Living and Learning Swedish Culture

Submitted by Alison Giffen on the 2023 DIS spring semester program in Stockholm, Sweden …

Visiting sustainable communities in Stockholm

This week classes are back to normal! I figured I would use this week’s blog post to talk about the unique opportunity DIS gives us each Wednesday. Every Wednesday we don’t have standard classes, instead we go on field studies to foster learning outside the classroom. The main principle behind this idea is applying what we are learning in the classroom to real life scenarios. This Wednesday, my neurodegenerative diseases class went on our first field study to a neurology clinic. At the clinic we got to meet a patient with Parkinson’s Disease. Additionally, we got to watch a full clinical examination of both the patient’s symptoms and mental health status. It was really cool to see what we have been learning about in class done in real life. Not only did we learn more about Parkinson’s but the patient we met with also asked us questions. It was a really unique opportunity for both parties to learn more about a currently incurable disease. Unfortunately we could not take pictures in the clinic for confidentiality, so I included pictures from a field study I went on a few weeks ago with my Swedish Language and Culture class. We visited the Royal Seaport which is a suburb community that has a focus on sustainability and building affordable housing without sacrificing the environment. (Submitted during Week 5)

This past week consisted of one of the biggest Swedish traditions: Semla day! This year it was on February 21st, but that can change each year as the day, Fat Tuesday, is more important than the date. Semla day, or Semmeldagen as they say in Swedish, is when you eat as many semlas throughout the day as you can and then you “give them up for lent.” Semla is a bun that has cream and almond paste in the middle. For my Semmeldagen, I went to a cafe called Vette Katten with two of my friends from my floor, Skylar and Carter. I found out that I do not share the same love for semlas as most here in Sweden do, but I was still really proud to take part in this Swedish tradition. Later that night, my floor did a group potluck where we all brought different foods to share for dinner. I, of course, made pasta. It was really nice to be able to sit down with everyone and catch up, as it feels like everyone is always super busy. And you guessed it, the desserts brought were semlas! Overally, my first Semmeldagen was one to remember. (Submitted during Week 6)

Celebrating Semmeldagen with semlas!

Week 07 came with a very rare surprise in Stockholm: the Northern Lights! Normally in order to see the Northern Lights you have to travel to Swedish Lappland, which is much farther North than Stockholm. However, when the weather is just right, the lights can be seen from Stockholm! This past Monday the sky was super clear and so I went with some friends to one of the highest points in Stockholm, Skinnarviksberget, which also only happens to be a 10 minute walk from my building! We all got bundled up and headed out around 10 because the weather report said they should be visible from 10 to 11 o’clock. We brought towels to sit on and we all watched and waited to see if we could see the lights. The Northern Lights decided to come and show off in Stockholm and it was super cool to see. They definitely weren’t as good as the lights you see in pictures from Iceland or anywhere else in the Arctic Circle but they were enough to be able to see the green hinge in the sky. We all stayed a while and watched the lights dance across the sky. It was definitely the highlight of my week. (Submitted during Week 7)