Basic Info and Tips

If you’re reading this, you’re joining us this summer in Scandinavia. Welcome to what will be a fun, meaningful, enriching and unforgettable adventure!

This page is designed to answer some frequently-asked questions about this particular program and will complement (not replace!) the information provided by the Center for Global Engagement. In fact, my first tip is: always read CGE’s emails carefully!

What should I be doing right now?

There’s not a lot, but:

  • keep up with CGE’s emails, especially regarding payments and deadlines
  • get a passport, and/or check your passport’s expiration date. Note the fact that your passport must be valid for 6 more months after the date you plan to return from Europe. Approximately December 2018. (More here.)

What happens in the spring?

Sometime in January, you will receive an email from me about scheduling our one-credit PSYC202 prep course. The goal is to find a time that works for everyone, and we will work around your other spring classes. I’d love for this to be done on two weekend afternoons in late March/April.

Also around that time, you will receive an email from the psychology department to add the class via an override. You cannot do this yet.

The prep course will begin after spring break and will familiarize you with basic course concepts and with one another. We’ll discuss the course project and the logistics of travel. Previous years’ students will also pop by. A lot of your questions will be answered during this time.

Are the program dates set?

Yes. You will arrive in Copenhagen on May 21st (note that this often requires leaving the US on May 20th) and depart Stockholm at any time on June 6th.

What kind of suitcase will I need?

People have different philosophies on this and there is no one right answer. But know this: wheeled suitcases can be a pain to drag over cobblestone sidewalks and up and down subway staircases. Heavy backpacks can be a pain too, literally and figuratively, but many students prefer them to a suitcase (choose one with an internal frame to save your shoulders). Know that: 1. you will be responsible for carrying your own luggage, 2. we sometimes will be walking many blocks with the luggage, 3. stairs may be involved, 4. you’ll have to get your luggage onto trains and buses. (I have this, FWIW.)

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We always pack too much (myself included).

What should I pack?

Based on the above, you may be able to guess my answer: as little as possible. You can see a packing list here. You will be able to do laundry, which makes a huge difference. Travel expert Rick Steves offers advice on packing smart here.

What will the weather be like?

The temperature in May/June will range from the mid-50s to low-70s. We will likely see a day or two of rain as well, and we don’t tend to change our plans if it rains. Note the layers from previous years. I’m always cold so I bring a light puffy coat like this.

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Should I pack my passport in my checked bag?

No.

You also shouldn’t pack any necessary medications in your checked bag. Nor should you pack anything super-valuable (like a laptop). You will hear this again.

When should I book my flight?

There’s a lot of talk about when the optimal time is for booking flights. (Six weeks out? Two months? A year?) My advice is, when you know for sure that you’re coming and when you’re pretty certain on your other travel plans, you can go ahead and book. However, if you wait until our class begins in March, you may be better able to coordinate schedules with your classmates. I see no advantage to booking over winter break.

What about cell phones and wifi?

Scandinavia is very wired. The dorms will have wireless internet.

Cell phone options: 1. You can get a short-term international cell phone plan through your carrier. 2. You can buy a local SIM card once we arrive. 3. You can turn off cellular and just use wifi, which costs nothing. (I have AT&T and use a combination of 1 and 3. I have the basic international plan for emergencies, but I usually just have my cellular and roaming options turned off.) I recommend unplugging as much as possible so that you can immerse yourself in the culture.

For more on international cell phone plans, see here and here.

How can I learn a bit about Sweden and Denmark?

So glad you asked!

I’d suggest getting a guidebook, such as Lonely Planet, which will get you pumped in addition to being informative. And check out The Local Sweden and The Local Denmark for news in English. And don’t forget Pinterest.

How will we meet up at the airport when we arrive?

As you know, you are responsible for getting yourself to Copenhagen’s airport (CPH) on May 21st. Once your flight is arranged, you will let me know your arrival time. Someone will be there to meet you at the airport. If you plan to arrive earlier than May 21, we’ll arrange an in-town meeting spot.

How will we be in touch with one another?

Last year, we set up a GroupMe and it worked really well. Other ideas (Facebook group, WhatsApp, other fancy things you guys know about) are welcomed, too.

How will I get money?

A few ways: 1. I will give you cash for meals about once a week, which is yours to ration and use as you wish. 2. ATMs are everywhere, and I would recommend just getting any extra cash you want when you’re over there. Don’t bother trying to get local currency in the U.S. 3. Sweden is moving towards being a cashless society, so you can use cards pretty much everywhere.

But beware credit card and ATM transaction fees. And put a travel notice on your accounts before you leave so you’re not flagged for strange foreign transactions.

 

What happens on the last day?

You are totally free. Dinner the night before is your last required activity. Some of you have early flights so will need to be up and out very early. Others may linger, or even spend a couple more days. Joe and I will stay an extra day in case you need us.

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