My Study Abroad Epilogue: Friends, Family, and Fika

As this will sadly be the last article I write for the semester, I must say how much I have enjoyed sharing my experiences with you while studying abroad with DIS in Stockholm. Collaborating with my friends and fellow DIS bloggers during the last several months and serving as the pioneers for this new and remarkable program in Sweden’s capital city has truly been a rewarding experience, one that I will never forget.

Since it is particularly difficult to consolidate a semester’s worth of experiences and takeaways into a single, concluding write-up and, and at the same time, find the perfect words to describe this extraordinary chapter of my life, I figured I would base this finale around the idea that pictures are worth a thousand words and literally illustrate my time in Sweden. Hopefully, you will be able to view these images and from them, sense the close connections that were made, the friendships that have evolved, and the relationships that will never die.

At the very least, I hope that you will be able to sense truly how much fun we all have had living in a completely new and exciting place. Without further ado, I would like to present the people that have made my time in Sweden and Europe, a great one.

My (Host) Family

It is hard to go a single blog post without noting the role that my Homestay has played during my study abroad experience and this final write-up is no exception to this purposeful  and unavoidable trend. Even to this day, I can vividly recall meeting Johan for the first time while being nearly delirious after my 7+ hour flight from D.C. to Stockholm. I remember immediately yearning to learn everything there was to know about my host family, Swedish culture, and commonly held perceptions of the United States, to name just a few of my inquiries.

Little did I know that after only two and a half months, I would have dinner nearly every night with my host family, explore the city together, swim in the open water and run a 5K with Susanne, play on the same football team and attend a rock concert (alright, it was a Nickelback concert) with Simon, share our favorite movies and meal recipes together, and cheer on Hammarby to victory in the rowdy Stockholm football matches.

As is the case in the States, I feel extremely lucky to be able to come back to such a supportive and caring family, one who repeatedly goes out of their to look out for my happiness and well-being on a daily basis. And for this, I would like to say, “Tack så mycket för allt!”

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Susanne, Johan, Simon, and I hiking to our favorite view of Stockholm and the surrounding waterways
Simon and I before the ‘Far and Away’ concert performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
In the zone carving and painting a Swedish themed pumpkin with my host family – spooky!!
Taking an afternoon stroll through the woods is always a great way to end the day
Susanne and I exploring the official ABBA Museum and Swedish Music Hall of Fame
Making an old Swedish classic: Chokladbollar
Susanne and I taking in the beauty that is Sweden

DIS Friends, Classmates, & Art Enthusiasts

As one of the pioneer students for DIS Stockholm, I knew that the people in our program would have a unique opportunity to grow especially close to one another when compared to our sister program 400 miles south, in Copenhagen. I could not be more thrilled with the opportunity we have had to travel throughout Europe with our respective core courses, take part in DIS-sponsored trips throughout Sweden and surrounding countries, and plan spontaneous trips to cross certain destinations off our abroad bucket lists has enabled many of us to build lasting friendships, see places we have only ever dreamed of visiting, and take some quite breathtaking photographs in the process.

Not only have my friends and classmates been a major part of my study abroad experience, but so have the faculty and staff at DIS. I have no doubt that the opportunity to learn from professionals at the top of their field has significantly contributed to my personal growth as a student and understanding of the world around me. Here are just a handful of the amazing people with whom I have had the privilege of meeting through studying at DIS. And to you all, I must also say, “Tack så mycket!”

Our ‘Impressionism in Paris’ study tour group exploring the local Parisian cuisine
Our Translational Medicine class DIScovering London during our Week-Long Study Tour (picture courtesy of Robert Brooks)
Huge thanks to Alison for helping guide us DIS bloggers this semester and producing excellent work detailing our experiences
Taking the T-Bana with these awesome people!
Ryan and I absorbing all the priceless art at the Louvre
Alexis, Kassie, Abby, and I (right to left) at Stockholm’s Vasamuseet
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Ryan, Julian, Jerry, and I (from back of the log to front) during our first Translational Medicine study tour throughout Sweden
Thank you to Andrea’s host family for having us all over for dinner!
Taking in the views of downtown Gamla Stan after class with these fun people
(Im)patiently waiting for our afternoon tea in London (picture courtesy of Robert Brooks)

My Football Brothers

Being immersed in any new environment comes with its own set of unique challenges and pieces of the puzzle in need of being pieced together. At first, it is easy to observe and solely focus on the differences one might have with those around him, particularly regarding dissimilarities in language, culture, and widely held beliefs or principles. It takes time along with an adapted mindset to realize just how many parallels do, in fact, exist.

When my teammates on Boo FF weren’t running laps around me and passing the ball between my legs as a result of their high level of skill and years of training, they were going above and beyond to make me feel included not only as the newest member of the team, but also as a newcomer to Sweden.

As my skills and endurance gradually improved week to week, so did my ability to understand bits and pieces of conversations and instructions given by Johan and Mikael, the two coaches/trainers for Boo FF. Despite everyone’s nearly perfect understanding of the English language, it felt quite rewarding being able to move away from exclusively speaking in my native tongue to having even brief and rudimentary conversations in Swedish.

Practicing with these funny, yet focused and talented individuals and receiving quite possibly one of the warmest and most appreciative send-offs I have ever experienced from them has been a true highlight of my time here in Sweden and for this, I could not be more grateful. Thank you to the whole Boo FF family including Johan, Mikael, and Mari for truly making me feel at home and keeping me in shape at the same time.

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Your 2016 Boo FF-Nacka football team!
Matthias, Jerome, and I (left to right) in our official Boo FF gear
Leif and I posing for the post-practice paparazzi
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Johan, my host dad and Coach of Boo FF, giving the team a pep talk during practice (picture courtesy of Alison Ryncarz)

Sharing my study abroad experiences with you during the past few months has truly been an honor and a privilege. For those making the decision whether to embark on a related, yet completely unique, experience with DIS or any other program, I can guarantee you (at least) one thing:

You will see new places, meet new people, and make new memories that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

Adjö och tack för att du läste!


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