A Small-town Girl in Stockholm


Me, sitting outside of the Royal Music College, where my classes are held

My name is Cherish Miller! I grew up in a small town in southeastern Kentucky called Barbourville. I am a rising junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill double majoring in Psychology and English. This summer, I am studying abroad in Stockholm for six weeks through the DIS program. I’ll be taking two classes while I am here, Social Psychology and Affective Neuroscience. It is my hope that taking these courses while experiencing Scandinavian culture for the first time will help me gain a deeper understanding of both the content of the classes and the people around me. Already, my Social Psychology professor has made several attempts to connect our lessons to the experiences we are having outside of class, as well as planning excursions and Field Studies to help take what we are learning in the classroom to the streets of Stockholm. 

I knew early on that I wanted to do a psychology study abroad program during my time in college, but where and when was the big question. I looked through the many programs that my university offered and found DIS and its ‘Psychology in Stockholm’ program. The program matched what I was looking for, but it was not until I started learning more about Stockholm that I knew for sure this was where I wanted to go. The beautiful buildings and landscape, the mild summer weather, and the city’s historical background fascinated me and I could not wait to experience it firsthand.

One obstacle stood in my way, however. Before now, I had never flown on a plane or left the country. Thankfully, my excitement overwhelmed my fear and I stepped on the plane at the airport with only hope for the journey to come. I flew first from Lexington, KY to Chicago, IL and then from Chicago to the Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. We flew over Canada, Greenland, Iceland, and Norway on the way to our destination, and I did not sleep a wink on the flight for fear of missing a single sight of the land below. The flight was exhilarating and even the turbulence couldn’t shake my conviction that I had made one of the best decisions of my life.

The mountains of Norway from the plane on my first ever international flight.

I’ve been in Stockholm for a week now, and so far, I have not been disappointed. The people are kind and welcoming and, despite the slight language barrier, I have found that I am never far from a kind word and a helping hand. Even when I didn’t know how to work the laundry machines, locked myself in my bathroom, and my debit card didn’t work, I have been met with only patience and kindness from the DIS staff and the residents of the city.

The landscape and architecture are even better than the photos I have seen online, and I cannot wait to explore more of what the city has to offer. I spent the first week here adjusting to my new surroundings so I have yet to explore much of the area, but I can already tell that there is much to experience. I made a short excursion to Gamla Stan, the city’s old town, with my classmates and was enchanted by the atmosphere. My first sighting of the Baltic sea took my breath away, and I couldn’t resist spending a few moments just taking it in. The daily commute from my housing in Sollentuna to the Royal College of Music has also been a fascinating experience and one that has made me feel the most connected with Swedish culture. I love the feeling of a shared destination as we all make our way to work or school.

The streets of Gamla Stan

The animals in the area have also provided my classmates and I with great amusement. I have had two peculiar incidences with birds in the area. The first was seeing two birds climbing the stairs together at the train station. The second was a large crow of some sort that has taken up residence in or near my housing that likes to stand on the railings and caw very loudly at all hours of the day, which at this time of year is from 4 am to 10 pm.

I cannot wait to see more of the city and to learn more about Swedish culture!

2 thoughts

  1. Couldn’t be more proud of you Cherish!
    Wishing you all the joy in the world. Prayers for you safety as you follow your dreams!

  2. for a 20 year old from a small town you have gone so far in life. I am so proud of you baby girl and a little jealous LOL I always wish you the best, I could not ask or order a better grand daughter, just enjoy your trip but most of all, stay safe and don’t forget to come home. Love you loads baby girl. I will be following your trip step by step. again BE SAFE

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