Core Course Week: Gothenburg

My forensic psychology class headed to Göteborg (AKA Gothenburg, located on the west coast of Sweden) for three days for Core Course Week! Here’s the breakdown of everything we did – including escape rooms and a cinnamon bun the size of my head.

Day 1: Travel, Skyddsvärnet, and Italian Cuisine

Our train left for Gothenburg at 6:40 am (yikes, luckily there were several places to grab a much needed coffee in Central Station). After three short hours we arrived in the hometown of my professor, Meiling! Despite being unable to keep my eyes open due to tiredness, I was immediately struck by the stunning architecture. We had to take the tram to get around and it honestly made me miss the metro (if you’ve read my public transportation post you know how shocking this is), although it was nice to be able to look around on the way to our activities!

Our first visit was to a halfway house organization called Skyddsvärnet (they have three locations located in Stockholm, Göteborg, and Malmö). Founded in 1914, this non-profit is centered around the rehabilitation aspect of the Swedish legal system. We met with a woman who has worked there over 20 years, whose passion sold me on the job. I was most struck by how much freedom the clients are given in comparison to halfway houses in the US, and how much they actually follow the rules. This organization allows them to set up for their future, while also allowing them a bridge between prison and a “normal” life. The woman we spoke to emphasized the focus on the present and future, rather than the mistakes one has made in the past. The biggest takeaway for the class was that those that have been convicted are people before they are criminals, and should be treated as such.

For dinner we headed to Enoteca Del Signore for some Italian food! We shared four different family style pastas and concluded with tiramisu. My professor also took us to get what she claims is the best gelato in Gothenburg, and although I haven’t gotten gelato anywhere else there, it was so good that I’d have to agree.

Day 2: CLIP Research Group, Escaping a Prison, and Swedish Cuisine

On Tuesday morning we visited the department of Psychology at Göteborgs Universitet (University of Gothenburg). We spoke to several professors and PhD students associated with a research group called CLIP: Criminal Legal Investigative Psychology.

They walked us through their 5 main areas of research:

  1. Deception and interrogations
  2. Memory and Interviewing
  3. Psychological aspects of victimology
  4. Preventing future crimes
  5. Decision making in legal contexts

I want to get my Masters and potentially a PhD in Forensic Psychology, so it was awesome to get a taste of what research possibilities are out there in the field!

For lunch I grabbed the most amazing Pad Thai from Bangkok Street with some girls from my course (fun fact: three out of my five courses are all female!).

In the afternoon we went to Prison Island to complete 35+ escape rooms! I had the best time and definitely got in a workout (but it was worth it because my team got the high score of the day!!!). I’m embarrassed to say that I am incredibly sore from this still. They have locations all over Europe and I HIGHLY recommend.

For dinner we headed to Familijen for an entirely vegetarian Swedish dinner! They served us incredible raspberry sorbet that I am still thinking about days later.

Day 3: ATSUB, Haga, and Heading Home

On Wednesday morning we headed to ATSUB, an organization which provides various forms of support for the families of child sexual abuse victims. This organization was started by the mother of a survivor in 2001, and has provided a safe space for families ever since. Unlike most resources in this field, ATSUB does not actually work with the children, as they are not licensed therapists. This means that no one on the ATSUB team are mandated reporters, fully insuring confidentiality and therefore the ability to speak freely. The goal of the organization is to provide support to family and those close to victims in any capacity necessary (emotional, legal, administrative, etc.). The employees of this organization also walked us through the state of the Swedish legal system regarding child sexual abuse and custody.

After an emotionally dense morning, we headed to a street called Haga. This cozy street has plenty of shops and cafe. Here we found the largest cinnamon buns in the world. I of course also picked up a postcard as a souvenir (a moment of American weakness).

For lunch we ate the most delicious meal at Noot, a Nordic cuisine. After that we did a bit of shopping and headed home on the train!

This trip was an incredible learning experience in regards to the actual inner workings of the Swedish legal system, especially in contrast to the United States. It was also a huge bonding opportunity for my class. I feel so grateful to have been able to go somewhere new to experience and taste new things with good company. This makes me so much more exciting for our week long trip to Scotland in November (stay tuned)!

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