This is the first in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Pollination Biology in Sweden program this summer with Professor Heidi Dobson. Melia Matthews ’20 plans to major in biology.
I came to Sweden 24 hours ahead of the group and I set out to explore the city of Stockholm for a few hours before my jet-lag set in. For me at least, you don’t notice too much out of the ordinary if you aren’t paying close attention…There are cars and streets and buses and people and coffee shops…even if you can’t read the signs very well, it still seems like a normal city that isn’t too strange. So I decided to look a little harder to see what differences I noticed first. Surprisingly, the first big difference I noticed between Sweden and the US were the stoplights! Instead of hanging from wires across the street, they were on poles rising from the ground on the street corners; also the street signs were in white on the sides of buildings instead of green on a pole…so it took a bit of effort to find my way around at first! But anyways, on to more big picture matters…While my overall impression of Stockholm was maybe a bit greener and cleaner that many large US cities, It really wasn’t all that different. There were neighborhoods, tourists, churches and apartment buildings. It was really cool for me to see how different countries can be so different and yet so similar…It was a pretty comforting realization for my first day.
Then the group arrived the next day. We checked into our hostel and spent the next two days touring as much of Stockholm as possible in 48 hours! We rode about every variation of public transportation as possible, buses, subway, ferry, you name it! We saw the sights but also enjoyed the less touristy areas around our hostel which included a huge park with an outdoor gym and lots of awesome trails. We walked an average of 10 miles each day and started getting used to the Swedish food. Most of us were also dealing with jet-lag and some sleepless nights, but starting our 5 week visit to Sweden with a few days in the capital was a great experience and was a fantastic way to understand more of the history and city-culture of Sweden, but I also am looking forward to immersing a bit more directly with the land and the people during our time on Öland at the research station!