Hills and valleys this blog contains. Truly the action never stops. I would like to take a moment and thank each and everyone one of you that has made it through my manic blog posts to check up on my silly little life. A performer is nothing without their audience!
To continue from where we left off: I was indeed again released from isolation in Sollentuna earlier this week with a somewhat lukewarm resolution (still missing one test result, but one of them came back inconclusive due to a damaged test sample? I am no longer asking questions because I refuse to dedicate the brainpower to thinking about it longer.) But after a short day’s stint at home to refresh my suitcase and check up on the health of my dear family, finally, dear readers, I was able to head out on my study tour! Prepare yourselves for another riveting play-by-play of my travel adventures.
Since I wasn’t able to take off on the tour at the same time as my other classmates, I had some catching up to do. Luckily, with some help from my host mom and DIS I was able to book a short 40 minute flight from the tiny little local airport near my house early in the morning straight to the island of Gotland. For those of us who’ve taken the Walla Walla to Sea-Tac flight, imagine that vibe but make it Scandinavian. A very familiar and comforting flight experience indeed.
And with a short leap I landed in Visby! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch up with my group right away, as after I arrived they had taken off to another activity on the far side of the island where I couldn’t get to in a timely fashion. So instead, I took the opportunity to give myself my own little tour of Visby, and to see some of the sights my friends had gotten to see in my absence. And it was a dream!
I began my day with a stroll through a botanical garden park right down by the island beach. The old town of Visby is ancient, and is surrounded by giant stone walls that have played a major role in the history of the island and Gotlandic culture, so I made sure to check them out and climb up every battlement that I could. Visby is a world heritage site, and for good reason: it has some of the best-preserved medieval ruins and architecture that you can find in Northern Europe, which are an absolute trip to walk around. I visited many churches and church ruins in my morning adventure as well, including the famous Visby Domkyrka. Did you know the island of Gotland has the most church ruins of any other place in Sweden, and that you can rent them out for events and weddings? What could be more Swedish than getting married in a 13th-century church ruin?
I then took myself back to the town center and brought myself to the fantastic Gotlands Museum, as the very first customer of the day. Truly, if there was one reason I needed to come to Visby, it would be to visit this museum. It was absolutely spectacular, and there’s just something different about being the only person in an empty museum. I had a blast and definitely got my academic activity points in.
Then after wandering the rest of the city for a while, seeing the sights and having a taste of some very wonderful Gotlandic ice cream, I finally was able to reunite with my wonderful core course mates! Hallelujah! We found each other just in time to make our ferry off of the island, and I had to part ways with this lovely place for the moment. I’ll be back to this place, if there’s any justice in this world!
We took a short ferry ride back to the mainland and made our way over for our next day’s activity, the island of Öland (ö in Swedish is island, so the island of island-land. Really creative names in prehistoric Sweden.) We then got to see some really cool ancient ring forts, which were used to protect/house the ancient Ölanders in case of attack or otherwise not great situations. It never ceases to amaze me how some of these rocks have been in the spots they occupy for thousands upon thousands of years, and now I find myself standing in the same spot. It feels especially inspiring when we don’t exactly know what the purpose of the stones was, as in the case of the still-developing history of the ring fort Ismanstorp. It is a bit difficult to feel the awe when one is overwhelmed with the feeling of cold as I was on the day of our visit. It certainly does not bear repeating: the lovely Swedish weather.
We then returned from our island jaunt back to the city of Kalmar, where we were staying, and had a look at the major castle there while we waited for our final dinner reservation. No matter how many fantastic castles and buildings I see here, they still amaze me! I treasure every moment I get to be in the presence of these imposing structures while I’m still here before I head back to the good ol’ USA. I’ll miss the ancient walls covered in grass that you can walk around with your class of three people.
We then made our way to our final dinner as a study tour, which felt a bit silly to me as I’d only been there for about two days! But it was still a wonderful end to an escape from isolation, and getting thrown right back into the fold. I truly have loved being a part of this class and getting to see so many fascinating places with a great professor. I’ll never have this sort of opportunity again, and I don’t take that for granted! I may have not been there the whole tour, but for the short time I was I made the most of it. I suppose I’ll have to go back and do everything I missed!
After making our way back into Stockholm with some stops for ice cream and ancient church sightings along the way, I finally made it back to my house. But no time to catch our breath yet! A couple of us who had just gotten back from tour weren’t ready to be done traveling, and made an impromptu plan to head out for a quick camping weekend in a nature reserve south of Stockholm. So I quickly switched out the contents of my backpack, threw myself down to sleep for the night, and got up in the morning ready to head out again. Like I said in my last post, it’s time to make the most of all this time in Sweden while we’re still here!
We had a wonderful time grilling korv over the fire, making some s’mores, sleeping in a tent, and just generally doing the sort of camping adventure that we’d been trying to plan for months. Going from hotel hopping to sleeping in the cold outdoors was a fun juxtaposition to being cooped up in an apartment all of the previous week. Reminds me just how much I should treasure my normal life while I still have it in front of me.
And now I’m back in front of my desk writing one of my last few blog posts. It’s been a whirlwind couple of days, but now we’re back and in the final stretch. I have some of my last classes this week before switching into final prep mode, and yes that is indeed terrifying. Don’t even get me started on all the paper writing I need to finish up. Yoinks. Take me back to Visby please!!!!