Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Presentations and A Doll House

As they were last time, the presentations were fun and informative. I loved this format and I feel like I learned so much about so many different topics. I really think that these helped me understand all of Scandinavia better, from design and innovation to love and preservation of nature to even such little things as cuisine. I think that through these presentations I was able to make up my own themes of what we have covered this year.

The guest speaker for A Doll House was amazing. I think that the one thing from this class that I will appreciate are all of the unique and interesting speakers I had the opportunity to hear. They provided a personal and inside look to all the country and helped me understand everything a little bit better. I actually really enjoyed reading A Doll House. I thought it was going to be dull and boring, but it was actually quite fun to read. I also really enjoyed the speaker, because she gave insight to a lot of things that I would not have picked up on by myself. Overall, I feel like the speakers helped me understand the themes and culture of Scandinavia better.

A Doll House

I really enjoyed reading the Doll House in class on Monday and the great analysis from Kate Mendelhoff, our guest lecturer. It was the first time I read any drama whatsoever since high school, and hearing the dialogue out lout definitely helped reveal the powerful last scene in act 3. Having Kate there to breakdown the whole play, as someone who has directed in the past was a very cool perspective to see. Nora had seemed to play helpless just to live the life of grandeur given to her by her selfish husband, Torvald. She is almost treated like a child, and in the final act she finally garners the strength to come out of her shell and pursue her own personal interests. She questions her religious and moral duties, claiming "before all else, I am a human being". This was a very strong message to send during this the 19th century, and it seems Ibsen tended to push the limits in his work. I thought it was interesting that he had no intention of promoting women's rights, yet the play still ended up sending a pretty iconic message. I also thought the Germans were huge pricks for completely changing the ending (and in turn his message) without telling Ibsen. If I was a playwright, I would consider something like that as the ultimate insult to my work.

Icelandic Week/Presentations/A Doll House

Icelandic Week, which I realize was a little while ago, was very interesting to say the least. The movie 101 Reykjavic was odd but also funny in the weirdest ways possible and I really enjoyed it. I have to admit that Iceland is probably the Scandinavian country that I know least about, so even watching that movie, I was able to learn a little bit. What I thought was the most interesting part of that movie that actually had to do with Iceland, was that fact that although the main character may have not had the ideal life, he was able to live off welfare and not be stuck on the streets begging for food.
The guest lecturer was amazing, as per usual. She was able to clear up any questions we had pertaining to the movie or the culture in general and tell us a little bit more about the culture and history of Iceland. I'm beginning to notice that as a whole, Scandinavia seems more laid back then the majority of Americans and I kind of envy that.
The presentations given in class were very interesting. I loved listening to everyone, and whether it was the cuisine, or the natural parks, I feel like I learned a lot about Scandinavia.
The recently assigned reading, A Doll House, was very interesting to read and I enjoyed Nina and Ben reading the lines towards the end of class. It is astonishing to think about how radical that theatrical piece was for its time. Although I am not a theater/artsy type of person, I definitely respect great writers such as Ibsen.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Doll House / Final Thoughts

It was cool to gain one last flavor of the culture of Scandinavia in the final regular class of the semester. I was hoping we would get to talk more about Ibsen's personal life, as it had an interesting impact on his writings. It was nice, however, to hear some of the lines recited, since it helped us better understand the play.

Hard to believe the semester is coming to a close so soon! Johanna brought up a good point in class today, we all see Scandinavia in a very positive light. I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but I'm sure we can agree that Scandinavia has many good practices and the five countries we have looked at are world leaders in many different aspects.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Cuisine

I thought David did a nice job showing us the variety of foods one could expect around Scandinavia. I recently saw an episode of frozen planet and human planet where shark and whale meets were cut and wrapped in skin/blubber and then buried.  They would then dig it back up in the winter when food was not as plentiful.  It was a way to preserve the food for months at a time and to ensure the family would never be without food....cool how these customs and techniques develop and are still around in present day.

A classic Jewish meal nowadays are bagels and lox. Lox were introduced to the Jewish people while in Scandinavia and then exported to the US during mass immigration.  I think that this is a unique 'traditional' food we share and a great cultural connection we share!

Otherwise, Scandinavian food is clearly under-rated.  All across the world you can see Italian, Japanese, French and Latin foods, but Scandinavian foods are not that prominent.  I look forward to indulging in some good classic and modern Scandinavian foods.

In other words, from everything we've learned...! cant wait to travel to the north!

Presentations - Round 2!

Once again we covered the whole spectrum across the presentations that we saw in class over the past two weeks. From beer to Christianity, from sports to immigration, from national parks to nautical culture, we heard it all! Again, I feel that these are really helping us to understand scandinavian civilization in the present and in the past, and these five countries are world leaders in many aspects. It is pretty cool to see the grand impact and the tremendous initiative that these countries have, considering how small they are. It is also kind of unique how they all have distinct characteristics, yet many similarities as well. It is sad to see this class coming to a close, but I know that I will walk away with a much better understand and appreciation for Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Iceland Week

I learned a lot during icelandic week. I like the fact that during the week, we first started with the film Reykjavik 101, and got a touch of Icelandic culture, along with a humorous odd film. Then when Mrs. Gunnarsdottir came to present, she covered a lot about the country's detail. From my second paper, I noticed that Iceland prohibited alcohol almost thru the entire 20th century. I found it interesting, that iceland has one of the highest depression rates considering the liveliness and partying of the small country. I would sometime in the future like to visit the middle of the country, where no people live, and all nature, ice, and volcanoes reside.