It is hard to believe, but today is my last day in Stockholm. Yesterday was my last day of class. What a whirlwind this time abroad has been! I cannot wait to reflect on everything that I have learned and all I have done, but first I need to recap another week full of unexpected adventures.
Unfortunately, immediately after returning from Budapest, I was diagnosed with COVID-19 for the first time ever. I have no idea how I contracted it, and fortunately my symptoms were mild, but it was a scary and sad occurrence during my last week. Luckily, DIS has a fantastic COVID-19 response team, which put me in accommodations, provided me with groceries, and transported me to where I was staying. I was in isolation for five days (Saturday-Wednesday). While I got lots done, I was definitely less than thrilled to have been spending my last week in Stockholm recovering from COVID.
However, I am trying to reframe my experience. As a DIS and Global AWAKEnings program alumni, my first-year experience in Copenhagen was abruptly cut off by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. I never got to say goodbye to a city I adored, and I have spent over two years trying to return to Scandinavia. I am extremely fortunate that I was able to recover quickly, get cleared by DIS, and return for my last day of class on Thursday. Being able to have a last day of class and say proper goodbyes to my classmates, my professor, and DIS meant much more than I ever expected, but gave me closure from the pain of the past as well.
My last day of class on Thursday was amazing. We wrapped up the course, discussed what we learned, and laughed together. DIS got us one last lunch at Brodernas, a burger place right by DIS Stockholm (I was actually planning on going there anyway after class, as it was a huge craving of mine in isolation!). We got burgers, fries, and shakes; and our professor Steve made us all laugh and got us all talking. It was so difficult to say goodbye to him- the bittersweet part of these programs is the length of time. A month of summer in Stockholm is perfect, but the deep and meaningful connections we are able to make in that month makes it incredibly difficult to leave.
After lunch, I went walking with friends (another pleasure I took for granted before COVID-19). We walked through Gamla Stan, and I stopped at the Nobel Museum to pay my respects to my great-grandfather. As it turns out, descendants of prizewinners get free admission, so I was able to visit the museum free of charge and learn about the history of Alfred Nobel and the Nobel banquets. After an hour there, I hopped back on a train to my housing to get some laundry and homework done.
Thursday night meant an impromptu dinner with friends, the best food I have had since coming to Stockholm (which is saying something!). If you’re ever in Stockholm, Knut Restaurang is the place to go. I am vegetarian and had flatbread (the best of my entire life), but there are traditional, meat-based, and creative options for less choosy eaters. We then took a train to Hornstull, where some of my friends lived, and saw the skyline from a gigantic rock (it was close to 11pm and the sky was still orange!).
Today, I plan on having lunch in Södermalm, visiting Stockholm City Hall and the photography museum, and then catching a sunset if I can. It has been an incredible four weeks in Stockholm, full of amazing adventures and unexpected challenges. I have gotten to visit three countries in four weeks, I was able to return to Scandinavia (a goal of mine for the past two years) and I was finally able to say goodbye to DIS the way I wanted to two and a half years ago. I still have my final paper to write and a plane to catch, but I feel so full of joy, gratitude, and love for my experience. Despite having spent nearly a month here, it still doesn’t feel real. Thank you for following along my journey (you can find more photos & videos on Instagram @leftyindenmark), thank you to the Fund for Education Abroad for making this possible, and thank you to everyone who has loved & supported me along the way. Farval!