My name is Annaliese Miller, and I am one of the lucky Chancellor’s Scholars who has been given the opportunity to explore Scandinavia on the CSI trip! I am a senior at TCU, majoring in environmental science with minors in business and sustainability and a certificate in geographic information systems. I absolutely love traveling and jump at any chance I get to adventure to somewhere new and experience all that our world has to offer. In fact, another Chancellor’s Scholar and I will be traveling on a whirlwind trip throughout continental Europe in the month leading up to CSI, visiting ten countries and 17 cities before meeting up with the rest of the group in Oslo!
This trip to Scandinavia is one I have longed to take for years. One of my good friends in high school visited family in Norway every summer, and I always heard amazing stories of what it was like. Visiting Scandinavia has been high on my bucket list ever since. During this trip, I hope to see for myself the wonder and beauty of Scandinavia and to experience the rich culture of its people. Also, if I’m being entirely honest, one of the main reasons I’m really excited is because Norway has this fantastic sweet & sour candy called Vepsebols (translation: wasp nests), and I plan to bring back at least 10 packs of it for my brothers and roommates to try!
I anticipate some incredible adventures happening over these two weeks abroad, and along the way, I am hoping to delve deeper into three areas – environmentalism, socialism, and Norse studies!
This one should come as no surprise to you if you read the first paragraph of this post. As a student of environmental science, I am always interested in exploring how other countries deal with environmental issues. Scandinavian countries are leaders of the environmental movement, which I find fascinating, and I am hoping to see some evidences of this leadership on our trip. For example, Norway produces 56% of its total energy use from renewable energy sources, and 99% of its electricity from renewables, mainly hydropower. It is a major European exporter of fossil fuels, yet the country recognizes the decline of the oil market and is adjusting proactively with the expansion of wind energy. Denmark is “one of the most energy-efficient countries in the EU”, according to one source, and has the goal of being fossil fuel-free by 2050. In fact, to discourage gasoline-powered cars, the government has levied a 180% tax on such vehicles. Lastly, Sweden is a pioneer in sustainable living with innovations in urban communities (see Hammarby Sjostad), agriculture (see the vertical greenhouse Planatagons), and building design. One of my main questions is whether this emphasis on environmentalism is readily visible among the day-to-day culture of Scandinavians. I know that Dr. Whitworth will be able to satiate some of my curiosity since he taught one of my courses last semester on sustainability in which we studied both the biking culture of Denmark and the Hammarby Sjostad community of Sweden!
In light of the current presidential race, the concept of socialism in the United States has risen to the forefront of political conversations due to the campaign of Bernie Sanders. Whether you believe Sanders is a socialist or not, his platform has certain leanings that have led some conservative Americans to label him as the ever-feared “socialist.” For years, history classes in our country have inevitably proclaimed the glory of capitalism and declared the dangers of socialism. Yet, all three Scandinavian countries we will be visiting are arguably successful socialist countries. I am eager to experience life in these countries for that very reason. How have these countries managed to overcome the “evils” of socialism and become some of the happiest countries in the world? What are the daily trade-offs of this system? Does the sacrifice of some economic freedoms truly impact the average person that much? I do not mean to say that I believe America should become socialist; I think every country should choose the system that works best for their politics, their culture, and their people. Nonetheless, I am interested to see how Scandinavia makes it work for them. For these three countries, socialism appears to be the right system, and I would love to hear Scandinavians’ experiences of living in a socialist society.
- Norse Studies
Vikings are just really cool, and we don’t often focus on them in our American education system. My current knowledge of Vikings consists of images of burly, bearded men with horned helmets and huge shields sailing the icy waters of the North Sea, a few Norse tales mingled with Greek and Roman mythology, Leif Eriksson’s voyage to North America, and the movie How to Train Your Dragon. There are some obvious gaps in there, and I’m looking forward to filling them in at the various museums we visit!
To end this inaugural post, I am, of course, very excited to travel with my fellow Chancellor’s Scholars and experience all that Scandinavia has to offer by their side. What a wonderful journey upon which we are all soon to embark!