School: Cornell University, Class of ’19 (Clare) and University of Pennsylvania, Class of ’20 (Chip)
Semester abroad: Spring ’19
For both of us and many other spring 2019 alum, the Swedish Program was a foreground for lasting friendships, a fosterer of memorable times, and an opportunity for personal growth in one of the best cities in the world. Yet, while we’ve been able to spend time with many of our Swedish Program peeps stateside since leaving in May of 2019, making the return trip to Stockholm has been much more difficult.
Fortunately, as international travel restrictions loosened, we were finally able to return to Stockholm in June 2022 for a two-and-a-half-week stint of remote work and vacation.
Our journey began with a one-week stay at an Airbnb in Enskede Gård—a 20-minute ride south of the Stockholm City train station (T-Centralen). The streets of the town, lined with pastel-painted, carefully crafted homes and sprawling green plant life, was a perfect backdrop for summer in Sweden.
Not only that, it was just a five or so minutes’ walk from Globen, Slakthuset, and Colosseum—a few of our most frequented dance clubs from the spring 2019 semester. To our surprise, our favorite of the three, Slakthuset, was even better with a colorful, palm-tree filled rooftop only available during the summer months.
Despite having to work remotely for most of the first week, our east coast schedule allowed us until 2 or 3pm local time to visit our old favorites as well as discover some new places in Stockholm. We enjoyed fika at Il Caffe, a staple study spot during our time with the Swedish Program in 2019, ordered pizza and beer off the adventurous menu at Omnipollos Hat in Sodermalm, and explored the city by electric scooter along the water from Sodermalm all the way into Gamla Stan. Each day, we recounted memories and retold stories about times from our Spring 2019 semester, always bringing smiles to our faces. On our final day of the first week before heading out to the Archipelago, we were even fortunate enough to meet up with the Swedish Program team for lunch!
After packing up our bags, we boarded the bus at Slussen to begin our next journey to Idobörg—a tiny island southeast of Stockholm in the Swedish archipelago. It was fascinating to see the long lines of people extending in every direction, all waiting for the public bus to begin their own trips out to different islands in the archipelago.
Our next few days would be spent exploring the calm, nature-y island with our home base being a tiny cottage on a rock overlooking the Baltic Sea. We cooked our own meals, highlighted by our take on a Swedish staple—salmon and pickled vegetables. The sun went down each night around midnight, leaving us plenty of time to enjoy everything that Idöborg had to offer, from discovering the amazing plant and wildlife present on the island to taking in the views from the hammock we tied up just steps from the cottage’s back deck.
It was then time for us to head back to Stockholm for our last week at a different Airbnb in Stora Essigen—an island just west of the city center. With a lighter work schedule and a few days of vacation sprinkled in, we were able to go on longer adventures including bike rides through Djurgården (the nature island of Stockholm) as well as up north to Ulriksdals Slottspark (a big park near Edsviken lake just north of the city).
Our last Saturday in the city happened to fall on the Swedish holiday of Midsommar—a celebration of summer usually held at a date around the summer solstice. Everyone in the city either ventures out to the islands or the countryside to celebrate. Despite the empty city and closed stores, we dawned our best floral outfits and headed over to an all-day outdoor party/concert held at Trädgården.
The end of the trip and our return to the states was certainly bittersweet. It was amazing to have been able to spend two and a half weeks together in a place so special to both of us. Overall, the sadness of leaving was overmatched by the excitement of the next trip. Seems that we may just have to get a Spring 2019 reunion on the calendar back in Stockholm by the sounds of it!