Weekends in Sweden

With the Watson, there is just so much time. I think that is a blessing that can manifest as a curse. Especially now, I have even more time, as many companies and stores are shut down for part of the summer – it is definitely vacation time in Sweden. That said, I can use this time to adjust myself, to get to know Sweden. I initially thought the Watson was so anti-tourism, but it’s not entirely so. The fact that I’m spending months in each country, thinking about sim cards and meeting locals and what time the library opens, already means that I’m doing something different than the average tourist.

But it’s also okay to do the touristy thing, as previous Watson Fellows gently reminded me after I reached out during my initial freak-out. Part of getting your bearings in each country is sight-seeing and learning about important areas and buildings. One walk – even a 10-mile one – isn’t going to cover all that.

Feeling more like a local with this library card! It gives me access to free wifi all over the city.

I decided to spend the weekend being a bit of a tourist while trying to figure out what Swedish people do during the weekend. I found that many museums in Sweden are free if you’re under 25 years old. After walking up super late and having coffee at the super-hipster Café Biscotti, I decided to check some of them out. What do Swedes do on the weekends, anyway? First I went to Sjöfartsmuseet, the maritime museum with an aquarium.

Ship models floating in the void – this was one of my favorite parts of the museum.


When an octopus visits your living room…
They didn’t have any fish for this tank, so they put water pokémon! Turns out Pokémon Go is just as popular in Sweden as in the US.

I highly recommend Sjöfartsmuseet – it was a blast. Next I went to the famous church Masthuggskyrkan, where I ran into a Swattie! I had heard that despite Swarthmore’s small size, graduates have a tendency to run into each other all over the world. I didn’t think it would happen so soon, and at a Swedish church no less!

Masthuggskyrkan. “-kyrkan” means church. The inside of this church was fashioned to look like an upturned boat, with wooden beams all along the length of the concave ceiling.

My next stop was the city’s main museum, the Stadsmuseum. It was in the center of the city, with a very regal exterior, giving me the impression that it would be like the Met in NYC. Well, it wasn’t. Except for a dark, creepy Viking room, there wasn’t a whole lot of interesting things in this museum.

When there’s nothing to do at a museum, take selfies with the old telephone props.

Luckily my trip to the Stadsmuseum got me to “inner city,” the center-city neighborhood of Göteborg, which I realized I had somehow missed before. It’s surrounded by the “moat,” a small body of water that separates the center city from the rest of Göteborg. It’s a mostly pedestrian area with fun shops and lively cafés and restaurants. I felt like I had finally found the Swedish people! The rest of the city had felt so quiet that morning. (Keep in mind that the population of the whole city is half a million, and probably fewer than that in the summer months).

Found this hilarious tourist train in “inner city.”
Tons of people waiting outside the Elite Plaza Hotel to see Bruce Springsteen, who is performing in Göteborg this week.
I really can’t get over the cute trains here.
I found the people! Check out this glitzy shopping center. I was telling a Swede about it later and she doesn’t like it.


This is Homan – we shared a table under the awning at 7-Eleven when it started raining. I asked him what Swedes do on weekends and he said “Nothing! This city is dead!”

Lastly, I accidentally bought a rice pudding thinking it was yogurt, so I need to learn some more of the language!


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