One thing that makes DIS different from other study abroad programs is that it offers students the opportunity to live in a themed Living Learning Community! In DIS Stockholm, the two LLCs are the Outdoor LLC, which I am in, and the Music LLC. The students in the LLCs all live on the same hall in the same building with other DIS students. Each LLC meets once a week to do an activity together with an experienced leader hired by DIS. For the Outdoor LLC, we meet every Tuesday in the late afternoon after class and it is a good break in the school week! It is basically having a fun trip every week!
Why I Chose a LLC
When picking my housing for living abroad, I thought living in an LLC would give me a good opportunity to get to know other students better since we had to meet every week. At Wofford, academic LLCs are offered to freshmen, but I did not get to participate in one, so I thought it would be a good time to try one! I specifically picked the Outdoor LLC because I wanted to explore parts of Stockholm that I would not get to on my own. So far, I can definitely say that I have done and seen more with this group than I could ever do alone!
Meet my LLC!
The number of students that sign up for the LLCs change every year, and this year, we have a small group! We are a total of six students, all from different majors, different parts of the US, and with different outdoor experiences. I really like having a small group because we have gotten to know each other really well and it makes our excursions a lot more fun! Our LLC leader is Hanna and she is one of the coolest people I have met in Sweden! She is a climbing instructor and works with environmental groups. She plans every activity we do and makes sure we are comfortable with it.
Week 1: A Boat Ride!
For our first Tuesday trip, we went on a ferry ride around Archipelago, which is an area of Stockholm that is make up of many islands. We rode the ferry until we got to the small island of Vaxholm. There, we had a picnic on the rocks by the water to watch the sunset and get to know each other.
Week 2: Kayaking
For our second activity, we went kayaking in Brunnsiken, which is a lake in a big natural park in Stockholm. We kayaked as partners and had fun racing each other and eating cookies while floating in the middle of the lake.
LLC Weekend: Camping
Each LLC has a weekend where they go on a trip together, so we went camping at Tyresta National Park, which is about 30 minutes outside Stockholm. I had never camped overnight outside before, so it was a new experience for me! First, we hiked the cliffs that led to the camping spot next to the water. We cooked all our meals outside, so I learned to cook over an open fire! At night, we climbed the cliffs again to stargaze, and I saw a shooting star! We also met a Swedish family at the campsite and we introduced them to smores, because they don’t make them in Sweden. They loved them!
LLC Weekend: Caving
Before leaving the campsite during our weekend away, we went caving in the natural caves made by rocks that fell from the cliffs. I had never been caving before, so it was a little intimidating at first, especially after the Swedish family we met told us how small it can get in there! We had a cave expert lead us through the paths in the cave and show us the interesting rooms in there. There is a pathway that is called the Devil’s gate because it is so small to pass through! There is also a room named the spider room because of the amount of spiders inside it- it was not fun sitting in that room. Caving required a lot of strength to pull yourself over the rocks, but I was able to do it! It was really a once in a lifetime experience.
Week 3: Outdoor Climbing and Rappeling
For our third weekly activity, we went to an outdoor climbing area in Ryssgraven, which is just outside Stockholm. It was a very tall rock right next to the water. I had never rock climbed outdoors before, so I was a little nervous, especially after seeing how tall the rock was! We had expert climbing instructors that had on a belay system, so that made me feel better. We could pick whether we wanted to climb up the rock and also rappel down from the top of the rock. At first, I was sure I did not want to rappel down from the rock because of how high it was, but after climbing up the rock and walking backwards back down, I knew I could try rappelling. It was scary to walk backwards off a high cliff, but somehow I managed to do it!
Week 4: Hiking
For this week, we went hiking at a very popular spot in Stockholm called Hellasgarden. We were able to hike around a lake and see some of the prettiest views! It was good to enjoy the nice weather and spend time together.
Week 5: Forest Bathing
Contrary to what the title of this activity implies, there was no bathing involved! For this activity, we to one of the quietest forests in Stockholm to get in touch with nature. It is called forest bathing because you are supposed to use all of your senses to take in everything around you. There is a project in Stockholm where the noise level in big forests is measured to determine which forests are the most quiet from the sounds of the city. We were able to wander around and just take in everything around us. It was very peaceful!
Week 6: Bouldering
This past week, we went to a huge indoor climbing center in the city to go bouldering! I had never done it before, but I have rock climbed, which is pretty similar, except you are not attached to a rope. Climbing took a lot of strength and control (my entire LLC is sore!), and actually a lot of thinking to figure out the best path to go. Climbing and bouldering is a very popular activity with Swedes, and it was really cool to see the experienced climbers do some very impressive moves!
More Coming Up!
We have about five more weekly activities for the rest of the semester! Some activities we have planned include: biking in Djurgarden (a small island in the city), visiting a sauna, and ice skating once it gets really cold in the winter. Next week, we are going to do parkour and I am so excited to try it!
I Feel Accomplished!
Joining this LLC has pushed me to be braver and try things I never thought I would do! With most of the activities, I was pushed outside of my comfort zone a little to experience something completely new. Especially rappelling off a cliff, I was so proud I did that! Hanna has inspired us to appreciate nature more and get outdoors. When I joined the LLC, I was a little nervous at first because I did not have a lot of outdoor experience, mostly just hiking, but everyone in the LLC had different levels of experience so we were all trying new things. Hanna and everyone in the LLC is very encouraging, and we always have a good time during our weekly activities!