of the deficiency before the winter darkness starts!
  • Extra pair of clothes- You never know what could happen!

OUTFIT INSPIRATION

Just a few images I found off of blogs or Pinterest to get you thinking about Swedish fashion. I’ll let you know if they are true to life once I get there!

Hopefully you found this helpful or it at least gave you some inspiration! Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Happy Travels!

The Count Down

6 Days, 15 hours, and 46 minutes.

Less than one week until I get on my first plane to Sweden. I can no longer see the floor of my room because I have piles of clothes everywhere trying to decide exactly which things are coming with me and how I am going to fit them all in my bag. I am texting all of my friends or family that have either visited Scandinavia or lived there for a period of time trying to ask them what they wish they would have brought with them or left home (one of the things on this list is peanut butter, it CAN be found in Sweden). I’m attempting to come up with a packing list so I don’t overpack but I know it will be inevitable because “Yes, I really do NEED that or what if (fill in the blank) happens.”

After making a list and checking it twice, all of the fear and excitement set its in. The thoughts tend to be “is this really happening?! and is this REALLY happening??” Knowing that in a few short days I will leave all of my friends and family behind for 4 months live and travel around Sweden and the rest of Europe.  There is the thrill of getting the email about my housing assignment and seeing the faces of the girls I will be living with, trying to find them on all types of social media #sorrynotsorry to figure out what types of people they are.

The fears tend to be: what if I don’t make friends, what if I don’t like my roommates, how am I going to live in another country and afford all of the traveling I want to do, and how many times am I going to get lost on the T-bana because I am terrible at navigation.

These fears and worries are often settled when I think back on how I felt getting ready to go to college freshman year. Many of the fears are the same and others are unique to traveling in general. It helps to think about how far I’ve come already, how I’ve faced those fears and can do it again.

All I can do right now is enjoy my breakfast looking out at the beautiful lake in front of me and savor each and every last bit of summer I can get before I am onto my next adventure!

Cheers!

-Kayla