The best thing about studying abroad is the surprises we stumble upon during our weekend trips. Last weekend we hopped on a quick flight to Sweden and rode a bus through the the thick pine and spruce Tyresta forest to the gorgeous city of Stockholm. We had no idea the city stands on fourteen hilly islands connected by fifty-seven bridges. Situated where Lake Malaren meets the Baltic Sea, the city looked like it was just rising out of the water.
We explored the winding cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan, or Old Town, where the old buildings are a mustard and rust colored. This was a nice change from the gray of other cities. We loved slipping in and out of little boutiques that sell hand-painted Swedish clogs, adorable Scandinavian prints, and Fjallraven backpacks. On the square we exchanged smiles with a street performer playing a lap harp. Also in Old Town, we toured both Parliament and the Royal Palace, which has 600 rooms and houses the Royal Family.
Our favorite serendipity was discovering cozy coffee shops. Our top coffee shop is called Brod & Salt. Here they bake traditional beautiful breads in a stone oven. There are so many coffee shops because of the “fika” lifestyle. A daily tradition in Sweden is a “fika” break, where everyone makes time to take a break for coffee and usually a Kanelbullar, which is a soft, twisted bun with a buttery-cinnamon filling and large sugar granules sprinkled on top.. No wonder these Swedes are so happy! They take a fika break in the morning AND afternoon. Fika can function as a verb, as in, “Let’s fika!” I, for one, hope to fika for the rest of my days!
We went to Husman’s Deli and tried reindeer meatballs with lingonberries on the side. I have to admit, they were actually better than American meatballs.
As the sun went down, we strolled along the waterside. The little boats and twinkle lights gave it a magical touch. We got hungry for dinner and put the name of a restaurant into the GPS. It sent us twisting and turning down very dark, empty streets. We felt very unsure for a while, then suddenly a beautiful restaurant appeared. A friendly man came to our table to greet us and visit for a while. We later found out that he was the chef. (Swedes seem to be the friendliest and smiliest people we’ve met so far.)
When talking to people with whom we don’t share a first language, the communication can often go awry upon misunderstanding just one word or phrase. That must have happened at the restaurant. We thought the chef said that because it was late he didn’t have many of the things listed on the menu. But then we thought he said he had everything on the menu. Either way, we ended up with delicious fish and chips and another great memory.
Another memory I will always laugh about is the setup of our bed-and-breakfast. It was owned by an older Swedish couple, and our beds were in a part of the kitchen that was simply sectioned off by just a curtain, so technically our beds were IN the kitchen! This adds a whole new meaning to “Bed and Breakfast.” But we were happy to have a clean, cozy place to sleep after yet another day of European adventure.
Corrie Coleman is a sophomore Journalism major from Dallas, Texas. After college, she hopes to work for a non-profit that aids refugees, using her passion for photography and writing to raise awareness and work towards justice for the oppressed.
Corrie finds joy in hikes, sidewalk chalk, puppy videos, and long conversations around a campfire. She is inspired by sunrises, good books, and her parents. You will almost always find her with Converse on her feet and a camera in her hands.
She plans to spend her days with good friends, exploring the world and loving without reserve.