By: Noa Brown
In the previous issue of “Horizons,” I shared my thoughts and feelings while travelling from San Francisco, California to Stockholm, Sweden for my study abroad last summer. For this issue, I will share my experiences in Stockholm.
During the month of my stay, I came to know the city of Stockholm inside and out. Stockholm is located on the east coast of Sweden. It resides within an archipelago, meaning it is made up of numerous small islands interconnected by bridges, tunnels, and ferries.
Being on an archipelago, there was an end less variety of beautiful vintage boats. I would spot them all along the waterfronts of each island.
I remember I would go for daily jogs along the waterfronts where I would find wooden sailing trawlers, steam powered tugboats and vintage ferries lined up as far I could see. Over time, I got to know each ship by name and recognized each of them for their uniqueness.
One of Stockholm’s key achievements, I believe, is its public transportation network. One single membership pass (prepaid in the program fees) allowed unlimited access to all three of the city’s major systems.
My classmates and I used the Tunnelbana (TBana) most often, which is Stockholm’s metro. The TBana covers a large portion of the city. The few parts of Stockholm out of the TBana’s reach could be accessed by the bus or ferry.
Our apartment complex was only a block away from the nearest TBana station, which we would use to get to the stop at the entrance of our host university.
Before long I figured out how to use my public transportation pass to navigate myself to anywhere I wanted to go in Stockholm. Since I have never owned my own car, this was the first time I had ever made my way around without having to ask for a ride.
It was freedom on a whole new level for me that I had not even experienced in Prescott. Stockholm is also rich with museums.
Our first weekend in Stockholm, I got to visit the Vasa museum. The Vasa was a double decked warship launched by the Swedish Navy in 1628 in Stockholm. On her maiden voyage, the Vasa was only able to cover about one kilometer before her gun ports let in water and she sank.
Miraculously, the ship was rediscovered in the 1950’s and salvaged by 1960. Her restoration has been a work in progress in the years since.
I found the architecture of the city to be very beautiful. Each of the buildings were painted different bright colors ranging from orange to white to green. Much of the roads and sidewalks were made of cobblestone.
While uneven on the feet, I found it to be a rather pleasant change from the bland concrete and asphalt normally found in the United States.
Our host school, the Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) which translates to Royal Institute of Technology, had a very attractive look to its campus as well. Most of the buildings were made of red brick and rose at least three stories high each.
Many of them had enormous smokestacks that would protrude at least six stories up, reminiscent of the Industrial Revolution.
The quad on campus was elegantly decorated with many green, well-kept lawns and neatly trimmed bushes. When the weather was ideal, students would sit out on the lawns to do their homework.
Our professor and program leader, Dr. Crisler, attempted to get all the students meal plans at the KTH’s cafeteria. However, he was never able to do so and we needed to buy our own food for each meal.
Fortunately, finding good food, while expensive, was not at all difficult. About twice a week after I was done with class, I would go shopping on my way back to the apartment.
Throughout my time in Stockholm, I found three different grocery stores I liked. There were two stores called Coop. One was in the TBana station by my apartment and the other was a few blocks away.
They were both convenient if I did not have much time and needed quick easy groceries. The third store was called Lydl which I needed to take the TBana to get to. I found I liked the variety of food at Lydl a little more. Therefore, if I had the time, I would make the extra effort to shop at Lydl.
For dinner, I primarily bought different microwavable meals from the grocery stores. For most of my breakfasts, however, I cooked my own food using the apartment’s kitchen.
It was in that apartment kitchen where I cooked my first omelet. I taught myself based off what I saw one of the Embry-Riddle cafeteria chefs do. Before the study abroad, I had hardly ever cooked before.
Having to cook for myself made me much more comfortable using a kitchen. Since then, I have ventured off to cooking more complicated meals and it has since become quite a passion of mine.
No matter where I shopped, I could always find fresh baked bread and pastries. Additionally, in general, fresh produce in Europe has far fewer preservatives than that in the United States if any at all.
Having no preservatives in the food became a double-edged sword for me. While food with no preservatives is far healthier, I found that it spoils much more quickly. Consequently, I could never buy food in bulk and I had to be sure to use up all my food within a few days forcing me to shop often.
I learned at my stay in Stockholm that the Fika, or coffee break, is a very important part of the Swedish daily life. Unsurprisingly, Stockholm has a plethora of coffee shops throughout the city.
One notable chain that greatly surprised me was 7-Eleven. As most know in the United States, 7-Eleven is dismissed as cheap and low quality.
Ironically in Sweden however, the pastries served at 7-Eleven were all fresh baked in the shop. Many also had delicious salad bars and decent coffee as well.
My classmates and I also enjoyed two other coffee chains during our stay. One was called Espresso House.
The closest one was next door to our local TBana station. With a dimly lit and rustic styled interior, it had a very cozy feel to it and I would enjoy having breakfast there on weekends.
The other coffee chain was Wayne’s Coffee. Wayne’s Coffee was right across the street from our apartment. Thanks to both its generous spacing and how close it was, it made a perfect study location.
My classmates and I showed up so often that the baristas eventually began to recognize us and we all became good friends.
My daily life and routines while living in Stockholm really helped me build a sense of independence which really helped me prepare for adult life. In the next issue, I will share my experiences studying solid and fluid mechanics.