I cannot emphasize this enough–Sweden now has a very big place in my heart! As we were getting onto the bus heading towards Copenhagen, I felt like a little piece of me was being left behind. Counting down the days until I go back for session 3! Here’s a little rundown on my first session, with my experiences, memories, and what I look forward to during session 2 in Copenhagen!
A Welcoming Community
I can’t lie, before coming to Sweden, the thing I was most terrified about was that I’d feel like an outsider. I assumed the adjustment would be very difficult, and that it’d be so hard to feel welcomed. However, I am so glad that my experience ended up being the complete opposite! From the moment I started to explore the city, it felt like home. Everyone was so friendly, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who wasn’t smiling. All day everyday, you see people outside wheeling their strollers, or walking their dogs, and just truly enjoying themselves! I think between 30-40 times I’ve told someone that I plan to never leave, and I stand by that. I just felt much lighter and carefree, and always felt safe everywhere I went.
I must recommend Gamla Stan as a place to hit at least once if you find yourself in Stockholm! This is the “old town”, but if you want to see the pretty colored buildings and the true heart of the city, you’ll find it here. A very big tourist spot, and everyone is either visiting the Royal Palace, taking a stroll by the water, or visiting all the little shops and restaurants. During Swedish National day, it was really beautiful to see everyone come together and show pride in their country, and also watching the Royal Family pass through was so exciting!
No matter where you find yourself, people will be welcoming you with a smile on their face and with open arms. It has now become my true home away from home! 😀
I’ve never been a museum person, but now things have changed! From the Modern Art Museum, to the National History museum, to the Nobel Prize Museum, to the Vasa Museum, Sweden is museum central and I absolutely love it. The things to do are truly endless, and I have found myself exploring each of these beauties for countless hours. Learning about things from the creation of masterpieces, to Swedish history, to warships and Vikings, I have grown a deeper love and appreciation for Sweden. Each place was so unique, and brought about an engaging and interactive experience that made it so enjoyable (I obviously had to stock up at each gift shop to get some memorabilia). There’s a few more I need to hit once I go back for session 3 (especially the ABBA–that will be stop #1!)
Exploring Outside Stockholm
Never did I think I would be taking a ferry on a random Thursday afternoon, or spend an afternoon in a whole new part of Sweden! A few times after class, my friends and I wound up near the ferry and thought, “Why not?” And just hopped on and off after a stop or two! Did we have any clue where we were going? Not at all! One thing that I love about Stockholm is that no matter what part you end up at, you’re going to find a hidden beauty. It’s somewhere where you can be spontaneous, and have a good time wherever you go. My roommate and I were walking through one of the parks, found some paddleboats and once again thought, “Why not?” And got a nice workout and a beautiful view! Make sure to keep an eye out for posters spread out through the metro stations, and across the city–you never know what fun things you might find!
Along with that, I got the chance to take a boat ride out to Vaxholm for a day. It is a little town about a half hour from Stockholm, and it is a very quaint and cute area. The ride over was so amazing, and on the way back we got to see the sunset (it was almost a pink color, which was one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen). Once again, something I never imagined myself doing while here, but Sweden has brought out the adventurous side of me which I am thankful for!
Even though my bank account is in tears, you can’t have a full experience in a new country without trying the food! One thing I have to compliment, is that the presentation of each meal is so delightful, and makes the meal 10 times more delicious. Also, the McDonald’s in Sweden and probably Europe in general are truly better, so I had to include that delicacy as well. It’s nice getting a new and refreshing taste here, from a wide variety of cuisines as well.
Friends, Friends, and More Friends
What’s making me the most sad about all of this ending soon is that I won’t be with all of these amazing people anymore. I have a few friends coming from my school here with me, however I’ve had the chance to make so many memories with so many awesome people! Meeting up at 8 am to take the metro to get to class on time, exploring all the coffee shops in the city, going to random concerts on a whim, picking a random place to go to and explore and more, this experience would not have been so great without everyone I’ve met so far! This program has truly brought me friends that’ll last a lifetime, and I’m so thankful for each and every one of them!!
Time flew by so much faster than I thought, and I realize that I must savor each experience as much as possible before it flashes before my eyes. In Copenhagen, I hope to gain a new perspective, and want to really try and appreciate the culture more! Everyone I’ve talked to have said amazing things about Denmark, and I’m so thrilled for what’s to come. Here’s to another few weeks of spontaneous trips, finding community, trying new foods, and learning new things! See you soon Sweden, it’s been fun!