Tuesday, December 6, 2011
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
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
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!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Through this class and week, my eyes have been opened. I knew that Iceland would be beautiful but had no idea that the center was uninhabited and all the cities surrounded the island on the coast. The fact that one small island has beaches, mountains, plains, snow/ice, volcanoes and caves baffles me! How cool!
The film 101 Reykjavik provided the perfect look at life in Iceland. There are many similarities and lots of differences to here, but what we share is unique. I liked how open there society is to everything...sex, drugs, sexual orientation, class differences. It, like Scandinavian, is a model of how the world can co-exist with many different types of people. The film was also just generally hilarious!
Our guest speaker really reinforced the themes the movie laid out. She did a great job connecting the winter lifestyle to the crazy partying, late nights, open sexual landscape, and drug use....while I would never want to go in the winter, Iceland is now a top summer destination for me. The rafting, kayaking and general adventuring is too good to pass up!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Putting myself in his shoes, I would probably react the same way. Frankly, when he decided to kill himself with AIDS, it was probably a top 3 funniest moments in the class so far. It was a good movie and I really liked it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
One huge and obvious difference between the United States and Scandinavian countries is the size. In most ways, our country is bigger, so helping 'the many' and instating solutions that will be all encompassing is more difficult than in a country with only several million people. Not everyone can agree, and not everyone is in a position where they will be affected by government legislation.
As college students, while we are not directly affected by many of the problems Wenche mentioned, I feel we are aware of them, and it can be very frustrating to think about when no solution is clear. There is no simple solution, and the only thing we can do is try (both collectively and individually) to fix these problems one at a time, by getting involved in our government, coming up with ideas, communicating with each other, taking a stand in our everyday lives, etc. etc. It's a process, one that will likely take many years.
The strict set of rules that are a part of Dogme films gave Mifune a disticntly different flavor than that of an American film. One of the stipulations of the Dogme is that no artificial lighting may be used. Another is that no sound outside of what can be recorded with equipment on set may be added. That really impressed me because it seems like it would be a very limiting factor.
Also, the rare instances of music in the film (like the living room scene with the man playing the guitar) were made all the more special because they were part of the story. It was almost like a breath of fresh air. Music is something an American film viewer takes for granted because it often informs how we are supposed to feel about a particular scene or gesture.
Overall, I really enjoyed it.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
One thing that really ate at me though was not that she did such a job of pointing out America's flaws, but that she did not give the country credit as to why those flaws exist in the first place. The biggest thing that came to mind was America's sheer size and diversity.
Denmark is a small and relatively homogeneous nation in comparison to the United States, and so it is in poor taste to blindly compare the two countries' cultural, political, educational, and corporate policies with no reference as to why those differences exist. It's like saying a wholly mammoth an amazing creature but it is too hairy, bulky, and slow moving in comparison to this African elephant. Well, of course it would be! A wholly mammoth had to evolve and adapt in a different environment with different challenges. It's difficult to expect two organisms, if you can think of countries as one functioning unit, to evolve the same characteristics and habits if they develop in varied environments.
It's important to me for people to understand that it's ignorant to neglect America's shortcomings, but it's even worse to ignore why those shortcoming exist in the first place. For example, America's literacy rate, defined as the percentage of citizens of age 15 and over who can read and write, is actually 99%--giving a 20% allowance for new English speakers who would indeed have difficulty using the language at first. Wenche's comment about a nation wide 50% literacy rate was a bit ridiculous and I would like to see her source and reasoning for that. Perhaps she was looking at a specific neighborhood where the demographics and racial diversity do not lend itself to be predominantly well-versed in the English language. Denmark does not have this problem to the same degree because it has significantly more homogeneity in its population--though I'm sure I can find a neighborhood where the predominant language is Turkish or Somali and the Danish literacy rate would be 50% there too.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Since I have lived in the U.S. my whole life, this concept seems alien to me. I feel that, in this country, everyone is afraid to voice their opinions because they are worried that someone else will be offended. I think it is great that Denmark hasn't become so "politically correct" that they can't have conversations about real subjects.
This is kind of a side note, but I also feel like when people take action and organize they're immediately labeled "radical" in the US. Every Occupy Wall Street protester is a dirty hippie that's looking for a handout from the rich. And every feminist in the 60s was a man-hating, bra burning lesbian. Instead of embracing the fact that these people are passionate enough about their cause to accelerate public discussion, change, and improvement, the media and a good chunk of mainstream America can't get over the disruption of the status quo.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
I admired the movie very much. In many ways, Mifune is about family, and about how, no matter how hard one tries, it's ultimately impossible to hide - the truth, as they say, will find you out. There are times when Mifune's storyline stretches a little too far but, the strength of many of the film's individual moments makes up for it. This movie is built upon unique characters, evolved relationships, offbeat comedy, and great acting. There is also a lot of emotion.
Much of the film is on the farm and shows how each of the characters fulfills a need in the others. In the end, they come together as a unit. They come to terms with themselves and each other. And, despite Mifune being dramatic, it contains some bizarre comic relief. The prostitute is an amazing actress.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Also, I never know about the relocation of Finnish children to Sweden. In my life there, has always been a heavy focus on the Holocaust of WWII and the effects/consequences of that. So to be shifted outside of Poland, Germany and the Uk and placed in Scandinavia was eye opening.
The story was incredible sad and heartfelt. Actually, totally unexpected. Beyond the obvious story-line and events that took place. Seeing the methods of transportation and communication used at that time in Scandinavia were elements that I was using to compare Scand to the US at that time. It appeared that the technologies were very similar in those places. Seeing the country-side of both Finland and also painted a nice picture of the landscapes in those countries.
I liked how the story was organized. Starting with Eero as a grown up finally ready to talk to his mother and his mother distant and indifferent. As the story unfolds, his relationship with his mother changes dramatically in many directions. This can also be said about his relationship with his other "mother", Signe. Thought it was interesting how those relationships played off eac other.
In the end, 2-thumps-up in my book. Definitely a movie I will recommend in the future and an important topic to understand in the history of Finland and Sweden.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Scandinavia was also in the news this week and all 5 countries topped a listing of social justice by country in the NY Times.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Katri said that much of Finnish music uses a five-beat scale and that, like the language itself, it is somewhat similar to music from Far East countries. I think that showed when she played some of the music. If I hadn't been looking at the people on the screen, I would've thought that it had been music from Asia.
Overall, it just seemed strange that Finland is so much different than its neighbors when it comes to their language and culture.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
I had no idea so many children were sent to Sweden alone during World War II. I had always heard of entire families escaping the war together (or at least sending children away to other family members or friends elsewhere.) I'm sure that many children experienced the same feeling of neglect and loss that Eero felt after his mother sent him away. I found it interesting that motherly love seemed to slowly transfer from Eero's biological mother to Signe. I'm sure that the first reunion between Eero and his biological mom will be awkward and possibly cold - but I'll probably cry anyway.
Monday, October 31, 2011
I thought the presentations were very informative. I learned a lot about subjects that I probably would have never learned about, like Swedish prisons and Finnish logging. I found that each presentation gave me enough information to get a good picture of what the subject was about and sparked an interest to learn more about it. I look forward to the next round.
Now switching gears, I found the movie today extremely enjoyable. I was hooked right from the beginning and I can't wait to find out what happens. The story line is very intense and I can't say that I've seen a movie that is anything like it. I'm pulling for the boy to stay with the Swedish family, but that's just my opinion.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I was especially surprised by the Swedish Eugenics presentation because I had no idea that actually happened, and so (relatively) recently at that! The Nuclear Power information caught me a bit off guard as well. In 1980 Sweden actually planned to close all their power plants by 2010? What a surprise! I would not have though that from the reputation Scandinavian countries have about their "green" cities and culture. Though it is important to remember that Nuclear energy is not renewable, but is preferable to burning coal because of the extremely limited carbon emissions involved in the energy system.
However, listening to all the good, happy, and "better-than-thou" presentations about Scandinavia actually made me curious about what the countries actually do wrong! You can't truly understand a country or a region if you only know its positive aspects--that's only half the story. Perhaps that's why I found the Eugenics and Nuclear energy information so impressionable. I'll be interested to hear more about the controversial and "hot" topics in Scandinavia.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I have learned so much in the past three days, thanks to everyones’ presentations. Previously, I knew very little about Scandinavia. I was aware of silly things such as IKEA and Volvo and a few broad things like the eco-friendliness and high taxes, but I now know so much more. Scandinavia has been leaders in vastly different subjects areas for a long time. The rest of the world has a lot to learn from them, anything from the production/distillation of vodka, to the health care system. It seems that they all have a great sense of happiness, wealth, health and government and it really makes me want to study abroad there this summer.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Learn more here.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I've taken advantage of my fall break to update/organize parts of my music collection (what little there is, I don't know what I'd do without Pandora). So I was surfing Amazon's free mp3 songs/albums when I came across and downloaded the song "Ram ram" by The Deer Tracks. It was a song in an album called Scandinavian Gold. I didn't realize they were a Swedish Band until I listened to the one song and then they started speaking Swedish.
I did a quick google on them and it's funny how "stereotypically scandinavian" the band is in the sense that they are very nature oriented. The band has it's recording studio in a wooded cabin and takes breaks "splashing in the rivers". Just thought it was an interesting piece of information I stumbled upon and wanted to share. Here's their website if you want to read more about them:
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I was especially impressed with Bergman's ability to make the rape feel as violating and uncomfortable for the viewer as it did despite it not being outrageously graphic by today's standards. The actions of the characters included subtleties that added numerous layers to the their motives and the story as a whole. This is why it was so interesting to hear from Professor Cohen about different aspects of the movie. He pointed out the meaning of details that I hadn't even considered. I currently plan on watching The Seventh Seal over fall break -- he basically made me a Bergman fan over the course of his talk.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
It is very fascinating to listen to people talk about their experiences abroad, especially since they went to an area that I am also interested in. And just as Nina pointed out and Mackenzie said, it is so much easier to listen to these people talk and learn from then, rather than the usual route of memorizing hard facts with no real knowledge of what these facts mean.
It was great to listen to Collin and Andy talk about all the fun they had in Sweden and it makes me even more excited to study abroad in Sweden this summer. I even have this idea or hope of finding a job dealing with my major (biomedical engineering) that allows me to work out of the country and travel. Overall, I found their presentations on their experiences very insightful and I really enjoyed having them come to our class.