Nick Vasiliu is studying Economics at Bowdoin College. He spent the Spring 2020 semester in Stockholm with The Swedish Program.
My semester with the Swedish Program was one filled with learning and adventures in one of the world’s most incredible countries. I took courses with small class sizes and engaging teachers that directly benefitted me as I navigated my new life in Sweden. In between classes, I enjoyed fika — a traditional Swedish practice of enjoying a coffee with a baked treat — with my peers and took walks around Stockholm, a city rich with history and beautiful sights.
Two particular weekend excursions organized by the Swedish Program administration were the highlights of my semester in Stockholm. To conclude our orientation week, which involved getting to know Swedish culture and the city of Stockholm, the entire program took a trip to Sandhamn, an island in the Stockholm archipelago. We bonded with one another over traditional Swedish meals, learned some introductory Swedish to prepare for the semester and took a guided tour of the island. We also partook in a traditional Swedish practice of sitting in a hot Swedish sauna for several minutes before plunging into the icy Baltic ocean!
This is a moment I will never forget. I bonded with my classmates over such an exhilarating and exciting event, which was my introduction to the Swedish sauna practice!
Later in the semester, the Swedish Program organized another fantastic trip to one of the most northern places in the world, Björkliden in the Arctic Circle. We arrived at the Arctic Circle on an overnight train, when we bonded with other adventurers and saw the beauty of Swedish Lapland.
After arriving in the Arctic Circle and exploring our ski cabins, we did a variety of traditional Lapland activities including sled races, snowshoeing, and dogsledding. The highlight of the trip for me was going on a night hike with my classmates to see the northern lights; although the northern lights were not visible during our time in Lapland, I will never forget the experience our group had together of experiencing the still beauty of the Arctic Circle that night.
Our final day consisted of firstly seeing and feeding actual reindeer in a local Sami village, and visiting one of the most famous and incredible hotels in the world, the Ice Hotel. The hotel is rebuilt every year (for obvious reasons), and each room has a different theme with incredibly crafted ice sculptures as decoration. Our weekend concluded with a short flight back to Stockholm!
Sadly, and unbeknownst to us at the time, our weekend in the Arctic Circle would be our last weekend in Sweden. Although it was incredibly sad to be called back from my semester abroad early because of COVID-19, I am forever grateful for all the experiences I had both in and out of the classroom in Stockholm. I am so thankful that the Swedish Program has such a dedicated and committed staff that made it all happen!
Learn more about our weekend excursions on our Travel page →