Introducing Denmark 101: The Podcast

Hear ye’, hear me!? After creating Denmark 101 videos on youtube for the last couple of years several of you pointed out that it would be much more convenient if you could consume my Denmark 101 series in a pure-audio/podcast format. So, after sitting down and chewing on a traditional Danish licorice pipe for a bit, I realized that you were, of course, absolutely right.

From there, it was only a matter of figuring out just how to make it happen.  These days in addition to running VirtualWayfarer I also work full time with a standard 37+ hour work week and creating content is a fun passion, but also incredibly time consuming.  Just for quick reference, let’s say I’ve shot 2,500 photos during a trip like my recent jaunt to Myanmar and Thailand. I’ll cut that to 1,000 which then get edited. I can edit most shots in, let’s optimistically say, about 45 seconds a piece on average.  That means I’m looking at around 11-12 hours of pure editing time before I make the final cut and then spend an hour or two uploading, tagging, and labeling those photos. That’s not even beginning to discuss video and then writing the actual content here on the site.

This left me with a conundrum. How to make Denmark 101 more accessible for you, but without having to re-record 50+ episodes on top of the content I’m already committed to creating for you. Luckily, I’ve been working closely with my Dad to launch his podcast, Insights into Education [iTunes, Android], which provided me with a great excuse to flesh out my skills and learn just how Podcasting works before progressing with the Denmark 101 podcast. I also had the benefit of being able to pick Evo Terra‘s brain a bit who quite literally wrote the book on the topic and is a prolific podcaster.

The end result? The Denmark 101 podcast which is a hybrid that splices audio-pulled directly from the Denmark 101 videos, carefully edited and re-mastered, with added context and added structure.  While the Denmark 101 video series is already at Episode 50, I’ll be posting one (or more) Denmark 101 Podcast episodes per week. As this post goes live, the first 9 Episodes of Denmark 101 are already available on iTunes and Android.

 

Wait, what’s Denmark 101?

 

In recent years Scandinavia, and in particular the Danes, have been the focus of a lot of attention. The Danish approach is unusual, it’s creative, and has a wonderful mixture of traditions and novel approaches to things which the rest of the world finds absolutely fascinating.  Denmark 101 was initially launched as an effort to share my experiences and observations as a traveler, sojourner, and quasi-expat with a heavy cultural communication oriented background with new arrivals and visitors.

Over time, it’s evolved to be an exploration of Danish culture, traditions, and society that is often viewed more often by Danes curious about an outside perspective, than visitors preparing for a visit to Denmark. Topics that will be covered include the Danish approach to nudity, how to make Danish friends, how to meet Danes, Danish manners, and even a look at Janteloven.

My goal with Denmark 101 has to educate, and make observations, but to avoid the pitfalls that often plague expat narratives and commentary about their adopted cultures. I also seek to deep-dive into Danish culture far beyond the most casual and high level narrative which you’ll normally find on top 10 lists and basic guides scattered across the mediascape.

 

Ready to listen?

Sound interesting?  You can find Denmark 101 in your iPhone’s podcast app where it’s free to stream. To jump to iTunes just click here. If you like what you hear please make sure to subscribe to the podcast to ensure you’re updated when new episodes are posted.

If you’re on your Desktop, use an Android device, or any other type of podcasting device you can access the feed directly via Libsyn here.

Denmark 101 is 100% free. My only request is that if you listen to and like the podcast, that you leave a review in iTunes or consider sharing it with friends, co-workers and family. You are my best advocates and are the key for helping the podcast take off.

Copenhagen Under Siege

It’s just after 2:30A.M and I’m freshly returned to my apartment.  As I write this quick update the majority of the Copenhagen Police department is mobilized with what looks like military backup.  An active shooter remains on the loose in the heart of Copenhagen.  Trains are bypassing Norreport station and all vehicles entering and exiting the area are being checked at Police checkpoints.  In addition to a level of mobilization you almost never see from the Danish Police, they are also armed with assault weapons and in heavy bulletproof gear. They are on high alert and have been targeted repeatedly by the gunman. Right now it looks like at least five officers have been injured by the gunman, one civilian is dead, with a fifth individual also likely dead or in severe condition after being shot in the head.

*The suspect was engaged in a gunfight with Police early Sunday morning and has now been shot and killed* – 11AM (2/15/15)

I spent my evening dancing Salsa and Bachata in the city center.  My evening ended around 1:20AM…shortly after the apparent second shooting by the gunman, which took place near Norreport station at a Synagogue (about a 5 minute walk from where I was).  As we approached Nyhavn my friend and I noticed that it was extremely quiet for a Saturday evening (and Valentines Day no less).  There were two officers standing guard with assault rifles clearly visible.  I assumed it was a show of force for tourists as a precaution after the shooting which had occurred earlier in the day.  It was only as we got closer that I realized they were likely standing guard over the French Embassy which sits kitty corner to Nyhavn.  We spoke to them briefly and they informed us that a second shooting had taken place and advised that we return home.  Abandoning our stroll along Nyhavn we turned towards the Metro. As we did an unmarked van pulled up. It was full of what looked like a strategic military response team.

Advice to Graduates: A Reading List To Become a Literate Global Citizen

Copenhagen - Old Navigation Tools

I offer this advice to recent university graduates. The final months of university and first few months after academic life winds to an end are intense. You learn a lot and you find yourself adapting and trying to filter through the mounds of advice you’ve received. As you strive to pave a path to success, it’s a challenging time when new habits are formed and some old ones are obliterated. One area that doesn’t get nearly enough attention is your casual reading and information consumption habit.

Quite often it’s easy to assume that as long as we glance at USA Today or MSN News once or twice a week we’ll become highly informed and engaged global citizens. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case. I recently came across a study which highlighted the publications that are read in different parts of the United States. You know what it showed? That the people in the more successful parts of the nation were reading publications which were vastly different than those in the less successful regions. This is incredibly important because it stresses the powerful influence of what we read and consume to shape who we are, who we interact with, who we engage with, and the opportunity to enhance our success.

If you expect to engage with people who are active, driven, motivated and successful then you need to be able to carry on a conversation with them – a conversation that understands their area of expertise and passion, that can relate to global events, and which allows you to speak coherently about the world at large both as it exists today, will exist in the future, and existed in the past. In short, social and professional success, both domestic and abroad, is based heavily on your transition to becoming a literate global citizen. To a certain degree this is what your university or masters program set out to help you with. You had to take those general studies courses for a reason! Unfortunately, while these may have laid a solid foundation, in many instances they lacked connection to current events, context, or scope.

The real problem is that unless you find a great mentor or spend hours and hours chasing down less-common publications, it is extremely difficult to build a credible list of publications worth reading on a regular basis. After all, what is credible? What is insightful? What is globally relevant? For many the extent of our dive into news, events and commentary pieces revolves around whatever our parents consumed or was readily available. If they read Fox News, we read Fox News. If they read USA Today, so did we. Many of us decided to avoid reading newspapers and to focus on other areas of interest. These are a few suggestions that have served me well.

Antalya Archaeology Museum

Arm Yourself To Succeed

  1. Understand that there is a large difference between globally-minded publications and nation-specific publications.  Also, that different editions of a news source tend to offer different types of news based on readership. It is also important that you understand that US-based media in general is significantly more conservative than global media, with conservative media in the US highlighting a heavily edited and specialized view of global events and news.
  2. Keep in mind that front page news is usually not the most relevant, useful or even accurate. The things that get the front page headlines are good for a casual conversation over a beer. It’s the other material, however, that will give you the tools you need to succeed in engaged conversation and to chart your path accurately through life.
  3. Read article titles and learn how to evaluate them. While they say ‘don’t judge a book (or article) by its cover’, sometimes it is necessary to avoid getting inundated. Once you establish a familiarity with various news sources and current events, you’ll find it much easier to make an executive decision on which articles to skim, which articles to read in-depth, and which articles to skip.
  4. Don’t be afraid of longer articles.  A lot of the best publications out there offer short AND long form material.  The longer material often offers the depth and context which can be incredibly helpful and necessary when understanding policy or economic issues.
  5. Don’t focus in one specific area. You may be an aerospace engineer, but you should also be reading about news in all other genres and areas of study.

Statues From The Ruins of Perge

The Reading List

In no particular order…

  • Foreign Affairs – Excellent commentary and analysis from a variety of perspectives about the global marketplace.
  • Stratfor – Some of the best and most insightful global issue briefs out there. Sign up for the free intelligence reports. The rest of the content is amazing but too expensive for most of us.
  • Foreign Policy – This publication offers wonderful insights into global, political, military, and economic issues.
  • Financial Times – Excellent financial reporting.  Unfortunately the website is behind a paywall. However a free account gets you 8 articles a month.
  • The Economist – While no longer producing consistent quality, the majority of pieces are usually well written and researched.
  • Bloomberg – Good for news about the US financial markets and some current events from a US perspective.
  • The BBC – Some of the best news reporting left in the business.
  • Spiegel – Quality extended articles from a German/European centric perspective.
  • The Guardian – Another reputable news source with a global mindset and slight European bias.
  • New York Times – Good for US-centric news from a relatively globally minded perspective.
  • Al Jazeera – Some of the best news reporting out there at the moment. Slight middle-eastern bias.
  • PhysOrg – Fantastic scientific news. A must read.
  • In Focus – Poignant photos of current events.
  • NPR – While famous for their radio coverage, NPR articles can also be quite excellent.  Don’t overlook the NPR website for great interviews and news briefs.
  • The Diplomat – News and commentary dedicated to  Asia Pacific.
  • Smithsonian – Excellent articles on a variety of topics.
  • Scientific American – Articles on a wide mixture of scientific topics.
  • National Geographic – More than just gorgeous photography.  National Geographic offers insight into the world at large.
  • The Council on Foreign Relations – Publisher of Foreign Affairs. Has additional material which is useful and relevant to the global environment.
  • Reddit – A social news aggregator.  While it has tons of photos of silly cats, you can subscribe to sub-reddits (topics) in areas you are passionate about. Good for discovering other news sources.
  • TechCrunch – Technology plays an important role in our lives. As do new start-ups.  TechCrunch blogs about both and is good to keep in mind for emerging trends.
  • ArsTechnica – A quality mixture of technology news and commentary from around the web.
  • Breaking News on Twitter – If you use twitter, find a breaking news feed you like and check it every few days.

Nyhavn Details - Copenhagen, Denmark

Tools and Resources To Lighten the Load

Yikes, that’s a long list right?  Heck, to read it all on a daily or even weekly basis would be a huge time drain.  Let’s face it, most of us don’t have time for that, or the energy.  If you did you wouldn’t have time to actually discuss any of the topics you’d have read with other real people!

Ultimately you’ll want to find the right mixture of tools that fit with the technology you have on hand and your lifestyle. Here are my favorites and what I find work well for me.  I strongly suggest evaluating what spare time in your day-to-day schedule is currently being under-utilized. We all spend a fair amount of time waiting for friends and commuting. Getting in the habit of reading an article or two during that downtime instead of sitting bored, playing Angry Birds, or listening to a song can make a huge difference.

  • Google Currents – I love this app for browsing a lot of the news sources listed above quickly and easily while on the go.  I use it while on the bus, while waiting for food at a restaurant, or while relaxing during downtime.  Currents is a simple, but powerful app for mobile devices.
  • Pulse News – Very similar to Google Currents only slightly more streamlined and sexy in appearance. However, the back-end seems to be less able to pull aggregated feeds that combine a resource’s different types of content (eg; VirtualWayfarer’s posts, flickr, and youtube).
  • Facebook – If you are a heavy Facebook user consider seeking out and liking the page for the news sources you like.  Make sure to check settings and to share a post periodically so Facebook is reminded you want to see the latest news and articles embedded in your feed.
  • iGoogle – While fading in influence, the first tab in my browser is always iGoogle.  I have it configured to display the latest headlines from many of the sites listed above.  That way I can browse for interesting articles quickly and easily.

Statues From The Ruins of Perge

Have The Discussions That Matter

This goes without saying but there are few better ways to learn and expand your perspective than to have active discussions on the things you’re reading and learning about.  Remember that one of the most difficult and most rewarding skills you can develop is the ability to ask questions and to admit where you don’t know something. It’s something I struggle with on a daily basis, but something that really does make an incredible difference.  Beyond asking the right questions, make sure to seek out individuals who share your interest and curiosity.  To do this start sharing material and articles you find interesting.  For many of you I think you’ll find that your friends and contacts are a wealth of unexpected knowledge in areas and fields you never would have expected or imagined.

Above all, fuel and nurture your curiosity.  Good luck!

Do you have a favorite news or information source you highly recommend?  Feel free to post it in the comments, just please make sure it’s something more stimulating and useful than MSNBC, Fox News, or the Onion.

Major Updates & Announcements: A Trans-Atlantic Move to Denmark, Interviews and Other Exciting Updates

The Old Harbor - Copenhagen, Denmark

So far 2011 has been an incredibly exciting year.  The last several months have set the stage for wonderful new adventures and drastic lifestyle changes. These changes and accomplishments have been both personal and related to VirtualWayfarer and the Travel Resource Network.

Moving to Denmark

As some of you may be aware, I’m currently based out of Scottsdale, Arizona where I have worked as a Corporate 9-5er since January of 2008. When not on the road or blogging about it, I’ve served as Director of Research for a mid-market, boutique business sales, mergers & acquisitions company.  I’ve had a wonderful time working with my current team and have the utmost respect for them.  That said, I’m excited to announce that Tuesday July 12th will be my last day with the Company and July 19th will be my last day as an Arizona resident.

Just under a year ago I made the decision to start exploring a return to higher education in pursuit of a Masters degree.  Eight applications and several letters of acceptance later I found myself considering two choices:  Georgetown University in Washington, DC or the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.  Ultimately the University of Copenhagen offered me a tuition waiver and the opportunity to realize one of my dreams – to live (and study) abroad.

I’ve accepted a position as a two year Masters student in their Communication and Cognition program where I hope to focus on studying the impact of social media, the web, and virtual worlds on education, travel and social interactions. The program is taught in English and will serve as an exciting continuation of my undergraduate studies at Arizona State University in the department of Human Communication and as a graduate of Barrett, the Honors College.

About the University of Copenhagen (from Wikipedia):

The University of Copenhagen (Danish: Københavns Universitet) is the oldest and largest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it has more than 37,000 students, the majority of whom are female (59%), and more than 7,000 employees. The university has several campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the oldest located in central Copenhagen. Most courses are taught in Danish; however, many courses are also offered in English and a few in German. The university has 2800 foreign students of which about half are from Nordic countries.

The university is a member of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), along with University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Yale University, The Australian National University, and UC Berkeley, amongst others. The Academic Ranking of World Universities, compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, sees Copenhagen as the leading university in Scandinavia and the 40th ranked university in the world in 2010.[1][2][3] Moreover, In 2010, according to University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP),[4] University of Copenhagen is the best university in Denmark and 47th university in the world. The university is generally understood to be one of Europe’s leading research institutions. The university has had 9 alumni become Nobel laureates and 1 Turing award recipient.

As someone who was born in Colorado and has lived most of his life in the United States the opportunity to attend an academic institution which pre-dates Columbus’ re-discovery of the Americas is a pretty exciting prospect.  As an avid traveler, the opportunity to return to student life while re-locating to another country is positively exhilarating. It is my hope that this shift will allow me a significant increase in flexibility and travel opportunities.  Over the past several years I’ve managed to do a lot of traveling.  Still, the lion’s share of that travel was confined to two 18-20 day trips a year where I leveraged weekends, holidays, and unpaid time off to stretch my two weeks of paid vacation to the max. On a student’s schedule and based next to one of Europe’s most modern and central airports, it is my hope that I will have easy (and cheap!) train, plane and ferry access to all of Europe.

What does this mean for VirtualWayfarer? Only good things! It means I’ll be traveling more, writing more, and that in addition to my standard travel advice and travelogue-themed content you can expect additional articles about living, studying, moving, and work internationally!  It also means that I hope to ramp up the time I have available to dedicate to VirtualWayfarer and the Travel Resource Network. That should translate into more posts, more photos, and more advice!  As always, know that I love your questions and am happy to respond to them either by e-mail, twitter, or in a comment here on the blog.  But that’s not the end of the good news!

VirtualWayfarer in the News

The past month has been a very exciting one for VirtualWayfarer and the good news and exciting opportunities are continuing to roll in so expect continued updates and developments.

On the Airwaves

I was recently approached by Portland-based Radio Station KPAM’s Azumano Travel show to do an interview.  The interview was my first radio interview and featured discussion about Iguazu Falls, Argentina and solo travel.  You can listen to the 6 minute interview:  Alex Berger Radio Interview on Solo Travel, Iguazu Falls and Argentina.  The team at the Azumano Travel Show were professional and a pleasure to work with.  I look forward to doing future radio pieces as the opportunity permits.

Becoming A Top Travel Influencer

While I’ve been a vocal voice in the travel social media scene for a long time, I’ve only recently broken into the top rankings.  I’m excited to announce that I’m currently fluctuating between #14 and #20 on the Top 50 list of independent travel influencers in social media.  A rank which is connected to a recent increase in my Klout score which is now fluctuating between 69 and 71.   Klout is the leading social media metric company offering insights into social media engagement, activity and influence.

I’ve also taken steps to actively correct the incredibly inaccurate scores for VirtualWayfarer which traffic ranking sites Compete and Alexa had on file for this website.  This should result in increased visibility for the site and provide the opportunity to break into several other top lists.

Q&A’s

I was recently interviewed by CheapFlights as part of their Waiting to Board Q&A.  You can see the interview here.  I’ve also been approached by several other groups interested in Q&As which should be published sometime over the next few weeks.  I’ll let you know as they go live!

Website Changes and Updates

In addition to working on improving the accuracy of my Alexa and Compete scores I’ve also made a number of important changes to the website.  You may have noticed that there is a new link on the website’s main navigation.  I’ve added a “Press, PR & Advertising” page to the site to make it easier for interested parties to contact me.  I’ve also updated and re-worked the “Alex Berger” AKA ‘About Me’ page with more in-depth information about who I am and what I’m up to.

You may also have noticed the addition of a new free resource to the sidebar. In response to some of the travel-centered e-mail slideshows I’ve received over the last few years I decided to make my own and offer it to my readers for free.   If you enjoy my photography I invite you to view, or download and save, the powerpoint-based travel photo slideshow. If you would like to save it for later, just right click over the link and select either save as or save link as. The slideshow is designed for e-mail and I hope you’ll enjoy it and then choose to forward it on to your friends and family.

I’ve also added a social media bar to the right hand screen, and a visually appealing related posts element which now displays 5 similar posts under each blog to make it easier for you to discover old topics.  You’ll  find several new categories on the sidebar which will sort older posts by region (eg: Europe, South America, Scandinavia etc.).

I am also in the midst of populating content for my new Travel Resource Network website: AirfareBasics.com which is coming soon. Keep an eye on it and stay tuned!

Comments? Suggestions? Questions?  I value your feedback! As always, thank you for reading and making this site and the rest of my network of sites what they are.

VirtualWayfarer and Alex Berger In The News

Tobacco Caye, Belize

Howdy all.  Three exciting updates to share with you all.  So far September has been a great month and included several exciting events!

The first of which is that the above photo which I shot in Belize back in December is today’s featured travel photo on BootsnAll Today via WhyGo.com.  The photo is one of several shots I’ve taken that have been featured as the photo of the day over the last 6 months or so.

Second, if you’re a regular reader of MSNBC’s Travel Tips section you may have noted a familiar name. I was quoted in last Friday’s article by Christopher Elliott of Elliott.org, “Falling Into A Vacation Deal: Autumn is a perfect time to get away – and save money in the process“.   The entire article is well worth a read, however, I’ve included the following excerpt for your immediate review:

Speaking of dollars, off-season getaways can be considerably cheaper.

Where to go? For video blogger Alex Berger, it’s Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Two weeks’ vacation costs him between $2,000 and $3,000, including airfare. “Traveling during the off-season can be a huge money-saver,” he said. “Off season offers a significantly cheaper option for the budget-conscious. Less hassle and increased room availability, most of the time. Greater access to locals. Better insights into local culture and increased camaraderie among travelers.”

Lastly, as those of you familiar with Oktoberfest are well aware, it’s not only one heck of a party, but a party which actually starts in September! I had the pleasure of spending several days in Munich back in 2007 as part of my 3 month adventure across Europe and weighed in with advice in a recent Savings.com article, “Oktoberfest 2010: A Holiday Worth Saving For“.  My advice and suggestions are scattered throughout the article so you’ll have to click on over to see what I had to say.

Eager for more original content?  Stay tuned.  I’ve got several great blogs in the works which will cover the Norwegian Fjords outside of Bergen and the ancient port city of Copenhagen.

Interested in picking my brain?  Feel free to reach out to me via twitter or by e-mail alex [@] virtualwayfarer.com.

Autumn is a perfect time to get away – and save money in the process