Stockholm’s Hottest Welcome to the European Champions

Hello everyone,

I have been in a long vacation from blogging. Now I am feeling, as if I am being selfish in that I am enjoying the Swedish summer a lot yet I am not sharing anything😄 Today there was one more awesome event that I should say a bit about it.

I hope most of you have seen and/or heard that the Swedish football team won the 2015 European Under-21 Championship yesterday. Today a huge number of Stockholmers (including myself😄) were gathered in Kungusträgården park to welcome the champions. The crowed was so big that it seemed as if no one in Stockholm was absent from the ceremony. According to the English literature I read, this was the first time for Sweden to win the Under-21 Championship. The last time the Swedish team reached final was in 1992.

Though the temperature was relatively high, it was not able to compromise the celebration in any way. Stockholmers do have an amazingly advanced skill of expressing their feelings. So, I have really enjoyed the ceremony though I was accusing myself for my infancy in Swedish.

Please enjoy the following pictures!

Befikadu.

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The Long-Awaited Summer Time: Destination Paris

For me, one of the perks of being a student again is that you get a long summer holiday. And believe me, no matter how fond you are with studying, after a whole year of studying you will need a break eventually.

I knew that I’d like to explore Europe during my summer holiday, but apparently traveling for the whole 3 months would not be feasible for me, so my husband and I decided to pick a destination (or maybe 2 ;) ) for this summer and we decided to go to Paris! Yay! <3

One of the advantages of studying at KI is that you have a very good chance to meet people from every corner of the world, and I’m lucky to get to know Olivia, a fellow digital ambassador who originally comes from Paris! I know that you can easily find a guide-book or web article on where to go and what to do there, but there’s something different if you can really talk to people who actually live there :)

So… how was Paris?

It was amazing! Paris was never on the list of my must-go destinations, but it turned out that I like this city very much! The first time I saw the Eiffel Tower from the metro, I immediately thought, ’Oh my God, I’m really in Paris!!!’ :D :D :D

I even managed to go to its 2nd floor, which was a huge achievement for me, because:

  1. I was really afraid of the height and I thought the term ‘2nd floor’ didn’t really reflect the situation :lol: , and
  2. the queue was quite loooooong!

Of course you should expect the 2nd point almost everywhere in Paris during the peak season, because when I visited Louvre, the queue even began right in front of the metro station exit! :lol: I must say, though, that it was totally worth the visit, although never tried to visit the entire museum all at once. *Been tried and failed, obviously* :lol:

Olivia suggested me to go to Musée d’Orsay, and after visiting the place, it’s easy to understand why she loves it: it’s the home of many wonderful artworks! Even the building was something to be admired <3 I think I love Monet’s paintings the most there (although obviously I’m no expert in paintings :P )

As a huge admirer of Marie Curie, of course I didn’t miss the chance to stop by Sorbonne, where she used to study (although I didn’t go inside). However, I managed to visit Pantheon, her final resting place, along with other well-known French scientists, writers, and poets.

Other than that, there were some attractions I visited (or at least went through :lol: ), including Sacré Cœur Basilica, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, and many others! I even tried the funicular to get to Sacré Cœur Basilica, which, like its name, was pretty fun :D

One thing I liked from my visit was the excellent public transportation system (although it was quite hot inside the train ^^’ ) However, you need to be quite vigilant while going around because it was really crowded and the warning sign for pickpockets were everywhere. It was not only the pickpockets though. While I was queuing to buy the metro tickets through the automated machine, I was approached by 3 men who said to be ‘officers’ and offered ‘help’. But I was not sure they were to be trusted because the man who previously stood in front of me received their ‘help’ only to come back not so long after and said ‘I was fooled by those guys’. Of course the 3 men were already gone by then.

Despite that, I also liked the fact that I could enter many of the museums for free (or got the discount, at least), because I was still below 25 years old ;) Sometimes traveling when you’re young has its own advantage :D (Thanks Chen for the information!)

So… that’s a snapshot of my summer time in Paris. What about you? What did you do during the summer? Please leave the comments below! :)

Love,

Alicia

But Sweden is so far away from home!

Hello Summer time!

After passing my exams and wrapping up the end of my first year as a Karolinska Institutet student, I can finally get into vacation mode. Which luckily for me, means a trip home this summer. It has been TWO YEARS since I have been home. Flying is expensive, then there is the car rental, and hotels, and of course buying all the things I have missed while I’ve been away. But it is also the matter of time, it feels too far away to fly home for anything less than a week, but I usually try to aim for three. It gives me time to really get into being home, and time to visit everyone, then I can start missing Sweden and get excited about coming back. Part of not going home very often means that I have to deal with homesickness. I’ve been in Sweden for 5 years and it is home, but it’s not. I have one foot in the USA, and one foot here in Sweden, and both are home. Homesickness is a part of my life, and that is okay.

I was reading this article http://www.rookiemag.com/2015/06/how-to-make-anywhere-feel-like-home/

and it has some pretty good points. The best way to fight homesickness is to feel at home with where you are. I recycle, bike to the store, take public transit, and all sorts of things that my American family find quirky and just odd. Of course, I am also comfortable talking to total strangers over absolutely nothing, I have a sweet tooth which is unrivaled in Sweden, and I do drive when I have to take lots of stuff, buy lots of things, or go somewhere that takes much longer to commute to. My Swedish family just doesn’t understand. On a side note, my sweet tooth makes baking in this country fun because I sometimes get reactions of “Ugh! Is this pure sugar! How do you eat that!? It’s too sweet!” Which amuses me more than it should.

The point really is that homesickness is real, and you have to find a way to help you cope. Here are some of my personal strategies that have helped me through some dark times.

1) Actively build a life for yourself while living abroad. Decorate your living space, go out and try new things, meet-up with people and make friends. If you feel connected to where you are, it will really help keep that stomach-dropping feeling of “I CAN NOT BELIEVE I AM SO FAR AWAY I JUST WANT MY MOMMY” feeling at bay. Be pro-active, and open minded about how all these new experiences no matter how different are great life experiences.

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2) Be prepared to be homesick. When I get homesick I cook food from my home, I listen to American country music (I’m from the south, that twang speaks to my heart), I read the news from back home. I try to bring as much with me as I can, and let the internet help me feel connected to my culture. Don’t ignore it, embrace that you come from somewhere special and celebrate it.

3) While embracing and celebrating, DO NOT WALLOW. Once you start down the path of “But back home everything is better” it is hard to stop. I have gotten sucked into a few weeks of homesickness misery of missing everything and everyone and getting nostalgic over stupid things I do not even like about my home.i never cry but Fight the wallowing! Do it by thinking of things you do not like from back home, things you love about here, and think about how being away from home is benefiting you. I never saw a porcupine before coming to Sweden, it’s a small thing but it helps me appreciate how special where I am is.

4) Talk to the people you care about from home. Some people use skype, but that feels weird to me and reminds me how far away I am. I got a great international calling plan on my cellphone, and I call my family regularly. I never let it go more than a week, and it means I do not get disconnected from the people I love. I know all the small details, the petty drama. My grandmother’s dislike that her neighbor swims around the edge of the pool instead of laps? Mundane detail, absolutely, but I feel like I am a part of her life. My niece building a blanket fort because her friend was spending the night? I heard all about it. Don’t let talking to people you care about become a special thing, make it routine.

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5) When all else fails, plan when you are going home. Knowing you will be there “soon” can really take the edge off. You can make lists of things to do while you’re there, people to see. Let the anticipation of being home soon help you through the time until you can get there.

I hope these tips can help some of you guys while studying abroad. It is a great experience to try new things, but we can’t help craving what is familiar. I hope all of you have a great summer, and I hope I will get to meet some of you at the start of the school year in the fall.

Farewell

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Today it is midsummer in Sweden. It is not celebrated exactly on the longest day in the year but on a more convenient Friday. The sky is gray and the weather forecast is not promising. We will have a cold and wet ‘midsommar’. It seems it is not uncommon to be this way.

We will have a non-Swedish celebration at home as all the guests are foreigners: Japan, South Africa, Spain, Mexico and Colombia. But we will have salmon and dill, quite Swedish although the fish is possibly Norwegian.

Today I am also writing my last post for this blog. I finished all my courses, the thesis is graded and the graduation ceremony already happened. It is time to leave the student life returning to the productive field. It is almost certain I am not pursuing a PhD, I am not sure I will stand 4 years working in the same research question. And I would prefer to have a better paid job at this stage of my life. But, you know, life not always happen as you want although I cannot complain because I have been doing what I wanted since I left the high school.

This time allowed achieving dreamed goals. I have had the chance to watch the Northern Lights (more than once and even here in Stockholm). I had the chance to sail a Norwegian fiord. This week I watched some noctilucent clouds (polar mesospheric clouds). I have traveled, not as much as some mates but I can highlight I was also able to be in my wife’s dreamed travel: Istanbul. (It was also kind of a dream for me). And, of course, I finished my master at KI. There are many reasons, good ones, why these two years will be unforgettable.

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Noctilucen clouds over Stockholm. Note that it was around midnight and the clouds are bright because they are very high beyond the stratosphere

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I am going to post some more pictures on instagram until the end of June and that finishes all my participation in this fabulous initiative of writing and picturing my life here.

If someone is interested in following me after this you can do it in my Spanish twitter account @elpalabrista, in my almost inactive English Twitter account @juglerofwords. You can see some pictures taken by me at @jugglerofwords on Instagram and my flickr account is Arrubla https://www.flickr.com/arrubla/

Hope the tips I wrote here were useful for somebody pursuing his life in Sweden.

All the best

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Weather in Stockholm

Although I am not British, weather is a big part of my life. I feel emotionally connected to weather. I feel upset when it is rainy and dark and feel happy when it is sunny and bright. Therefore, Stockholm is quite extreme when it comes to weather.

In April and May, it is one day rain and one day run. So I am quite moody these days. When I wake up but see the absence of sun, I look like this

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When I wake up by the sunshine, this is me.

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Last Novermber, it is al altogether five hours of sun light in the month. When I look back, I was surrounded by dark cloud as well.

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December and Janunary are the months when sun disappears at 3pm.

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I am now looking for the best seasons of Sweden – Summer, when day is 20 hours long.

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Wish you a sunny June!

Yi

The end of my first year

My last test for my last course for my first year is on Thursday. While part of me is studying the mechanisms of motor proteins and the packing of chromatin, part of me is looking back at how my life has changed in the past 10 months.

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My class started off as a large group, a sea of strangers, and through time spent together and sadly, many leaving the program, they are now a group of people I not only know by name, but can call many of them friends. While I am not a social butterfly, and I’ve missed all the social events of the year, I still feel like I belong to this group of wonderfully wacky intelligent people. It’s a great feeling, finding a place you belong. When I walk through the doors at KI (the Solna campus), I feel like I am coming home. I can lounge on the sofa’s and chat with friends, and I know just where to find quiet corners when I need some privacy to study. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Huddinge campus too, the food is so much better and the technology is more functional, and it’s a great place to study. It just doesn’t give me that warm fuzzy feeling when I walk through the doors because it isn’t my academic home.

I’ve been debating what to write about my first year, and what I love about KI, because sometimes I struggle to find what is good about KI. I spend at least two days of five growling in frustrating screaming ” I HATE KI! ARGHH!!” but then I still can’t imagine myself anywhere else. This is my 6th University, and yet the first one that really feels like a place I belong. I enjoy that my class is a few less than 60 students, although at most lectures we’re probably half that. I enjoy that I know most of the librarians, and the tech support guys, and the lunch lady. I think it is the small close knit community that makes KI so wonderful. Or maybe it is that it’s full of personality, and while it has two hundred years of history can act very much as a blank canvas. You want to see a change at KI? Odds are you can make it happen. Students get to be an important part of the system adding new activities and opportunities every week. We’re not just here to go through the system, attending classes, getting a degree and leaving, while we are here we are part of the community.

I have had an interesting first year at KI. It’s had ups (getting to know my teachers and classmates, learning really interesting things, and finding a productive outlet for my passion for complaining) and downs (every time I’ve used technology at KI for the first time, the times I’ve been told I’m unreasonable in my expectations, finding out another classmate has left the program, or stressing over assignments). For better or for worse, KI will be my home for at least the next two years.

Woohoo for summer!

Graduation is Next Week!

After a long 2 years I am graduating! The graduation ceremony is next week but it has really hit me today since we have done all our thesis presentations and also submitted the final thesis, now we have no more academic days and just have the graduation ceremony itself to make the transition to a graduate! I will say this has been a wonderful experience and a joy for me to live and work in Sweden. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to blog throughout my 2 years for KI and so in a way to always have a snapshot of my time here. I remember when I first arrived in Sweden and began the welcome week for international students in KI, that my words were how ‘daunting’ it all seemed. This however was short lived. I was fortunate to meet such wonderful, intelligent and passionate people. Studying here has given me the opportunity to flourish and grow into myself and has inspired my creativity and drive tenfold. I will treasure these memories for forever and wish everyone graduating the brightest future.

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Bioentrepreneurship 2015!

Here are 2 videos. One being a little look at the last day of our thesis presentations and the other is a group of us in the class filming a special video for our graduation afterparty which will be shown to the entire class of 2015. All programmes have done their own and so we wanted ours to be a bit special. My video is behind the scenes!

The Rockefeller University Conference on Hepatitis C

I was helping out at a conference in the Aula. This was in collaboration with the Rockefeller university about Hepetitis C- 27 years later. This is just an example of some of the events happening around KI and in the AUla Medica of which all master students are invited. It was very interesting and a great networking opportunity! Here is a video I made about the conference I hope it is of interest to some of you.

Holi Festival in KI

Yes a delayed post but I was busy writing the thesis! Here is a little clip showing the Holi festival celebrations in KI and also a short interview with some of the organisers of the event. It was a really special day with a barbeque (including plenty of vegan options which was amazing) and loads and loads of colour and a water fight. I really enjoyed it and encorage all new and current students alike to attend next year! Holi is also detailed in this video for those interested in what this event entails. Enjoy!

We’re halfway there

We are a week away from summer break and all I could think about is how fast it has been – two terms, 10 months of lectures, group work, writing papers, group work (oh did I say that already) and procrastination. I can’t believe it, first year of Health Informatics is almost done!

So, as usual it is time for me to take stock of what I have done and learned. Since everybody’s doing a list I thought I’d do one too. Here it is, random things I learned, remembered, regretted and loved doing during the year that was, all of which I am thankful for.

  1. eHealth and the essence of user requirements
  2. Paper prototyping
  3. How to draw a UML Diagram
  4. How to make my computer say “Hello World” in Java
  5. How to litter my papers with obscure references after writing them
  6. Patience
  7. More patience
  8. How to lose patience
  9. Cross-country skiing
  10. Cook eggs
  11. Bake brownies
  12. Missing classes at Kista because I was being forgetful and disorganized
  13. Riding Bus No. 3
  14. Finding new friends
  15. Saying goodbye to a lot of people
  16. Fika every day, all day
  17. Data mining

I stop at 17 for now and come back to this again next week when the summer break starts becoming real.