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.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Icelandic Week

I learned a lot from the week on Iceland, because I had known very little about Icelandic culture to begin with, particularly modern Icelandic culture, which I knew nothing about. I thought it was really interesing learning about the delayed road contruction, and belief in magical creatures, particularly when it was mentioned that several people had died during its construction and how this coincidentally aligned with these supernatural beliefs. The film we watched was also very interesting, and added to my understanding of Icelandic culture, atleast through the portrayal of general beliefs and perspectives.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Icelandic Week

I thought learning about Iceland was very interesting, particularly how the culture has managed to survive despite many challenges. In particular, the small population size and geographic limitations of the island. I was really surprised that buildings can only be several stories tall, and must be heavily protected against the elements, and that the entire interior of the island is uninhabited. 101 Reykjavic was an interesting movie. I thought many of the themes were unique and the characters were pretty funny. Despite only seeing a bit of the movie, Augusta seemed to think some of the characters were somewhat representative of Icelandic people; particularly how open everyone is with each other.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


For the majority of my life I knew Iceland as the habitable island next to Greenland.  I always found the irony of Iceland and Greenland to be a 'fun fact'.  That fact being that even though Greenland sounds warmer...its not.
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

Iceland Week

Out of all the Nordic countries, I would say that Iceland is by far the weirdest. I had no idea that it was so much different from the rest of Europe. The craziest thing about their culture istheir religous beliefs and how they've taken different parts of other religions to sort of form their own. I thought the coolest part of it is their belief in elves and especially the story of how the elves stopped the construction of the highway around the country. I thought it was funny that Agusta seemed kind of embarassed by her fellow Icelanders beliefs.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Icelandic Week

Out of all of the countries we have talked about so far, I knew the least about Iceland. So far, I think that I learned the most new and interesting facts about Iceland. Iceland seems like a very fun country and it has definitely been added to my list of places I would love to visit.

I really enjoyed listening to the speaker on Wednesday. I liked the format and how we could ask questions and she was really open to talking about anything. She gave a really different perspective I thought.

101 Reykjavic is the kind of movie where when it ends you sort of wonder what just happened. I thought it was refreshingly honest and showed that Icelanders are able to make fun of probably the worst aspects of their country and also displays their dry sense of humor. I don't think there a lot of of countries that would like a movie released that portrayed their country negatively or in any way controversial. I give major props to the movie for that aspect alone.

Icelandic Humor

101 Reykjavic had a special brand of humor; it was dark, understated, and reflective on Icelandic society.  I might be wrong, but I got the feeling that the whole situation with Lola and her baby was meant to be a hilarious irony as opposed to an uncomfortable dramatic plot line.  Overall, it appears that the Icelanders choose to find many of their daily issues humorous -- not a laugh out loud kind of funny, but certainly a dry kind of humor.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

101 Reykjavik

This movie was so crazy...but it really does show how liberal Icelandic culture is.  It all made more sense once we talked with Augusta.  It was both a combination of "This guy's situation really sucks!" and "This guy is crazy...".

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

Reactions to Icelandic Week

After Icelandic week, I am more intrigued than ever by Icelandic culture. The movie was pretty eye opening in terms of the party seen, and the openness and relaxation about people's sexuality and sexual practices. It disturbed me a bit about the characters lack of care about AIDS and other STDs, and Agusta seemed to indicate that this was still a common occurrence, and not just something "in the movies". Iceland, nevertheless does seem to be a fun place. Agusta's lecture only reinforced this when she spoke about New Year's Eve and the nightlife in Iceland. I am amazed at how the country has grown given its unpopular climate, and lack of resources. However, it does seem as though Icelanders really know how to have a good time!

Reaction to 101 Reykjavik

Wow, that was quite the movie! Obviously I was struck by many of the scenes, just like everyone else, but 101 Reykjavic was pleasantly entertaining. Even though for a while I was unable to see a concise plot to the movie, it did paint an interesting picture of Iceland for us. I am glad that we were able to have a guest today to tell us what is normal and what is abnormal for the culture and citizens of Iceland. I was very surprised to learn that many people live with their parents longer than Americans typically do. It makes sense, however, due to the high cost of rent in Iceland. I did not realize that earthquakes were so common, but hey, that means I'm learning something, right? Iceland week did not disappoint.

Reaction to Wenche's Lecture

I really enjoyed Wenche's lecture last week as well. After reading all of the previous posts, it seems she touched on a lot of issues that left people thinking after class. Drawing contrasts between Denmark and America definitely highlighted the inequality that we face in our country, on multiple levels. As she got into the discussion about gender equality, and other "taboos" that exist in our society, it was obvious that these topics tend to make people uncomfortable - most of us were kind of avoiding eye contact and twirling in our chairs if I remember correctly. I know that Wenche's enthusiasm was sort of unexpected, but regardless I thought that we could have engaged in a much better discussion had we given her more feedback. These are real issues that exist in our society, but we can't really address them if no one is willing to argue about them. If you look at our bipartisan system, and how candidates right now are focusing their platforms on merely opposing Obamas, it definitely narrows the window of important issues that will actually ever be discussed in the political setting. You don't hear any discussion about gender inequality (which is still clearly an underlying problem for women in politics), education, or class inequality. These could provide some reasons as to why our government has such a low approval rating - I definitely dont have much confidence in my governments ability to make progress on any of these issues in the near future. Denmark's striking contrast in approval rating, and their ability to talk to one another (even over serious topics) with respect, may be some reasons as to why they are generally a happier nation. They have a system that provides so much more for all their citizens, and a functioning government that can adjust when new issues are acknowledged.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wenche is Awesome

Like many of my classmates, I really enjoyed Wenche's presentation and felt it brought up many crucial world issues. I think health care was most relevant because it is an issue many American's still debate about. I agree with the Danish system that protects the welfare of all citizens, regardless of income level. Particularly, having dentists employed at schools seems like a good idea, because dental health is integral to all other aspects of physical well-being.


Reaction to Danish Week

Our speaker from Wednesday, Wenche, brought up some interesting and very real problems with our country. Undoubtedly, she gave us a lot to think about, and as I left class, I was considering the different aspects of said problems.

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.

Mifune Reaction

I really ended up enjoying this Danish film.

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.

Danish Week

To start I really enjoyed the Dogma 55 film, the actual plot was kind of confusing and while I was not completely satisfied with the ending, it was an interesting movie to watch and definitely different from anything I have seen before.

Now on to Wenche's visit. I really enjoyed this. She was my favorite speaker by far and I found myself thinking about everything that she had said even after I had left the class. From healthy care to diversity to women's rights she left us with so much to think about.

For me, I know I left really thinking about the women's rights issues that we discussed. I have recently been discussing them in some other classes as well and have recently seen parts of a documentary called Miss Representation. There are a lot of facts included in this documentary that actually are really shocking. Women make up 51% of the population but only 17% of Congress is comprised of women. The US is 90th in the world in terms of women's legislation and there are less women in the US government than in Cuba, China, Iraq and Afghanistan. We are choosing our current nationl leaders from only 6% of the population. Just some interesting facts that were included in the documentary that give a lot to think about.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Comparing Denmark and the U.S.

I think a good point that was brought up on Wednesday was the contradiction between the existence of so many taboos in U.S. society and the idea that freedom of speech and expression is supposedly a key characteristic of American culture. There are so many things that we can't discuss, because we are afraid of offending others, and also there is a lot of intolerance towards people who are just trying to be themselves and just want to be able to have the freedom to express themselves without being discriminated against. For example, people are much less likely to be discriminated against based on sexual orientation in the Scandinavian countries, and there seems to be, in general, a feeling of greater acceptance and openness.  I think Wenche brought up several things about U.S. society that I might have known about, but had never really given enough thought to. When you really look at these aspects of American society, you begin to realize how ridiculous these things are.

Danish Week - Gender Inequality

I thought the presentation was very interesting and engaging. Wenche shed light on many issues that are frequently ignored in American society. The one I was most interested in was her discussion of gender inequality. White American women working full time make, on average, 77 cents to a white males dollar. African American women and Latinas make 68 to 58 cents to the dollar. These figures, probably much lower when part-time employment/illegal employment is accounted for, are completely unacceptable. However, it is difficult for women to advocate for better salaries. Given the current economic state and the fact that many states are at-will states of employment, women often consider themselves lucky to be employed at all. Long-unchallenged traditions of unequal pay and preferential treatment towards men in many fields allow this trend to continue. I think politicians need to become better advocates for their female constituents in order for this pattern to change. Women working for minimum wage, multiple jobs, and many hours do not have the time to advocate on their own behalf and would likely be ignored, or at risk of losing their jobs if they did.

Wenche and Diversity

Wenche was a very engaging speaker--she always knew how to draw out those "class silences" until someone finally responded--and I appreciated her frankness about all the issues she touched on.

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

Danish Week!

Firstly, the movie we watched in class, Mifune, was easily one of the weirdest movies I have seen. And I do not mean that negatively, because I did enjoy some parts of it. I enjoyed the fact that it wasn't your average movie and it was very modern for its time with its rather explicit scenes. Overall, I did like it, even though there were a few moments were I was left in confusion, the movie was well made. One somewhat little thing that I thought stood out in a good way was that they didn't use loud music to play up the emotions of the scene.
Secondly, the guest speaker, Wenche, was very interesting. She made some very good points about our government and overall way of life. I do believe that Denmark and the Danish people as a whole have some great qualities that everyone can learn from; however, just like a few people mentioned already, the U.S. is not as bad as she made it seem. Yes, we do have room to improve but it could definitely be worse. The main thing that I took from her talk was the questions that she brought up. She mentioned our bi-partisan governing style and a few other things that are clearly not working for our country and she said that these things needed to change. I really haven't given it that much thought before, so it was rather eye-opening.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wenche's talk

I really thought Wenche gave a great lecture. She definitely made me think about things in the US in a different light. While many things she said were true, and she did reassure us that many things she said were generalizations, I had mixed feelings on what she said. Denmark is a great model for issues such as the environment, sustainability, and education. However, there are those in Denmark who are unhappy about the healthcare system, and America is not AS bad as she made it out to be. Every country has their respective flaws, and she did a very good job of pointing them out. I was very impressed with her knowledge on such a wide array of subjects, and was just overall really happy we got to hear her speak to our class about happiness, and about differences in our respective countries.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wenche talked about a few of the differences between the U.S. and Denmark but the one that I thought was particularly interesting was when she talked about how Danes talk openly talk about any subject with one another. Unlike here, they don't feel awkward talking about politics, religion, race, or sexual orientation. She said that people over there keep in mind that another person's thoughts on these subjects are just opinions and they don't take them personally.

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.

Gender Equality and Activism

Wenche offered a great number of (very true) insights on American culture and how this country is run, but the one that stuck with me the most was when she asked why women aren't vocalizing their opinions on the wage gap more publicly.  Granted I'm only 20 years old, but I feel like large public protests like Occupy Wall Street have been missing from the US mainstream since the Vietnam War era.  I think the mentality is that because there are so many differing opinions in this country (some of which are held by corporations/politicians/rich people with greater influence,) that it's becoming too difficult to be heard as an individual.  And even if your opinions do reach the ears of the powers that be, forget about anything being done about it.

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.

Danish Week

I enjoyed the discussion that Wenche brought up in class today. It really brought to light how different life in Scandinavia is from the United States. I found the discussion about how the Danes are measured as the happiest people in the world to be great.

It is interesting to think about how different people measure happiness. Is it by your personal fulfillment, relationships with other people, religious beliefs, faith in government, or lack of stress? Whose responsibility is this happiness? In the US, this measure of happiness is completely left up to the individual. It seems in Denmark however, this individual happiness is the responsibility of the entire population and the government. The sense of security that is a given in Scandinavian countries due to their high taxes and sense of social responsibility has a large role in individual happiness.

Mifune Reaction

I found Mifune to be a very interesting film. However, not in the same way I might appreciate a more typical style movie. The Dogma-95 style film almost made me feel like I was intruding on the lives of these people. It was just so raw and seemed very honest. However the honesty was only so believable. The characters' stories were far fetched and seemed to be exaggerated. I don't believe that the marriage between Claire and Kresten would have ever happened. A relationship based on that many secrets simply does not seem possible. Additionally, why would Claire react the way she did and ask for divorce immediately? You would think that she would at least stick around to hear Kresten's story.

There also were a lot of parts of the story that were left unanswered. Like the prostitute friends that attacked Kresten - what really happened there?

Overall, I did not particularly like the film. The story did not seem to be complete. The Dogma-95 style film was an interesting concept, however, without developing the characters further it was a bit lost.

Reaction to Danish Week

Wow! That was easily the best presentation/speaker we've had yet! One particular topic of interest to me was preventive care, specifically in the realm of public health. It's true, it does make economic sense to invest in taking care of the citizens in your country. A little effort can go a long way in terms of a healthy population. What would happen if we took care of each other more? If we looked out for the standard of living for all, instead of just the wealthy. It is no surprise to me that Demark trumps the rest of the world in happiness, and I'm sure the U.S. is nowhere near the top. To broaden this idea, what would happen if we were preventive in more areas, not just in health? What if we invested in education for all citizens? Something to think about. I really think that many Americans, especially the wealthiest of the country, lack perspective.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

After Watching Mifune

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

Finland: Music

The Finland Music class I thought was was very interesting. The lecture tied the movie, Mother of Mine, in with the history of Finland, where the children were shipped out of the country during WW2. The lecture then took the movie, and Finnish history and incorporated it into music. You could hear the East, and then the West, battle, triumph, and peace, all in one song. It shows how Finns are very passionate about their history as a country since 1917.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mother of Mine

What a powerful film.  I can easily say that Mother of Mine told the most intense visual story I have experienced in a long time.  It really hit me when I left class after the first day of viewing and I was still thinking about it on my bike ride home.  I guess what really hit home for me during any WWII film/presentation is that my grandpa was actually apart of it.  While this event seems so far from memory, people still living and, in this case, related to me, were there and actively apart of the events.

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

Finnish Music Response and Social Justice World Rankings

I love the sound of the Finnish language and the fact that the music is so dependent on the natural rythms of the language makes for some really interesting songs.  I especially appreciated the humor of the Finnish people.  Looking to "Land of Sorrowful Songs" as an example, it seems like they choose to laugh about some of the horrible things that humans do as a way of better coping with them.

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

Finnish Music

I really enjoyed class today. The ending of the movie was really good but extremely sad at the same time. Then, the lecture on Finnish music and history was very interesting. I found it very cool that there were so many dynamics to the Finnish music. I also liked the fact that Finnish music had two very different influences, and the two different types of music sound vastly different. The idea that the music is based off of the past and has to do with their history was also pretty neat. Since Finland had such a vastly different history that even its neighboring countries, which in turn made their culture and language different, which I find weird.

Finnish Music

I wanted to start off by saying how much I enjoyed the film and the ending. I liked how everything was resolved and the son and mother finally talked.

The presentation on Finnish music today was interesting and entertaining. I really enjoyed it, it was definitely one of my favorite guest presentations so far. I had some idea of how important music is to the Finnish culture from the times when I lived there when I was younger. The second time I lived in Finland, I lived in Tampere and the swimming pool we used to go to was named after the Kalevala. I thought that was just a fun tidbit that shows how important and how much of a national epic the Kalevala is. I really enjoyed hearing all of the different kinds of music as well.

Finnish Music and History

I was intrigued by Katri's connections of Finnish history to its music and literature. It was neat to see how the oppression by the Russians can be heard in 'Finlandia.' I also agree with Greg that it is kind of strange that Finland uses a different beat and that its language is different from some of its immediate neighbors. I think that Finland's unique history of wars and fighting for independence is what has made it so different from the countries that surround it. It was cool to get a taste of history and its relation to current culture, as it is sometimes hard to make those connections for a country.

Finnish Music

I found the presentation by Katri to be very interesting. I had known that the Finnish language was different than the rest of the languages of the Nordic countries, but I had thought that it was similar to Russian. I was surprised to hear that the language might have come from Hungary or Mongholia. I had no idea that it was basically its own language group.

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.

Mother of Mine Response

I really enjoyed the movie we finished today in class, Mother of Mine. I thought the film was done in a very interesting and believable way. The story of Eero really drew me in. It is such a "real" story. It is the way that people really would react to the complex situation.

An American version of the same movie would have capitalized on the emotions and made it far more dramatic. Instead, it was understated, straightforward, and honest. Perhaps this is a contrast between Scandinavian films and the US.

Another part of the film that I appreciated was the beautiful scenery. Skane seems like a beautiful place!

Mother of Mine

I have really enjoyed watching this film so far. It is one of the most interesting and heart-wrenching movies I have seen in a long time. It's really interesting to gain perspective to life during the war from the point of view as a child as well. The typical world war II movies are from the point of view of soldiers or generals or directly deal with battle. It's interesting to see the life of the children and families who were affected by the war as well. I can not wait to see the end of the movie and see what happens to Erro and whether or not he resolves the conflict with his mother.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I learned lots of cool things ... and then I cried

I loved the breadth of topics that the presentations covered! They gave me a much more in depth look on specific topics concerning the Scandinavian countries. I think that learning about the details gave me a better perspective on why these countries stand for what they do today.

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

Presentations/Movie Today

I am going to attempt a double post here.

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.

Comments on the Film

I also really enjoyed the movie today. I think it's interesting to see a movie from the point of view of a child, because films usually tend to focus on the action of the war itself, rather than the widespread impact it has throughout all aspects of society. On a somewhat related note, if anyone is interested in the WWII era in general, there is a really good Danish film, called Flame and Citron, that I just watched about the Danish resistance in WWII. It's a different country and different perspective of the war, but it is a very interesting movie, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the time period and how the war affected the Scandinavian countries.

Today's Movie

I loved the movie today. I thought that it gave a such a powerful message and an accurate portrayal of what went on in Finland during the war. I was curious about how many children got shipped away, and I am really looking forward to watching the rest of the movie, and seeing what happens to Erro.
I thought the presentations were a great way to learn about things that interest our classmates. They were very informative, and I look forward to the next round of them. The big thing that stood out to me, was that Scandinavia is just awesome... except for maybe the sterilizations. In general, Scandinavia is a world leader in many fields, and has a very rich culture. Like I said before, I'm excited to listen to our next presentations.


I really enjoyed the presentations. It was a great way to learn about a wide and interesting variety of topics that in the end gave a broad picture and outline of Scandinavia. I think what I learned about Scandinavia, like the presentations, is that there are a lot of really interesting topics and cultures that make up Scandinavia and to learn about. Eco-friendliness and technology are forefront and center in Scandinavia, and because of this they are a global leader in innovation. Art, history, nature, culture and traditions are all important as well. While they are involved in and care about the future, they also make sure to place an importance on the past and on keeping and celebrating traditions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Presentation Reflection

Like everyone else, I found the presentations to be very informative and interesting.

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

Paper Presentations

I think the presentations from this past week really helped to sort of describe in detail the types of things we highlighted in our group presentations on the countries. It was great to see so many specific examples of all of the broad topics we covered. It was also interesting to learn about such a wide range of topics from art to sustainability and everything in between. I think it helps us paint a good picture of Scandinavia, while at the same time reminding us that generalizations are just that: generalizations, and their is a lot of specific knowledge to be gained from every aspect of studying the Scandinavian countries, and also by looking at them from the perspective of each individual country. I thought it was interesting learning about prisons in Scandinavia, because it had not been something I had though about before, but when you look at the way they build and run their prisons, I think it's incredible how different it is from other regions/countries, and I found it very interesting. Also, you can see how it fits into the general structure of society, and how they are more focused on positive things and moving forward, like rehabilitation and believing in a person's ability to change, than negative things, like punishment. Just by looking at a smaller aspect of society, we can begin to see a broader picture, and it seems that these more specific and focused studies reflect broad Scandinavian views and are consistent with general societal values.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Presentation Reaction

Overall, I think the presentations in class over the past week have helped give me a more nuanced perspective of Scandinavia. Frequently, many of the positives and negatives about Scandinavia are glossed over and generalizations are made that limit Americans knowledge about the region. The presentations emphasized the diversity of the peoples and cultures throughout Scandinavia. I thought many of the presentations showcased the economic and environmental innovations that are found throughout Scandinavia well. Additionally, the cultural and historical background provided by the presentations was helpful and put some of the group presentations earlier in the year in context. I liked that many people focused on specific countries, highlighting the many unique aspects of all the Scandinavian cultures.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Thoughts

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

Thoughts After the Presentations

Before I took this class, I knew that Scandinavia had high taxes and a lot of government programs. I was a little skeptical of this and I thought the people of Scandinavia would be dissatisfied by it. But through this class and the presentations, I can see that Scandinavia actually has a pretty good system. I am most impressed by the high quality of life and high happiness ratings. It seems to me that even though Scandinavian countries have high taxes, the people are happy because the governments use the taxes in ways that benefit their citizens. Their healthcare system seems to work and the government has programs that directly help out the citizens instead of giving money to the military and big corporations. I am most impressed by the way they try to look into the future by making education a top priority for students.

A Better Understanding of Scandinavia

Over the past three classes of presentations, I feel that I am starting to get a clearer picture of Scandinavian civilization and the important aspects of each country. There were a few central themes of the presentations: innovation, health and wellness, and a high regard for culture. All three categories were covered in the presentations of our five countries, and again in the individual presentations of the last three weeks. Concerning innovation, the Scandinavian countries are not only pioneers in various industries, but they are now applying the ingenuity to solving the global climate crisis. For health and wellness, there seems to be value for healthy development through the lifespan of Scandinavian citizens. Scandinavians are lifelong learners, and they value a healthy and happy population so that everyone thrives, not just the people with the most money. Finally, culture is important to any country or region of the world, but Scandinavians seem to keep culture as a higher priority than some other countries. Whether it is theater, literature, music, sports, or art, Scandinavians keep their history and culture at the forefront of their lives.

Aung San Suu Kyi

I found the Wallenberg lecture very interesting yesterday. Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a lecture that had been pre-recorded, and she gave a good background of what she had been through and the feelings she encountered along the way. Despite winning the popular vote in the 1990 election, she had already been placed under house arrest by the Burmese government for opposing the system in place. She served under house arrest for 15 of the last 20 years, and was just released last year. She stressed the importance of freedom and defined it as "freedom from fear", mainly fear of the government. During her time on house arrest, she still gained supporters and made efforts to educate the Burmese people about democratic processes. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

The real treat came after the lecture, when San Suu Kyi joined us via Skype from Burma for a question and answer session. As students posed pretty challenging questions to her, she was able to rattle off extremely intelligent answers right away with no problem. I was shocked by her eloquence and ability to address every single question. She mainly stressed the importance of non-violent movements, and garnering awareness about democracy in less developed countries like Burma. I'm glad I attended the lecture and gained insight into the issues that the Burmese people face today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New tax on fatty foods in Denmark

A tax on foods high in saturated fat would basically never fly in the United States, but I think it's an interesting idea.  It's a deterrent for buying fatty foods AND increases revenue for the Danish Government!

Learn more here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ingmar Bergman

I really enjoyed learning about Ingmar Bergman last week with Professor Cohen after finishing the Virgin Spring. I honestly had no idea who he really was, so it helped put into perspective just how influential his work was. I can see the how the Virgin Spring would be considered very controversial considering the rape scene, and the conflicting religious implications. After watching that I definitely want to see the Seventh Seal and see just how far he goes in terms of questioning God's existence. It's crazy to think how his personal battles would be reflected in his work, as he himself had a near death experience after which he loses his belief in God. That was relatively early in his career, so the conflict may have been evident through his later works. Bergman's career also was very intriguing because he went from a national celebrity to being exiled from his own country by the government on a botched tax evasion investigation. I would imagine the citizens of Sweden we outraged that their government would oust their own "hometown hero".

Monday, October 17, 2011

Virgin Darkness

I started the "Bergman Experience" with the youtube video that interviewed him on his private island.  It was clear that he was a reclusive man and uninterested in the happenings of the modern world.  I was surprised to see the type of life he had decided to life and what led to him living that way.  By the end of the clip, I realized that I had seen his film The Seventh Seal in high school.  I recalled it being deep fantasy and dark.  Beyond that, I really had no other memory of the plot.  
Going into The Virgin Spring I really had no idea what to expect.  The film appeared to be set in the late 1800s and I feel it achieved representing that time well.  The tradition of the virgin delivering the candles to church was new for me.  Is that something that happens after the spring thaw or is it more regular?  I've always known that virgins, in that time, were regarded as extremely sacred and special, but I was unaware how the non-virgin maidens were treated as such deviants in society.  
The movie followed a fairly predictable course: introduction of the main characters; set the scene for the activity of the movie; the journey to the church, but then the introduction of the old man on the creek and the killing of the virgin were very unexpected events.  I did not understand who, or what purpose, the old man at the creek was or served.  Then the rape and killing of the virgin was a major shock.  The realism and brutality of that scene, I believe sent shivers down all of our spines.  The darkness in contrast to this beautiful spring setting was overpowering.  I started to ask the question to myself, "if this journey is so long or dangerous, why did she almost travel alone or feel at ease during the entire trip?" 
I was puzzled throughout the movie by the involvement of the frog.  What purpose did it serve and what did it represent?   

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Deer Tracks, Swedish Band, Music

Hey all,

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

Movie Response

The Virgin Spring had the special quality of being relevant in today's society despite being filmed about 50 years ago. In the 60s, it would have challenged the mainstream's ideas about sex and violence in film as well as religious ideals. Today, it still encourages conversation about who God is, what his role is in human life, and if there even is a God. I also felt that it posed a question about the validity of capital punishment as a method of justice.

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

Virgin Spring Response

I found the film to be quite interesting. Especially for having been filmed in the 1960s, it seems like it must have brought up a lot of issues in society. The film, comes off quite dark with many controversial themes. The rape scene in particular was shocking to me. I can only image when the film came out it must have been reacted to far worse. What came across the most to me as one of the most shocking issues was the questioning of religion throughout the film.

movie reaction

As I walked into the room, a few minutes late, I was greeted by the scene of the wretched girl (whose name I cannot recall) talking to Odin. The look on her face looked as if she had been possessed and my initial reaction was confusion about what exactly was going on. The one thing that was clear, however, was the fact that this woman is full of evil intentions. This idea was confirmed when the girl Karin was introduced. The scene where Karins mother helps her daughter get dressed allowed the viewer a recognize the contrast between the two girls. Karin is presented as this sweet, young, innocent young lady who is full of joy. Granted she is spoiled by her parents, she is overall, full of goodness. It becomes obvious that Karins parents devote much attention and love for their daughter, while for the stray girl, who is a part of the household, the compassion is lacking. It makes it obvious now, that the stray girl is full of hatred for Karin. This sets the field for what happens next as the girls are set out to town to deliver candles to their church. The events that follow become pretty graphic, when in short, the evil girl abandons Karins presence and sets a couple of woodsmen to brutally rape and kill Karin. The degrees of extreme that the movie quickly jumped to caught me ax a surprise but I am excited to see how Karins father Is going to deal with the men who killed his daughter now that they are spending the night at their farm!

Liz - Movie Response

I was honestly pretty horrified after watching the majority of this movie. It seems to be in-keeping with the theme of morbidity in Scandinavian fiction (children's books excluded). As for what I think will happen next, the girls father has a butcher knife, and they have shown virtually ever other graphic scene in it's entirety, the last scene will probably be no different. Duly noted is the lack of music; it makes for a very exhausting plot with nothing to guide the audience emotionally.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Virgin Spring Response

I thought the movie was excellent. Although I am not a movie buff, I have seen other Bergman films, and they usually include a lot of suspense. This one definitely follows in his tragic and suspenseful themes. I was very interested in the relationship between the father and the daughter, as I felt the mother was jealous of her husband, and wanted to receive more affection back from her daughter, which is why she bent over backwards to please her. I am also surprised the father did not kill Ingerid. She seems to cause a lot of trouble, and it killed me that she just stood there and watched her "sister" get raped and murdered. It was extremely graphic and somewhat shocking to see, however, it really added to the plot, and I cannot wait to see what more is in store and how it ends!

Virgin Spring Response

Like many on this blog have already admitted I had my doubts when the movie first started. It seemed to be a slow moving black and white film with no action. As the movie progressed, I realized how wrong I was, and I found the movie really interesting. After we finished watching the movie on Monday, I did some background searching and found out that the movie takes place in the 1300s and was made in 1960. It was obviously a highly controversial film at the time, but it also won many awards, a lot of which were foreign film awards. The most noted controversies were obviously the rape scene, but also the scene where the boy is throwing up, and it is believed to be the first film that showed that on screen. As for predictions for the ending, I think that the father will murder the guilty men, and I think it will be interesting to see if the film depicts the living sister and the rest of her life and whether or not she feels guilty. I am anxious to see how the movie ends.

Virgin Spring

Virgin Spring definitely started off very slowly, but after a bit it became very suspenseful and intriguing. When it was slow in the beginning, I found myself looking for themes and other cinematic strategies. While cinematic techniques do not have much to do with Scandinavian, or specifically, Swedish culture, one of the themes definitely did. The theme of the Norse God's versus Christianity prevailed throughout the film. To me, it seemed as though Bergman favored Christianity. Ingeri represented the old Norse Gods, while the innocent wealthy daughter represented Christianity. The vast majority of characters prayed to the Christian God for simple and nice things like for God not to smite them on that day. Ingeri, on the other hand, prayed for and "willed" the daughter's rape/murder to happen. However, she did feel extreme guilt and confessed. Perhaps the ending to the movie will shed some light on which religion, if either, Bergman wants to portray as superior.

Virgin Spring Reaction

It appears that one of the themes of the movie is the conflict between Norse mythology and Christianity. The family is Christian and Ingeri follows Norse mythology. I think that this difference in religion helps to show what Sweden was like during the conversion to Christianity. From what I have read and heard, it was almost like one day Sweden wasn't Christian and the next day Christianity was the official religion. So, some Swedes converted right away and other Swedes had no idea Christianity existed. The two religions both remained side by side for many years after the official conversion.

Movie Post

I'm not going to lie when I say that I was completely uninterested in watching this movie. It started out slow and confusing, but quickly picked up into a pretty suspenseful film. I am still shocked that they showed the rape/murder scene. I definitely was not expecting that. Overall, I think this movie is very good and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Bjork in Michigan Daily

Check it out...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bergman's Virgin Spring Reaction

What I found most interesting about the film was its portrayal of religion in Sweden in the 1300s. It reminded me of something we had discussed throughout the Icelandic Sagas class, as the sagas were written around the same time. We focused a lot on the conversion to Christianity, and how it was likely a slow transition as opposed to a sudden and abrupt change. I think the way Christianity is portrayed in the film demonstrates this, in that Ingeri makes references to Odin and the strange guy in the woods seems to practice pagan rituals, despite the fact that this is many years after the conversion and though Christianity was becoming more widespread, the presence of the pagan religion was embedded into their culture and still remained years after converison.

Response to Virgin Spring

For this to be a film from the 1960's, you can tell that it was extremely controversial. But despite the obvious, I really thought there was some unique symbolism. The pregnant sister I felt really represented that there are flaws in every family. The little boy who was with the older brothers who committed rape seemed to feel true sorrow when he couldn't even eat at night. The suspense built was a good process, because everybody is waiting for the end of the film to tie everything together. I also enjoyed some very cool camera shots, like when the father was knocking down the tree with the horizon in the background. I didn't expect to see such great qualities in such an old movie.


Response to Virgin Spring

Usually when I have to watch a movie for a class, I am disinterested and I keep one eye on the clock, waiting to move on with my life. While I was primed with that low expectation for Virgin Spring, I was gradually engrossed by the film. Maybe it is because it is based in a different setting than the movies I usually watch, or maybe it was the attractive blonde girl. Either way, it was a great way to learn about Bergman's work and gain a new perspective on screen arts and Sweden. Besides the educational aspect, this movie is edgy for something that was produced in 1960, and I can't wait to catch the ending on Wednesday!

Bergman Video Response

I was surprised by some of the content of the movie. Particularly the conflict between how religious the family appears to be and how they act. Ingeri is pregnant and scorned by her mother and the father seems eager to get revenge, for example. The rape scene was controversial and unexpected, and probably more so in the 1960's. I doubt it would be in many movies today, due to the graphic nature and sensitive subject matter that would offend a majority of audience members. I felt like showing it seemed unnecessarily dramatic.

The character I found most interesting was Ingeri, the other sister, because she appears to be the black sheep of the family and does not seem to follow their religious beliefs or be very popular with the mother. However, when she confesses to her father about willing Karin's death, he seemed supportive and sensitive. Overall, I also really liked the costumes and the scenery and am curious as to what occurs next.

Virgin Summer Reaction - Sam

I thought the movie was pretty good. Since the movie was created in the 1960, I thought a few of the scenes seemed rather modern for its time. I was surprised there was a rape scene shown, I am sure that scene was very controversial when it came out because I am pretty sure movies back then did not show such provocative and scandalous things. I am actually really interested in how the rest of the movie plays out, and whether or not the father seeks revenge and kills the two brothers who are still alive.
I do wish that I spoke/understood Swedish because event with the best translations you can loose some meaning. Regardless, this movie looks like it is going to be pretty good, as long as the rest of it is as good as what we saw in class already.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Internships in Sweden

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.