Nordic Conversations Are Different

Silence. It is something Americans hate. In your typical American conversation you’ll rarely find such a thing as a comfortable silence, a reflective silence, or a natural silence.  For the average American in a normal conversation there’s really only one type of silence and that is awkward silence. A type of silence that we’re taught from childhood to avoid at all costs. This stems in large part from the American conversational approach which I think can best be described as conversational layering with each person quickly layering on new overlapping information in rapid succession. Add in the fast-paced rapid-fire approach to speaking common among most Americans and you’ve got a recipe for frustration and perceived arrogance when talking to Nordics / Scandinavians (and other internationals). 

Absolute Control – Weekly Travel Photo

Heads turned upwards towards the sky, we watched as three airplanes flew in formation above us. They cut across the airspace over Copenhagen before lazily looping back around for a second pass.  This time we looked on with baited breath as a small dot separated from the lead aircraft and plunged towards us. A few brief seconds passed before the familiar sight of a precision parachute blossomed behind the dot which was quickly taking the shape of a man.  After enjoying a few lazy spirals he positioned himself roughly over the portion of the Norrebro lakes which had been transformed into a wet-water splashdown zone replete with white targeting buoy and two lines of floating landing zone markers.

Your First Two Months Will Define Your Study Abroad Experience

I remember the surreal exhilaration as I took that first step onto Danish soil.  Even as a veteran traveler I still couldn’t help but feel a bit like Neil Armstrong as he stepped out from the Lunar Lander into the unknown.  For me, it was the start of a two-year full degree program at the University of Copenhagen and a radical change from my lifestyle over the previous three years spent working 9-5 in the mergers and acquisitions industry. I was incredibly excited but also positively terrified. Living it at the time was a bit overwhelming but, as I look back, it was one of the best experiences of my life.  It was also a major learning lesson where I made mis-steps and could have done some things better. Overall though, I made a lot of great decisions and have relatively few regrets.

Danish National Museum in Copenhagen

Over the past few years I’ve worked with a lot of international students who have been engaged in a variety of different programs which range from semester exchanges to multi-year full degree programs.  In so doing I’ve noticed a couple of trends which are deeply ingrained in human behavior which can do a lot to shape how much you get out of your international study experience. Chief among these is tied to your behavior during the early-arrival period and how you form your daily routines.

Read Travel Blogs? Be Careful.

It’s no secret that many bloggers have been able to monetize somewhat through the sale of links to search engine optimization companies and digital brands.  This has led to a sort of dance between bloggers, Google, and SEO professionals which is utterly confusing and complex. Are they any different than traditional ads? Does the intent matter? Are they misleading readers? etc. and the reality is that several high profile bloggers have come out and talked a bit about how they were funding their travels using this approach (on high volume) until it started to undermine their relationships with their readers, incurred the wrath of Google, or a bit of both. Others have established secondary sites that essentially serve as dumping grounds for these links and content. Yet others have been far less scrupulous and completely forgone the wall between paid content/endorsements/links/disclosure and genuine written material. What I find particularly disturbing about this is that it seems to be an increasing trend, particularly as rates for other forms of advertising/compensation decrease.

Patagonia’s Famous Glacier – Weekly Travel Photo

The crispness of Patagonia’s pristine air, the crunch of a light layer of snow under boot, and the periodic sound of thunder as a small chunk of the Perito Moreno Glacier calves – sending tons worth of ice cascading down ice cliffs and into the gorgeous blue-gray waters of the freshwater lake that serves as birthing ground and cemetery for one of the world’s great glaciers. I can think of few more relaxing or majestic sights in the world.

Situated outside the sleepy service town of El Calafate in the heart of the Patagonia region of Argentina, the Perito Moreno Glacier stands vigil as gatekeeper over a strange landscape. The open plains that El Calafate rest in are rugged, dry, and consist of little more than sand deserts and low-scrub brush. The winding streams turned extra-ordinary grays and blues by the glacial waters and sediment crisscross the landscape etching out strange patterns while giving life to unusual green belts. And yet, the foothills which quickly give way to the towering mountains of the Andes are a complete opposite.  With lush vegetation, ferns, moss, cascading waterfalls, and beautiful forests the approach to and path along the Perito Moreno Glacier is completely different. Marked only by the barren baldness of sheer cliffs and the rich blues and pristine whites of the glacier itself.

This post was made possible in part by the support of our partner who provides exciting holiday package deals all over the world. Planning a trip to South America?  The effort of getting into the depths of Patagonia’s remote wilderness is well worth the effort and cost.

Make sure to head over to flickr to see the rest of the album. Would you like to see previous Weekly Photos? View past travel pictures here.

Life Abroad a Dhow in Dubai – Weekly Travel Photo

Much of what we see about Dubai focuses on the flash, the glamour, and the city’s opulence. Yet, that is only possible because of the tens of thousands of working class folks who brave Dubai’s scorching heat and brutal humidity on a daily basis, all in the hope of scraping together just enough money to survive on.  These folks are often hidden from sight as locals and tourists alike frequent the city’s grand malls, wide boulevards, and awe-inspiring structures. Despite being nearly invisible these hidden people are the foundations upon which the city survives and thrives.

My New Nordic Conversion at BROR

It’s not often that you find yourself sitting in a restaurant staring at the menu and feeling like you’re proof reading the description for a porno.  I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater but I quickly realized that my meal at BROR was going to strip me of more than one type of virginity.  With bull’s balls, mackerel sperm, cod’s lips, cod’s cheeks, and all sorts of special sauces it was clear that I was in for what, as with any first time, was bound to either be a delightfully pleasurably undertaking or an awkwardly memorable and unpleasant experience.

Tavarnelle – Tuscany’s Hidden Secret

For those with a sense of adventure and a lust for discovery there are bountiful wonders to be enjoyed beyond Florence’s historic old city.  It starts with a southerly trip down Via del Serragli to the massive wooden gates of the Porta Romana.  This, the old gate to Rome, serves as a modern day portal between the bustling streets of Firenze and the Tuscan countryside. As we set out to explore, accompanied by a group of local representatives from the Tavarnelle Tourism Board, our goal for the next three days was simple – to discover and wander the often overlooked wonders, tranquil beauty, rich history, and succulent flavors of the Chianti countryside. Our destination was the commune of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, which falls under the Province of Florence due to its close geographic proximity.