I just finished my first full week of classes! I initially wanted to write a post about the rigorous academics and strict academic policies at DIS and how I plan to handle that, but I want to wait a little longer to write that post.
My classes are super interesting, but they definitely demand a lot of work. If you’ve heard that DIS is academically intense, don’t take that lightly. For example, my core course (Imagining the Other in European Literature) professor assigned the Shakespeare play Othello for Monday’s class and The Merchant of Venice for Thursday’s. More on that in the future, though…
It’s flu season here! Apparently the unusually hot summer makes this transitional stage in the weather even more difficult on the Swedes’ bodies than usual—meaning more illness.
And for DIS students, the stresses of air-travel, jet-lag, and moving far from home make us extra susceptible. Peers, professors, DIS staff, and even my visiting host have all gotten sick.
Needless to say, I came down with a cold, too. Since I wanted to set a standard my first week, it was difficult to give myself the time and space to heal. However, by the end of the week, I realized that allowing my body the sleep and calm it needed was more important than setting a steady sleep schedule or going out to explore.
Another thing that I’ve realized is that my early classes have thrown a huge wrench in my normal self-care routine. I am used to waking up early in the morning, doing some functional exercises, doing some yoga, meditating, and eating breakfast before I go to class.
However, my core course starts at 8:30am and I have a 45 minute commute. So in order to get this all accomplished in a relaxed manner I would have to wake up at 6:30am at the latest. I normally wake up at 7am, but for some reason my body is just NOT having the 30 minute difference.
This disruption of routine has definitely impacted my mental state and levels of anxiety. But this is what life is all about: flowing with the change, rolling with the punches. Maybe I can’t wake up at the same time every day anymore (instead, waking up early only when I have an 8:30am). Maybe I move my daily routine to the evening.
I’m not sure exactly how I will adapt to this change, but I am glad I realize that change I must.
I met my visiting host on Thursday, and she is so so so lovely. We met up at an upscale Italian restaurant (her treat!) in an easily accessible, down-town location. Side-note: for those interested, this restaurant did not have vegan options perse, but it was easy for me to create my own pasta dish with veggies, mushrooms, etc.
Initially it seemed like my host and I didn’t have much in common, but the more we spoke, the more I grew to like her. And she definitely seemed to open up as the night went on—ex. we greeted each other with a handshake, but departed with a hug.
We spoke about all sorts of things from religion to her job at an insurance agency to the upcoming, controversial election here in Sweden. Of course, we also spoke about our families, and we planned to see Mamma Mia 2 together with her daughter!
She also said she would take me hiking and mushroom picking and potentially sailing and ice-skating.
I am SOOO glad I signed up for this program. Meeting Swedes on my own is difficult, and I want to take part in Swedish activities that I wouldn’t necessarily know how to do on my own.
Graffiti, Twister and dancing!
After vowing to allow myself the time and space to rest and get better, I immediately began to relax and heal. After a day of lounging and yoga, I went with some friends to an outdoor graffiti exhibit on a rainy Friday afternoon.
Turned out it was not at all near downtown Stockholm (where we thought it would be), but it was in a small suburb. A Swede we spoke to at the bus stop on the way home wondered what we could possibly be doing in the small town. When I told him about the graffiti, he explained that people normally visit when artists paint over the exhibit. This happens on sunny days with live music and food trucks.
This made a lot of sense, but we still had a great time on our rainy excursion across town. When we finished admiring the graffiti, we went out to a vegetarian restaurant in Gamla Stan (Hermitage). It was a super yummy and healthy buffet style restaurant, and we all ate so much that we had to take a minute to digest before we moved on!
And on we moved to a beginning of the semester party hosted by the Royal College of Music and DIS (we share a building). When we got there at 8:30pm, smooth, classic rock played softly in the background. In the dim lighting we saw nicely dressed Swedish students sitting around tables playing cards or chatting. A smattering of wine glasses sat on tables, occasionally, casually sipped.
I felt out of place at first, in my day-time outfit with my rain and wind-worn aesthetic. Only about ten other DIS students were there. All of us played the card game BS with a Swede (just one, as none of his friends were interested in joining). I played twister (yes, they had twister) and did some downdogs with a friend off to the side (#yogaeverywhere)!
…And finally the DANCING started. A live band played, I think from the music school, but I’m not sure. It was SO MUCH FUN. The Swedish students danced with us, and I didn’t feel out of place at all on the dance floor.
The style of dancing was much more free and pure than what I’m used to seeing at college parties, clubs, or even concerts in the States. It looked like free-form, unapologetic self-expression. And I didn’t feel objectified as a woman, which was pretty awesome.
- I went shopping and cooked some meals for the week! (Sidenote: many of my friends who have never cooked for themselves consistently before are struggling a bit with this transition. I would recommend practicing some meals before you arrive.) Also, They have purple cauliflower here…
- Our SRA Amanda threw us a crayfish party! Yes, there were vegan options. We made silly hats and sang Swedish party songs (…and maybe some ABBA).
- I taught a private yoga class to one of my floor-mates! I want to teach larger classes, but I’m nervous about the limited space/yoga mats, especially on these concrete floors. Definitely need to keep up teaching, though…
- I went to the King’s Palace on a study tour with my Swedish Language and Culture class. It was definitely a cool trip and very beautiful. However, I was still fighting off my cold and super exhausted. Also, we hadn’t learned much about the history yet, so it was difficult for me to remain engaged with the tour. I did become closer with some peers, though, and we had fika on DIS’s dime after!
- I WENT HIKING!!! …So I’m definitely not a city girl. This whole week, I very much craved a recharge in the woods. I was nervous about my ability to find a slice of nature on my own (without a Swede or the Outdoors LLC). But with a tip from a peer in the LLC I found an amazing hiking spot only about a 20 minute trip from my apartment! My roommate decided to join last minute, and we had a great time wandering and picking wild berries and apples (don’t worry, we’re still alive!). We also found a small farm nearby! This happened yesterday, and I feel so much more centered and present this morning. Here’s a cool article my dad sent me on forest bathing.
- Today I’m going kayaking…