The last week of the program
Today we spent touring some of the scholarly places around Stockholm, such as the Karolinka Institute and the Natural History Museum. At the Karolinska, we listened to a speaking talking about preventative medicine, hospital clinic statistics, and the steps we can take to get the numbers of healthy patients higher. The highlight of the day was the museum for two reasons: 1) the speaker talked to us about really cool woolly mammoth evolution, and 2) we got a private behind the scenes tour. The speaker was amazingly passionate about his work, and has spent many days on excursions around the world collecting fossils. The woolly mammoth is closely related to Asian elephants; however, scientists compare the woolly mammoth DNA sequence to African elephants because their genome has been completely sequenced. Did you know there used to exist a creature called a woolly rhino?
The behind scenes tour took us through the fossil and skins room. The fossil room was actually very interesting, and even though I like my animals living, this was all devoted to science. They had over 700,000 fossil skeletons ranging from mice and wolves to moose and elephants. I got too see a moose in Sweden and unfortunately, it was just bones in a bag. A whale tooth was passed around, and I use my creative license to say it was approximately the size of my head. From there, we went to the skin room that had every possible animal skin hanging in a refrigerator. This room had much more of an effect on me, and I just had to keep telling myself it was for science. It is interesting that the feelings of one can change based on what part of the animal is seen- fossils do get as emotionally attached to, while skins do. But in reality, it is the same animal and just a different part.
The day concluded with a trip to Skyview which boasts beautiful overlooks of the city. The Globen is the largest spherical building in the world, and this contraption takes one up along the Globen’s circumference. After a 5 minute ride, we reached the top to beautiful panoramic skies. Also To top of our trek to the top, we followed it up with some good ole’ McDonald’s fries. J
Our next stop was City Hall. This is where the banquet for the Nobel Prizes are held that include the laureates, students and royalty. The grand stair case marks the entrance for the guests in the Blue Hall, even though it is made out of red brick. The Gold Room, for dancing, is made out of 10 kg of gold. Each glass tile is made with a thin layer of gold on both sides giving a golden glow to the room. It sparkled in the light and had a beautiful, unique woman on one wall overlooking the room.
The Nobel Museum houses the history of all the Nobel laureates since 1901, as well as the café. We got to have lunch at the little restaurant where many of the laureates have eaten. It is tradition for them to sign the chairs after dining there, among some of the ones we found were for: Physics 2012, Jean Triole for economics in 2014, and Barack Obama for Peace in 2009. It was like a secret science treasure hunt through the café, flipping over chairs guests weren’t sitting on. Alfred Nobel first became well known for his discovery/invention of dynamite and 350 other patents. His fortune is left to the Nobel Prize winners every year on the day he passed away, December 10th. The museum is also a tribute to him and his genius, among the other 889 winners. Their placards hang from the ceiling and cycle around on a track since there are too many to all be shown at once. One of Cambridge’s rowing oars hangs on the wall in honor of so many Cambridge scholar laureates. Barbara McClintock, winner for transposable elements, has her corn model organism on display. Martin Chalfie and Elizabeth Blackburn, known for GFP and telomerase, have interactive stations where they talk to you about what it means to be a laureate. This museum is about legacy, and all the people who have left their mark on the world. All of these people shaped us through their actions, words, or through information we once read in a textbook. Their legacy and role model inspires us all to leave our own legacy. What will yours be?
“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” –Thomas Alva Edison
Today was the day of our practical. With this being said, I still had an amazingly fun day to explore the town due to being in the early test group. Everyone finished the test at different times so I decided to head out on my own for a day to myself. After the stress of the practical, I walked through old town Gamla Stan to a mist in the air and beautiful bells ringing in the square. My first stop was at the Medieval Museum, home to the Viking experience. However, I was slightly disappointed when the only Viking artifact they had was a small battered, unrecognizable ship. The rest of the museum was laid out like an old city center to capture the day in the life of a commoner in the 1200s. My next stop was the Krona Coin Museum which also housed a lot of palace and royalty history, but neither of these museums were much to talk about. They did have good information and I spent about two hours exploring both. I finished out the day going through the small souvenir shops and munching on lemoncello ice cream. (This place has gotten me addicted to ice cream.) It was such a nice mental break from the hubbub of class and the cramped boat that I felt like I could go back to studying with a clean mind and a stomach full of ice cream.
This is our last day of the program, and it is bittersweet. I spent the day taking the final and finishing up a last minute essay. The best and last part of the day was concluded with a Farewell Dinner at a very nice restaurant. We got to dress up all fancy like and have our last time together as a class. The Captain told us stories of his near death experiences throughout his life (there are nine), and how he met and fell in love with our professor- they met in an airport of all places. Everyone was so talkative and friendly that I know I am going to miss them. Luckily, I will be able to see most of them on campus except the few UCSD people, but I trust we will keep in touch. Everyone got sentimental as we said our goodbyes, but I looked at it as having made new friends for back home. This program has been an amazing experience that I am very thankful I got the opportunity to take part in. I now feel more culturally adept and genetically informed for future classes, careers and life experiences.
Off to a quick stay in Amsterdam, Netherlands before my return to the States!
Bye for now,