Right when I started telling family and friends about my upcoming trip, I started hearing a few main things that I had to do/try. One thing that constantly came up was Scandinavian chocolate. I didn’t pay too much attention, as I was going to Belgium beforehand. I mean, Belgian chocolate is supposed to be the gold standard.
However, as a deep lover of all things chocolate I instantly started taking notice of all of the chocolate shops we passed when we got to Norway. With my first chocolate stop in Oslo at Freia, I started asking about the chocolate culture in Scandinavia. I was surprised to learn that Norway actually is one of the biggest chocolate consuming countries in the world! The average Norwegian eats approximately 18 POUNDS of chocolate each year!
Naturally, I bought some of Norway’s top selling chocolate- the Freia milk chocolate bar. Gotta say, it even beat Belgian chocolate.
I continued the chocolate hunt in Denmark and Sweden. While the Danes didn’t seem to be too huge on chocolate (they prefer sugary candies of other types, and even eat the most candy of all countries), Sweden also had a huge taste for chocolate. The store we stopped at in Gamla Stan featured all of their chocolate made in Sweden, which they were very proud of. The store owner said the Swedes won’t eat chocolate that wasn’t made in Sweden. Naturally, I had to sample some.
Once again, I was not disappointed.
While I never thought of chocolate when thinking of Scandinavia before, I have to say they surprised me. I’ll probably have to start importing it or something. If there’s one thing that I could relate to any Scandinavian about, chocolate is an easy choice.
Coming to Copenhagen, I had very few expectations. It was the city I had done the least research on, and I feel as though Denmark is rarely mentioned in the US- outside of its happiness rankings. However, my lack of preparation was compensated for upon arrival. Outside of the fantastic plans and info session coordinated by our trip leaders, I also was able to contact an old friend way back from elementary school who was currently studying abroad for the summer in Copenhagen. I reached out to him right when we arrived, and we were actually able to meet up later that night!
Sam had been in Copenhagen for the past two months taking classes at the local university, so he was pretty well versed in the Danish culture- a kind of understanding I feel you can really only achieve through living in a place for some time. Therefore it was really interesting hearing his perspective on the Danish people and their way of life. I bombarded him with questions for probably two hours, and I think I learned about a lot that I otherwise would have had no exposure to.
For instance, I really grilled him on the whole “happiest people in the world” deal. He commented that it’s probably true, but not in the way we would expect. People aren’t all smiling on the streets and skipping around, but they’re truly grateful for everything that they have going on around them. They have a general feeling of contentment about their lives that he felt really contrasted how we live in the US.
Outside of a great conversation, Sam was also able to send my way some awesome recommendations for what to do with our free time in Copenhagen. I really strive to skip the tourist traps and focus on local experiences when traveling, and he was able to help out a lot. One of my personal highlights from our time there was a suggestion of his, GoBoats. Basically, you and a few friends are able to rent a small boat to drive around and explore the harbor in a different, more relaxed way than we were able to on the huge canal boat tour. Here’s a pic from the GoBoat ft. Jacob –
Copenhagen was a wonderful place, and I felt as though I was really able to immerse myself there by knowing someone local. It was a truly unbeatable way to learn about the city and its culture. I hope to one day be able to return!
I never thought I’d really be able to visit Norway – the place my grandma is so passionate about and where my mom’s side of the family is originally from. The experience was nothing short of amazing…and I find myself desperately wishing I had more time.
The definite highlight of my experience in Oslo was dining with the Hertzberg family. Zip lining from the top of the Holmenkollen ski jump tower was picturesque and really set off the traditional Norwegian vibe for the rest of the trip. After the exhausting (and sweaty) metro ride, I was excited to finally meet the Hertzbergs, whom Dr. Whitworth had been raving about for quite some time. Expectations of this family were certainly set high, and of course they didn’t disappoint. They’re truly some of the greatest people I’ve met and make me proud to have my roots in Norway.
I was fortunate enough to be able to speak for some time with Mrs. Hertzberg. I told my her about my family’s origins and current relatives in Lillehammer, which is about two hours outside Oslo. When I told her the old family name, Skrefsrund, she instantly knew of it and even the history of my great, great, great (wow) uncle, who had served as a missionary. We chatted about other Norwegian dishes that my grandma still makes and about her life in Norway.
Getting to speak with her really brought to life my Norwegian heritage and makes me eager to learn more about my family and the Norwegian culture. Our time in Oslo was already fantastic, but this experience was enlightening. In some words, she made Norway feel a little closer to home.
My name is Lynsey Malin, and I’m now a JUNIOR at TCU studying Entrepreneurial Management on the Pre-Med track. I can’t wait to explore Scandinavia in just a few weeks with 15 other Chancellor’s Scholars!
Funny story- I’ve had a serious travel bug ever since starting college at TCU and hearing all about the European adventures of my new friends. After I wasn’t selected for this trip last year, I booked a trip with a friend to Europe for the next summer (aka now). Thus, I’m currently on a 35 day escapade across Europe that started in Greece and will end in just a week in Barcelona! It’s been such an amazing experience. Here’s a picture of me with my first crepe today 🙂
But of course, when I was selected for the CSI trip to Scandinavia this time around, it was impossible to say no. My family is originally from Norway, and my grandmother still goes and visits from time to time. I’m from Holmen, Wisconsin, which is heavily Norwegian-influenced (think *Holmenkollen* in Oslo)… my high school mascot was even a viking. I can’t wait for everyone to try lefse and lutefisk! This trip was definitely meant to be. Also, who wouldn’t want to visit some of the happiest people in the world while taking in some of the most beautiful sights?
There have been so many things I’ve enjoyed about Europe so far that I can’t wait to continue enjoying in Scandinavia. First, each region really has its own vibe. I’m really excited to experience the personalities of the cities we are visiting! I’ve also loved all of the local experiences. Getting outside of the touristy squares and finding a hole in the wall restaurant where they don’t have a menu in English is the best. Speaking of which, I’m a big foodie and can’t wait to try all of the Scandinavian cuisines!
One thing I really didn’t consider in booking my current trip was how connected I’d get to the people I’m traveling with. I can’t wait to travel now with this amazing group of Chancellor’s Scholars, some of whom I know quite well and some whom I don’t know at all!
My only expectation for this trip is to experience everything to the fullest. I expect to exhaust myself with early mornings, long days, and late nights- and love every second of it. I hope to learn as much as possible and really see life through a new lens.