Welcome back! Thanks for revisiting my blog. I hope you are well. A lot has happened in the past week, so here are the highlights!
THE ROYAL CASTLE
Excuse my naivety, but I had no idea that Sweden has a royal family. That changed this week when my Swedish class visited the royal castle. As we hiked up the long stairs, I felt my heart rate increasing and thought, “wow, the Swedish royals must be really fit.” Sure enough, when we got to the top, our tour guide announced that a former king had purposely requested the steep stairs. He requested the climb so that when individuals came to interact with him, their fatigue would instantly put them at a disadvantage when talking to him. Well, I sure felt disadvantaged when I got to the top!
The royal family, the Bernadottes, are actually of French descent. They came to Sweden in a time of need because of their close relationship with Napoleon. Today, they hold no political power in Sweden but act as diplomats for the country. The continued presence of the royal family in such a progressive country is surprising, and there are critics. However, many argue that the royal family brings good attention and press to the country.
Fun fact: Crown Princess Victoria, who is next in line to take over the throne, married a commoner. Better yet, she married her personal trainer! Apparently, her openness to the lay man improved her status among the common Swede, who felt she was suddenly more relatable.
RUNNING, SPINNING, AND CLIMBING, OH MY!
DIS has a Monday Running Club, thanks to our academic advisor, Mark. I was one of two students to show up, the other being Sarah, a Bowdoin College runner– oh no! the enemy! (Bowdoin is about thirty minutes from my home school, Bates, and we race them every weekend). They are one of our biggest rivals, so this opportunity to run with a fellow Mainer in Stockholm is awesome. One of my professors, Simone, actually came to run, too! The opportunity to go on a run with a professor was so special. That’s a huge perk of DIS; our professors are accessible beyond academics. Seeing them as people (and even runners), not just leaders in academia makes the learning process more personal and therefore more effective.
Now onto spinning. As I mentioned, my host mom is a seasoned triathlete. This weekend she led a spinning class that was two hours long. I agreed to go, but I brought Sarah along so I wouldn’t be the only beginner in the room. We nervously walked into the spinning room, which was flooded with incredibly fit men and women sporting their ironman suits. Despite our intimidation and our fatigue, we got through the class! It ended up being an awesome workout. When we ended, a group of people invited us to go run 15 kilometers. Yes, after two hours of spinning, they went to go run nearly 10 miles. With no shame, we declined that invitation and walked across the street for bagels and coffee!
…And that’s not all. After a long day of spinning and exploring, my host mom and I sat down to enjoy a movie, popcorn, and candy. The movie was just wrapping up and our tears were pouring out when we heard someone trying to open the front door. We weren’t expecting anyone, so I felt very nervous. Soon enough a man barged in and my host mom laughed. I had no clue who he was and felt pretty scared. But then he smiled, shook my hand and introduced himself as Dennis, a family friend. By the end of the night, we were going rock climbing the next day! For a runner with very little upper body strength, rock climbing was extremely challenging. But I started to get the hang of things (pun intended, check out the picture of Dennis below), and had a ton of fun! This experience reminded me that the king who requested a long stairwell was on the right track. After climbing, I felt absolutely defeated, and I cannot imagine conversing with a royal after that!