This summer abroad in Stockholm has given me memories that I will remember for the rest of my life. I could not wait to come home to tell all my friends and family about all my experiences. Here are some of my favorites:
- Midsommar: For those not familiar, midsommar (Midsummer) is a popular celebration of the summer solstice in Sweden and takes place around the end of June. It was originally celebrated to welcome fertility and summer. Swedes celebrate it similarly to the way Americans celebrate the 4th of July. Most Swedes go to lake houses or spend time with family and friends. There were also several festivals and events that occur in Stockholm. My friends and I joined in on the celebration by going to a festival at Skansen, an open-air historical museum and zoo on a nearby island. There we sang and danced around a maypole, which is a tall pole with hoops at the top and represents fertility. We also created hats out of tree branches and later went to a bonfire. When leaving Skansen, it started to rain aggressively, it was actually the first rain I had seen in Stockholm the entire time I was abroad. Apparently, it rains every Midsummer, according to some locals we met.
2. Last day of class: For our final assignment, as groups we formed a research question and conducted our own study with the biometrics tools we had practiced. It was very fun to formulate our own hypothesis and be able to actually test them and get results. On the last day of class, we gave our presentations and gave feedback to each other. Afterwards, our teachers, Ceren and Paulina, took the class to a restaurant where we ate dinner and played boule ball, or pétanque, a game where you basically throw a metal ball in the air and try to get it to land closest to one tiny red ball. Whichever team gets their ball the closest at the end of the round gets points. We played this game for hours and it actually got very competitive!
3. Flatenbadet Beach Day: On a day off from class, several of my friends and I went to this beach which was about 45 minutes away. We spent the day relaxing, swimming, jumping off the high dive, and playing sand volleyball. It was awesome that we had a nice beach nearby that we could go spend the day at.
I am going to remember my time abroad in Stockholm forever, and I cannot wait to come back in the future. I made great friends and learned about myself and my future career aspirations. The Biomedical Lab was an awesome course that made me feel proud and excited for a future career in health. I gained a new awareness for how Americans are perceived in the world, and how it feels to live in an unfamiliar area. It was truly a strange feeling to be an outsider in a city where I couldn’t speak the main language and was unfamiliar with the culture. I have traveled to other countries before, but I have never lived for several weeks in another country. It gave me a new perspective and a sense of sympathy for people in the United States that speak little English or who have recently moved here, such as transfer students, who might feel confused or overwhelmed by a new culture.
I would recommend everyone to come abroad, even if just for a 3 week class, to get the experience of immersing and challenging yourself in a new culture. I think it’s so important to try to find a program that suits you to study abroad because you get the opportunity to work with brilliant teachers, get a global perspective, and grow personally. As a pre-med biochemistry major, I found it difficult to find a time to study abroad because I did not want to set myself back in classes, or miss time that I could use to boost my resume. This 6-week summer course was perfect because it wasn’t as time consuming as a semester abroad, and I was able to get course credit and stay on track to graduate early.