I’ve been in Sweden a little over 2 weeks now, and I’m finally (thankfully) feeling like I’ve got my sea legs so to speak. It still trips me out that the sun doesn’t set until 10 PM, but at least I’m on a relatively normal sleeping schedule now!
I’ve also learned to navigate around the city. When I first got here, I felt stuck inside because I didn’t know where anything was or how to get there. With a little help from the modern wonder of GPS, I am now a whiz at using the bus. And it’s a good thing— Gothenburg has an amazing transportation system! I can get pretty much anywhere in the city from just two different nearby bus stops.
Just last Thursday on Sweden’s National Day, I actually took advantage of all the transportation available to me to visit the Archipelago islands. A 10 minute walk, 15 minute bus ride, 30 minute tram ride, and 25 minute ferry ride (all included in my bus pass) comprised the journey. It took a while to get there, but MAN was it worth it!!!
The beachy outskirts of Styrsö were completely filled with visitors soaking up the sun. Hiking further in, I discovered a stark contrast. Absolute wilderness, quiet, and serenity. It was an amazing feeling to be so in tune with nature!
I also hiked to the highest peak of the islands: Stora Rös. The view was so amazing, I think I could’ve stayed up there watching the horizon forever.
I’m looking forward to visiting more of the islands on my upcoming weekends. Unfortunately, the weather here in Sweden is quite unpredictable and not always ideal for outdoor adventures. Luckily, there’s plenty of indoor activities in town to do! Last weekend on such a rainy day, I checked out Gothenburg’s Natural History Museum. You know what they have there??
The world’s ONLY stuffed blue whale (AKA the largest animal to have ever existed). They even had pamphlets describing the entire history of how the whale came to be acquired. They were very proud of the whale, so of course I had to go see it. It was GINORMOUS. And I found out later, that it was only a juvenile! Imagine the size of an adult!
So after only two weekends, I’m already enamored with Gothenburg. It continues to impress culturally and recreationally. I have plenty more weekends to explore more. My weekdays however are occupied with the real reason I came to Sweden— chemistry!!!
I already feel right at home in the lab at Chalmers. The faculty and other students are so friendly and welcoming! I enjoy sharing fika and lunch breaks with them every day. The break room is such a nice space to relax and have a good conversation. Everyone tries to make it nice.
I am also having a blast working on my project. The focus is to chemically modify cellulose fibers for future composite material research. Along with some other international students, I am getting to do all sorts of cool reactions. The lab set up is pretty similar to what I’ve worked with in the past, but there is a lot of different equipment that I’ve never gotten to use before.
Now that I’ve found my bearings in town and in the lab, I am able to fully embrace my time in Sweden. I’m starting to make friends and find some favorite spots in town. I will continue to reflect (and of course take more pictures). Just a warning- expect more chemistry jargon in my next update!
For now, I’ll leave you with this— every time it rains here (which is pretty often), snails come out to say hello. I’ve noticed that the snails are different from the ones in America (or at least in San Diego). On San Diego snails, the swirl of the shell faces the left and right. On Swedish snails, the swirl is on top of the back!