March 30, 2009 update! Moving in and prepping for Rome

So, it's been a few days. I met Annie in Rome over the long weekend, and unfortunately the hotel didn't have wireless access. I debated posting from the hotel computers, but they were painfully slow. Back in Stockholm now, I have lots to write about! I'll split it up into separate posts since this would otherwise soon become an epic novel.

Wednesday last week: I checked out of the hotel and into the dorm, where I'll be living for the next 5 weeks. The dorm is on the very south edge of Södermalm, the south island of Stockholm. There isn't a subway stop terribly close, but it's still walkable. The dorm sits just up the hill from the water (there's a small cliff leading to the water edge), and the Södersjukhuset (break it down: söder=south, sjuk=sick, huset=house...the south sick house, or south hospital!) is next door. Unfortunately, this is not the hospital my rotation is at.

Jägargatan 20, the international student dorm, my home for the next 5 weeks

Move in was uneventful, and the room is a standard 9'x15' dorm room, with a single bed, desk, small dresser, closet, and sink. It may not sound nice, but it's very comfortable. I have a north-northeast facing window, providing for a nice view of the sunrise! The building appears to have been a hospital at one point -- the hallways are pretty bland, and the bathrooms look to be retrofitted with piping. There's a laundry room, 'ironing room', living room, kitchen, study room, and 2 phone rooms (oddly, neither of which actually have phones in them...) all near my room.

This dorm is where all the foreign students live, regardless of what campus or hospital they are at. In the room next to mine is a girl from Ireland studying medical technology, and on the other side is a girl from Romania -- I haven't officially met her yet, so I don't know what she's studying, but I do know she tends to have heated phone conversations with someone on the other line, getting an earful of Romanian in the process (hooray for thin walls!). Everyone is very nice, I've met maybe half of the people on my floor and a few from other floors. I think there are 8 floors total, with about 20-25 rooms per floor (not all are occupied). Not many students here are from the US, however -- just me, Megan, and Anton. I've been told a med student from Iowa recently left, but that's it.

After moving in, I went on a quest to find the nearest grocery store, as well as a few other items. The area the dorm is located has many, many apartment buildings, and so there are quite a few stores nearby. The train station I use to catch the train to Huddinge (HOOD-ing-eh, where my hospital is) is about 3 blocks away. I spent the rest of the day exploring a bit, and heading north to the main Karolinska campus to fill out some paperwork.

Getting artsy in Gamla Stan

I stopped at Gamla Stan, the Old Town, an island devoted to experiencing Sweden as it once was, as well as housing the Royal Palace. It has a magical feeling to it, almost Disneyland-like.

Gamla Stan, the 'Old Town'

I will definitely be heading back there when i have more time. I also stopped by the Grand Hotel (where the last true Smörgåsbord is served!), and City Hall, where the annual presentation of the Nobel Prize is held. They have an official tour that I'll be taking soon -- maybe this weekend?!

View from behind City Hall, with the Grand Hotel in the distance

The evening was spent packing for Rome, and some last-minute reading up on the travel plans while in Rome. Posts about the Rome trip will follow shortly!

Continuing the sign tradition: My mom's street, if we were Swedish, and she was a grandmother...

All these photos and many more here
: flickr

March 24, 2009

Arrival and Day 1

Today is the day! My first exposure to Swedish culture began on the flight over, as I flew SAS airlines. Little touches of Swedish personality were infused into the usual flying routine, such as stylistic plastic silverware with meals, and Swedish chocolates were passed out mid-flight. Unfortunately I was only able to sleep about an hour on the flight, but felt fine once on the ground. The airport looks like IKEA designed it!

Customs was a breeze, and my luggage arrived without any problems. There are two options for transportation from the airport to the city (a ~28 mile trip). I opted for the cheaper bus ride, which was actually quite pleasant. The Swedish countryside is strikingly similar to Minnesota -- it makes complete sense why so many Swedes settled in Minnesota after emigrating.

I met my 'global friend', at Stockholms centralstation, and she helped me get a rail pass and find the hotel. I opted for a hotel somewhat near the dorm I'm moving to tomorrow, as well as in a central area -- it is perfect.

Hotell Anno 1647 -- erected in, you guessed it, 1647. To the right is the subway station (referred to as tunnelbana, or T-bana).

There's a city square just a few feet away from my hotel (right side of photo), and a large cruise ship port nearby.

I opted to walk around town a bit, and was surprised, twice, by a heavy snowstorm. Luckily, both times it quickly subsided. It was a bit chillier here than Minnesota, with temps near 32 F all day. However, the cold forced me to stop in a few shops along my walk, which was really interesting. I can honestly say there are more McDonald's here than in Minneapolis!

After a quick dinner, I went on another walking tour to my dorm. It is a little further from the action, but I think living with many other students will be really great. Tomorrow I move in...better get some rest!

The first of many funny Swedish signs:
Something about not being allowed to park here, or else your car will be 'discharged'