Leaning into a New Culture: Q&A with Nico, Summer 2021 Student

Nico, College of William & Mary, is studying at DIS Stockholm this summer. During his time abroad, he has gained insight into the Swedish healthcare system and a practical perspective on his majors, all while learning about Swedish culture.

We asked Nico about what led him to study with DIS Stockholm and his reflections on his time abroad:

DIS: Hi Nico, tell us a bit about yourself.

N: My name is Nico. I am a nationally certified EMT and a rising senior at the College of William & Mary. I am majoring in Biology and Kinesiology with the goal of attending Physician’s Assistant School in Fall 2022. Coming from an active and multicultural family (my parents are from Chile and Switzerland) I am passionate about the environment, travelling, and enjoying the outdoors.

DIS: Why did you choose to spend your summer with DIS in Stockholm?

Academically, the DIS program adds a practical perspective on my majors and allows me to apply my academic knowledge in a more clinical setting. The opportunity to study in Sweden gives me exposure to a new culture to create a more holistic narrative of the world I live in. Also, the Nordic countries are known for their advanced healthcare systems, and I am curious about the cultural aspects that shape them!

DIS: Tell us about your courses. How do they connect to your majors at home?

The Medical Diagnostics course allows me to apply my EMT, Kinesiology, and Biology knowledge to real-life scenarios by analyzing the criteria and processes used to differentiate and treat diseases in a clinical setting. My Precision Medicine course builds on this by discussing ways to tailor a patient’s treatment plan to the specific subcategorizations of their diseases.

Both courses complement my studies with a hands-on experience. I got to visit multiple healthcare and diagnostic facilities in Stockholm, Uppsala, Linköping, and Gothenburg to learn how professionals use this knowledge in every day patient care.

DIS: How has studying in Sweden been different from studying in the US?

N: In Sweden, we are a small class of five students which creates a more intimate setting with an emphasis on equality between student and professor. Sharing the course material with students from different backgrounds and universities adds richness to the discussions.

DIS: What have been some of the highlights of your summer in Sweden?

N: One of my favorite aspects of my summer in Sweden is the weather – beautiful and sunny with the sun rising at 3am and setting around 11pm. We have spent a lot of our time outside and my favorite memories are going to the parks, picnics in the field, and beach volleyball in the court.

DIS: Where are you living?

N: I am living in Högalidsgatan, a beautiful yellow building located on Södermalm, an island in the center of Stockholm. I have a lovely corner room with a beautiful view of the water and the never-ending Stockholm sunsets. We have a peaceful garden where we go to have brunch and potlucks and play highly competitive games of Kubb.

DIS: What experiences from Sweden will you bring to your life and studies in the US?

N: Sweden has a big emphasis on lagom, which is the idea of not too little and not too much but just the right amount. It reminds me to enjoy the little things, be more present in the moment, and more mindful of a healthy work-life balance. In the US, we often try to be as productive as possible and do not give ourselves enough time to pause and enjoy. In Sweden there is a concept called fika, which are small breaks during the day to socialize with your friends over coffee and small snacks. Fika will definitely be part of my daily routine when I get back.

DIS: Did you explore a bit of Sweden? What were your favorite places?

N: Due to the phenomenal public transportation in Stockholm, I explored quite a bit of the city. Some of my favorite places were the Drottningholm Palace (which is affectionately referred to as “The Palace Palace,” not to be confused with “The Palace” found in Gamla Stan) and the Vasa Museum, centered around a 1620s Swedish Naval War. We explored the zoo at Skansen which had Nordic animals and where I met my first moose and reindeer. Over the weekend, I took the train down to Tyresta National Park, a gorgeous park with nice views of the surrounding forests and lakes and went paddling around Långholmen, a nearby island. On our Study Tour we visited Uppsala, Linköping and Gothenburg, all great cities showing different aspects of Sweden.

DIS: How did you engage with local people and culture outside of your courses?

N: I was able to experience Midsommar, which is a special day in Sweden celebrating the summer solstice. We spent the morning in Skansen, a gorgeous park in Stockholm, before joining up with the entire DIS class in the nearby garden. We would not miss any of the Sweden Euro Cup soccer games and cheered alongside the locals!

DIS: What elements of Swedish culture and Sweden did you like the most?

N: Sweden promotes a healthy and active lifestyle which can be observed by the number of people spending time in the parks or swimming in the early morning. Being environmentally conscious, Swedes prefer riding bikes or taking public transportation to get around. I do not remember having ever seen as many bikes as in Stockholm!

DIS: Did you receive any good advice about study abroad that you’d like to share now?

N: The best thing to do when abroad is to immerse yourself and lean into the new culture and expose yourself to a different way of life. The experience will be unforgettable!

Learn more about studying with DIS:

Take a look at all the courses DIS has to offer for summer study abroad

Check the @summeratDIS Instagram for more stories like Nico’s

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