“Hej” is the most common way to say hello in both Danish and Swedish. However, because of the difference in pronunciation I found myself saying “Hi” in Copenhagen and “Hey!” in Stockholm. This hidden difference is symbolic of how two very similar seeming cities have a plethora of differences.
My time in Stockholm has come to an end as I finish up Week 6 with DIS. The last 6 weeks have been incredibly enlightening and given me new experiences and memories I will forever cherish. My first three weeks in Copenhagen helped me form a first impression of living in Scandinavia while going to Stockholm helped me realize how another place in the same region can be so different in many unique ways.
Copenhagen introduced me to a quiet way of life and the sense of safety that can be felt everywhere you go while Stockholm built upon that same feeling.
As I step outside in Copenhagen, I encounter people on bikes zipping past on both sides of the road, pizza places, restaurants, bike shops and the hustle and bustle of a big city. In Stockholm, on the other hand, I would encounter a lot less bikes and vehicles (most people using the city’s extensive public transport), and a few coffee shops and other buildings spread out here and there. Stockholm is made up of islands and has a lot more slopes, lakes, parks, outdoor gyms and greenery throughout the city.
Commuting through the cities
I would also like to mention how different getting to-and-from classes has been for me. In Copenhagen, I had a bike rental and in the mornings I would put on my helmet as I got ready for the 15 minute bike commute from my housing in Amagerbro to Vestergade, where DIS buildings are located. I would park my bike amongst dozens of others, strap on the lock, grab a coffee from the nearest 7-eleven and walk over to one of the many buildings in the street with a blue DIS sign.
In Stockholm, DIS was located on a different island than my apartment and it would take me about 40 minutes (once I got accustomed to the public transport system) to travel from Biz Apartment in Heliosgången to DIS Stockholm (located in the inner city). I would take the tram from Luma station, getting off at Gullmarsplan to transfer to the metro and finally take the most convenient bus from the next station. In Stockholm, there were always various options (buses, trams, trains, ferries) to choose from and the commute would often require a little bit of walking. Getting to a destination on another island would often require various transfers, and Google maps or the SL app would often come in handy. Jacob, my roommate, and I were in the same class (Travel Writing) and would head off on our journey an hour in advance of class every morning.
While DIS has a few different buildings in a busy street of Copenhagen, DIS Stockholm is located in a single building and coexists with the Royal College of Music. The Stockholm location was built more recently and has a more modern feel to it.
Both my courses involved a lot of discussions and almost everyone in the class would speak up and give their opinion at least once every class. Digital Media in Marketing (Copenhagen) and Travel Writing (Stockholm), both involved hands on work and real life experience in being a Digital Marketer or Travel Writer, respectively. My professors would never hold back on giving constructive criticism and helpful feedback ensuring that we learned as much as we could about the subjects in a relatively short span of time. Both had an incredible amount of experience and expertise in their respective subjects and I could feel that passion every time I went to class.
Long days and Midsummer!
In the last 6 weeks, I have also had the pleasure to see the sun a lot more than usual. In peak summer, it often sets a little after 10 pm and rises very soon at about 4 am (the sun gets only about 6 hours of rest). The northern parts of Sweden even get to experience a beautiful phenomenon called the Midnight Sun! On that note, I would love to talk about the celebration of the summer solstice in the two cities. In Copenhagen, the midsummer festival of Saint Hans is celebrated. After a dinner with family and friends, people stroll to a community bonfire at beaches or parks where there are speeches and the song ‘Midsommervisen’ is sung by all.
“Sweden is a peaceful country and while other countries have reasons to celebrate like Independence Day, here we find reasons to celebrate like the longest day of the year”, our boat tour guide had said with humor during our welcome event on the first day. Me and my friends had the pleasure of attending the Swedish Midsummer (or Midsommar) celebration in Skansen, the oldest open-air museum and Zoo in Sweden, located in Djurgården. We found branches and flowers to braid into a head wreath and headed to the maypole ceremony. There we saw the lifting of the leafy 30 foot maypole after which we danced around it holding hands with other internationals and locals alike with ‘Små Grodorna’ (Little frogs) being sung by a chorus beside us!
Experiencing both cities has made me realize how cultures can vary so much in the same region and the two countries’ views on one another. I will be finishing up my study abroad adventure with another four weeks back in Copenhagen!
Hej då / Farvel! (Goodbye)
See you soon!