Hei, hej, hallo! My name is Justin Rubenstein. I am a junior strategic communication major and Spanish minor hailing from Dallas, Texas. I am honored for having been chosen to join 15 fellow Chancellor Scholars and a handful of faculty members to explore Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. For two weeks, our group will analyze the Scandinavian culture and delve into their society; even though I’m fairly confident we will stand out as ‘typical American tourists.’
I’ll admit that visiting Scandinavia never really crossed my mind; yet, this area did pique my interest due to the popularity of Frozen and Thor (I know, two very different films). You’re probably concerned how these movies might prompt someone to visit another kingdom or realm, respectively. Both Frozen and Thor shed light, albeit not much, on Scandinavian history, specifically an era of various monarchies fighting for control and the significance of the Norse religion. So, as we explore the region, I will question how visual and rhetorical implications in the media and the arts shape our understanding of Scandinavian history and society.
You may have noticed that the first three words of this post are not in English; although, they do bear a strong similarity to “Hello.” I have always been fascinated by language, accents, and grammar (The Oxford comma is an absolute necessity). My family has done its fair share of international travel. On such travels, I would be sure to listen to locals speaking their native tongues in an attempt to decipher words that sound most similar to English ones, which was most often to no avail. When I found out that I would be going on this trip, I quickly logged on to Duolingo to try to learn the languages. Months later and a few lessons every week, I can only manage to say a few sentences, most likely with horrid pronunciation. In the event you would like to tell someone I am a potato in Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian, let me know and I might be able to offer you some assistance.
Above all, I expect to step out of my comfort zone. I see myself as a shy person. Those who know me are probably shaking their heads in disagreement. In any situation, especially those that are new, it’s important to be open to whomever and whatever comes your way. For this reason, I have decided to reinvent myself for the 2-week trip. Lynsey Malin, a fellow Scandinavia 2016 traveler, and I were looking up common names of Scandinavian children on one of those websites that lists hundreds of names that most people have never heard. I came across the name Knut (kuh-newt), which means knot. A knot is a central location where various strands come together. On this journey, I am looking forward to building relationships with my fellow explorers, tying additional knots as I continue to engage with more people.
Best, Knut (aka Justin Rubenstein)