An honors biological engineering student, Ashley Kiene participated in the Health Teams Abroad program last summer and got a taste of Sweden’s long summer days.
The Health Teams Abroad Program is directed to teach American students with an interest in the medical/ health science field about Sweden’s healthcare system. After around fifteen lectures, I can say that I know much more than when I left the U.S. For the class we are taking, we listen to around two or three lectures a day from various doctors or teachers to learn more about the way the Sweden handles healthcare, both the methods of treatment or prevention and the funding and insurance the citizens receive. We also toured several different hospitals and talked to the professionals that work there. Interacting with the nurses and doctors was definitely my favorite part of the program.
In all, Sweden has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much while here that I’ve had to keep a journal just so I can go back and remind myself of what all I have done. The biggest culture shock for me was the amount of daylight. I had heard that during the summer Sweden gets just three hours of darkness every 24 hours. I did not realize how big of a deal this would be until I woke up at 3:30 am with a sudden start somehow knowing that I was late for lecture. Imagine my confusion when I looked at my clock and saw the actual time. Briefly, I had even thought that I had slept until 3:30 p.m. (or 15:30 as they would report in Sweden). After this quick panic attack, I managed to fall back asleep and repeat this process at least three more times before I actually had to wake up.
Jönköping was a small college town much like Fayetteville. It had a shopping market, movie theater, small, inexpensive restaurants and a plethora of hardworking college students. Unfortunately, we happened to arrive to Jönköping during most students’ finals week. My Swedish roommate was usually locked away studying for her final so I did not see her often. However, there was a group of girls, named the S.U.S.H.I. (which stands for some phrase in Swedish), that were assigned to help out the international students. Our group actually got to know them pretty well, and we were able to hang out with them quite a bit during our stay. Befriending these girls was definitely the smartest thing we did on the trip because they showed us “local” spots that we would not have been able to find without their guidance. They had such a positive effect on our stay in Jönköping that I have kept in contact with them since we have left.
Stockholm is definitely the fun and exciting portion of the trip. With the help of the faculty, we are constantly on the move. This time of year, Stockholm becomes a huge tourist attraction so I do not feel that out-of-place. We have toured the City Hall, the Royal Palace and a number of museums making sure that we get the most out of our experience as possible. This is where the culture of Sweden really seemed to shine – beautiful buildings, alleyways, cobblestone roads, etc. I am completely in awe in the romance of the city.