The Ride of a Lifetime

Werner Nystrand/Folio/

The Ride of a Lifetime

By Daniel Goldstein, Tufts University ’19

Henry, Maddie and I had been excited about Gröna Lund’s grand opening all semester. Rather coincidentally, it ended up falling on our last full weekend. There we found ourselves in the queue for Ikaros: a ride advertised as the ‘worst fall in history’.

Imagine sitting in a chair, dangling with your feet high above the city of Stockholm, secured by a shoulder restraint. As you’re approaching the top of the tower, your chair is suddenly tilting you 90 degrees, and you find yourself lying horizontally facing the ground. Then comes the drop…

Photo courtesy of the author

The whole sequence was laid out very clearly. There was no ambiguity about the buildup, the views offered when at the top, or even the speed with which you would eventually fall back to the ground. But even this foresight didn’t prevent the stomach-churning anxiety at the start, the budding adrenaline as you left the safety of the ground, the moment of awe at the peak of ascension, and harness-clinging as you fell.

I hope you excuse the cheesiness in my analogy, but I can’t help but feel a similar sentiment now towards my semester at large. Each stage was distinct from the next, yet danced along in logical procession. And perhaps most sadly, like Ikaros, it was over almost as quickly as it began. It has now been three weeks since I’ve left Stockholm, and I’m still struggling to place it within the timeline of college, and even life. It is too dissimilar to normalize, yet equally too important to compartmentalize in isolation.

Amidst this confusion, there remains a dominant feeling of gratitude. I am grateful for Sweden, and every opportunity the country offered me in my four months there. Though, more so, I am thankful for The Swedish Program. In the spirit of the Swedish lagom, there is a harmonious balance to the program. It is arguably the key to its success. Much like Ikaros, The Swedish Program offered me anxiety, adrenaline and awe packaged neatly with a little bow. It gave me the opportunity to see Stockholm from a new perspective, all while harnessing me to prevent a fall.

Thank you, The Swedish Program. It’s been the ride of a lifetime.

Daniel Goldstein is majoring in History at Tufts University. He studied at The Swedish Program during the Spring 2018 semester.