Milly, Macalester College and Isabelle, Barnard College walk you through their September in Stockholm. Find out what their days at DIS Stockholm are like, their classes, friends, and how they make Stockholm a new home.
New Shades of Orange
Milly: My life here has gone in a cyclical motion of highlights. In some moments, life truly felt like it was holding me in its warm arms… like when I was in the studio one day for a Music Living and Learning Community (LLC) night. We were tracking the vocals for an LLC member’s single, and it was so incredibly fun just to be there for the whole process.
Another highlight is getting off the T-bana (metro) and walking home on Hornsgatan. Everything is bustling in the best way. I put on my headphones and dance in the street – Swedes don’t draw attention to themselves, but gosh darn are they amused when people do.
I’m so happy with my choice of studying abroad in the fall. I swear I’ve found shades of red and orange I have never seen before.
Isabelle: There’s almost no such thing as an ‘average’ day in Stockholm. Perhaps it’s because we are in a new place, but even the most mundane things – swiping into the subway or making dinner in the common room have an exciting feeling of newness.
Stockholm is one of the most naturally striking places in the world. The combination of blue water, deep green trees, rocky cliffs, and colorful European buildings is amazing. Every time I pass by, on the train, boat, by foot, or from a window, I’m in awe all over again of how lucky we are to be here.
When taking the boat from Slussen you can see the spires of Gamla Stan, the Old Town, pointing into the blue sky and the amusement park attractions of Gröna Lund lit up in the other direction.
Anywhere in Stockholm in the fall is spectacular.
Mornings in Stockholm
Milly: The first thing I do when I wake up is to look out of my north-facing window. Our Music Living and Learning Community apartment on Högalidsgatan looks over the water to Kungsholmen. I never stop being grateful for our view.
My true morning routine starts with me singing whatever song pops into my head first that day. I don’t have class until 11:40, so I normally do some homework before I head to my closest T-bana station and board the Red Line. It’s a 14-minute straightshot to DIS. I love it.
Isabelle: I wake up in my room in the Studentboende in Årsta. I sleep with my head right next to the large glass window, so before I’ve even opened my eyes I’ll reach up to the handle and swing the window open to let in a wave of fresh air. Because it’s late fall right now, the chilly air smells like leaves, dew, and earth.
Starting my day with Swedish air makes me so appreciative of how beautiful it is here – and how even the most simple things have made this experience so comforting and positive.
The ride to DIS is spectacular at parts, like when the train comes up over the ground and you can see some stunning views of the water, the boats, and the old colorful buildings. The train itself is quiet and peaceful in the morning – something I appreciate a lot when starting my day.
When at DIS
Milly: On Mondays and Thursdays, I walk on campus and head to Storytelling: How Narrative Works, followed directly by Philosophy of Technology and Human Values, and my Core Course, Positive Psychology.
I’ve found the classes to be really dynamic and engaging – we do everything from building Lego recreations of Sweden’s history, to field trips to Stockholm art galleries, to workshopping horror stories based on board games.
Classes are also small; my Swedish class only has 2 students! Usually though, there are 8-12 students.
Milly: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays after school, I eat dinner and then head to gymnastics class, organized through Stockholm Sports Association.
My coach (aka the Greatest Person in the World at the moment) could tell you of multiple instances where I just walked up to him and said, “Wow, I am so grateful. I didn’t think I’d be able to do gymnastics here. I want to be in the gym as much as I can. It’s so fun. I love the way you run your classes. Have I mentioned I’m so grateful?”
Thursdays are for Music LLC outings. Part of the reason why I shipped myself off to Stockholm for a semester was to tinker in the music scene here. My music LLC leader, Mattias, seems to know every young musician in the city.
We have attended many-a-concert of many-a-genre, hung out with some producers and DJs in Mattias’ inner circle, and explored the museums with music exhibits.
Fridays are when I walk to my favorite bakery near DIS for a well-deserved Fika at Ett Bageri. That place is tucked into a special section of my heart. The best smell in this entire city is when the oven is opened and the cardamom buns come out, and the café has a great view of a little calm street.
Isabelle: Most days after school I’ll go to the gym next to KMH, called SATS. It makes me so happy to end the school day with a workout, since I can shake off any stress and really focus on my workout and check in with myself.
I’m part of a running group in Stockholm called Sideline City. The group is made up of Swedes and non-Swedes, and even though the primary language people speak there is English, it’s been a great place to practice some Swedish too. We explore the parks, run along the water, and get to know Stockholm by foot.
After working out, I’ll come back home to Studentboende, where I’m greeted in the common room by both fellow DIS-ers and locals. People are cooking, chatting, playing board games – and laughing a lot! It’s a really communal atmosphere.
Stockholm Turning into Home
Milly: I’m actually confident in saying that I know quite a network of musicians here on a personal level. Oh, and my gymnastics crew! It’s hard not to make friends with people when you’re constantly laughing at how ridiculous you look.
Isabelle: I have a two visiting host moms here, who could not be more welcoming, warm, and engaged people. Meeting up with them is always a highlight of my week.
I’ve also gotten to know locals through my running group, the gym, and the Studentboende, and the locals I’ve met have been consistently very friendly people.
Advice to the Next DIS Stockholm Student
Milly: Come as you are. I flew to this part of the world with a goal of not being a nuisance to the locals. However, I don’t have to change who I am as a person. Yeah, I’m a little loud. When I’m coming back from gymnastics with my Swedish buddies though, we all get shushed on the train.
Come as you are, learn as much as you can. Approaching every unfamiliar situation with kindness is what has me feeling the embrace of this city and the people in it.
Isabelle: It can be overwhelming to move to a new place, but remembering that you are surrounded by people who genuinely support and care for you is really meaningful and comforting. Here’s my best advice to you:
- Have fun, play as much as possible
- Get excited about what you’re learning
- Take care of your body
- Be patient with the highs and the lows
- Take the boat whenever possible
- Invest in a scarf
- Do things that light you up
It will be an adventure, and such such such a special one.
Milly & Isabelle’s September in Stockholm
Follow Milly and Isabelle through their month of September at DIS and get an inside look at all the shades of fun in the fall: