The Last Hurrah – Greece and Italy! (Semester Recap)

I wanted to do one final blog to close out my last few weeks and recap my experience in Stockholm with DIS. I ended the semester with a trip to Greece and Italy with my boyfriend, Eric. It was absolutely incredible, as these were some of the countries I definitely wanted to visit during my semester abroad. We sandwiched a few days in Stockholm and the beginning and end of our trip as well!

Eric arrived right when all the goodbyes had started, which left my emotions in a jumble of excitement to see Eric but also sadness with the semester ending. Some of my favorite end of semester activities were a common room potluck, brunch with friends, making friendship bracelets, and a final gymnastics session with SSIF. Once everyone had moved out, we visited the big Stockholm sites! We toured our way through Gamla Stan, Ice Bar, the Vasa Museet, and Skansen, as well as two visits to Hornstull’s Marknard. I finally ate at Meatballs for the People, which is worth the hype! We spent the last night in Stockholm on the Södermalm lookout, watching the sunset over the water. I finally got to complete my Stockholm bucket list by checking off a few restaurants, Ice Bar, and Skansen!

May 16 marked the start of our Greece tour! We had an early morning flight, a 6-hour layover, then ended up getting to our AirBnB after midnight – long day! Day 2 was much more eventful; we started the day off on an Athens food tour! We tried sooo many foods and had the best tour guide, Sophia! The tour could hold up to 8 people. But it ended up only being us, which was so great to get to know Sophia more. We wandered through Psyri and tried spanakopita, dolmades, koulouri (the staple breakfast), authentic coffee, cured meats, souvlaki, and so much more! Afterwards, we explored Monastiraki Square, the Library of Hadrian, and the Roman Agora. After a quick nap, we headed to the main event: the Acropolis! On the walk up to the Parthenon, there’s many sites to see, like the Theatre of Dionysus, Sanctuary of Asklepios, Odeion of Herodes Atticus, and more. We took our time getting to the top, and the views were stunning every step of the way. We spent over an hour near the Parthenon, then left and made our way to Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Zeus. We also wandered around Syntagma Square, where we saw the Changing of the Guards at the Hellenic Parliament. We ended the night eating gyros with a view of the Parthenon. 

Day 3 was our Santorini day! We woke up at 2am for our early flight, which we missed, but we were able to get another not too long after! Once in Santorini, we ate, napped, and explored Fira. Fira, home to the famous church Three Bells of Fira, was beautiful, and definitely a cheaper alternative than staying in Oia. There were buses on loop for 1.60eu/ride between Oia, Fira, the airport, and other locations on the island! After wandering around Fira for a bit, we headed over to Oia, the main tourist area. We spent hours walking around Oia and watching sunset, then had dinner overlooking the water and picked up some baklava for the way home. Santorini definitely lived up to the beauty I’ve seen in photos. 

The 19th was another long travel day to get to Venice with 3 flights. Once we landed, we got caprese at a food stand then crashed for the night. We had a walking tour the next morning, which was lovely; Venice is such a walkable city! We had an on-the-go breakfast of some pastries and espresso, then spent a few hours with our great tour guide learning about the city. Some quick facts: Venice has 124 islands and 438 bridges, and while the city used to have 10k gondolas, it now only has 300. After the tour, we wandered around more saw the Rialto, then had lunch and headed to St. Mark’s Basilica. Our goal was to stay out all day, so we stopped for breaks in the shade and gelato. Once sunset hit, we headed over the Ponte dell’ Accademia and made our way to Dorsoduro. This area definitely had a more university feel to it. We had reservations at the Venice Jazz Club, which was absolutely incredible; one of my favorite nights of the trip for sure! 

May 21st started with a late morning and a long walk through different areas we hadn’t seen the day before. We passed through Santa Croca, which felt much more residential than the more touristy parts we had seen earlier. We stopped at a little cafe called Majer, which had the best pizza and atmosphere. We then went to T. Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, a shopping mall with a free rooftop lookout! We headed up then realized we needed reservations… but we got lucky and were allowed onto the roof! The views were spectacular as expected; the red rooftops contrasted so beautifully with the water. We then went back to St. Mark’s Basilica, this time to go inside. We headed back to Academia for lunch, then just wandered around til it was time to head to the airport. Upon arriving at the airport, we found out that our first flight was so delayed that we’d miss our second to Milan; after some stress, we booked it to Mestre station and were able to get on a 4.5 hour bus to Milan! We ended up getting there before the flight would’ve, and we even caught the last Milan metro of the night, which was perfect. 

May 22 was our day to explore Milan/Lake Como! After seeing the Duomo in Milan, we headed straight to Varenna by train. Varenna was the prettiest place we visited this trip; the lake is nothing short of stunning, and everywhere you turn is so picturesque – it didn’t feel like reality. We explored a few of the big Varenna sites: Piazza San Giorgio, Church of San Giorgio, Riva Grande, Villa Monestaro, and the Botanical Gardens. We had a lovely dinner with a view, then got a train back to Milan. Upon getting back, we realized that a soccer game had just finished, meaning that we couldn’t transfer at our normal stop. All of a sudden, people were throwing smoke bombs and screaming, which you could call an authentic experience haha. After getting re-situated, we went back to the train station and got the Malpensa Express to the airport at 11:30pm for a 7am flight (unfortunately this was our best/cheapest option for getting to the airport. 

On May 23, we flew back to Stockholm! We both got our covid tests (negative!), then went to Mr. Cake one last time for their red velvet croissant. We had lunch at Herman’s, which has a daily vegan buffet that was absolutely incredible – with a beautiful view of the water as well! We took the ferry to and from Djurgården one more time, then went to the Espresso House on Gamla Stan for a final farewell to Stockholm. 

This semester was everything I could’ve hoped for and more. I grew as a person and in my independence, and I became more comfortable doing things on my own. Stockholm was definitely my favorite place I visited – the public transport is superior, the archipelagos are absolutely stunning, and the whole city feels so calm yet alive at the same time. I wouldn’t trade anything for this experience, and I am so happy and grateful it worked out. Thank you to everyone who has followed along and supported me on this journey – my heart has been so full with love and emotion. Finally, thank you to Stockholm – you have given me an experience I will truly never forget. ❤

The Best of the Best – Djurgården

Some of my favorite museums were on the archipelago of Djurgården, a former military base for the Swedish army. Djurgården is home to some of the best museums in Stockholm, as well as the amusement park Gröna Lund! Here is a rundown of some of my favorite Stockholm activities.

The first museum I went to on Djurgården was the Vasa Museet (~$17). I had seen it in travel shows about Stockholm, but I was still a little skeptical of how the whole museum was just centered around one military ship. I ended up loving the museum and even visiting a second time! A military ship that set sail on its maiden voyage in 1628, the Vasa was ornately decorated and intended to strike fear into any opposing nations. Instead, it floated about 30 minutes out from the dock, then sank in minutes. From analysis years later, they found that the ship was too top-heavy, with not enough weight in the ballast to balance it out. The museum has a 17 minute film that runs in 3-4 different languages for visitors to watch, and it describes the process of the ship sinking, being raised in 1961, then being preserved and shown in the museum. To this day, the ship is 98% preserved, with the museum highlighting some of its ongoing efforts, such as replacing iron bolts with stainless steel bolts. The museum has many different levels, each with different themes: life on board, statues, general history, weapons, and more. The Vasa Museet is definitely a must-see in Stockholm!

I also visited the Viking Museum on Djurgården (~$15). It is much smaller and has less exhibits, but a guided tour is included in your ticket with a guide dressed in chainmail! This museum was interactive, with many short films to watch, fabrics to touch, and an area to learn how to write your name in ancient text! The most exciting part of this museum is the 11-minute ride that takes you through the story of a Viking trying to capture and bring back silver to his family. This ride has fun special effects and makes the whole experience a lot more fun.

I grew up listening to ABBA, so naturally I had to visit the ABBA Museum (~$22)! This museum was very high on my Stockholm bucket list. Immediately upon walking in, you’re greeted with ABBA’s top hits and the gift shop. After walking down the stairs to the museum, you walk through the histories of each of the band members and how they came to know each other. Throughout the museum, their outfits, videos of them singing, journal entries, and more are on display. The museum is very interactive, with one exhibit where you can try to mix their music how their DJ did! There’s also makeshift recording studios, where my friend Rachel and I sang our hearts out. There’s also a stage where you can go up and dance with holograms of the ABBA members, which was also really fun! After those sections, there’s an area for their costumes and awards, then an exhibit on their more recent lives and accomplishments.

I visited Skansen twice this semester, once for the Valborg bonfire, and a second time to look around. Skansen is an outdoor museum/zoo, and when I went, there were many families and kids wandering around. Skansen has a stunning lookout over the water, and the maps really help you navigate the area. I saw many animals, like gray seals, bears, baby bison, and more! Skansen definitely could’ve taken up a full day; there’s many different activities and places to explore. It’s also just a great place to people watch and relax for a bit. There were exhibits for Nordic animals, an aquarium, a Pan-African animals exhibit, and more!

Last up for my Djurgården favorites is Gröna Lund amusement park! I was lucky enough to go with the DIS Student Media Team for free. DIS covered the costs for entry, rides, some food, and a 5-game challenge. The games were traditional arcade games, like where you throw balls into a bucket or play whack-a-mole. Gröna Lund is famous for its fun rollercoasters and rides that overlook the beautiful Stockholm archipelago. My day at Gröna Lund was one of my favorites of the semester. I had an incredible time, even though I don’t consider myself much of a rollercoaster person! My favorite rollercoaster was called Monster, and the view it had from the top was absolutely stunning.

Djurgården ended up being one of my favorite places in Stockholm: the energy, museums, and Gröna Lund all combined to make it a lovely place no matter the time of day. I will definitely miss it a lot. ❤

Visiting 30+ Museums: Semester Recap

I went a little overboard with wanting to visit museums this semester. To me, museums are a great way to better understand the history and culture of a place in an interactive way, so I wanted to visit as many as possible! Later this week, I am going to visit Nordiska and Skansen, completing my tour of the Djurgården museums, so stay tuned for a blog on those! At the beginning of the semester, I visited many free museums and wrote a blog about it (Tour of Stockholm’s Museums). I reviewed the Hallwylska Museet, Royal Armory, Royal Palace, Museum Tre Kronor, Swedish History Museum, Medelhavsmuseet, and the National Museum. Since then, I’ve visited even more!

I visited three more free museums in Stockholm: Etnografiska, Ostasiatiska, and the Moderna Museet. Etnografiska is an ethnography museum that I visited on a DIS trip. It has cultural artifacts from China, Korea, South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific region, the Americas and Africa. It was a fun trip and a well-organized museum. It was also very interactive, with many videos and games you could play. I visited Ostasiatiska and the Moderna Museet in the same day. Ostasiatiska has exhibits on different East Asian cultures. It was a small museum, but it had a lot of information. Most of the displays were ancient artifacts, as well as some areas with a chronological timeline you could walk down. Moderna is the modern art museum, and it poses works from Dali and Picasso. There are many different exhibits, and it definitely takes a while to get through, but it is worth it! Both Ostasiatiska and Moderna are on the island of Skeppsholmen, across from Gamla Stan.

Some of my favorite museums I visited were the paid ones in different parts of Stockholm. Fotografiska (~$18) is a photography museum located on Södermalm that is well worth the hype! There are many different photography styles and exhibits, and it is incredible to see what some artists do with their camera. It is definitely a different vibe from the traditional art museums, but it is lovely to visit! Next up is the Nobel Prize Museum, right in the heart of Gamla Stan. I visited with DIS, and we got a tour of the museum (~$9). It is very small, but the information is astounding. They have collected donations from some Nobel Prize winners and have descriptions all around the museums. They also have sections that go into the clothing people have worn and how the menu is created. With the Nobel Prizes being awarded in Stockholm, this museum is great to visit if you’re ever in Stockholm. Last is Millesgården (~$14), located on Lidingö, right along the water. The museum was created by Carl Milles, who both loved collecting sculptures and art in his home. While the statues and artworks were beautiful, the view was unbeatable – one of my favorite lookouts in Stockholm.

To recap this semester’s travels so far, here is a list of the places I visited outside of Stockholm! If you’re interested in hearing more about each of these cities and museums, I have blogs up describing what I enjoyed and explored 🙂 In Malmö, I visited the Malmö Museum. It had multiple different sections: natural history, aquarium, a race exhibit, and more. In Budapest, I visited the Hungarian National Museum as well as two museums within Budapest Castle: The Castle Museum/Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Library. For Gothenburg, I saw the Konstmuseum (Museum of Fine Art) and the Universeum, a science museum, rainforest, and planetarium all in one. I visited five museums in London, which left my brain a little overloaded: Museum of London, Welcome Collection, National Gallery of Art, Victoria & Albert, and the British Museum. During my trip to Paris, Nice, and Barcelona, I visited the Musee D’Orsay, Louvre, and the National Art Museum of Catalonia. Many of the museums were free for students under 26 studying in the EU, which was great. All of these museums were exciting in different ways and exposed me to different parts of the city’s/nation’s culture.

My visits to museums were some of my favorite parts of the semester. It was a great activity to do if I didn’t have any other plans, and I got to know the cities I was in better because of it. Looking forward to more museum adventures!

SSIF – One of the Best Parts of My Semester

SSIF, Stockholms Studenters Idrottsförening (Stockholm Students’ Sports Association), has been one of the most unexpected and best parts of my semester in Stockholm. When first coming to Stockholm, I did not plan on working out much while I was here. I just left the varsity volleyball team at my university in December, and I did not enjoy the relationship I had with working out; I always felt like I was doing it for the sake of the team and for the team’s improvements, never for myself. I knew I liked weight lifting and did not enjoy running, but I hadn’t experimented with many other forms of exercise. I am also on the Bhangra dance team at my university, and I always loved our practices as great sources of cardio. When I got to Sweden, I realized that my body has been so used to working out consistently for years that I get really antsy if I do not work out consistently. This semester has been a journey of rebuilding my relationship with exercise and working out, and SSIF has helped that in the best way. All of their classes were incredibly fun, and you can tell the instructors love what they do. As a student through DIS, we got a discount on the SSIF All-In pass, which allows you to choose up to 6 classes/week out of their 30+ class options for $50 for 5 months! It was 100% worth it and really shaped my time here in Stockholm. While it is targeted toward students, anyone can join, which made it a great way to meet many locals. Many of the students who are in SSIF are also international students, many of whom are pursuing their masters degree. Over the semester, I tried 13 of the different options, going for over 30 classes total, and I enjoyed them all!

In the spirit of trying new things, I went to a fencing class as well. While it was very fun to try and learn some of the terminology, I didn’t feel that I got as good of a workout, so I didn’t attend again. The class was also a lot smaller (5-10 people, compared to ~20-30 in most other classes), and I wanted to be in bigger classes that were faster paced. I also went to a volleyball class, which is not a new sport to me. An hour of the practice was focused on drills and skill refinement, and the second hour was game play. I really enjoyed the game play part, but I also realized that maybe it would be good for me to take a break from the sport for a bit. I wanted to try as many new classes as possible this semester, so I decided I would focus on those new experiences rather than playing volleyball every week.

SSIF has a collaboration with Les Mills, so they host many of the classes that company has created. These workouts offer a range of activities, and while you take these classes in a group, you can tailor them to your individual comfort! The instructors are really great about offering easier and harder options for certain exercises. My favorite Les Mills class is Body Pump. The class is 45-60 minutes of weightlifting to music, with lifts such as deadlifts, rows, bench press, back/front squats, and more. Everyone is free to choose whichever weights they are the most comfortable with, and everyone moves at the same pace with the music. This class was incredibly fun because it combined weights with music and a faster-paced environment. Body Pump does not focus on max reps, it more so combines strength and endurance training in the best way!

Some other Les Mills classes are Core, HIIT, Body Combat, Tone, and Sh’Bam. Les Mills Core is exactly what it sounds like: a focus on abs/core with dynamic and static movements. This class was really challenging and also set to fun music. It uses some light weights and resistance bands and involves mainly body weight exercises. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. These classes were structured with 30 seconds of an exercise, then 10 seconds rest. It would then progress to 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off. The class was only 30 minutes, but it was really fun and really got my heart rate up. Next up is Body Combat! This class was really fun as well, as it was set to music and the instructors were so energized just like every other class. Body Combat is focused on punches, kicks, and jumps set to music. This class definitely took a bit for me to adjust to because I haven’t done anything else like it before, but it was a great class to get out of my comfort zone. Les Mills Tone had a full-body focus, with mainly bodyweight exercises with some light weights and resistance bands. This class’s exercises felt similar to Core and HIIT. Last up for Les Mills classes is Sh’Bam! Sh’Bam is a dance workout, and it was super fun. I enjoyed the other dance classes I tried more, but this was still great.

The dance classes I tried were Contemporary Dance, Beginners Jazz, and Advanced Jazz. Out of these, Advanced Jazz was probably my favorite! The jazz classes were taught by the same instructor and had more thorough warm-ups. The jazz classes progressed from warm-ups, to technique practice, to choreography during the 60-minute classes. Contemporary Dance was also an hour long, yet most of it was a new set of choreography. I’m including a clip below from one of the classes I went to! Contemporary Dance had a more lyrical feel, whereas jazz expanded to higher and lower energy sections depending on the week. In jazz, we also did one piece of choreography for a few weeks and built more on it each week! Beginning Jazz had slower movements and easier technical practice than Advanced Jazz, as well as different choreography. I tried many different styles of dance as a kid, and I felt like a kid again in this class in the best way: it was so freeing and exciting to dance and move with so much support all while having fun. It was also really exciting because I could feel myself improving and getting more comfortable as the weeks went by. The instructor, Elin, is incredibly talented and kind; she studied at the Stockholm University of the Arts through the 5-year teachers program and has been teaching ever since! Currently working four jobs, she is incredibly busy, yet every class she brings the most energy, enthusiasm, and care to how she teaches. You can feel how much she loves dancing and teaching. At the end of this week’s Advanced class, everyone stayed back for a while to talk about how grateful they are for this class and to have Elin as the instructor. I really hope to keep finding places to dance the rest of my life – this class was one of my favorite parts of this semester.

Last up is another one of my favorites: Gymnastics. SSIF offers Beginners and Advanced gymnastics. Being the most inflexible person I know, I easily decided on Beginners. Gymnastics was the first SSIF class I attended, and I’ve been going with some of my DIS friends ever since! We’ve even recruited other to join. Gymnastics was wayyy out of my comfort zone, but I’m proud to say I can almost do a cartwheel now! We quickly became friends with many of the people in my class, and gymnastics is easily one of the strongest highlights of my semester in Stockholm. We sometimes took trips to Max (a fast food chain here) afterwards, and those are some of my favorite memories. The class starts with dynamic warm-ups and different exercises on the mats. We then set up the gym and it looks completely different from the empty room when you enter! There are different themes for each week, such as cartwheels, round-off’s, backflips, handsprings, jumping, and more! There are multiple stations, each with varying difficulties and a range of options for how to make the drill easier or harder. The class ends with conditioning, sometimes in the form of a competition! The class is two hours, and it always brightens my days. There has been many times where I am having a rough Thursday, then I go to gymnastics, and I leave feeling on top of the world. A large part of this has to do with the people. The class was so welcoming from the beginning, and I made so many new friends through it. The instructors, Yasmin and Axel, are incredible teachers, and you can tell how much they love gymnastics and teaching. Yasmin has been doing gymnastics since she was a little kid, and her love for the sport has continued through adulthood. She is one of the heads of SSIF, and she instructs other classes as well! She just had her 3-year anniversary at SSIF yesterday, which she shared during her Body Pump class. Both Yasmin and Axel give great feedback and draw people in. Axel is studying for a masters in theoretical physics, and he became an instructor after participating in SSIF gymnastics himself first! Gymnastics is so much fun because of the people; the other people taking the class and the instructors push you to try new things and help support you along the way.

Body Pump, Jazz, and Gymnastics ended up being my favorite classes this semester. Body Pump was what I was the most familiar with, and the environment was so much fun. Jazz and gymnastics always made my day better, and I met so many lovely people through the classes. Thank you to SSIF and everyone involved for making this an unforgettable semester. ❤ (https://www.ssif.nu/ and @ssif.nu on instagram)

Valborg

Of course there has to be a Swedish tradition about scaring off witches, and that is Walpurgis, or Valborg. The meaning has changed throughout the years to signifying and celebrating the coming of spring, yet many of the traditions stay the same. While it is a big deal in Stockholm, many people travel an hour north to Uppsala, where 150,000 people will be to celebrate. That is exactly what we did!

Saturday, April 30th started with a 9:37am train ride to Uppsala. Upon getting off the train, we followed the large crowd straight to the boat parade on the Fyris River. Many engineering students compete by building a boat and sailing it along the river with different obstacles, such as a little waterfall. The boats were creatively themed, with some people dressing up as animals, vikings, and even a covid test! After watching for a while, we picked up some food from the food trucks. We wandered past Uppsala’s big church on our way to Economikumparken, where many students gather in the grass. The city had set up water stations with over 80,000 water bottles to give to people if they wanted. We met up with more DIS students along the way, and relaxed in the grass for a bit. Afterwards, we went to Uppsala Library and watched the Donning of the Caps ceremony. When the seniors graduate high school, they get to wear their sailor hat that stays with them the rest of their lives. The Chancellor started off the ceremony while a choir sang. We then made our way past Uppsala Castle and continued to walk around for a few more hours.

Eventually, we headed back to Stockholm at night, just in time for the bonfire at Skansen (the outdoor museum/zoo). There was lots of music and a massive bonfire with a pretty view over Stockholm’s archipelagos! Even better, entrance was free for all students that day. After a long day, we headed back home.

All of the ceremonies felt very ‘Swedish’ to me; it fit exactly what I was expecting. It was great to see so many people unified over common experiences, and they were very welcoming to others coming to join the celebrations. Valborg was one of my highlights of this semester!

Tunnelbana Artwork

Stockholm’s metro system is known for being one of the best and most efficient in the world, but it is also known for its beautiful art. The Tunnelbana, or T-bana, or metro, has many stations that are decorated wonderfully. The metro is a part of the SL transport system, which also includes the pendeltåg (commuter train), buses, and ferries. Pendeltåg stations sometimes crossover with metro stations, and they are also decorated sometimes. With 100 stations in Stockholm, over 90 of them are decorated, starting in 1957 at T-Centrallen. Here are some of my favorites!

We’re starting of strong with Stadion, the metro stop on the red line that DIS is a 2 minute walk from. Stadion is known for its pretty rainbow decorating the inside of the tunnel, as well as the bright blue-painted rock. This artwork is often the first mentioned on other blogs about Stockholm and the Tunnelbana; it is a staple to see if you are in Stockholm. Next up is Tekniska Högskolan. Continuing north on the red line is Universitetet, which has an educational theme. There are many maps and word-search puzzles covering the walls. This stop is right outside of KTH (another university), and it has a fun outer-space theme. T-Centrallen is the biggest station in Stockholm, so there are many places to look for its decorations. One of them is a pretty white and blue pattern. At Solna Centrum on the blue line, there is a diorama of an elk, viewed as the king of the forest, and small cottages. The diorama below was inspired by the Hagalund district and was made in 1975. Lastly is the Odenplan stop on one of the pendeltåg lines. The station seems to be decorated like an airplane hanger, with engines and bright lights.

Some other fun stops include Kungsträdgården on the blue line, where there are statues from Makalos Palace. Also on the blue line is Fridhemsplan, which has colorful murals. The green line has Hotorget and Odenplan, both with bright lights snaking through and art designed by college students. Zinkensdamm has colorful tiles, and Mariatorget houses black-and-white photograpy. Some stations even replace artwork up to four times per year! The metro artwork is ever-changing, yet it continues to remain some of Stockholm’s best sites to see.

The City of Fairy Tales

Copenhagen, former home of Hans Christian Andersen, has many connections to famous fairy tales. One of which is The Little Mermaid, whose statue is one of the most visited sites in the city. I finally visited Copenhagen and some family members this past weekend, and it was a delightful and comforting break.

After classes on Friday, I met up with my friend Siri at the airport. We landed in Copenhagen at 8pm and were met by my cousin, Shalini, and her husband, Claus. Once we got to their house, I had my favorite comfort food from childhood: Maggi noodles. Maggi is a South Asian brand that makes noodles that are staples in many Indian households; I hadn’t had it in years, so it was especially exciting. After catching up and some facetime calls to other relatives, we headed to bed.

On Saturday, we joined Shalini and her mom, Nimmi, for a morning dip in the ocean. As expected, it was freezing, but I ended up loving it; I even went in a second time! It was a great way to wake up, even though it left me out of breath. We met people from an international women’s group Shalini is a part of, and it was amazing to hear about all of their different backgrounds. After a quick rinse, we went back home to eat breakfast. The Danish breakfast consisted of eggs and lots of bread. The bread topping options were butter, prosciutto, different salamis, pate, and a thin chocolate piece. We then headed into the city, and the explorations began! We started at Joe & The Juice, a Danish cafe found in other areas of Scandinavia. Then we went to the famous Nyhavn, or New Harbour, filled with colorful buildings along the canal. The street is as busy as it is beautiful, and there were many people sitting outside eating meals or ice cream. We then headed to Storget, the long shopping street. It was filled with people enjoying the sun, and it took us directly to Tivoli, one of the famous amusement parks. There is another park called Bakken, which is the oldest amusement park in the world, having been built in 1583. We continued to the Round Tower, which we decided to go up it. There were beautiful views from the top and an area you could step into within the tower and see how far down it goes. There was an exhibition on Hans Christian Andersen and his fairy tales, as he often visited the Round Tower and including it in his poems. Our DIY walking tour continued past Christiansborg Palace, Borsen, and through Christianshavn, the hippie capital of Copenhagen. We continued past Amalieborg Palace, where the Queen normally resides in the winter. Near that area is Frederik’s Church, and across the water is the Copenhagen Opera House. On our way to find the Little Mermaid statue, we happened upon St. Alban’s Church and Churchill Park, on the outskirts of Kastellet. Kastellet was probably my favorite part of Copenhagen; it is actually a star-shaped old military fortress. It wasn’t on our initial list, but I am so happy we happened across it. It had a fairy tale-like feel, with bright green grass, surrounding water, a beautiful church, and cherry blossoms. Many people were walking or running around the area, or just taking in the sun. Afterwards, we finally found the Little Mermaid statue, then got ice cream before we headed back home. Shalini cooked Indian food, which was so comforting. Their whole family took us in so kindly, and I felt so loved and cared for the entire time. Lots of love and thank you to them if you’re reading this 🙂 Sunday started with an early flight back to Stockholm, then a trip to Hornstull’s Marknard for lunch. I ended up running into a friend there, and we went thrifting! This weekend was lovely all around.

Many students at DIS Stockholm also applied to DIS Copenhagen. I had initially listed Copenhagen as my first choice, but I got into Stockholm. I have absolutely loved this semester here, and after visiting Copenhagen, it further confirmed that Stockholm was the place for me. I love Stockholm’s archipelagos, and Copenhagen has little rivers running through. Stockholm also feels like a bigger city, even though their populations are similar. We were wandering through Copenhagen for a few hours, and I feel like we really got a good grasp on the city; we even passed by the DIS building. I felt that there was more to see and explore in Stockholm and that the city in general fit my personality and interests more. While I was nervous about coming to Stockholm four months ago, everything has worked out in the most lovely way.

Traveling While Abroad

One of the things most people look forward to during their semester abroad is traveling! I have loved all of my trips and the places I’ve seen, but Stockholm has always come back to being my favorite. I definitely wanted to mediate my desire to travel with my hope to know Stockholm really well by the time the semester is over. I’ve only traveled during the breaks, plus one weekend trip to Copenhagen, and I feel that has really given me a chance to be present in Stockholm and explore as much as possible. If you’re planning some trips, here are some things I’ve learned to look out for!

For getting to Arlanda Airport from any DIS housing, Arlanda Express is a paid option many students choose. From T-Centrallen, it is a high-speed 18 minute train directly to the airport! For a free version (included on the SL card), from T-Centrallen, you can take the pendeltag (commuter train) to Marsta, then the 583 bus to Arlanda. This trip takes about 1 hour starting from T-Centrallen. Another paid option is Flygbussarna, which is a 30 minute bus ride for $14. Of course, Uber and taxi services are options as well, but those tend to be much more pricey. My first non-DIS trip this semester was to Budapest, and we flew Wizz Air. While the flight was great, they fly out of Skavsta airport, which is an 80 minute Flygbussarna ride from T-Centrallen; after that trip, I have booked all flights from Arlanda because it’s been an easier process to navigate.

When booking flights, if you’re looking to get to Arlanda for free, it helps to book flights for mid-day. If they are too early or late, the pendeltag/metro may not be open (ex. earlier than 5am or later than midnight seems to be the range they do not run, and they’re more infrequent around those times too). If you’re in another country, it’s helpful to stay near a public transport stop or close to city center! It sometimes ends up being cheaper to stay in city centers rather than outside and having to pay to metro in everyday.

I personally like to plan trips and itineraries, but it is also so fun to just go and figure it out in the moment! While it’s super fun to travel in groups, exploring by myself has also been one of my favorite things; it’s nice to go on your own schedule and just wander around. Until next time!

Why I Love Food Trucks

My favorite ways to experience a new culture are through food, art (street art, poetry, dance, etc.), museums, and long walks. You can imagine my excitement when Hornstull’s Marknard opened two weekends ago on Södermalm, at a short 10 minute walk away from the building I live in! When I arrived in Stockholm, I was surprised at the lack of food trucks, but this market has happily changed that narrative. Food trucks serve a mix authentic or fusion foods, and one of my favorite parts about them is their accessibility. They tend to also be on the cheaper side, offering flavorful foods to even more people. This waterside market offers a variety of food options, from Indian food, Asian wok, falafels, Pan-African cuisine, and Korean BBQ meats, to variety sandwiches, burgers (also vegan!), crepes, cocktails/mocktails, and more. The food trucks take up most of the market, stationing themselves in front of the rows of seats, where everyone is free to sit and enjoy the sun. Further down Hornstull Strand are some of the clothes and jewelry vendors, with other miscellaneous items on sale too! There are many fun ways to interact with the people there, such as by playing chess or joining the Easter Egg Hunt! This past weekend, we went searching for eggs and got Swedish candy for each one we found. The market is open from 11am-5pm every Saturday and Sunday until September, and I definitely plan to continue my trend of visiting every weekend. Another fun market is the Hötorget Flea Market, right next to the Espresso House. This market is centered around antiques and collectibles, yet it is still a fun experience! Hornstull’s Marknard is a great place to see more of Stockholm’s community and welcome springtime. Hopefully I’ll get back to you soon with some Stockholm food truck recommendations!

My Guide to Swedish Thrifting

A common past-time this semester, especially the first few weeks, was shopping and trying to figure out Swedish fashion. From what I’ve seen, Swedes really value the basics; lots of people dress in neutrals, with sturdy parkas or pea-coats to keep them warm. Beanies are an essential for most people (sadly, they make my head itchy), and gloves and scarves are often must-haves. There’s a wide range of puffer coats and trench coats, but everything seems to come back to the neutral colors of white, brown, black, and gray. They really seem to love the capsule wardrobe, which fits perfectly with their sustainability value.

I love looking at clothes, but it’s normally pretty rare that I buy something; that pattern has changed a bit since coming to Sweden. Aside from the popular stores like Zara and H&M (H&M is Swedish!), there is a large culture around thrifting. Here are some of my favorite thrift stores in Stockholm!

Starting strong is my #1: Röda Korset, the Swedish Red Cross! This is located on Södermalm near the Mariatorget stop on the Red Line. They have a 10% student discount, as well as some great prices, all for a good cause. There are $2 tote bags (the really sturdy ones), $5 denim and jeans, and $1 earring sets that I have bought multiple times. It is organized by type of clothing and then color coded. They have a denim section, a dress section, and more! The staff has is super friendly, and the location is great. They also accept donations! I bought my most Swedish item here, a long blazer/coat in a neutral gray color. I was definitely very proud of that find!

Next up is Stockholm Stadsmission! This is the store to go to if variety is what you’re looking for. Also accepting donations, they host different jewelry, household items, clothes, shoes, cameras, and more! I found some of my favorite pieces there: bright pink pants and a colorful knitted sweater. The store is organized by item and clothing type. There are many Stadsmission stores around the Stockholm area, but if you’re living near Södermalm, there’s one right off the Mariatorget stop next to Röda Korset.

Next up is Myrorna! While I haven’t visited this one yet, I’ve heard great things! Myrorna is the last thrift store on our list that accepts donations. They have many locations around Stockholm, with a large one being near T-Centralen/Stockholm City (the place where all metro lines converge). Beyond Retro is also supposed to be a great thrift store; they have a wide array of antiques and collectibles.

Humana is another very popular thrift store in Stockholm. With locations at T-Centralen, Östermalm, Liljeholmen, and more, they definitely get great business! They have more brand name items for a cheaper price – when I went, I saw some Prada bags going for $12. Their store is color-coded and has lots of handbags and shoes as well! The last store is Emmaus. Organized by color and type of clothing, they also have a range of antiques and household items open for thrifting! Emmaus can be found on Södermalm and around other areas of Stockholm.

Hopefully this gives some insight into the thrifting culture of Stockholm! Of course, there’s many more to be found and explored. Happy thrifting!