School: Middlebury College, Class of ’23
Major or concentration: Environmental Studies/Environmental Economics
Semester abroad: Spring ’22
On the days when I know I need to do work but would rather socialize, the atrium is a safe bet. The spacious indoor patio at the heart of SSE is filled with small cafe tables that always manage to fit one more Swedish Program student than it should. You can rely on one table always being occupied by friends eager for more company. With my laptop open to a “Svenska för Alla” video, I can chat with students filtering into the building before classes or catch up with a SASSE friend. The best moments are when a Swedish Program class finishes: it feels as though all 48 students surround a few tables to sort out which museums, parks, or restaurants to go to next.
Sometimes a quiet table in the SSE library is exactly what I need. Once safely seated and not at risk of making a ruckus on the creaky wood floors, I can focus on the essay or exam that has led me into the library. The rows of circular bookshelves and studious SSE students fulfill my dreams of an academia aesthetic. I always feel the most integrated in the library. A college library has a unique sense of camaraderie. All students, regardless of where they call home, are just students working and stressing about their courses together.
Across the street is Jacob’s Coffee. It didn’t take long for my friends and I to determine it is our favorite cafe near school. After multiple visits every week, I can proudly declare we are officially regulars. Jacob even smiles and says hej to us when we come in. It is the perfect place to settle at a large table and get work done… or maybe drink a chai latte, eat a prosciutto panini, or have an after school drink. But none of that is the best of what Jacob’s has to offer. That honor belongs to the morotskaka aka Jacob’s carrot cake. After confirming with other friends and our amazing program coordinators, it is surely one of – if not the best – morotskaka in Stockholm. Or at least the most accessible for SSE students.
For a true Stockholm experience, I have ventured to Kungliga Bibliotek (National Library of Sweden) a few times. The beautiful building is in the middle of a small park and well worth a visit. Luckily my friends prepared me, and I knew to store my belongings in a locker before entering with only my laptop. After wandering the stacks in the older section of the library, I like to settle in the modern section and on a comfy couch. There I can do my work and people watch, observing tourists and stockholmers alike enjoying the library.
I love to read on the tunnelbana. It is a perfectly peaceful environment to break out my Swedish Crime Fiction class book. I’ve read The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, The Abominable Man, and The White City while riding the green line and soaking up the beautiful views out the window.
Perhaps the best place to do work is Grundläggarvägen. There are three Swedish Program apartments in the complex, all fair game to do homework. After having friends over for a dinner party, my roommates and I settle on the couch or kitchen table to work on homework in each other’s company. No one ever sits in the bedroom desks, how would you be able to chat with your friends? Most nights, a friend from the upstairs apartment or Bromma studios will be on the couch as well. Sometimes we travel across the basement and settle on the floor of the third apartment. And while it is the smallest, they do have a speaker to blast ABBA from.
When I reflect on all the places I enjoy studying at, I realize how much of a routine I have established here in Stockholm. I realize how close I have grown to my Swedish Program friends, and how much their company makes my day. One of the hardest aspects to wrap my head around was that I wouldn’t just be visiting Sweden – I would be living here. All of these places have become so familiar, so comforting to me, it’s now hard to imagine not living here. And despite my reluctance to leave Stockholm in May, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to write my essays in SSE, eat Jacob’s morotskaka, read my books on the t-bana, and sing to ABBA with my friends.
I realize how close I have grown to my Swedish Program friends, and how much their company makes my day.