Featured

Pre-Departure

Hello! My name is Rachel, and in two days, I will begin my journey traveling to Stockholm, Sweden, which will be my new home for the next four months. I feel like I have been planning and dreaming about my abroad experience for what feels like forever, and I can’t believe it’s already basically time to go. I am ready to be there, and I’m not sure if I am prepared for the plane ride ahead. I couldn’t find a direct flight to Stockholm, so I have an eight-hour flight to Madrid, Spain, and then another four-hour flight to Stockholm!

In the past few days, I have gotten more emails from DIS on what to expect and different materials for orientation. I am also excited about the classes that I will be taking since most of them are not offered at Stonehill (my home college). My core course will be Affective Neuroscience: Emotions, Cognition, and Behavior. Then the electives that I plan on taking include Philosophy of Technology and Human Values, Psychology of Political Behavior, and Swedish Language and Culture. Something that I am most excited for about the academics at DIS is the travel component. One of the reasons that I chose this program is for having the opportunity to learn the material in class and then being able to explore and seeing it out in the real world.

I still can’t believe that I am leaving in just a few days! I guess that means I better start packing. I have definitely started to feel the nerves start to kick in as I begin to think about saying goodbye to my friends and family back home. However, I know that this is probably going to be one of the only times where I’ll be able to live in a completely different place and truly be able to explore Europe. I can’t wait to take part in every opportunity that I can!

Also, I just wanted to share some tips that I got when looking for an abroad program/how to prepare for abroad:

  1. Do your research!! For me, I started looking for programs that I wanted based on my academics and then I looked into the different countries.
  2. Compare the cost of living of where you currently live and where you are planning to go abroad. It helped me to determine where I wanted to go and how much I should save. (This is the website that I used to help me: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/calculator.jsp)
  3. Start early! Remember, it is never too early to begin planning for your abroad experience. Now that I am leaving so soon, a part of me wishes that I started packing and getting things ready a little earlier.
  4. Take advantage of what your home college has to offer. My school offered different workshops on how to budget when abroad and how to travel throughout Europe.
  5. Extra things: to prepare for this experience, I have talked to friends and other. students about their abroad experience, I have made a list of places that I hope to also travel to. When beginning to pack, I am laying out all of my clothes first to see how much I am bringing and where to cut down if I need to.
  6. Have fun, and get excited!!!

I can’t believe that I’m going to be there before I know it, and I can’t wait to share my experience at DIS and in Stockholm here! Also, I wanted to share a playlist of songs that I have been listening to for my travels!

Rachel

hej då sweden

Hello everyone!

It’s taken me a while to find the right words to say to describe how I’m feeling and how my study abroad experience came to an unexpected end, and I still don’t think I have the right words to say.

As I’m sure everyone reading this knows, DIS no longer has in-person classes, and everything is now online. Everyone has been sent home for the rest of the semester, like I’m sure all study abroad programs and home universities. It was a very surreal experience; I just remember falling asleep and then being woken again an hour later, being told that we all have to leave and book a flight home ASAP. I don’t think I got any sleep for the rest of the night, and everyone was in a state of disbelief, sadness, and shock. I had trouble wrapping my mind around what was actually happening and how an experience that I spent over a year working and planning for was now suddenly ending two months before it was supposed to.

I spent my last day in Sweden, walking around Gamla Stan with my roommate, trying Prinsess Cake for the first time, and having fika one last time with some of my favorite friends and teachers. Then before I knew it, I was on my way to the airport and landed back in Chicago, where I think I burst into tears as the plane was landing.

Even though my time in Stockholm was cut short, I will forever be grateful for the memories, friends, and experiences that I never thought I would have and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned so much in the two months I was there from what I learned in class, during my daily commute, new friends and my visiting host family, and just from being able to live in a city in Europe. If you told me a year ago that I would be studying abroad in Stockholm and I would experience eating in the dark in Paris, jump into the freezing water of the Baltic Sea, and learn the importance of fika, I don’t think I would have believed you. So much happened in such a short amount of time, and I made memories that I know I’m going to hold on to forever. It’s interesting to think that some of the things that overwhelmed when I first got there are also some of the things that I miss the most, like constantly hearing Swedish on the t-bana and trying to figure out how to cook for ourselves. I also miss a lot of the little things I think, like getting coffee from Oktav every day before class, Baras Backe, which was my favorite bar to go to with friends, and the daily routine of the Swedes. I have been listening to the song Stockholm by Judah & the Lion a lot to bring back these memories.

Now that I am back home, I have been trying to hold on to little pieces of Sweden. I have attempted to make Prinsess Cake, which definitely wasn’t as good, FaceTimed friends from abroad, and I am excited for classes to start up again to get back into a routine. I am so thankful for everyone at DIS for trying to make this transition as smooth as possible for us, and I feel like you truly aren’t just a student at DIS but also a person and someone that they care about and genuinely want to get to know. I want to say thank you for everyone at DIS and everyone in Sweden that made it such an amazing experience. I hope that it wasn’t the last time for me in Stockholm, and I really hope to go back and visit someday.

Thank you all for reading my blog and for letting me share my abroad experience.

Rachel

Fika in the Forest

Hi Everyone!

A few weekends ago, I went on a hike with my visiting host family at Hågelbyparken, which was a park just outside of Stockholm. It was really nice to get out of the city for a little bit and do some exploring. Also, when coming to Sweden, one of my goals was to do some hiking. My visiting host mom also enjoyed picking mushrooms, and it was really interesting because she taught me a little bit about what to look for and about the different types of mushrooms. One of the best parts about the hike was I finally understood how serious Swedes are about fika. During the middle of the hike, we all sat on a log and drank hot tea, and ate Kanelbulles that they made in the morning. As I was sitting there and enjoying the view, I couldn’t believe that this was what I was doing. The hike was perfect, and then we went back to their house after and had dinner before I went back home. Here are some pictures of the hike.

I also wanted to write a little bit about my visiting host family. As I have talked about earlier, I live in the studentboende with other DIS and local students and not with a host family, which is another option. DIS has a program for students where you can have a visiting host family where you meet with them at least once a month and can do different activities together. The first time I met with mine, we went to a museum and had dinner. I really like this program because it allows me to get more involved with the local Swedish culture, and it’s nice to spend time with a family when you are so far from home. I really like the program, and it is something that I would recommend to everyone who is not in a homestay.

Rachel

Finnhamn

Hi Everyone!

This past weekend I traveled to Finnhamn in the Archipelago with just over seventy other DIS students, and it was perfect.

Finnhamn was about a four and half hour boat ride from Stockholm so it was super easy and it was great since we could use our SL (transportation) cards to get a ticket. Also, we left right when the sun was going down, so it was beautiful to watch the sunset on the boat.

It was the perfect weekend away since we got there around 9 pm on Friday and then had all day Sunday and took the 11:30 am boat back on Sunday. On Saturday, we started our day by all having breakfast together. Then we were free to explore whatever we wanted while there we still some guided activities if people were interested. A group of friends and I started with a hike around the hostel, looking at the views and climbing different rocks. While we were exploring, we also found a small ropes course, which was a lot of fun. Then in the afternoon, we went to a sauna that was right by the Baltic Sea. After I got nice and warm in the sauna, I went outside in the freezing cold and jumped in the water, which is completely crazy. But now I can say that I have swum in the Baltic Sea and I think that’s pretty cool. Then we just tried to keep warm and hung out before dinner. Then after dinner, we all watched Melodifestivalen together, which kind of reminds me of American Idol or America’s Got Talent. Then some people brought their instruments, so we had a little jam session.

Overall, it was a really great weekend trip, and it’s a reminder about all of the beautiful places that there are in Sweden, and they are pretty close to Stockholm. I think sometimes it can be easy to forget all the amazing places you can see right in the country you are studying in and you don’t have to travel to a different country every weekend. I highly recommend going to Finnhamn, and I’m really hoping to make another trip back there before the semester ends!

Rachel

Core Course Week

Hello!

I am currently on the train ride back from Umeå, Sweden, which is about six hours ago from Stockholm. This is where my core course and I spent the past few days. First, let me explain what a core course is and what that means. At DIS, for me, at least when I applied to the program, I applied through my school, and we also had to apply to a core course. I am in the Affective Neuroscience core course, and the other courses I am in are all electives. I traveled with the class this week, and then I will travel with them to Paris during the long study tour. Here is some of our schedule from this past week of what we did!

Monday:

At the beginning of the week, we stayed in Stockholm and at DIS. During the morning, we had a guest lecturer come in to teach us about functional music therapy. Then in the afternoon, we went to the Karolinska Institute, where we had a tour of Tammimies Lab and learned about how genetics contributes to different neurodevelopment disorders.

Tuesday:

We had to wake up at 4:30am to take a 6:20am train to Umeå, and the train ride was about six hours long. I honestly really enjoyed the train because it was nice to see a little more of Sweden, and it’s always fun to travel with your class. After we got to the hostel, we went to an improv acting workshop where we tried to act out and express different emotions. Personally, I was very nervous for this, but I had the most fun and it was something that I have never experienced before and never thought that I would. Then we had a group dinner, and after dinner, we went back to the hostel to watch the film Sami Blood.

Wednesday:

We started our day by going to a Joiking workshop where we learned about the importance of joiking in the Sami culture, and we also learned how to joik. Then we reflected on how our emotions are expressed in different cultures. In the afternoon, we went cross country skiing! And it was so much fun, but it was also a lot harder than I expected it to be. I think I fell a total of four times, but it was amazing and beautiful. Here are some pictures of that.

Thursday:

First, we went to Umeå University to the Department of Clinical Sciences Units: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to listen to a talk on depression in adolescents. It was really interesting to listen to and compare it to what we know about the United States. It was also National Sami Day, so we went to enjoy some of the festivities for that. While we went there, we also met the father of the director of Sami Blood, which was so cool and he gave us more insight about Sami culture and what they went through. After that, we ordered some MAX and went back on the train to head home to Stockholm.

Friday:

We were back at DIS today, and we had a lecture on the endocrine factors in affective disorders. Then we had some time to work on our projects and enjoy the weekend!

Overall, this week has so far been the highlight of my abroad experience. It was so much fun, and I got so much closer to everyone in my class. Also, it was a cool experience to see what we were learning in the classroom in real life and to combine things that I didn’t think would go together. Like I never thought that I would take a neuroscience class that also involved learning how to act. But it was amazing, and it made me even more excited to travel with them again to Paris!

Rachel 

48 Hours in Oslo

Hi Everyone!!

This past weekend a few friends and I took our first weekend trip to Oslo, Norway! And it was perfect. We left late on Friday, where we had a 7:50pm flight and then came back to Stockholm on Sunday with a flight at 9:30pm. When deciding on where to stay, we did some research to find the cheapest place, and we ended up finding a nice Airbnb that wasn’t too far away from the center city!

Day 1: Saturday

We started our day walking to the Oslo Opera House, where we could walk up to the roof and take in the views of Norway in the morning, and it was beautiful. The sky was blue, and it wasn’t as cold as we expected it to be. After we were done taking in the views, we walked down Karl Johans gate, which is one of the main streets of Oslo to the Royal Palace. We weren’t allowed to go inside since it is not open during the winter season, but we ended up getting there at the perfect time to watch the changing of the guards. I think the Royal Palace is definitely something worth visiting even if you can’t inside because it is pretty to see. After that, we decided it was time for some fika, and that is was still acceptable to get even though we weren’t in Sweden. Then we went to walk by the water when we found Princess Ingrid Alexandra’s sculpture park, which had different sculptures that were all designed by grade school children. My favorite sculpture was the rainbow. Also, at this point, our day wasn’t even halfway over! After taking about a million pictures by the water when walked through Akershus Fortress, which was built in 1299 and it is still standing beautifully. Then in the same area, we also went into City Hall and the Nobel Peace Museum. City Hall is an absolute must if you go to Oslo because it was stunning on the inside with the entire rooms from top to bottom covered in artwork. I also really enjoyed going to the Nobel Peace Museum, and I learned a lot of information that I never knew before. Then timing was on our side today because as soon as we walked out, the Gore-Tex Winter Run just started, and we got to cheer on some of the runners! Finally, it was time for dinner and funnily enough as soon as we walked in, we saw another group of DIS students. And that was the end of day 1.

Day 2: Sunday

We had a bit of a later start to Day 2, but we were then able to start our day by riding on the ferry to some of the different islands that surround Oslo, which was nice, especially since it was also included in the 24hr public transportation pass. After that, we rode the tram for about an hour to go to Holmenkollen. I really enjoyed taking the tram because the ride up was beautiful, and as we rode up the mountain, the more snow we saw! It was funny sitting in the car, watching all the people get on with all of their ski stuff. We went there to see the ski museum and the ski jump tower. We went up to the top of the jump tower first, and it was amazing. I think that it was definitely the highlight of the trip and you could see everything! Then we walked through the museum, where was learned about the history of skiing and Holmenkollen. Then we went to the Frognerseteren Cafe for lunch, and we also shared their huge apple cake! Once we were finished, it was time to pack up and head to the airport.

Overall it was a perfect trip to Oslo, and I think that we had the perfect amount of time. I would say though that Oslo is definitely a little more expensive compared to Stockholm. However, pretty much everything we did was free except for the Nobel Peace Museum and the Ski Museum/Ski Jump. This weekend gave me more confidence about traveling during the weekends. Also, I have been in Stockholm for about three weeks or so, and I didn’t realize how much it already felt like home until I left for the weekend, and I realized how much I missed it!

I will write again soon, and have a great week!

Rachel

Studentboende

Hello! Today I wanted to write a little bit about where I am living.

DIS Stockholm has five different housing options that you can be placed into, and I am living in the studentboende where I live with both DIS students and local students. I am living with 23 DIS students and 14 local Swedish students. I have only been living here for about a week and a half or so, and I already really enjoy it and believe that this was the best housing option for me.

I have one roommate, and we also share a bathroom, and then we share a kitchen and the common room with the rest of the floor. I love being able to have a kitchen because at my school back home I don’t really have access to a kitchen since I am usually on the meal plan and don’t need to cook. Having the shared kitchen has also made it easy to meet everyone that I’m living with and has helped us to make a little community.

Cooking is another new experience that I have had here since before this; I have never been responsible for cooking my own meals all of the time. But I think that I been learning pretty quickly! So far, I have usually been making eggs or pasta when I need something quick. The other night a group of girls on the floor decided to make dinner together, and we made tacos. I was honestly very impressed with how they turned out, and it also made cooking more fun to do it with other people. They were also great because then we had leftovers for lunches.

Along with cooking, I also now have to go grocery shopping, which I already found a little difficult when I’m home since I never know what I’m going to want to eat. But now everything is also in Swedish, which makes things a little more complicated, and it was funny the first time we went when trying to figure out what everything was. So far, though, everyone has been super kind, and many people also speak English and have been willing to answer my questions. My housing location is also nice because we can see ICA (the grocery store) right from my window, so it’s super close.

That’s all for now and I will write more soon!

Rachel

Arrival Day and Exploring Stockholm

Hello!

I have now been in Stockholm for four days, and I still can’t believe that I am here. The flight here was a little over eight hours, and then I also had a layover in Madrid. It was interesting to have a layover in another country since I have only flown internationally once before, and it was a direct flight. I was very excited when the flight was finally over, and it was great to be able to meet up with some other DIS students that also arrived around the same time I did.

It’s crazy though, I feel like I have been here a lot longer than only four days. Let me tell you though, jet lag is a very real thing. I have had no problem falling asleep but then I have trouble staying asleep, and usually wake up a few times in the middle of the night since back home, it’s just starting to become evening. However, I think that I will be able to sleep through the night, no problem since we’ve been so busy.

Orientation (Arrival Week) has been a lot of fun so far, and we have our last day tomorrow with academic orientation before classes start. It’s been good to be able to meet some of the DIS students that are in the other housing options this week. Also, this is the first time that I’ve had to commute to school, but it’s funny how fast you get used to the same route. I think that one of the best parts of orientation was during the opening when we all stood up and did a sing along to Dancing Queen by ABBA. As well as all of the different sessions gave good information that will be useful during my time in Stockholm.

One of the nice things about this program and the way at least today was set up was that we had a lot of free time in the middle of the day. So we used this to our advantage and explored some of the T-bana stations looking at the different artwork. Then we got off at Gamla stan, which is also known as Old Town. We got to walk through the streets, and then we also went to the Royal Palace, where we toured through the Royal Apartments and the Treasury. I added some pictures below.

I have loved my time here so far, and I can’t wait for the rest of the semester!

Rachel

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started