Friday, December 9, 2011

My Penultimate Week in Stockholm

This week I started on a new ward - a mix of general internal medicine and stroke patients. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be participating as much as part of the care team or have as much fun as I did the past two weeks. My mentor is very nice, but when today he said that he didn't stop to have a coffee on Mondays because Mondays were too busy, I had a sinking feeling. I mean, I could see cutting back from 3, but none at all? Oh boy. The day continued along this same trajectory. My mentor briefly lamented the fact that I did not have access to the computer records, so I wouldn't be able to read about the patients. I responded that it wouldn't make much difference if I had access because I can't read Swedish anyway. Even still, during rounds he had me sit next to the junior doctors so that I could "read." Also, he told me it would be impossible to conduct our rounds (just with the team, not with the patient) in English. For some reason he seemed to believe that if all I heard and read was Swedish, I would magically learn the language. I am not hopeful of this. Even though I have picked up a number of Swedish words and phrases and I think my pronunciation is better, I highly doubt that I will be at all competent in the language over the next two weeks. Instead, I will probably be more clueless than ever about the management of our patients since it will only be at the end of the morning or the afternoon when I get the "summary" of what was said in English. <sigh>

As we approach the shortest day of the year, our daylight hours are dwindling more and more. The constant darkness is a little depressing, but more than anything, I have found that it makes me unbelievably tired. As soon as it gets dark, I feel like it is nearing time for me to go to bed even if it is only 330 or 4 in the afternoon. I feel tired even though I am getting more sleep per night than I have in a long time. It also seems to be affecting my motivation and to really do anything productive seems to take more and more effort. If I get one piece of actual work done in a day, I feel like it has been a very successful day. I am really excited about my upcoming trip to Abisko in a couple of weeks although I am questioning whether or not choosing to visit a place where the sun will not rise while I am there was a smart decision - I leave on a Friday afternoon when it is dark and will not see sunlight again until Tuesday morning when I head to the airport to fly back to Minneapolis. I just hope by the time I come back, I won't be too looney :)

It finally started to snow here this week! We only have a dusting covering the ground, but it adds some brightness to the long nights. 

on my sightseeing tour
There are several things that I have finally figured out and it's a shame that I only get to enjoy having this knowledge for two more weeks. I have finally figured out which end of the T-bana to board in order to be closest to the exit at my stop to and from Huddinge where I work out. I finally had a perfect load of laundry where the machines were set on the appropriate settings so that it didn't take 3+ hours to do one load and at the end, my clothes actually ended up dry. I am getting better at meals and have learned that all you really need to add some flavor to a meal is olive oil and garlic powder - with those, the possibilities of a really poor cook are expanded exponentially. I just hope that my learning curve in India and Uganda are a bit shorter...

view from City Hall
I finally got around to doing some official sightseeing in Stockholm this week. Saturday (December 10) is the Nobel Banquet where the Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm at the City Hall. The other American medical student on my rotation and I went on the last day to tour it before it closed down for Nobel Banquet preparations and took a tour. Architecturally it is a beautiful building and the design is quite unique. It was fun to go on the tour as it seems that the head architect was an interesting man to say the least. He had an idea of perfection that he wanted executed in the building and because of this, things were changed and moved around during the building process and remnants of that can be seen still including an entire wall that was moved in about 7 meters but the original foundation is still visible. There is also the "Blue Room" where the Nobel Banquet is held that isn't actually blue but the name stuck even though the design of the room didn't. The golden hall designed completely in gold mosaic is completely not Swedish in design but depicts beautifully Swedish history. There is also a mosaic with the symbol of Sweden reigning over all the world - including the US (depicted by the Statue of Liberty and the American Flag) and France (depicted by the Eiffel Tower). Because the Swedes are modest, for formal gatherings in the past, this wall used to be covered up because of the symbolism of Sweden as the center of the world. 

National Museum
After the City Hall tour, I went to the National Museum - Sweden's largest art gallery. It is also in a beautiful building on one of the many islands of Stockholm and housed a beautiful collection. The special exhibitions on display were my favorite. One exhibition was a collection called "Four Seasons" that displayed art of the Swedish landscape and culture in each of the seasons. The other exhibition I really enjoyed was "Peredvizjniki" that featured the art of a Russian art society during the late 1800s and early 1900s. That was probably my favorite collection as the art really gave some insight into that period of time in Russian history making me even more want to go and visit the country at some point.

This weekend I will be staying in Stockholm and doing more touring of the city. I plan to go to Skansen - an outdoor museum with a Christmas market that depicts historic Swedish lifestyle, the Vasa Museum - a museum about the Vikings and of one of the Viking ships, the Royal Palace and Gamla Stan, the lights of the city center in Norrmalm, and the Christmas market at Kungsgården. I am also going to see The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera Saturday night and go to the largest Santa Lucia concert in the world on Sunday night. It will be a busy, but very fun weekend. Next week, I have a lot of work to do before I head out for my final adventure for this trip - Abisko and the Northern Lights! Hej då!

Blue Room - Nobel Banquet Set Up

View from City Hall

City Hall

City Hall

Sweden ruling over all mosaic - City Hall

Mosaic of USA ruled by Sweden

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