Spoiler alert: I have only come up with 3 ways in which Sweden/KI has changed my routines/behaviour so far. There are of course a multitude more but this post is already a small novel so I decided to spare you guys another 500 words. Here goes:
1. I have finally embraced technology and now I’m App-dicted.
I did not own a smartphone until a year ago. Let’s just say I have never considered technology my close friend. And considering the number of cell phones I have accidentally drowned in the past, I think the feeling is reciprocal. Yet, this year, I have become wholly and utterly dependent on my phone/tablet. So much so that every time I enter a coffee shop, the first thing I do is look for a plug to charge my various devices. Now, to be clear, I am not blaming Sweden. I am not blaming this innovative and technologically fluent country, or the wide range of Apps it has introduced me to -these phone apps which facilitate travel, banking and getting student discounts, of which here is a handy selection here : https://studentblogski.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/5-helpful-apps-for-international-students-in-sweden/. I am also most certainly not blaming KI, the ‘plug haven’ (seriously there are plugs located at the bottom of couches there) with its highly active social media (think #KIGlobal on instagram or the facebook pages: Prospective student at Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska Institutet (English), Karolinska Institutet Career Service, Karolinska Institutet Universitetsbiblioteket). And let’s not forget the PingPong Mobile app KI uses. This gem allows you to access class schedules, documents and messages from your phone. Thus, it holds a special place in my heart.
2. I have travelled around the world…one plate at the time
This is going to sound very high society of me, but here goes… I have never, ever attended more dinner parties than this year at KI. Guys – if you want to eat delicious food all the time, find a group of friends with a big kitchen (so in Stockholm, that would be people living in halls) who are willing to cook every single Saturday. In the last month, I have attended three dinners. Last weekend, there was no dinner. It was disorienting. A Saturday without a food coma is a wasted Saturday. This touches on another one of the benefits of having international friends. At the last dinner, my plate of food consisted in Swedish meatballs, Estonian potato salad, Sicilian arancini (stuffed rice balls), Polish barszcz biały and Greek tzatziki. Who needs to travel anymore?
3. I have gone into the wild to find myself the sun.
They say you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone. A few months ago, we all lost the warm embrace of the sun. It seemed bearable at the time. We took our vitamin D and chilled in the soothingly quiet light room. It was only when that fleeting fireball returned that I realized how much I missed its benefits-physical and psychological. These past weeks, I have craved the outdoors like never before. I have spent whole Saturdays and Sundays outside on various promenades. I have become…wait for it-outdoorsy! ( note: I include laying around the KI picnic tables in a total state of unproductiveness as an outdoor activity). Fortunately, Sweden is the perfect location for an ‘outdoorsy’ individual with nature reserves and national parks covering one tenth of the country. Even within the vicinity of Stockholm, there is so much to explore. One particularly beautiful place to hike is the nature reserve in Nacka (Nackateservatet) which features trails through rocky forests abundant with gorgeous views (it is a bus ride from Slussen ) . And if you don’t want to stray too far from KI, there is the idyllic Hagaparken, basically located in its backyard (a 5 min walk from the Karolinska Sjukhuset bus stop). All the essentials are there: a lake, a temple, a palace, a Chinese pavilion and even a butterfly house. You will want to reserve a few sundays to explore all the hidden/not so hidden beauties of this Royal and Historical Park.