First Impressions of Stockholm
I’ve been in Stockholm for about 5 days now, and I’ve spent most of that time getting acquainted with the city, the people, and DIS. Obviously I’ve learned a lot, and I don’t think I could describe everything, but I’ll do my best to hit the highlights.
Hökarängen and Tunnelbanan
Obviously the first place I visited was my homestay, located in the neighborhood of Hökarängen just north of Farsta. I haven’t seen much of the area so far, except for the ICA (Swedish grocery store, like Acme or Cub) in Farsta, but I love the neighborhood and the apartment.
My mission on Sunday was to practice my commute to DIS, which is about 45 minutes by subway, which is called Tunnelbana or T-bana in Swedish. My host parents, Sara and Annie, showed me how to switch from the green to the red line in Slussen, and also gave me some interesting insight on where to wait for the train. A good Swede, apparently, will stand on the side of the station that they have to get off at. After all, why would you stand and wait for the train and then walk the extra minute when you get there when you can just walk while you wait? I suppose it does save a little bit of time, and, unlike in the US, the train actually extends the length of the platform so you know you’ll be in the right place.
The T-bana is very different from other trains I’ve taken, namely in Philadelphia but also in Paris and Nantes. On the whole it operates the same, but it is extremely efficient, and the trains run consistently every 5 minutes during rush hour. In addition, everyone uses the public transportation, and at all times of the day, so it feels much more like a public space than any other transit I’ve used. I’ve even seen young children around 6 or 7 taking the train to school on their own every day.
After the trip to the DIS building, Sara and Annie took me into Gamla Stan for a quick walk around the tourist area of the city. Gamla Stan (or Old Town) dates back to about the 12th century in some parts. The roads and alleys are cobblestone, and the buildings look like something out of a painting. We saw the royal palace, the “Big Church” (Storkyrkan), and the square where the Danish king Kristian II executed over 80 conspirators in 1520. (Interestingly enough, one of the conspirators, Bishop Hans Brask, had hidden a note inside his wax seal on the incriminating petition reading ”
To this I am forced and compelled.” His life was spared, and his name has lent itself to the modern expression “brasklapp” which someone would say to indicate hidden reservations.) I returned to Gamla Stan on Monday with some DIS students, and my previous private tour proved to be very helpful.
Field Study and First Classes
On Wednesday, I had my first introduction to my core course. My professor and the four other students in the class (the smallest class I’ve ever taken) went into the city for fika, and discussed plans for the course and our study tours to Uppsala and London later in the semester. We also went on our first field study to Bonniers konsthall art exhibit in Vasastan, which, like every experience I’ve had with contemporary art, left me feeling both intrigued and frustrated, so overall it was a good experience.
Thursday was the first official day of classes, and I had my core course in the morning, and Transgender in Scandinavia in the afternoon. For the most part, it was a regular first day of classes; we went over the syllabus and classroom expectations. However, I was really excited to learn in Trans in Scandinavia that the majority of our grade would be participation and presentations, rather than academic papers, and that we would be creating a zine for a final project. I haven’t had my other classes yet, but I’m excited to do this work that I wouldn’t have in classes back home.