Mixing It Up A Little More; A New Start In Stockholm Through DIS Mix And Match

Hej igen (Hi again!)! To introduce myself once more, my name is Sophia Griffith, and I am a rising senior at Georgetown University. At Georgetown I major in Biology and minor in English, however, my growing interest in Women & Gender Studies has led me to explore courses in this field here at DIS. During Session 1, I took Psychology of Human Sexuality in Copenhagen. This course entailed an exploration of gender, sexuality, relationships, and related topics through a psychological lens, and was an awesome experience. For Session 2, I will be taking Gender, Equality, and Sexuality in Scandinavia, which takes place in Stockholm.

A picture from Nyhavn in Copenhagen to help you put a face to a name again! Hopefully, I will take some Stockholm selfies before I leave.

I chose to take Gender, Equality, and Sexuality in Scandinavia because I have heard a variety of nebulous praises about Scandinavian gender equality, but know nothing about the specifics. What exactly made Scandinavia so gender-equal? What context brought about the Scandinavian policies on parental leave, or the official incorporation of a gender-neutral pronoun into Swedish? It was all a mystery to me, and I was eager to learn more about Scandinavian gender equality while actually experiencing the culture in which these ideas arose. So, I am excited to be taking Gender, Equality, and Sexuality in Scandinavia while actually living in Stockholm for a few weeks.

Our Study Tour – a DIS faculty-led trip to a different European city, where we can apply class concepts through experiential learning – is going to be in Berlin, Germany. Berlin has a long LGBTQ+ history and is often dubbed “The Queer Capital of Europe”, so I’m beyond excited to actually be able to see and experience some of it soon!

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Our Berlin Study Tour Guide, courtesy of the DIS Study Tour Department!

Study Tours are actually one of the many reasons I chose to stay at DIS for a second Session. As far as I have researched, they are unique to DIS, and I didn’t want to leave without experiencing one! The opportunity to explore a new city in Europe is a rare one. Another major reason I am staying at DIS for a second Session is so I can better explore Scandinavia. I knew that three weeks would not be enough time for me to see and do all that I wanted to, and my time in Copenhagen really did fly by, so I am happy to be in Scandinavia for a few weeks longer. Furthermore, a second Session allows me to take a second class, and with the wide array of courses that DIS offers, I was excited by the opportunity to try another new class.

The Mix and Match option is an additional reason I wanted to do more than one Session with DIS. Mix and Match is great in the sense that it allows you to explore three cities – Copenhagen, Stockholm, and your Study Tour location – in one integrated program. Exploring new cities is one of my favorite pastimes, so Mix and Match felt like the perfect opportunity for me to see and do more. Although I do miss Copenhagen, I have loved exploring Stockholm, and the opportunity to experience multiple cultures in one study abroad experience has been amazing so far.

The differences between Stockholm and Copenhagen are definitely greater than I expected them to be. For example, Stockholm feels much larger than Copenhagen. Walking around Östermalm in Stockholm reminded me a lot of walking around downtown Washington D.C., or how I imagine walking around New York City might be. Stockholm also feels more “grand” – there is so much intricate, old, and impressive architecture here, in contrast to Copenhagen’s more quaint historic buildings interspersed with cutting-edge design. Both Stockholm and Copenhagen are wonderful cities, but Stockholm has more of a big-city vibe than Copenhagen, which is smaller and more tight-knit. I would recommend seeing them for yourself, as they both have magical experiences to offer!

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Some of my Stockholm experiences so far.

DIS provides optional free transport between Copenhagen and Stockholm, which gave me a three-day weekend to explore a lot of my new city. However, there are still a number of adventures in Stockholm that I look forward to. I am really excited to explore the Stockholm Archipelago, though I am still trying to figure out which of the 200 inhabited islands I want to visit. I also look forward to seeing Drottningholm Palace outside of the city, where the Swedish royal family lives. Finally, I am excited to experience Midsummer in Sweden, as it is a hugely important holiday here with a number of traditions associated with it.

One big way in which my experience in Stockholm will be different from my experience in Copenhagen is how I will plan what I see and do. In Copenhagen, I was obsessed with planning very specifically where I would eat and what I would see. This was great in the sense that I experienced so many wonderful things, but limited me in the sense that the number of unconventional things I did was less than it could have been. While I certainly have a to-do list for Stockholm, it is much smaller than the one I had for Copenhagen, so I’ve enjoyed tagging along with more groups of people in Stockholm and experiencing their must-do items. For instance, I hadn’t originally planned on visiting Fotografiska or the Nobel Museum, but I had amazing experiences at both places and was able to bond with a number of my fellow DIS students. Being abroad has thus taught me how to better balance structure and spontaneity, a lesson I am grateful to have learned.

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Favorites from Fotografiska.

Ultimately, there is so much I’m looking forward to during Session 2. In this new Session, I really hope to take a deep dive into Swedish culture. My course is focused on Swedish cultural perspectives, so I look forward to learning more about Scandinavian family dynamics, Swedish policies on human trafficking and prostitution, and Swedish discussions on gender and sexuality. I also hope to learn a few words in Swedish while I am here. Danish was difficult for me to grasp, but Swedish has been a bit easier for me. I’ve picked up about 9 or 10 Swedish words so far (our feminist language activism lecture today has helped considerably with that!), and I still have a few weeks to learn some more! For now, though, I say farväl – I have some readings and plenty of packing to do before we depart for Berlin!

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