Core Course Week Reflections

Last week was core course week here at DIS. At DIS, each student signs up for a “core course” or main focus for the semester, and I decided to enroll in positive psychology. Last week, the only class we had was our core course. The first half of the week, we stayed in Stockholm going on site visits and having guest lectures. In the second half, we traveled to Gothenburg to further our understanding of the field of positive psychology. It was great!

For me, I can easily separate core course week into three distinct sections, and I want to quickly share the highlights of each!

#1) The First Few Days in Stockholm

On Monday and Tuesday, we stayed back in Stockholm. On Monday, we visited Fyrhuset, a youth-driven, non-profit organization in Stockholm. Fyrhuset works to empower youth and provide them with opportunities to learn and do what they love. For example, they have a skateboarding park at their building for people to use. 

Later on Monday, we had a speaker talk with our class about extremist rehabilitation. Our speaker works for Exit Sweden, a branch of Fryhuset. Exit Sweden works to help rehabilitate people involved in extremist groups, often working with neo-nazis. 

On Tuesday, we had another guest lecture come to DIS to talk about character strengths. 

All the activities from the first half of the week were extremely enlightening and I was able to take away information that I would not have gotten back home at St. Olaf.

#2) Wednesday in Uppsala

Because our trip to Gothenburg extended into the weekend, our class was given Wednesday off from school. This was the perfect opportunity to visit Uppsala for the day. I have a friend from Minneapolis who is studying abroad at the University of Uppsala so I coordinated with her to spend the day together. One of my classmates and I took the train from central station to Uppsala and it only took about 45 minutes. 

Uppsala definitely had a different feel to it than Stockholm does. Uppsala is a large university town and you could tell that more students lived in this area. One of my favorite parts of the day was visiting the nations. The nations are somewhat similar to frats and sororities back in the US. For lunch, we visited one of the nations and it was significantly cheaper than anything I would be able to find in Stockholm which was a nice surprise. 

I am definitely hoping to get back to Uppsala again soon, especially after realizing how easy it is to get there from Stockholm!

First photo captured in Uppsala!

#3) Study Tour to Gothenburg

For the second half of the week, our core course embarked on our short study tour to Gothenburg. One of the reasons I wanted to participate in the DIS study abroad programming is because of the travel weeks. It was a really cool experience to be able to travel with my classmates to a different part of Sweden to continue learning about positive psychology.

After lunch the first day, we went to a forum theater workshop. If you know me, you would know that improv, acting, and theater aren’t my favorite things. However, this programming was easier than I expected it to be. The entire point of forum theater is to work through tough situations to find new solutions that a group comes up with. While I am still processing my thoughts on forum theater, it seems like it offers a really unique approach to wellbeing and the field of positive psychology.

On Friday, the second day of our trip, we went on a walking tour of Gothenburg. We stopped by several of the important and recognizable landmarks in Gothenburg, including the fish church (or fish market). Our tour guide informed us that people in Gothenburg like to say “We don’t praise God, we praise Cod.”

The fish church! Aka, the first market.

We also stopped by the memorial for Raoul Wallenberg, a Swede who saved many Hungarian jews during World War II. Our class connected Raoul Wallenberg’s work to class themes including altruism, character strengths (courage), and acts of kindness.

And speaking of acts of kindness, our final activity of the day was to go out in groups to perform acts of kindness. With the 200 krona our professor gave us, my group decided to buy markers, cards and tape to write uplifting and kind messages on. After writing our cards (in both English and Swedish), we distributed them throughout the city.

Acts of Kindness Preparation…

On Saturday, the last day in Gothenburg, we went to the university where we had a lecture on body positivity and its connection to positive psychology. After this, our professor encouraged us to “be in tune with our bodies” by playing a game of boule, a Swedish lawn game. It was fun, especially because I was on the winning team, not that it matters!

After a long day and a long week, our class headed to the Gothenburg Central Station to board our train ride home. It was a great week and has made me really look forward to our next study tour as a class. This November, we are headed to Athens, Greece and I couldn’t be more excited!

An (incomplete) group photo after one of our dinners.

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