The week before last we got a break from our regular routine of classes to indulge in core course week! The first two days are supposed to be a two-day seminar in Stockholm integrated into our core course curriculum, and then after, a three-day faculty led study tour to an alternate location in Sweden.
However, these guidelines are flexible, and each professor took it in a bit of a different direction. After getting back from Gotland late Sunday night, I was thankful that my core course–Imagining the Other in European Literature–got Monday off. I took this time to recover from my amazing but strenuous adventure!
On Tuesday we visited the incredible Artipelag to see the permanent outdoor exhibit, Detour. The exhibit integrates art with nature and leads people to explore their own sense of place within their natural environment.
After taking the bus down to the museum in the Stockholm archipelago, from T-Centralin, my core course and I got a guided tour. This museum combines two of my favorite things–hiking and looking at art!
Also, Jan (our professor) bought us all coffee and pastries after with his DIS stipend!
We had another much needed break on Wednesday. At this time, I was still in the peak of my cold, and others were sick, too. So having time to center and restore–and maybe do some cleaning, packing, and homework for Monday–amidst all the chaos remained crucial for all of us.
On Thursday we left for Uppsala in a private bus. We arrived in Gamla (or Old) Uppsala around 11, where we had a guided tour of the beautiful, small town and church. Learning about the religious and national history of this place greatly contributed to our discussions on othering (i.e. pagan vs. Christian, Swedes vs. Danes, men vs. women).
We then departed to Uppsala Cathedral, closer to the heart of the city. It is both the largest church in Scandinavia and the burial site of many Swedish royal. Touring the almost museum-like church was interesting and informative, but I preferred the more spirited feel of the church in Gamla Uppsala.
By around 1:30, we were all very ready for our DIS provided lunch at a nice restaurant called Villa Anna. Additionally, my peers, Jan, Anders (a professor from Copenhagen who will also join us on our long study tour in London) and I were already becoming closer.
After lunch, we checked into our hostel and met up in a meeting room for an Academic workshop with Anders. Here, we discussed readings we had done in advance, and we learned about The Great Chain of Being (a strict, hierarchical structure of all things in existence, thought in medieval Christianity to have been decreed by God).
Then, we each wrote and shared a creative piece that illustrated The Great Chain of Being and the concept of “Othering” in some way. I wrote a nutrition label for the human race comparing the serving size of 30-60ppl (the size of a hunting/gathering community) with the whole package (~7.24 million ppl, the amount in the large-scale state society known as the USA).
We all had a lot of fun during this stimulating seminar. Anders and the rest of the class created an open, accepting environment that made it easy for creativity to flow.
Next, we were free to head off to dinner on our own. All of us students stuck together and enjoyed a yummy Indian meal in town. During this meal, I got to know a classmate better, as we spent most of the time discussing Stoicism, Epicurianism and general life philosophy!
When we got back to the hostel, we were all pretty wiped. Some people went on a walk, but I decided to head back to the room I shared with the three other girls in my class to do my exercises and meditate.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hostel (I had oatmeal, raisins, nuts and berries) and we visited Uppsala University Museum. We had a guided tour and then were given time to explore the museum on our own and get lunch.
It was very cool to see how recently many of the things we take for granted were first discovered. For example, modern medicine or simply the study of economics as a concept.
After I finished exploring the museum, I met the rest of my class at a board game shop where they were immersed in a complicated game. They soon gave it up, and I went with one of my classmates to a local vegan restaurant while the rest of the class got burgers.
We all met back up at an interesting academic lecture given by Jan. Afterwards, we had some time on our own, and I took a much-needed nap. We then headed out for a lovely dinner where we engaged in fun, silly, and open discussion on all sorts of strange topics!
When we got back, the students met up in the boys’ hostel room where we watched some Swedish TV and then played mafia. I left earlier than the rest to do my exercises and meditate.
The next day we had breakfast and checked out of the hostel before engaging in our final academic workshop. We were supposed to meet the authors of one of our texts in this workshop, but she ended up going on a trip to South Africa!
Instead, we had another fun and creative assignment where we rewrote a short story we read on the theme of Othering from a different lens. I wrote an anthropologist’s notes, one of my classmates wrote an episode of Real Housewives, and another wrote an Animal Planet-style documentary.
After this, we departed for a group lunch and headed back to Stockholm!
Overall, core course week represented a great opportunity to become closer with my classmates and teacher, to gain cultural and historical knowledge about Sweden, and to take a well-placed break from classes.
If you have any questions about core course week or classes here at DIS, feel free to contact me!