Did I Fall In Love?

To answer the question I asked in the title of this post, yes, yes I did fall in love this summer. Not for a girl—my girlfriend would not like that!—but for Sweden—Phew! I dodged a bullet there! There’s something special about this place. There’s something about Stockholm that pulls on my heart strings. It’s the landscape, the architecture, the mix of old and new, the pace, the people, the food, and everything else. I guess it’s everything about this place that drew me in, held me close, and made me sad to say goodbye. I never wanted to leave and trust me I made that very clear to my peers, professors, and parents. That’s because I feel at home here. I feel like the truest version of myself. I feel content. I feel euphoric. I feel whole. And from the countless conversations I’ve had here, I am happy to say that those feelings are the consensus. Everybody feels the same way. Stockholm has had a significant impact on everyone’s development, maturation, and lives as a whole. I am sincerely grateful for having had this opportunity and can genuinely say that Stockholm has played an integral part in shaping the man I am today.

Locks For My Love Of Stockholm

So, what have I learned? First, I learned that what happens in the lab, doesn’t need to stay in the lab. Let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with a similar sentence’s usual “Las Vegas” wording because this one’s “lab” replacement is meant for academic purposes, of course. What I mean is that beyond lab coats, gloves, safety glasses, beakers, paraphernalia the like, and chemicals that are to never exit the premises, experience is what transcends from in the lab to out in the science world. Working with established doctors in a prestigious institution all summer not only taught me about the meticulous nature of experimenting, but it also shined a light on the beauty embedded deep within research itself. Meeting with a researcher showed me how science is art as much as art is science. The two are interchangeable because they both invoke interpretation, speculation, and adoration. They attract attention. They seek to question and to answer. Most importantly, they present simplicity to the complexity of life. They are beautiful at their core and brilliant with their never-to-be-reached edges. They are life, and they are what have given me a passion to chase.

Second, I learned that the conversion from SEK to USD (1/10) is just as easy on paper as it is in practice. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. That jolting transition from poetry to comedy was meant to lighten the mood. I know I didn’t do a good job, but please stick with me because there will be no more philosophical tangents, I promise—maybe. Here we go: Second, I relearned that Henrik Lundqvist is the most handsome (Swedish) man on planet earth. Okay, okay, fine I’ll stop.

For real this time: Second, I learned that the ‘self’ is the expression of a whole host of internal and external factors. Although I spoke about this in a previous post, “Six Plus Four: A Ten-Week Lifespan,” I’d like to dive back in. The ‘self’ makes up you, me, and everyone else. But, what is it? My professor thoroughly explained that there are psychosocial factors that contribute to what makes us who we are. They explain what we do, who we know, why we act, and how we act. For instance, here’s a personal example: say you looked through a playground telescope at the age of three and were so rudely greeted by a bee that thought it was best to sting you on your eyelid. Now, would you look through another telescope on a playground? No, I have an extreme aversion to doing so. I refuse to magnify the night sky with anything other than a professional telescope in the appropriate setting, not outside with intact-eyelids-having children running around. You see, an external event caused a change in my perception of the world. Although this may be a silly example, its essence is on point: you learn and adapt from the randomness of life. Thus, your ‘self’ is the cumulation of external and internal stimuli in the form of ‘you.’ 

Third, I learned that people make the place. As I have long described, I love Stockholm for Stockholm, but I would not have had the incredible summer that I did without great people around me to enjoy it with. I met people with whom I will stay in contact for the years to come. These people come from all different backgrounds, perspectives, and senses of ‘self.’ They are unique and brought different, exciting variables to the table. We shared laughter all throughout the summer, and sorrow when we departed. However, there’s no sense of the highest highs when you haven’t felt the lows, right? Ok, fine I’m done with philosophy.

My Friend & I With A New Friend

Now, let’s connect the pieces: I learned highly valuable lessons about places, academics, and people this summer that I will take with me for the rest of my life. Whether that be in Gamla Stan—refer to “HEJ! I’M AMERICAN. HOW DO YOU SAY, “I’M LOST?” for more information—in the lab, and with friends, all of them are memorable in their own respect. I loved this summer so much that I can’t wait to come back next summer. I want to roam around the city and find new adventures. I want to pursue a career in research and have found that Karolinska Institutet is the perfect place for me to do so. I want to meet new people and form a deeper sense of ‘self.’ But most importantly, I want to keep falling in love. So, for that, I thank you, Stockholm. Or, as I now say, “tak!”

Kyle Wolf

DIS Stockholm

Summer ‘22

Study Abroad This Summer with DIS:

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