Congratulations to the six students who graduated this year with a Minor in Scandinavian Studies: Max Aveis, Joshua Blazen, Rebecca Smith, Michelle Hoban, Hanna Ljungman, and Siri Andrews. These wonderful students took advantage of the study abroad program at Uppsala University, summer internships in Sweden, and wrote independent papers on topics from Finnish Swedish culture to sustainability. They led the U-M Scandinavian Club, organizing weekly fika-conversation hours, board game and film nights, and seasonal Scandinavian parties. We celebrated with a Swedish themed reception, Swedish deserts, Swedish graduation songs, and conversation in Swedish about future plans.
Taking a gap year is very popular in Scandinavia. Many high school graduates spend at least a year after high school working, volunteering, traveling, and thinking about future careers before entering university, while less than 1% of students in the U.S. do so. Many explore their personal passion at a “folkhögskola,” a school for adults offering programs in arts, music and the outdoors, among many other things. Our student Erik Lundberg (AB ‘17) spent a semester at Høgtun Folkehøgskole in Norway. He participated in a program called “Top 30,” where they climbed 30 mountains on skis. Hikes started at 6am, giving students hours of self-reflection and demanding physical challenges. Erik was surprised to find he appreciated the climb up even more than skiing down. His Norwegian language skills improved a lot, but most importantly, he found himself. After surveying 150 folkhögskola students for his independent studies paper, Erik found that the majority of students felt considerably happier and more self-confident and appreciative of life after their studies at a folkhögskola.
Twelve second-year Swedish students joined the Spring Break Study Tour to Sweden during the 2017 Winter term, and ten Swedish students from ProCivitas in Helsingborg visited U-M in March. Newly appointed Swedish Honorary Consul Thomas Mark and wife Melissa Mark joined us on our tour of Detroit. Mr. Mark is taking over the position from Lennart Johansson, who has been the honorary consul since 1992. The Marks presented on Swedish companies in the region, and generously sponsored our visits to the Motown Museum and DIA as well as a great American lunch. The sunny day in Detroit left the Swedish students with a very positive impression of Detroit. Thank you for your time and support, Tom and Missy!
This summer, creative writing major Caroline Rothrock has secured an internship at the magazine Gatans Röster in Malmö. She received a generous scholarship from the Scandinavian Program with support from The Highfield Foundation and SWEA Michigan.
During the 2017–18 academic year, Professor David Östlund from Stockholm and Sodertorn will join the Scandinavian Program for a third time. He will teach a course on the history of the Modern Welfare state, give public talks, and join the program in activities throughout the year.