Sweden: Part One

16 Sep

We had to depart from Frue Plads, the universal bus tour meeting spot in CPH, at 8:15 AM to leave for my Migration and Conflict short study tour to Sweden, meaning that I had to wake up at 5:30 to finish packing and make sure I was on the train in time to make the bus.  Of course, someone came late by 30 minutes and we had to wait anyway…

Before we even left CPH, our bus driver was driving through a construction area and knocked off the side mirror.  Instead of fixing it, he just hopped off the bus, ripped it off, and kept going.  That wouldn’t have happened in America!

Our first stop was Malmö, Sweden, at Ögardsskolan, a Muslim school and mosque.  It was the first purpose-built mosque in Scandinavia and actually many Muslims from CPH attend Friday prayer there because there are no purpose-built mosques in Denmark.

The mosque peaking out behind the school

When we were shown the mosque, we had to enter through separate entrances (male and female) and take off our shoes.  But the discussion we had with the director of the school quickly broke down the preconceived notion I had of the school.  Taking a look at their curriculum, they only study Islamology once or twice a week for 40 minutes and their other classes are in Swedish.  And rather than teaching the Koran, they emphasize pure Islam separated from cultural Islam as well as teaching the children how to be a Muslim in today’s multicultural and global world.  I think that this is important because religion should be taken in context to society today.

On a lighter note, the mosque was very pretty, but minimalist.  The director said that in 100 years, maybe this type of mosque will be known as a “Swedish-style” mosque.  However, there was a separate prayer space for women, going against the Scandinavian value of gender equality.

Swedish-style mosque

Female prayer space

Before we left, we visited the children of the school.  It was interesting to see children of many different races and nationalities at the Muslim school.  I have been learning since coming to university more about the diaspora of the Muslim religion.  There were children from Africa, the Middle East, and even some ethnic Swedesque-looking children.  It makes me question if these children of different nationalities can get along, why can’t adults have the same tolerance?  Hopefully intermixed schools like this one will foster more tolerance for the next generation.

Next we visited Rosengård, a ghetto of Malmö.  And by ghetto, I do not mean dangerous, run-down, and “ghetto” like one thinks of an American ghetto.  This was a ghetto because of the white flight and the concentration of immigrants in the community (there are 111 different nationalities and over 50 different languages spoken there).

Communal garden

I saw my first “dish city”, a neighborhood with satellites for each apartment to get the TV stations from back home.  But I also saw many playgrounds.  Not decrepid, dirty playgrounds littered with cigarette butts and broken beer bottles; but vibrant, unique playgrounds that I would have rejoiced at the sight of as a kid.  They also had a beautiful soccer complex donated by Zlatan, one of the top soccer players in the world who grew up in Rosengård.

Dish City

Tunnel art

Zlatan soccer complex

During free time to explore, we decided to check out the castle in Malmö.  I would consider this to be Castle Number 1.5, because it was not much of a castle!  It was more of a small fortress with a newly built museum attached to it.  Needless to say, I did not pay the 40kr entrance fee.

Marching band sculpture in Malmö

The Turning Torso, the tallest building in the Nordic countries

How cute is Malmö?

Malmöhus, Castle Number 1.5

We also hit up H&M.  It has much better clothes than the big CPH store and better prices due to lower tax rates (Denmark’s is 25%..)  I will definitely be returning to Malmö to hit up the shopping when it gets colder.

We then hit the road up to Göteborg in the North.  We stopped along the way at Grand Hotel Falkenberg, a nice hotel for dinner.  It was by a river, had white table clothes, and sparkling water.  We had pasta with shrimp and clams for dinner and vanilla sorbet textured ice cream with raspberries.  Other DIS programs- How was your dinner?  Where did you go?

First nice dinner here!

The river

We then drove the rest of the way to Göteborg and watched a puppet commercial social commentary on integration in Denmark.  Jakob did English voice overs with different voices for each character.  His voices and the content made it absolutely hilarious.

At the hostel, we were alphabetically assigned rooms.  I ended up with Blair.  Sister roommates! That made it much less awkward than if I’d been put with someone I didn’t know


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