In my first blog, I mentioned the beginning of my journey as a Swedish rookie. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. Today, I want to delve into one of my favorite Swedish traditions – Fika! I’ll be sharing one of my best Fika experiences in the gorgeous Stockholm City Hall with my friends, followed by a delightful visit to the Nobel Prize Museum.
For those unfamiliar with the term “Fika,” it’s a quintessential Swedish tradition where you take a break from your day to savor a hot drink and a snack with friends, colleagues, and family. In my opinion, Fika is more than enjoying food, but also spending quality time with the people around you.
Fika reception at Blå Hallen (the Blue Hall)
On the 8th of October, the City of Stockholm extended an invitation to all international students in Stockholm for a traditional Swedish gathering at Stockholm Stadshuset (The Stockholm City Hall). Upon entering Stockholm City Hall, the grandeur of the Blå Hallen immediately took my breath away. The intricately designed interior, with its towering walls and stunning architecture. The silver plates carrying the irresistible aroma of kanebullar added a touch of elegance to the atmosphere. There is a funny story about the Blå Hallen. You may notice from the picture, that the wall of the Blå Hallen is made of red brick instead of painted blue, as the name implies. The reason is that the architect of the city hall changed his mind after seeing the beautiful red bricks after the city hall was finished.
The Fika kicked off with a short speech from the mayor. I found it challenging to concentrate, not because of a lack of interest but due to being captivated by the surroundings. The atmosphere, coupled with the shared joy of indulging in Fika, created an emotional resonance. Since this was the first experience of moving abroad for most of us, many suffered from homesickness and loneliness. We all shared our embarrassing yet funny culture shock stories with each other, fostering a deep connection. The initial sense of homesickness and loneliness dissipated as laughter and shared stories echoed in the hall.
Mosaics at Gyllene salen (the Golden Hall)
Afterward, we continued the reception in the Gyllene salen (Golden Hall). The moment I stepped foot in the golden hall, I was stunned by the glittering gold mosaic decoration on the walls. The mosaic decoration depicted allegories of events and persons from Swedish history. The attention to detail in the mosaic is remarkable, with each piece contributing to the overall narrative of Sweden’s cultural heritage. The glittering gold surfaces reflect and play with light, adding an extra layer of visual enchantment to the space. I strongly recommend all of you to pay a visit there. But bear in mind that you must join a guided tour to visit the city hall. If you prefer a more student-budget option, just sign up for the reception organized by the city of Stockholm!
Trivia night at Nobel Prize Museum
As we wrapped up the day at the Nobel Prize Museum, the cozy evening provided a reflective atmosphere. Exploring the history of the Nobel Prize and its ties to Karolinska Institutet added another layer of appreciation for Swedish contributions to global advancements. My personal favourite of the evening is definitively the trivia night about the Nobel prize. Although we only got second place in the trivia night, I enjoyed the team effort we demonstrated in the game and the shared pursuit of achievement among friends. It eased your mind to find yourself surrounded by like-minded friends in a foreign country.
In essence, beyond the beauty of the venues and the richness of Swedish traditions, the emotional impact of these experiences was transformative. The Fika, the shared moments about the difficulties international students encountered, and the intellectual camaraderie at the Nobel Prize Museum entangled and evolved into memories that went beyond physical constraints, which will become an integral part of my journey as a Swedish rookie, shaping my connection to the culture and the people around me.
I am Martin, 27, currently studying Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University. I’m passionate about using data science to improve human well-being. Discovering this programme was a pivotal moment, and I've found it to be one of my best decisions. The programme is enriching my network and perspectives by hosting talks with alumni, government representatives, and startups. An interesting fact about me is that I once aspired to be a curator and artist specializing in Chinese art.