Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kickoff to Summer in Stockholm

by Sarah Rivard and Nick Musso



This Wednesday marked our third day of the Arctic course with the Swedish students. Our lecture was on the Foundations of Arctic Travel Narratives, with a focus on the Vikings. We read two historically-based VinlandSagas – Saga of the Greenlanders and Erik the Red’s Saga – as well as three Norse mythology stories: "The Creation," "The War of the Aesir and Vanir," and "Ragnarok." We learned how these readings could be interpreted in several different ways, including historical, ecological, economic, colonial, moral, and even feminist viewpoints. Our lecture also taught us about how the characters in the sagas portrayed the values and vices of the time. In addition, we discussed how fire and ice symbolized both creation and destruction in the Norse myths. It was interesting to see how many different ways each of these stories and their symbols could be interpreted!

All of this studying can sure work up an appetite, and in Stockholm there is no shortage of places to eat. As we’ve strolled down the streets we’ve been entranced by the smells escaping the walls of restaurants, cafes, and candy stores. If only it were possible to capture some of these amazing scents and bring them back home to our friends and family! In terms of our favorites, many of us have tried, and loved, dishes like fresh salmon, meatballs, quiche, and dumplings. Another traditional Scandinavian snack we’ve enjoyed is Swedish cracker bread, knäckebröd, topped with meat and cheese. In addition, we can all agree that the cafes are all too tempting, especially since we never have to walk far to find one! It is a custom in Sweden to take coffee breaks, called fikas, both during the work day and occasionally at night with friends and family. The U of I group has spent many days and nights at various cafes, including one in an old cellar in Gamla Stan.

To kick off the start of summer and celebrate the longest day of the year, we decided to have a picnic in the evening. We gathered in a small courtyard just outside of our campus housing, where grills are available for us to use. Everyone brought something to share, including burgers, buns, condiments, drinks, and other snacks. We were outside eating, talking, laughing, and playing Frisbee and hacky sack until about 10:30 at "night," even though there was still plenty of light in the sky by the time we decided to leave. We’re definitely taking advantage of these long Swedish summer days!


Sarah Rivard is a senior studying Integrative Biology with a minor in Atmospheric Sciences. She is from Kankakee, IL.

Nick Musso is a junior studying Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Human Dimensions. He is from Oak Lawn, IL.

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