Gothenburg: Core Course Week

Positive Psychology Class at the “Heart” of Gothenburg

Waking up at 5:30 a.m. with the biggest dark circles, I realized what a huge mistake it was that I waited until 2 a.m. to start packing my bags to Gothenburg. It honestly hadn’t hit me that this was going to be the first official trip I was taking since being in Stockholm!

The topic of our core class week was altruism and I couldn’t help but think about that one episode in Friends when Phoebe and Joey were fighting over whether or not one could truly do a selfless deed for others. https://youtu.be/DowJfUmlzeI (here’s the link if you guys are interested!)

Our core course week began in the classrooms! However, Thursday morning, before the sun even rose, we embarked on our trip to Gothenburg on the SL train. The trip was 3 hours long, but thankfully the train was extremely comfortable (imagine if a train and a plane had a baby, that’s what it was like haha), and the view from the window was definitely a plus!

After arriving, we headed to our hostel to drop off our bags (I got top bunk btw) and headed out for the lunch at a French cafe called LIPP.

A sunny lunch at LIPP

The great thing about restaurants in Sweden is that lunch always includes salad and soup and let me tell you guys the salad here is AMAZING. For a person, who only gets her vegetables from a McChicken, I honestly don’t know what they put in their salad that makes it sooooo delicious. We also ended up touring Gothenburg, but the best part of the tour was stopping by this quaint bakery, Husaren, where we got a hugeeee (size of my face kind of huge) Kanelbullar (cinnamon roll) and shared it among the 16 of us.

All of us smiling because the kanelbullar is bigger than our faces.

We also stopped by an extremely moving memorial for Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, who truly exemplified the idea of altruism, in which he sacrificed his safety in order to protect Jewish from the Nazis.

Raoul Wallenberg Memorial
Pork Buns at a Food Truck in Gothenburg

Throughout the trip, we had the opportunity to learn about forum theatre in which we put on skits about systemic oppressions people may face in society regarding economic inequality, homelessness, gender inequality, etc. Forum theatre really allowed me to step in others shoes and emphasize with those around me. It helped me see that sometimes when our perspectives change, we can regain power to advocate and fight for ourselves, or even use our platform to fight for others.

Due to the fact that altruism was our main topic, we also were given the chance to test it for ourselves. Each group was given 150 kr and had to come up with an idea to use that money for an act of kindness. Some groups paid for others lunch meals, others stroke up a conversation and paid for the coffee of others, and some gave the money to a homeless person they came across. The beautiful thing about this activity was that one group’s act of kindness influenced the person who they bought coffee for to do the same for another. So, the truth is money can truly buy happiness (at a certain extent haha) ;), but especially when we spend it on others!

Although we spent a good portion of our trip doing wholesome things, we also had a lot of fun! The highlight of the trip for me was most definitely getting to go curling! Even though it doesn’t look intense, curling exerted a lotttt from me haha. From falling on the ice, to having to sweep in order to get the rock to keep sliding, I can totally see now why this is such a popular sport in Sweden.

Learning how to slide a rock

Core course week was definitely an opportunity to learn about positive psychology in the real world and being able to apply it to our every day lives. I feel as though I honestly was able to take away a lot from the experiences from this trip and am extremely grateful for that. Thanks for reading! 🙂 See y’all next blog!

Field Studies

First Week of Classes + Field Studies

I have been in Sweden for officially 17 days now, but to be completely honest it feels like it’s been months! Time definitely passes so much faster here. I don’t know if it’s because Chicago is 7 hours behind or because the sun sets at 3 p.m., but everything is passing by so quickly!

We have finally had our first full week of classes and I’m loving every single course so far! This semester, I am taking Positive Psychology, Swedish Language and Culture I, Psychology of Loneliness, Developing the Brain: Infant to Adolescence, and Psychology of Emerging Adulthood (changed from the Vikings). Each class is 80 minutes long and some classes are double periods that only meet once a week. The interesting about DIS is that for our assignments we read A LOT. However, it’s also because our classes are very much discussion based! Dis holds classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Wednesdays, we have something called a Field Study.

Field Studies are in a way like field trips. There isn’t one every week depending on when the professor schedules them (YAY DAY OFF). Although, the days there is one is the opportunity for the class to get hands on experience on the course material. Professors also schedule field studies in the morning or afternoon, so there are days where you may have two!

Last Wednesday, my Developing the Brain class went to the Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the Karolinska Institutet (KIND). Due to the fact that KIND was a clinic and research facility where they work with children with developmental disorders, my class got the opportunity to look at some behavioral methods to test such disorders. The amazing thing about KIND was how separated the clinic and research facility was. Since it was an area for children and families, the clinic was extremely cozy with sofas, stuffed animals, books, and bright colors. There was even a family room where families could feed their children or have meals and relax (something you don’t really see in the U.S.)

At KIND, we got the chance to test the EEG and the eye tracking set up! We also discussed how we have to manipulate testing when testing babies and children since their attention span is shorter, they can’t verbally express their thoughts, they cannot walk yet, and much more.

We also took thee bus down to the MR Center at the Karolinska hospital. Here we got the chance to learn about brain imaging and structure by getting MRIs done. It was honestly such a fun experience to be in an MRI. We were given earplugs and headphones with music from the radio since the MRI machine is extremely loud. The machine was also very claustrophobic. However, since it was pretty comfortable I ended up taking a nap in the 5 minutes I was there! Also, good news, I HAVE A WHOLE BRAIN (side story: my professor told us that at Karolinska someone had gotten their brain scanned and found out they only had half a brain?!? Yet, their brain was able to rewire itself and they were completely normal functioning!).

I think the great thing about Field Studies is that it really accommodates to students with different learning styles. Some students learn better through lecture, others are visual learners, and others need hands on experience to retain information better! This field study honestly helped to remind me how much I love learning about the brain and I’m extremely excited to go on more field studies!

Thank you for reading! See you guys next post! 🙂

Flight & Packing · Uncategorized

What I Packed + Flights

Packing was one of the hardest aspects of preparing for my trip abroad! The idea of putting my whole life into only two suitcases was pretty tough. However, I wanted to pack smart as I knew I could purchase a lot of my necessities over in a Stockholm as well! A big thing people tend to forget when bringing a carry on and a checked bag is that a lot of the times your checked bag gets lost. Being so, I made sure to place all my important essentials in my carry on such as:

– a few pairs of clothes

– underwear/socks

– essential make up and skincare

– small mirror

– Chelsea rain boots

In my personal bag, I included important documents such as passports, copies of passports, my visa, housing address, emergency contact info, a water bottle, snacks, toothbrush/toothpaste, a portable charger, and my charging wires. As well as, my iPad and a book to read.

In my checked bag, I placed all items that could be replaced if my bag was lost such as:

– clothes

– menstrual pads

– extra socks and underwear

– nonessential skin care and makeup

– gym shoes and flip flops

If you are looking to get luggage for your trip, I would completely recommend getting luggage from amazon (https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Hardside-Spinner-Luggage-20-Inch/dp/B074MD2L3M?ref_=Oct_BSellerC_2477388011_0&pf_rd_p=c2e20f96-46c5-5e22-931c-a28c5f5c9d42&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-11&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_i=2477388011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=VCQ39AD986DT7XR8XXC9&th=1). It was fairly inexpensive compared to other brands and holds up extremely well!

I would also recommend getting these packing cubes! It helped me be so much more organized! https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07PGFDXPG/ref=sr_1_16?adgrpid=84645957800&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrqL7-LP85gIVx00YCh3q-QuZEAAYAiAAEgIgEvD_BwE&hvadid=394613855935&hvdev=t&hvlocphy=1012581&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t2&hvqmt=b&hvrand=10061480146499040177&hvtargid=kwd-16139302&hydadcr=2700_1967079&keywords=packtasche&qid=1578775205&sr=8-16

To be honest, during my whole travel time I was extremely nervous for what was to come. Being someone who is extremely close to their family, I was already feeling homesick. However, it was extremely exciting to be able to be independent and experience all this on my own. My flight from Chicago had a layover in Frankfort where I got a chance to explore the airport a bit! It was extremely cool to see that their airport had showers, personal rest rooms, and gaming rooms for travelers. From there, I had a two hour flight to Stockholm! The crazy thing is when I landed at 3:30 the sun was already setting and it was already extremely dark. It’s definitely something I need to get used to. However, the one thing I felt extremely comforting was how similar the weather in Sweden was like home.

Another tip I have is that when booking your flight, look to book earlier on! I was able to get my ticket for around $700 compared to prices later on which reached up to $1000! However, be sure to read DIS’ booking your flight page before booking as they give the accommodation of picking up students from the airport if they arrive before 3 p.m!


Housing · Uncategorized

Folkhögskola + Arrival Week

The past few days in Stockholm have been nothing short of incredible! One of the reasons being that I will be living in a Folkhögskola this semester! The Folkhögskola is located in an island called Bosön where I live with other DIS students and local Swedish students studying at the Sportcampus Bosön. In my apartment style housing, there are two bedrooms, a kitchen, and bathroom. I live in a single room, while the other room is occupied by another DIS student. Here in the Folkhögskola, it is fully furnished and we are given a lot of kitchen and cleaning appliances needed (everything is also from IKEA)! Although, we do not have a laundry machine in our apartment, there is a building, two minutes away from us walking distance where we can go and sign up for a time slot in order to do our laundry (NOTE: if you are not there in the beginning of your time slot, you forfeit your time). The best part about Bosön is that it is a forest and there’s so much nature that surround us. It is an extremely peaceful and safe area with tons of hiking trails that lead you by the water! Being that I lived in the city all my life, it’s amazing to get the chance to live somewhere rural and quiet for a change. Although, it’s in a remote area the market is a 7 minute walk away, the transportation is completely accessible, the gym is right next to our housing, and it takes around only 30-40 minutes to get to DIS.

DIS hosted an arrival orientation for the students at the Royal College Of Music where DIS is located on the 4th and 5th floor! Students were able to listen to performances (Fun fact: I found out ABBA is apparently a Swedish band and yes we did have to sing along and dance to Dancing Queen), learn about the transportation system, pick up their books, learn about managing finances, and so much more.

Throughout the orientation days, we got the opportunity during out free time to go explore the city on our own as well. Along with students from my housing, we explored Stockholm! On day 1, we went to Joe & the Juice where I got a Green Haven smoothie which was spinach, pineapple, and apple! It was 100% delicious and definitely made me feel a little healthier since it was green. A thing to note about paying in Sweden is that most places only accept card and don’t accept cash, so if you ever plan on visiting make sure you check with your bank for foreign transaction fees!

On Day 2, we visited the Migration center where we took photos for our residence permit. During our free time, we got off the stop at T-Centralen (the main hub of where the train lines meet) and explored Sergels Torg! Sergels Torg is the public square in Stockholm and there were so many cute shops around. The most surprising thing was seeing just how many H&Ms there were there and that they have H&M Home in Sweden. We also came across Östermalms Korvspecialist which was a little food truck that sold sausages. I ended up getting a spicy chorizo stuffed in a crispy and fluffy baguette. Afterwards, we also had a housing session at DIS where we interacted with other students from different housings, as well!

Although, I still haven’t fully haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that I am in Sweden, these last couple days have already set me off to a positive start. Thanks for reading! See you guys next blog.

Academics · Uncategorized

Why I Chose DIS

It’s crazy to believe for the next five months I will be living and studying in Stockholm, Sweden! Never in a million years did I think I would ever get the opportunity to live abroad and travel. During my time abroad, I will studying with DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia with the core course of Positive Psychology.

Studying Positive Psychology will give me the opportunity to study what makes life meaningful for individuals. As well as, the influence society and our own subjective minds impact us when it comes to what makes us happy and how we can maintain it. This course is something I am extremely excited to take because mental health is such an important aspect that has not been discussed much in the past because of the many negative misconceptions and stereotypes it has. However, times are changing and I am extremely grateful to be studying Positive Psychology in what is considered “one of the happiest” countries in the world!

Along with Positive Psychology, I will also be taking Psychology of Loneliness, Developmental Psychology, a history course on The Vikings (I love history!), as well as, Swedish Language and Culture I.

The best part about this program is the fact that it was designed for students who want to travel while abroad as well. In my core course, we are also given a Study Tour where we will be heading to Athens, Greece to learn more!

It honestly hasn’t hit me yet that I will be leaving home in literally 2 days. However, I am extremely excited for what’s to come! Thanks for reading and see you guys next post!

Continue reading “Why I Chose DIS”