Where to begin…

Hello everyone!

This is my first post as a digital ambassador for Karolinska Institute. What that means is that I will post my experiences and thoughts about studying in Stockholm a few times a month. Maybe the information that you receive will help you get a better understanding of Swedish society.

So… to introduce myself, my name is Kazem Behbahani. My father is Persian and my mother is Indian. I was born in Sweden however I moved to the US when I was 5 years old and spent the rest of my life growing up there. I grew up in Chicago, which has a thriving city life and population. Everybody there is very warm. What I mean to say is that you could bump into someone on the street and end up having a good conversation with them. For example this past summer, a couple of my friends and myself were sitting on some stairs in the city and a man walks a dog in front of us. It was a very friendly dog and started playing with us so for the next 15 minutes we were talking about pets with the man before he went on his way.

The reason I bring this up is because everyone warned me when coming here, and even after being here that Swedes in general weren’t very open with strangers. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get used to that since I grew up in a different sort of environment. However that judgement is inaccurate. Someone mentioned to me that Swedes are like coconuts and Americans are like peaches. While Swedes are rough on the outside, once you have something to talk to them about they will open up and treat you like family; Americans on the other hand will be very warm to just about anybody and are very polite to everybody, but it is more difficult to connect to them on a personal level. In my opinion this comparison is very accurate. I have found very good Scandinavian friends in the short 3 months that I have been here so far.

Ok, I think that’s all I had to say about myself and how I’m feeling about Sweden. I have been hanging out with my Norwegian friend from my program, Eystein (if you can pronounce his name correctly, you could probably say any word in Swedish correctly) because we both enjoy nature. Last week we signed up for a kayaking tour around Kungsholmen, which is an island right in the middle of Stockholm City.

This event was set up through Medicinska Föreningen (MF), the student union working for KI. Because of this we had a group of 15 or so people kayaking with us. All of us were at different levels, but most were beginners. The last time I went kayaking was about 10 years ago. It’s like riding a bike though. After being in the water for half an hour, I found my balance and was able to enjoy the rest of the trip with ease. It took us about 3 hours to go around the group of islands. We were able to do some quality sightseeing, but after the 2 hour mark we started to get a little tired. You could tell by the look on everyone’s face even though nobody would say it out loud. So in order to keep it fun we had little games between ourselves, racing each other for instance.

Even though it’s starting to get cold here (about 10 C) it was nice to start my stay here in Sweden with that experience. 🙂

Until next time

-Kazem

6 thoughts on “Where to begin…

  1. wooooow!! I love this blog!
    It’s great to have someone like you write on your experiences! I’d love to go to Sweden too! so, I’m glad that you’d be able to help me out:)
    I agree with you about the Peaches-Americans. I believe that too. French people are like peaches too haha
    Congratulations on your job/position at Karolinska Institute!! Do you speak Swedish fluently as well? You seem to have a very mixed background! You’re blessed!
    Thanks for this blog haah! I’ll be following!:)

    Take Care!
    Odile

    1. Thanks for the feedback Odile 🙂
      I don’t speak Swedish fluently yet. Haha because of my ‘mixed background’ no other language than English stuck. So I know a little of every language but not enough of one. I am registered in a Swedish class however and I hope to be fluent within a year of being here.
      I’m glad this blog is helping you and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch 🙂

      -Kazem

      1. I’m sure you’ll be fluent in time! 🙂 You already have the determination:D The hard part is just getting started. haha
        How far away from Stockholm is Karolinska?

        So far, how are Swedes different from Americans? What sticks out to you?
        I’m expecting your little stories about your time in Sweden!
        Can’t wait!!
        🙂
        Thanks Kazem!!
        Odile

  2. Thank you 🙂
    Karolinska is part of Stockholm County, but I suppose you could say that it is a 15 minute bus ride to the center of the city.
    Swedes are very energetic and helpful once you get them talking. They are also a little more health oriented than average Americans in my opinion.
    I look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks 🙂

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