New Friends in an Ancient City

New Friends in an Ancient City

By Madeleine Magill, Digital Editor

School: Kenyon College, Class of ’25
Major or concentration: Political Science
Semester abroad: Fall ’23

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a shift here in Stockholm. I no longer wake up in my apartment confused about where I am, or second guess if I’m on the right train to SSE, or stare at Swedish people in a cafe for far too long. Familiarity is creeping in, and it feels so good after that initial adjustment period. A lot of it has to do with getting closer with other program students and saying yes to new experiences.

I especially loved the Swedish Program trip to the Island of Gotland, which was not only an incredible chance to visit a medieval island, but a great opportunity to bond with other students. The highlight for me was a morning bike tour around Visby, through fields with grazing sheep and trails lined with amazing flowering plants (Gotland is also referred to as the Island of Roses!). We made it to a cliff with an absolutely stunning view of the sea, and I took a seat on a rock to take it all in: the incredible luck I have to be in Sweden this fall, the one-of-a-kind place it truly is, and the company I have to share it with. I still can’t believe I only met my friends here two months ago.After the daze of the three-hour bike tour, and a much-needed lunch consisting of a traditional Swedish meal (meatballs in a cream sauce with mashed potatoes), we found the world of Pippi Longstocking — Kneippbyn, where the Pippi house in Sweden is located. After exploring the haunted house, each of us took turns on the slide… because why not? (This goes back to that saying “yes” to whatever it is I stumbled upon this semester.) In the evening, we toured Barlingbo Bryggeri, a brewery where we tasted four different beers, from light flavors to darker malt ones, and learned just about everything beer-related.

Those 48 hours we spent on that island were filled with so many small and cardinal bonding moments because we all experienced the newness together. There’s nothing like stumbling upon the unfamiliar — whether it’s an unexpected cliffpoint or the skeleton of a man who lived 9,000+ years ago on a museum tour — with people who are just as excited about it as you are. In fact, they are the best part.