Biking through our Study Tour

This past week was our Core Course study tour which was absolutely amazing.

We started in Växjö, taking a guided tour of the exhibition that is currently being renovated at the Immigration Institute. Even though there wasn’t much of the exhibit finished, our two tour guides (creators of the exhibit) were very energetic and really painted a picture of what was going to be there. They were so genuinely excited and passionate about the work that they do that it really made an empty exhibit feel like it was there.

Next, we headed to Toftahult Bed and Breakfast where we got to pet bunnies and grill in a Swedish grill house which was a first for me. In the morning we went on a biking adventure around some of the lakes in the area. It was stunning and we had such nice weather the whole day. For lunch, we had a picnic at one of the stops we made while biking and we were able to sit on the beach and eat lunch. A friendly little snake even slithered by us during lunch and we had fun trying to identify him.

On the way back, we stopped around some rock formations that were super cool. There was a mini canyon that you could walk in and some crevices that were big enough to fall in. After biking back to the B&B, we saunaed and dipped our feet in the lake which felt amazing since we biked around 25 kilometers and were very sore. Next, we headed to our academic activity for the day with the B&B owner. He gave us a lecture about norm-critical and norm-creative design which was fascinating. Overall, we discussed accessible and inclusive designs from opening water bottles to going down fire escapes. After the lecture, we had dinner at a local restaurant and we got homemade Swedish meatballs and dutch mashed potatoes which were both great.

The next day we drive to Malmö to meet up with the forensic psychology course. Our first lecture was outside in Folkhuset Park where we learned about Malmö mot Diskriminering (Malmö against discrimination) and ate shwarma wraps for lunch. After some free time, we headed to our food tour/tour of Malmö for dinner. Our first stop was fresh fish at the harbors and a taste of Swedish traditional schnapps. The salmon was amazing and I did try the herring and have decided that I still don’t like it after trying it every year at Christmas. The next stop was falafal wraps on the pier which were very different than anything I’d had before. Our final stop was, of course, fresh Swedish meatballs with lingonberries and potatoes. The homemade meatballs from the day before were better but this was definitely more traditional Swedish meal.

On Thursday, we headed to Rosengård, an immigrant heavy suburb of Malmö that the press has labeled a “no go zone” to meet with Yalla Trappen, an organization for migrant women to teach them Swedish and develop the skills they already have into ones they could use to work. The group owns many restaurants and cafes around the city which you should definitely check out if you are in the area because our lunch was fantastic. They also own a tailor shop and a cleaning business which are staffed by migrant women and the teachers from the organization. They really emphasized during their tour of the town that the immigrant women are the core of Yalla Trappen and have been essential in growing the program to where it is now.

After more free time, we met at Boulebar, a bar and restaurant with bocce courts inside of it. Our group went with our two guides to our courts and split into teams after a short demonstration. We played two rounds in tournament style before having a final championship game where the three winners won vouchers to come back and play (and we found out they have a location in Stockholm). They had appetizers during the game, and dinner after with the best garlic aioli for the french fries. For dessert, we headed to a small gelato shop called Dolce Sicilia that had some of the best gelato I have every had. I would highly recommend going if you are ever in Malmö.

On our last day, we met with SQI south, a lgbtq+ organization for people of color. We talked about the immigration process for asylum seekers who identify as queer and their unique struggles. That evening, after a nice free afternoon, we headed to the Malmö Queer Film Festival where we watched eight short films and one full length. The movies were all made by Scandinavian filmmakers and most were also set in Scandinavia. Two of the short films really stood out to me: one about an intersex teen in Iceland and another about a first date that ended up being an all night party with friends. The first one did a very good job at bringing awareness to intersex individuals and the unnecessary surgeries they are forced to have in some cases when they are born. The second one was really just a lot of fun about spontaneity and first dates which was different that the heavier themes of a lot of the other films. The full length film, A Moment in the Reeds, was beautifully done. It was set in Finland and it surrounded a summer fling between the son of a man renovating his summer home and the immigrant worker the father hired to help with the renovations.

The next morning, we took our train back home to Stockholm and most of the rise was spent watching Shadow and Bone, a new netflix show based on my favorite book series that was released on Friday. I would also recommend everyone to watch it if you like fantasy and a good story. Overall, the trip was a success and I cant wait for my next trip with DIS.

Published by Lis

I am a sophomore at UMass Amherst and am spending the spring studying abroad in Sweden.

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