Embracing the Scandinavian Experience

My first week abroad in Stockholm has come and gone in the blink of an eye. The vast amount of experiences and the comfort level I have with this city make me feel like I have lived here for years.

My First Day In Stockholm

The moment I stepped onto the train to leave Arlanda Airport, I felt ‘culture shock.’ The public transport is so different from what I am used to in the Chicago area. The train looked like something out of Star Wars with its futuristic feel and cleanliness. The train elegantly accelerated, was clean and spacious, and literally had desks where people were working– starkly different than the clunky, grimy public transport that I have used back in Chicago.

The above image is the view from my dorm window! I was beyond excited once I arrived, and I could not wait to explore the city in front of me. My roommate and I pretty much just dropped off our luggage and left to explore.

After walking for hours around the city, we enjoyed our first meal at Café Kronan. I devoured this chicken limone dish on the left. The seating for this restaurant was a little different from restaurant seating at home because it was out onto the street and in the open.

The buildings in Stockholm seem very connected and intimate with each other because there are few chain restaurants and many smaller, connected buildings. This creates beautiful scenery and a unqiue harmony and flow to the streets.


I am enrolled in the 6-week Biomedical Lab where we get hands-on training and learn about the various methods of examining the human body used in research and medical diagnostics. The lab has 3 units: biometrics, immunology, and molecular biology. So far, the daily class schedule has included:

  1. A required reading and short quiz before class
  2. During class we hear a lecture about a diagnostic method, such as eye tracking
  3. After the lecture, we get hands on practice with these methods

For the eye tracking practice, we were broken into small groups and chose a picture to have each member look at for a short period of time while the eye tracker recorded them. Afterwards, we were able to see how each person’s eyes moved while looking at the chosen pictures.

This class has been very refreshing and exciting to me. I am a biochemistry major and pre-medicine student, and I haven’t taken any classes that teach direct clinical applications. Class has only been about 2-3 hours per day so far, so it hasn’t been difficult to manage my schoolwork and my endlessly growing list of plans outside of class. We have been meeting in the DIS building so far, but next week we will start wet labs in the Karolinska Institute which I am very excited for!

Rest of the First Week

During the rest of the week, a group of guys in my class and I exhaustively explored the city. We mastered the public transport system, explored the Vasa museum, the Paradox museum, Hötorget flea market, several hiking trails, checked out several islands and shops, a few bars, and ate at several restaurants — so far this week I have somehow ate 5 hamburgers! There is a small hamburger stand near the train station by our dorm that is awesome. I plan to be more adventurous in my meals in the coming weeks. I feel like I have been so proactive this week in exploring Stockholm, yet my list of plans for future activities has only increased.

Also, during this week it has been entertaining to talk to the locals and get advice on their favorite restuarants and activities. It is a strange feeling to be a complete outsider in a new country. It is fun to ask people if we stand out as Americans. Every single time they say yes, and say they could tell from miles away. We have determined that wearing shorts everywhere and being loud and outgoing make us standout more. It’s interesting to learn how our small actions and outfits can make us appear obviously American.

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