Today I went to my first class, Religious Life in Sweden. My classes are all in the English Park campus. which is really close to where I live and to the library. For my class, I will get to go on field trips and listen to guest lectures. I have two presentations, one one some aspect of my faith and another on an aspect of religion in Sweden. Overall, I think it should be a very interesting class. Sweden is a very non-religious nation, but 70% of people are members of the Swedish Lutheran Church. I am very curious to find out why this is, and how a church can be both secular and Christian. It's quite a paradox. There are a lot of Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Sweden, and it would also be interested to study Islam in Sweden, especially in light of the recent bombings. I am planning on going to the library and checking out some books on the subject.
One of the interesting things my professor taught us this week was about a study he and some colleagues did on the 4 elements of connection to God/the universe/spirituality. They are (1) a move away from technology and stimulation to disconnecting, usually involving nature, (2) a release from scheduled time to exempt time, "own time," (3) a temporary escape from other people's demands and expectations into a protected space of solitude "alone time," (4) a shift from self-responsibility to passivity and receptivity "not doing anything." They did their study in a small town a few miles north from Uppsala, and I will definitely have to look at it. I found it really interesting, because I agree to it is easier to connect to God outside of organized church. You do not have to go to church or religious services to believe in and worship God.
My religion class meets once a week on Tuesdays from 13:00 to 15:30. There are about 10 kids, including me, but everyone is very nice, and we are all exchange students. After class, I met up with my friend Amanda and we went to the center of town and walked around the shops. I bought a Swedish/English dictionary at a bookstore. Swedish courses don't start until Feb. 9th; the university gives us the first three weeks to adjust.
Since both of us were hungry and cold, we went to a really cute cafe and randomly bumped into Cassandra. I got a chai tea and a almond paste, whipped cream, apple filling pastry made with some type of Swedish named dough. It was delicious. I want to try every type of pastry they have there. Especially chocolate balls.
Afterwards, Amanda and I went back to her housing, which is in the middle of nowhere, Eklundshofvagen. She does live in a rather charming red house and has her own bathroom and kitchenette. However, I like my location and room much better. We hung out and talked for a while and then I went back to my dorm.
Here's to my first day of class as a foreign exchange student!