Self-Guided Research in Stockholm: Mo’s Return to Scandinavia

Sometimes it’s a love of learning that drives us on our path. We just keep following something we’re passionate about until we look back and realize how truly far we have come.

For Morenike, or as her friends call her, “Mo,” it was the classes offered at DIS Stockholm that triggered her move halfway across the world.

“I’d say it really was the program itself, because Duke doesn’t really offer that many programs that focus on international relations, so it was great to be here and actually have that focus on Stockholm, Sweden and also just on the EU,” Mo said. “It really helped me decide that I do want to pursue a masters in international relations and continue learning more about these issues.”

While at DIS Stockholm, Mo studied international security and immigration policy through the European Security Dilemmas and Intelligence Core Course. The experience of taking this course shaped her senior thesis research that she is now conducting in Stockholm with the help of DIS Stockholm faculty member, Steve Turner, and her advisor back home at Duke University.

Mo’s thesis is comparative. Over this summer, she will conduct interviews in Stockholm on international security procedures, and when she returns to the United States, she will write up an essay contrasting the security and immigration policies of the United States to Sweden’s and that of the EU in general.

“Basically what I’m doing in Stockholm is interviewing counter-terrorism experts, police officers, social workers, teachers, politicians, really anyone and everyone who has something to say about the issue,” Mo said.

It’s Mo’s second time living in Stockholm, this time without the daily structure of DIS classes and Field Studies.

“I do miss the routine at DIS, coming back and having classes, but it also doesn’t feel any different,” Mo shared.

There is one aspect of her DIS experience that is a large part of her return to Sweden—her Homestay. Mo is staying with her hosts in Täby, giving her that extra support and comfort.  

Even when Mo went back to the United States after first studying with DIS Stockholm, she and her Homestay hosts kept their strong connection. Now that she has returned to Stockholm, she’s slipped right back into the family like she’s never left.

“My Homestay hosts and I are really close, so it was easy to go back into that routine, just being there, being with her and her three kids. One is graduating, she’s moving up to year seven, so I’m going to see that ceremony, I go watch their sports games, too,” Mo said.

It’s fitting that Mo would feel so at home with her Swedish Homestay, given that her area of interest lies in the contrasts between Europe and the United States.

“I even brought them a bunch of American candies — so we’re doing a taste test right now, like five different candies each night. Everything from Reese’s to KitKats to Sour Patch Kids, anything and everything they have and haven’t seen.”

Because Mo is working on her research with DIS faculty member, Steve Turner, she still gets to visit DIS all the time.

“Being with Steve is like being in a one-on-one class, we’re in constant communication. He’s always helping to flesh out my ideas,” Mo said. “DIS is essentially home base for me.”

Check out a day in Mo’s life here in Stockholm, the second time around:

1. I usually have breakfast with my Homestay hosts and we talk about our plans for the day! Often, it’s a huge breakfast spread with sandwich, cereal, coffee, yogurt, and other food items.

2. Today, I traveled to the social service office to interview two workers about their work with integrating migrants and refugees into the Swedish welfare system.

3. Then, I commuted to DIS to discuss the security and integration issues in the major Swedish city, Malmö, with a journalist and DIS faculty member Steve Turner.

4. After my interviews, I took the Roslagsbanan to get to my home in Täby Kyrkby.

5. After beginning to transcribe my interviews, I sat down with my host mom and siblings for dinner and we talked about our day.

6. I traveled with my Homestay hosts to Lysekil, a city on the west coast of Sweden, to celebrate the holiday Midsummer.

7. Here is a picture with my host mom Lina and siblings Lova, Meja, and Calle by the ocean.

8. On Midsummer morning, we traveled to Lysekilʼs Gamla Stan (old town) to watch community members dance around the pole.

9. Most people also wear flower crowns on Midsummer and pick flowers to celebrate fertility.

10. In the evening, we had a typical Swedish smorgasbord to celebrate. It included potatoes, skagen, lox, and other delicious foods.

11.  After dinner, we ate sponge cake made by Lina and Meja.

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