Place-based Literature and History

In what ways does the physical geography of a country determine the lifestyle and culture of the population that lives there century after century? How do we see the language, customs, and traditions of a country as a function of their physical geography?

The Scandinavian Peninsula is like no other place in the world. We investigate Sweden’s path from an agressive state into one that plays a more balancing role between the diversity of political and ideological systems in the region.
We look into the changing demographics of this still highly homogenous society, focusing our experiences on direct engagement with local people through interviews, a cross-cultural interaction with local youth, and interactions with people going about their daily lives. We help students to uncover the distinction between observations and inferences, and bring forward our own awareness of how our conditioning pushes us to judge before we understand.

Potential Itinerary

We arrive early after an overnight flight and get settled into our hotel before lunch. After getting washed up we have a health, safety, and security briefing. Then we set our intentions for the program before heading out for a bite to eat. In the afternoon we visit City Hall where the Nobel Prize Ceremony occurs each year, and then continue on to the world famous Vasa Museum (Vasamuseet) on the island of Djurgården. We get a sense of the historical timeline by seeing the Swedish warship Vasa, one of most heavily armed and ornamented of its time which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. In the evening, we have an early dinner and prepare for a packed first full day in country.

We start the day by taking a boat tour of the city. We get a sense for how the city is organized and the way that the multiplicity of islands and waterways has influenced the shape and organization of the city. Students have a chance to stop and interview local people about their city and learn a bit about what is important to them. After lunch, we have some time to read our selected novels in a local park, starting to create a shared narrative that will inform the rest of our program. In the early afternoon, we visit a local school for a 3-hour exchange with local high school students. Participating in a collaborative design challenge around an issue of shared significance, students develop authentic relationships with local Swedes while elaborating short presentations and dramatizing their learnings for the group. After dinner, we reflect together to crystallize our learning before heading out of the city.

We spend the morning immersed in the world’s first open-air museum, Skansen. Our guided tour takes us through a brilliant replica of a 19th century village complete with craftsmen and traders like silversmiths, glass-blowers, tanners and shoemakers, all of whom demonstrate their craft in front of our eyes. Students then get to spend some time exploring freely and following their curiosity into the open-air zoo to see animals that thrive in this climate — the lynx, bison, moose and reindeer, among others. We meet with the museum curator to understand how Swedes celebrate their history and commemorate it.
In the afternoon, we meet with a local historian who helps us understand the different perspectives on the Viking history of Sweden. We learn that there are multiple ways to portray history and that often, one person’s decision to write a novel or history book can have an inordinate influence on the world’s perception of a particular place and time.

We wake up and have breakfast before boarding a train from Stockholm to Gothenberg for our next few nights. Our time on the train provides us with the chance to see the Swedish countryside in a unique way, all the while giving us time to continue our reading as we roll across the countryside. Upon arrival to Gothenburg, we check in to our hotel and have lunch. In the afternoon, students explore Gothenburg in small groups in order to complete a series of experiential and communicate challenges in the “Gothenburg amazing race.” They interview locals, explore monuments, and survey the town to find out what is important to the every day people who make Gothenburg their home. After dinner, we see a live music performance given that Gothenburg is Sweden’s hub of musical creativity.

We leave early to head out along the seacoast for a day in nature. We hike for several hours to a seaside location where we have some time to continue reading and connecting with representations of Sweden in literature. We have a picnic lunch and then continue on enjoying the natural area and doing some forest bathing before heading back to Gothenburg to get cleaned up before dinner.

We say goodbye to Gothenburg in the morning and take a train south to Lund.

Our first full day in lund starts with a cross-cultural exchange with students from a local high school. We get to know them through a series of ice-breakers and activities designed to connect authentically. We then work on a shared project that looks into the values and ideals that are important in both of our cultures, comparing and contrasting while also building friendships. The differences between Lund and Stockholm will become apparent as we get to know local students in both places. In the afternoon, we visit the Lund Cathedral, held as Sweden’s greatest piece of Romanesque architecture which has not been altered in 900 years. Afterward, we visit the Kulturen open-air museum where there are around 30 exhibition rooms, allowing us to immerse ourselves in daily and working life on the Lund Peninsula in bygone times.

Students have breakfast before beginning their last full day in country. We meet with university students in the morning for a tour of the university scene, finding similarities with life in universities in the United States, but also important differences. We have lunch with our guides before heading to the location of our closing ceremony where we crystallize the learning we have done during the program. We express gratitude for each other and the work we have put into creating a group culture on the program. Finally, we commit to bringing out experience back home and paying forward the privilege of a travel experience like this one. We spend our last night in Lund with some time to walk around this wonderful Scandinavian city.

Envoys Testominals
Let's Stay Connected!

Join our mailing list to hear first about new products, exciting news, and more! Subscribe today.