Singing Stockholm’s Praises

If you asked me to describe my experience studying abroad in Stockholm, you would probably have to take a fikapaus or two because of the abundance of good things that I can say about The Swedish Program and this experience. When I arrived after a grueling day of traveling via Boston and then Reykjavik, I was not entirely sure what to expect, but within a few days I felt totally comfortable in the place that was to become my home for the coming months.

If you are on the fence about coming to Stockholm, take it from me — you will not regret a single moment of it. The program is perfectly tailored so that you are allowed to be the author of your stay, and while there is a plethora of opportunities for you that the program provides (such as going to the Royal Opera, visiting City Hall, or going on a weekend trip to Gotland), they give you the opportunity to make your visit to Stockholm what you want it to be. Because of this program, I was able to do so many things that I would not have had the opportunity to do at my home university, such as study Swedish crime novels, visit a city above the Arctic Circle and see the Northern Lights, travel to Norway to see the nearly-kilometer high Norwegian fjords, sit on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, and look out over the Atlantic from the west coast of Ireland. If you come to Stockholm — which, as a biased writer, I must say that you should — you absolutely must make at least one trip to some part of the Swedish wilderness. My excursion of this kind was to Kiruna, a city above the Arctic Circle, where five other program members and myself traveled by dogsled to see the Northern Lights (Norrsken in Swedish). This once in a lifetime experience is something that I only could have done if I came here to Stockholm.

What is a blog post without a benediction to the royal city of Stockholm? Whether you are a museum buff or a sports fanatic (of which I am both) or a foodie or anything else, Stockholm will provide you with opportunities to stir passion inside of you. Museums like the Moderna Museet and the Vasa Museet house world-class paintings and a ship that was sunk in Stockholm Harbor for hundreds of years. Friends Arena in nearby Solna or Globen in Södermalm houses soccer (excuse me, European football) and ice hockey games, respectively. And if even all of those activities doesn’t sate your needs and you feel the need to get out of the city, the Stockholm skärgården (Stockholm’s archipelago which boasts over 20,000 islands) is less than an hour away by public transportation, and the magisterial island of Sandhamn is only a short boat ride away.

Last but not least, I ought to mention the people that you are going to meet here, for wherever you go to study abroad, it will undoubtedly be the people that shape the experience the most for you. For me, living with a host family was by far the best decision I made here in Sweden. Not only did it give me an opportune chance to practice my Swedish more, it truly gave me the intercultural experience that I desired. Being able to actually be a part of a family — as it is stressed from the very moment that you arrive that you are actually a part of the family and not just a student living there for three and a half months — is something that made my experience in Sweden truly amazing. Furthermore, the program staff and the other students in your program make you feel incredibly at home as they become your family when you are here. The relationships that I have kindled in Sweden are ones that will, undoubtedly, last a lifetime.

I could go on forever with my recommendations of things to do, places to go, and new foods to try (but seriously, try sill, it is not as bad as people make it out to be!), but odds are that it will be more meaningful to you if you dive into the city for yourself and make it yours. Stockholm is a wonderfully culturally and historically rich city, but it is also malleable; make it yours and spend a semester (or more) in Sweden.

Alex Benoit                        
University of Vermont
Fall 2016