You may have noticed that I haven't blogged in a while. Most of my time has been occupied by school work, and I'm in the midst of finals as I write this (instead of the three papers I have due next week). But while the workload at DIS is heavy, even compared to William & Mary, I don't mind putting in the effort.
Edinburgh, my Long Study Tour destination, reminded me more of the U.S. than any place I've visited in Sweden. The city was lively, the people loud, and the drivers undeterred by pedestrians (we quickly learned to obey crosswalk signals). Nonetheless, I felt like an outsider. Jarring as it was, though, I think that feeling helped me appreciate both Scotland and Sweden all the more.
I have been coming to terms with an important realization: despite the novelty surrounding me, I'm still the same person I was before I arrived in Stockholm, and that's okay. I think the notion of studying abroad in college, especially as an American in Europe, is so intensely glorified that we expect a transformational experience within weeks of being here, but that's often far from reality. It's okay to feel anxious or depressed, and it's okay to stay in all day or sleep past noon. As one of my friends put it, there's no right way to study abroad.
On Monday, I hopped on a long-distance train with my Forensic Psychology core course and headed to Gothenburg, Sweden's famous port city on the western coast. Our trip was only three days long, but it was jam-packed with good food, fun activities, learning experiences, and — get ready for this — the sun! No shade to Stockholm, of course.
In my public health classes, we learn about the distinction between cultural competence and cultural humility, mostly in regard to community-based research. Cultural competence, the older idea of the two, describes the process of understanding another culture in order to be sensitive and informed when interacting with its people.