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A Week in my Life: Nature in Stockholm and Short Study Tour in Malmö

Hej Hej! This past week was our core course week where we would spend around 3 days visiting a city in Sweden and take 1-2 days of seminars in Stockholm. For my Public Health core course, we visited Kista in Stockholm on Tuesday and Malmö from Wednesday to Friday.

Monday: Scenic Walk in Hellasgården

On Monday, my friend Sasha and I visited Hellasgården on Nacka. It is a recreation area with exercise and hiking trails, beaches, lakes, saunas and many other activities and facilities you can enjoy. It was highly recommended to me by multiple local Swedes so I knew I had to go. (One way to get there is to take the 401 bus from Slussen.)

Sasha and I first fueled ourselves up at the campsite cafe. There is also a restaurant on-site. Then we set off for a 5-km hike. We picked a relatively easy trail (the trail indicated by solid yellow lines) among the wide range of trails in Hellasgården. Throughout the entire hike, there were clear colored signs on trees to guide you. It was a lovely and easy-to-navigate hike with idyllic scenery. I recommend bringing snacks and taking a break when you reach the lake!

Afterward, I visited Sickla on Nacka, specifically the area where Markusplatsens lekpark and Kulturhuset Dieselverkstaden were located in. There was a Kenny’s Gelato store and oh my – their gelato was one of the best I’ve had! They are creamy and flavorful. Took a while to pick, but in the end, I went for their mango sorbet and lavender ice cream.

(I have been enjoying discovering Stockholm – one new neighborhood at a time. I encourage you to also venture out during your time here!)

Then, I ended my day by finishing an assignment for my Public Health core course. On our own, our class watched a documentary on refugee children in Sweden and the challenging trauma-related health conditions they and their families have to face. Afterward, our class shared our thoughts and questions over Canvas. I was shocked, concerned and frustrated at how the refugee children were re-traumatized – being told the traumas their parents went through by Swedish authorities and facing the possibility of deportation after settling into their schools and communities.

Tuesday: Kista, the Silicon Valley of Kista

On Tuesday, amidst the heavy downpour, our Public Health core course went to Kista, a neighborhood northwest of central Stockholm. It is where Erisson, the Swedish multinational telecommunication company, is located. We learned that Erisson employs the largest migrant population in Sweden, filling up a wide range of positions. Unfortunately because of the heavy rain, we did not get to tour the neighborhood. But at the food court where we had class discussions and lunch (amazing Lebanese food that Jad, our professor, got for us!), we saw employees of Erisson and other tech companies grabbing lunch. There, we caught a glimpse into the diverse makeup of the population working in Kista.

Wednesday: Malmö Walking Tour and Boulebar

Our class set off for Malmö at 10:00 from Stockholm Central Station by train. The train ride was close to 5 hours long; we traveled the farthest out of all the DIS courses. After arriving at around 1500, we got settled in and headed off for a walking tour. On our tour, our tour guide took us to visit Möllevångstorget, Kämpa Malmö-rondellen, and Folkets Park. Being in the southern parts of Sweden and close to Denmark and central Europe, Malmö had a long history of migration. We learned that the top 3 nationalities among the migrants were: Iraq, Syria and Denmark. Not only so, but over 170 nationalities are represented in Malmö. The walking tour got me started on reflecting on migration in Sweden, how geographically segregated it is in Sweden, the integration processes and its implications for public health.

After the tour, we played boule and Boulebar in Folkets Park. It was a great evening where we learned how to play boule, which originated in France. Our class was split into 8 teams and the top four teams advanced to the semifinals, followed by the top two advancing to the finals. My team, the Fantastic Four, won in the end and we got a medal and a voucher for a free boule session!

Medal and Voucher from Boulebar

Thursday: Noaks Ark Mosaik, Malmö Castle, and amazing Food

On day 2 of our short study tour, we visited an NGO called Noaks Ark Mosaik (NAM) which focuses on improving the sexual and reproductive health of migrants in the Skåne and Blekinge region, but also provides support for migrants experiencing violence in their relationships.

What was most memorable to me, was how they adapted their approaches and messages to the needs of migrants, as well as the policy changes. They also are seeking to collaborate more with local and international partners, both to expand their reach and learn from the success of their approaches. Our class enthusiastically raised questions and it was an incredibly enjoyable time learning from these amazing individuals.

After lunch with our class at a Lebanese restaurant, my friend Sasha and I visited the Malmö Castle, which also housed museums and exhibitions ranging from art, and history to science (they had an aquarium there!) Then we went to the waterfront, where you can see Copenhagen from afar, and checked out the tallest building in Scandinavia, Turning Torso! (IT WAS SO WINDY I gulped down hot tea when we returned to the hotel.)

We ended our night at Shiraz a Perisian/Iranian restaurant recommended to us by someone who is a Malmö native. I ordered a lamb and beef kebab with rice – and oh my – it was delicious!

Friday: Lecture by a local researcher, Lunch, and Heading back to Stockholm

On the last day of our short study tour, we heard from Professor Mangrio from the Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare about her research focusing on newly arrived migrants. I gained valuable insights into the unique challenges and opportunities regarding migration in Sweden. For example, the difficulty for studies to reach the migrant population (low response rate) and high barriers to access important health information (especially during COVID, much information was not translated). I was very grateful for the opportunity to ask questions, as I got the chance to ask and learn about the initial housing placement process. Newly arrived migrants can opt to live at government-assigned housing sites (that can be anywhere in Sweden), or to secure their housing – each option comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Afterwards, we wrapped up our trip with lunch at Atmosfär. Their fish option for lunch was refreshing and flavorful. (Much appreciation for our teacher, Jad, for amazing food curations throughout the entire trip.)

And off we went back to Stockholm~ (Another 5 hour trip but Malmö was totally worth it!)

Hej då! Vi ses~

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