Travel

The sooner, the better!

I hope everyone is doing wonderfully!

It’s funny how little things can influence you to make big decisions. I wanted to wait until I had debt payed off and a savings before I applied to graduate school; but stepping foot back on the UCSD campus to pick up my cap and gown was like going back home. The sooner I earn my Master’s Degree, the better. I’m really leaning towards applying this fall for programs that begin next year.

My only problem? Specialization! I need to familiarize myself with the faculty at these universities, their research, and figure out a geographical and topical focus before I apply. Any ideas? 😉 (Keep in mind, I would need access to the resources. For example, if I’m focusing on Mayan petroglyphs, I would need to travel to Mesoamerica for the research.)

What do you think? 🙂

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Goodbye, Sweden!

It has been an amazing 6 months. Yes, it went faster than we expected. Sweden is such a beautiful country with a rich and exciting history. As mentioned in our “What Have We Learned?” post, this experience has solidified many of my UCSD lessons and given me a taste of what it’s like to be far away from home for a relatively long period of time. We’ve already summarized what we have learned and posted our reflections, so I’ll just thank all of you readers for following along! 😀 We are so excited to go home; but we will definitely keep Sweden in our hearts.

Although it will be several years before we take another trip, this blog will continue to function as a means to communicate my work and progress in archaeology. If you are interested in learning about my ongoing studies, work, and current news in the field of archaeology and anthropology, continue to follow along! 🙂

I want to extend a heartfelt and special thanks to the Gilman Scholarship Program and the Swedish Women’s Educational Association for their generous support. If there are any undergraduate readers out there, I strongly recommend studying abroad in Sweden! If you do, visit the links above and visit your campus study abroad office to apply for those scholarships. Sweden has so much to offer everyone. As you’ve read on this blog, there is a tremendous amount of archaeological sites and museums to visit. Lund University also offers unique opportunities to students from various fields. A couple of my fellow exchange students each had the opportunity to work full-time in labs for course credit! I believe one was working in Chemistry and the other in Neurology. Consider studying abroad in Sweden. You won’t regret it! 🙂 Even for those who are not in college, spend a week or two in Lund! You can travel the Skåne region and across to southern Denmark with ease. The public transportation system here is fantastic and allows the travelers to get the most out of their visits.

Thank you, Sweden, for an enriching learning experience! 🙂

Sincerely,
your friendly neighborhood archaeologist ♥


New Year Celebration in Malmö

We didn’t plan to do anything for New Years except stay up in our apartment watching movies. It turns out we were treated to to quite a show anyway. Let me back up. Fireworks are legal in Sweden (unlike in Southern California). Starting the day after Christmas, we were treated to a constant barrage of the whistle and pop of small firecrackers and bottle rockets every few minutes, 24 hours a day. At first I thought maybe it was a Christmas tradition and it would die down. But the frequency of the bangs only increased as the days went on. As we got closer to New Years Eve I realized that the Swedes probably had a stash of fire crackers saved up for New Year. But why were they wasting them? They were going to run out. At 11:59pm Dec 31st, I thought we were going to be treated to the whiz bang little bottle rockets and people hitting pots and pans together like in California. HA! Did I ever underestimate them! At around 10 minutes to midnight, I began to hear louder bangs and much more frequently. So I grabbed my camera phone and when to the window to see this.


(Sorry for filming it sideways. You may want to watch it in full screen mode.)

As you can see, Swedes apparently stockpile a huge number of full-sized fireworks for New Years. I’ve never seen such an amazing display, and that includes the time I spent 4th of July on the deck of an aircraft carrier. During the first few minutes of the video you can see people launching full sized fireworks from the lawn literally just outside our window. That is, until they had 3 ground explosions in a row and decided to call it a night. At about 7:50, the display really picks up. And then a few minutes later, someone launches 3 red signal flares. It felt like being in a warzone. It was quite an impressive display.

Happy New Years!


God jul och gott nytt år!

That’s Swedish for “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”


What Have We Learned?

Over the next few weeks, we will be preparing for our return. I am gathering all of my completed schoolwork and refreshing my mind on older material. We are cleaning, organizing, and getting everything else in order. It’s also time to ask ourselves the famous question for any young adult who spends so much time abroad: what have we learned?

Erin:
I often hear students explain the “life-changing” experience of studying abroad. I hear others explain that it hasn’t taught them anything. As for me, there hasn’t been anything “life-changing”; but there has definitely been lessons that will guide me as I progress in life and in my career. I think the reason for this is the fact that I studied Anthropological Archaeology. As a student of anthropology, the lessons of cultural relativism are firmly etched into my mind. I already knew about other cultures and how to strive for objective perceptions. So the main lesson I learned involved the feeling of spending so much time away from home. I was considering applying for grad programs abroad (which last for about 2 years), but I realized how difficult it is for me to be away from my home country. I knew that I lived and breathed American culture, but I had no idea that I would miss it so much. So, I decided to apply only to graduate school programs in America (preferably the West Coast.)

Related to that is the fact that I never truly felt my American bias until now. Again, as a student of anthropology, I truly understand that (and how) I perceive everything through a culturally-constructed filter; but I never felt it in action. Strangely, I didn’t feel this during my 2 week trip to Italy a few years ago. It was only after settling and living here that I felt it at work. For example, Swedes are not as openly friendly as Americans. Most of the time, if you get bumped, they don’t say “I’m sorry” or “excuse me.” When you are shopping in most stores, the employees do not greet you; they don’t even help you unless you ask. At first, I was a little disappointed. I would think, “Do you not want me to buy your product?” or “you bumped into me, you’re excused.” I realized that Swedes take anti-social behavior (at which I am particularly adept) to a whole new level. (The fact that I was respectful and flexible during this trip goes without saying.) This was my American bias at work. There are many other examples and stories to help illustrate this point, but it would take far too long to type. 😉 I live and breathe “America.” My UCSD lessons were solidified through this experience.

This long trip has also put many other things into perspective. In a nutshell, it strengthened my feelings toward the people I hold close to me. One of my anthropology professors joked that the majority of anthropologists are misanthropes…I realized that I definitely fall into that category. 😉 My favorite archaeology professor joked that archaeologists are anti-social…again, I fall into that category, as well. Before my trip, I was neutral about my “anti-social” tendencies; but after this trip, I realized that there are positively good aspects to it. Call me an individualist. I choose to have certain people in my life, and I choose not to have others. My life is just that: my own. So what better way to live your life than to spend most of it with people who you truly and intensely love? 🙂 That is not to say that socializing with acquaintances is a chore; I mean only to say that I prefer time with loved ones over time with acquaintances, and I prefer to spend the majority of my life with those special people. I am happy to say that everyone close to me at this time is everyone I want close to me.

Mike:
A lot of what Erin said is what I wanted to say too. You can’t quite understand how different cultures are from American culture, even in a western country. I don’t think even a vacation here would have taught me this, I had to live here to learn it. Lots of things during my time here made me feel that way. One simple example is when we went to Part City to buy our halloween costumes and I realized that the building that party city resides in is older than my entire country. America is not the center of the world. Of course I already knew that, but I didn’t really know it until this trip.


Museums, Mikkeller, and a Christmas market!

Greetings, everyone! Erin, here. 🙂

Mike and I had one of the best days here, so far! We spent 13 hours exploring a different part of Copenhagen, browsing museums, having great conversation in a local craft brew pub, and wandering the colorful grounds of Tivoli (an amusement park done up for Christmas)! [Mike Edit: My feet are telling me it was actually 13 days, not 13 hours.] We began our day at the National Museum of Denmark. We both fell in love with every object! We were especially struck by the Gundestrup cauldron, a ritual cauldron made by the Celts of central Europe. It dates back to around the La Tène culture period, one of Mike’s favorites! [Mike Edit: The La Tene culture was an early celtic culture from Switzerland.] Below is a picture of this beautiful cauldron and others taken at the National Museum of Denmark.

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After we visited the National Museum of Denmark, we wandered around Copenhagen after lunch before meeting my teacher at the Glyptoteket. This museum houses TONS of classical sculptures from Rome, Greece, and France. There was also a temporary Polynesian exhibit. Mike was like a kid in a candy store. Everyone split up from the teacher (after we met with her at the entrance so she could so very kindly grant us free admission 🙂 ), but I had my own teacher with me the entire way! We spent hours browsing around as Mike would see a classical sculpture and tell me exactly who is being portrayed, what is being symbolized, and the mythology behind them. (I need to take this man to Rome, he would be absolutely hypnotized!) Below are a few pictures from Glyptoteket. The first one on the left is one he just quickly glanced at before explaining that it was the muse of tragedy and associated with theatre. Notice her weapon and her holding the “head” as if she had cut it off, and also the “head” being a mask for theatre. [Mike Edit: It doesn’t say that on the plaque, it’s just a guess on my part so take it with a grain of salt. But it seems obvious that the severed head/mask is a visual pun. She’s the muse of tragedy, thus the severed head. But she’s also a muse of theatre so the severed head is a mask.]
I have no background in classical archaeology. Mike was the perfect guide! 🙂

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After our visit to Glyptoteket, we walked to Mikkeller Bar, a local pub specializing in craft brews. Beer geeks everywhere know it! Mike was super excited to be able to drink Mikkeller beers he can’t get in San Diego (without importing it.) It’s a very small place with friendly locals. Who did Mike happen to meet at the bar? A guy who lives in our same complex in Malmö (but different building)! They both enjoyed their fancy beers and talked for a couple hours. 🙂 This was the exact experience we were hoping for when we planned to visit Mikkeller. [Mike Edit: I’ve always wanted to visit that place because they’re known for their amazing craft brews. I never thought I’d be able to until a year or two ago when we decided we were coming to Sweden. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since.]

After we left the pub, we walked to Tivoli, a small amusement park fully decorated for Christmas! Beautiful, colorful lights everywhere! By that time, we were all giddy from such a good day and just browsed around taking a couple pictures before going home. It turns out the gifts were too expensive, so we’ll end up doing our Christmas shopping in Malmö markets. 🙂 Below are a couple pictures from Tivoli.

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All in all, it was a fantastic day! My kind teacher was generous enough to extend the school discounts (free trip, free admission) to Mike. So, on top of all that fun, we saved money! Thank you to my teacher and thank you to Denmark for a great day. 🙂

[Mike Edit: CLICK HERE to see all of the 500+ pictures we took in Copenhagen yesterday!]


Antiquarian Book Fair in Copenhagen

Hello, all! Erin, here. ❤

We hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday. It was nice and calm for us. We will be having our dinner with other exchange students tomorrow. As for today, we visited Copenhagen to see one of the largest antiquarian book fairs with international sellers, book binders, and conservators. It was fantastic! So many gorgeous books from different countries dating back to several centuries ago…Mike and I were hypnotized and we kept envisioning our library we want to put together! There's something about a book on science or religion from centuries ago…it's similar to the affects that archaeological sites and artifacts have on me. I go into this trance and I feel an indescribable connection to the past creators and users. It's nerdy, I know. Everyone gets their kicks in their own ways! 🙂

Here are a few of the pictures from the fair. You can view the entire gallery by clicking this link.

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The fair was held at Rundetårn (The Round Tower), which is a combined church, library and observatory built in 1642. We climbed all the way to the top to find a breathtaking view of Copenhagen and a freezing wind that has a mind of its own…an abusive one, at that. We soaked in the stunning views of the city and went back inside before my body temperature dropped to a painful low.

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Copenhagen was great! We plan on going back a couple more times before we leave. We miss you all! ❤ 🙂