SI scholar Saujanya Shah says ‘be a tourist at home’

Saujanya Shah from NFGL Local Network in KTH shares his thoughts on traveling and exploring your own country.

SI scholar Saujanya Shah says 'be a tourist at home'
Photo: NFGL Local Network in KTH

Tourists have the incredible ability to see things on the bright side. A tourist walks down a filthy road and sees the only flower blooming at the end of it. Locals only see filth. When visiting a new place, switching to a positive attitude is easy. So, why can we not enjoy our own cities like tourists?

You may be from Syria, the United States, Russia or Nepal. It does not matter. What I’m talking about is the radius of a few hundred kilometers around the place where you have lived most of your life. How well do you know your hometown? Do you know the best place for a cheap meal or the best park to relax with friends?

I first thought about this famous statement everyone will hear when talking about exploring a new city: “It’ll cost a lot.” It is true, for the most part. It costs a lot for travelling and booking a hotel room in a new destination. You need to plan well in advance to save on skyrocketing plane and accommodation prices.

Photo: Saujanya Shah from NFGL Local Network in KTH

I come from Nepal. A country which charts on the list of places to visit for a vacation or an extended getaway. But, I am a Nepali who hasn’t been to any of those mountain peaks or even to their base camps. I realized what an awful tourist I was when I first wandered outside my country.

While in Bengaluru, India for my bachelor’s studies, most people were surprised when I told them I come from Nepal. They expressed their intentions to visit my country to explore its wonders. They already knew by heart where they wanted to go, how they’d get there and what they would see. I felt like a citizen from a beautiful country I had never visited.

Now let’s talk about what I did while in Bengaluru after realizing I never explored my own country. I made up my mind: I would, from then on, be a tourist wherever I am. I decided to visit places, explore all the beautiful things to see around me. I explored what Bengaluru had to offer in its diversity.

You may live all your life in a place and never know how it is feels like to take a dip in the lake only a couple of kilometers away from your home. You may never experience sitting on the edge of a famous cliff, even though thousands of tourists spend significant amounts of money to go there.

Try not to leave a place unexplored in your own vicinity. Often we forget or get used to our own surroundings. I can assure you, you will never regret knowing your environs a little better.

Go out. Be a tourist in your own place, you don’t even need a holiday. A weekend is more than enough to get out of your usual routine. Don’t set back from being a tourist in the hopes of having a lavish destination. Be a tourist in your own place!


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.