Vaxholm

One of my first Swedish Adventures was to a city called Vaxholm. My roommate Val and I wanted to go somewhere in the Swedish Archipelago so we did some googling about recommended places to go. Found the website about the archipelago (found here) and got on a train and then a bus to get to the city. We had no idea what to do or what we wanted to do, besides see what the hype is about.

Getting there

From my house, Vaxholm is only 24 miles away, but it took less than an hour and a half to get there. We ended up taking the Red 14 line almost to the last stop and taking a bus. The bus ride felt a little on the longer side since it was somewhat crowded with people.

The bus ride wasn’t all bad we had some nice views for part of it!

What To Do?

We had no idea what we wanted to do once we got there and just figured it out as we went which was a fun way to do it. We saw lots of cute buildings and boats!

We were also intrigued by this round building that we later found out is the Vaxholm Fortress. We took a ferry over to the island to check it out.

Fun Fact: The fortress was used as a movie location for the 1970’s movie, “Pippi in the South Seas” which features Pippi Longstocking on an adventure to hunt for her father who’s been kidnapped by pirates.

We didn’t get a chance to tour the museum or walk the plank (I’m a little disappointed it wasn’t available…) BUT we did walk up several flights of stairs to see the view from the tower.

We also found some great photo spots, one with a sea mine and the other at a random table that was kind of cute.

Lunch

After walking up all those stairs we worked up quite the appetite. We found a restaurant that wasn’t going to hurt the wallet too much because we are still students with tons of debt even if we are studying abroad. I didn’t end up getting the name of the place because we were very hungry.

I wanted to be adventurous and get a traditional Swedish meal and a Swedish beer of course. I got fried herring and mashed potatoes with some lingonberries and a salad on the side. I thought it was alright, the herring was a little too bony for me, but I would be willing to try it again.

I’ll be back to the Swedish Archipelago at some point and get to see a few more islands, until then…

See ya later, Vaxholm

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

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