Norway !

What a wild wild week it was in Norway! This blog post is more of a PSA that if you have ever considered taking a trip to explore the beautiful country of the North – DO IT. My trip to Norway was a once in a lifetime experience, and I don’t think there’s any way to do the trip “wrong” when it comes to planning or execution. Some of the things that I thought would negatively impact our trip ended up being the best parts – flying in and out of Oslo meant a much longer drive to get out to the Western coast to see the fjords, but allowed us to drive on winding scenic roads, snaking through forests, mountain tunnels, around rivers and lakes and picturesque villages. Moreover, going at the end of May meant that some of the bigger hiking trails weren’t open yet (such as Trolltunga), but also gave us the opportunity to hike in both snow and summer conditions all in the span of a few days. Preparation was key for the trip, and DNT was definitely a wonderful resource (even beyond their amazing cabin system that provided us shelter for the week). However, the mental prep couldn’t even prepare me for the natural beauty we encountered. Take a gander….

 

Some of the things that I don’t want to forget and feel that others will appreciate:

  • Hiking in the snow and mist to Langavatn cabin, leaving our car on an abandoned stretch of road that was blocked by piles of snow, carefully trying to keep our distance from the iced-over lake we couldn’t see but KNEW we were hiking beside (thank you, map!)
  • Meal times getting later and later each day, having rice and beans, pasta with tomato sauce, pesto pasta, different rice with different beans, tomato soup, peanut butter and jelly, nutella, and tons of biscuits
  • Trudging through the “rough scree” to get to Bakken Farm only to see that the 7-person cabin was being occupied by a 21 person group who weren’t even planning to hike
  • Driving from Oslo to Oyuvsbu on the first day and seeing all of the amazing natural beauty the country had to offer
  • The hardest hike I have ever done (and will probably ever do) from Bakken Farm to Preikestolen – 13 hours total, 12 km, countless variations in elevation (starting at 120m ending at around 800m though), and the feeling of taking a break after finally being done
  • The ferry ride from Lysebotn to Songesand, seeing all the isolated homes along the fjord, reminded me of the boat cruise around Lake Tahoe but far more lonely
  • Discovering the Flugeleiken cabin after mistakingly hiking for an hour but realizing we had a working stove and real beds to sleep on
  • Being in the Oslo Airport surrounded by people after not showering for 6 hours and wondering if other people could smell you (and were grossed out)
  • All of the BEAUTIFUL THINGS that Norway showed me!

Anyways, I could write a whole lot more about the wonderful experiences of the week but Norway TIRED ME OUT. I haven’t had a good nights sleep in over a week, because I was always stress dreaming about the trip before leaving! Now that I am safely back in Copenhagen and have tons to do, I need to get back on track with my sleep schedule, meaning keep this blog post short so I can cook dinner and do laundry (fun!). Here are some more breathtaking shots of the country:

Victory in France

Emmanuel Macron’s win was met with a huge sigh of relief throughout Europe and the world last night. Macron’s victory over right-wing Marine Le Pen represents a symbol of hope for citizens everywhere, that society can stand above hateful rhetoric to choose a suitable official.

Following the election of President Donald Trump, fear of the rise of populist parties has been a common topic. Specifically in Europe, where anti-immigrant sentiments are coupled with suggestions of the breakdown of the European Union, this fear has been particularly strong. After the Dutch election earlier this year, where a right-wing populist party was also defeated, all eyes were on France.

The election of Macron signifies that we should trust our systems of government. Although many claim that American democracy is being threatened, at the end of the day, it has functioned just as it’s intended to. Giving a voice to the people, and responding to what the people want. What’s necessary for moving forward is showing people that what they want is not discriminatory policies and offensive representatives, but a leader and government who can unite a country.

This semester I have thought a lot about the rising popularity of the right-wing, the return to nationalism and the social divisions that are plaguing societies around the world. My time in Denmark has shown me that even a society that is so seemingly perfect is vulnerable to ethnic divides, and that the U.S. does represent one of the best examples of cultural exchange within one country. I know that my national bias is coming through when I praise the U.S. so highly, and I won’t deny that I’m partial to the American approach to life. Watching the movie Pearl Harbor last night had me so emotional, I even surprised myself with my patriotism.

I think what I’m trying to communicate is that things may seem bad right now. In the first 100 days of his presidency, Trump has already rolled back many important program and jeopardized the wellbeing of millions of Americans. Britain is leaving the European Union, threatening one of the foundational institutions to European cooperation and international stability. The refugee crisis continues to worsen, North Korea is becoming increasingly aggressive on the world stage, and the threat of terrorist attacks is still prevalent in many places around the world. I could list all of the ways that our world seems to be falling apart at the seams, how the citizens of today seem to be myopic to how their actions affect the citizens of tomorrow (cough cough, climate change).

However, it’s the little victories that remind us that things can get better. The Dutch and French elections are just small pieces in the puzzle that is European politics and international relations. They serve as an opportunity for the world to remember that things change – governments, communities, individuals – and that these changes can be for the better. It may seem bad right now, but history has shown us that things can be worse. We need to move forward with the knowledge of our past mistakes, looking to a brighter future and reimagining what’s possible.