The Nobel-est of Them All

On this trip, we have been asked to identify a cultural artifact that represents us. I genuinely struggled until walking through the doors of the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm. This item on our itinerary did not particularly stick out to me, and I did not come in with very much knowledge on the awards that are given. However, this ended up being one of my absolute favorite places. It is especially important in Sweden as the Nobel Prizes for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology, and Literature as well as an award in Economics are only given out here.

There really is not much to the museum, but at the back, they have a special photography exhibition. The photographer took on the task of getting portraits of some of the Nobel laureates. He decided to make it interesting though. Without giving the scientists any prior warning, he gave them a giant piece of poster paper and asked them to illustrate what exactly they won their Nobel Prize for. Then, he took their pictures with their posters against a simple white backdrop. He gave them freedom to pose how they wished and allowed their personalities to come alive in the photographs. Now, these pictures are posted around the room with short comments on the photographer’s experience of working with each of these individuals. I loved how transparent and quirky it was. 


For the discoverer of water channels, he wrote, “This is a sportsman in sneakers. He sketches a beautiful picture of his discovery, the aquaporin channels in the cell membrane. During the shoot, he gives me a demonstration of some rather cool ski moves – while holding the sketch with his Nobel discovery!”


For the discoverer of telomeres and telomerases, he wrote, “The sketch comes out detailed, colourful, and humourous. There are emoticons and sound effects… So, this is the kind of professor I would have liked to have had.”

What really blew my mind was how recent all of these highlighted discoveries have been. Many of these awards were given in the 2000’s, and the concepts are now within the pages of my biology, chemistry, and physics textbooks. These fascinating individuals are the pilgrims, blazing the way of scientific exploration. The knowledge I am gaining is so fresh which only means that my field will continue to expand for as long as I live. It is a necessity for me to be a lifelong student, and this exhibit made this truth so glaringly apparent to me. I am a scientist and that identity has connected me to this city through the Nobel Prize Museum.

We had a great guide who gave us background on the museum, especially regarding the nomination and awarding process. Afterwards, I talked with her a bit. She has been working for the museum for many years and has a lot of inside knowledge. She said that most people do not know that laureates in the sciences are nominated for an average of 10 consecutive years before they ever win. They are also generally older and fall into the 50+ age category. I know there is some statistic floating around about the likelihood of a high school football player making it to the NFL (it’s less than 1%). I would be interested to hear what the likelihood of a scientist becoming a Nobel Prize laureate is, but I would guess that it is even more rare. A Nobel Prize is certainly only achieved with a high level of commitment. That is what it takes to go down in history as the Francis Crick’s and Linus Pauling’s of the world.

Advertisements

Millenials


During our first full day in Sweden, we have wandered the halls of the Royal Palace, cruised around the city on a boat tour, and chowed down on reindeer. By far the most impactful part of my day was around that dinner table with some of the most intelligent people I have the opportunity to call my peers at TCU. We come from different walks of life with a vast array of experiences, and here we are connecting in Scandinavia. Conversation centered on respecting differences in opinion is such a privilege. It should not be so rare, but it is in the hostile world we live in today. 

We spent three hours engrossed in issues such as Black Lives Matter, marriage equality, transgender bathrooms, separation of church and state, nuclear energy, and corrupt charity. We did not always agree, but the floor was open to all to share their opinions. This all began when we were interrupted by protestors marching past our restaurant. Our whole group shushed so that we could find out what their cause was, and we soon discovered that they were with Black Lives Matter. There have actually been multiple protests of these type throughout Europe since recent events in the US. Often, the groups march to protest outside the US embassy, although I do not know if that was the end destination of this group. At the same time, it is currently pride week in Stockholm, so the city is covered in rainbow flags and there are different events planned. Both of these issues sparked a conversation about the progressiveness of millennials. Our generation has grown up in the midst of huge social changes. We have seen the plight of minority groups fighting for their rights since we can remember. Many of us have become passionate about causes of our own, either for justice for ourselves or people that we feel particularly passionate for. This combined with our college educations tends to provide the stimulus to push our generation towards having more “liberal” social views. Despite that, all of us still have variation in perspectives depending on the region and background we came from.

It was fascinating to hear the opinions of my peers and to compare their views to my own based on our experiences. It truly is a wonderful privilege to be amongst a cohort of well-rounded, respectful, and driven young men and women and to get to be challenged by their questions around a delicious meal in a beautiful place. It could not get better than moments like this.

Copen-HEY-gan

Let me tell you. We have been eatin’ real, real good in Scandinavia. I am fairly confident that I am gaining weight from this trip despite the 10+ miles we have been walking everyday.  
We are now in Copenhagen! Last night, we had a very traditional Danish meal. It included a lot of raw, pickled fish as well as liver. It was quite unique. Personally, I thought it was still delicious, but it was not my favorite meal. In contrast, tonight we had Spanish tapas. It is strange to have different types of food in other countries. I unconsciously assume that the US is the only country that can be so globalized, yet we have come into contact with just as much diversity outside of our home. Food in particular is a window into the culture of a country. For example, Copenhagen has a ton of Turkish restaurants, and I later found out that this is because there is a large Turkish community here! In Oslo, food revealed culture in the length of time dinners would take. In Copenhagen, the dinner lengths have not been nearly as extreme.


Yesterday, we went to Tivoli Gardens, which is one of the most popular attractions in the city. It is an amusement park that inspired Walt Disney to create DisneyWorld. I definitely saw some similarities between the two, but the park felt more like a fair. This could be because we are used to always having bigger and better in America. However, we all had a ton of fun at Tivoli despite its size. In fact, many of us conquered some fears on the Vertigo ride. This ride is essentially two pendulums that swing around an axis at such high speeds that you can feel the forces affecting your internal organs. It also spins at the beginning and the end, which is the icing on the cake in terms of leaving us completely stunned afterwards. It was cool to spend the evening at Tivoli because it felt like we were surrounded by a mix of both tourists and locals. We all tried to imagine what it would be like if we lived here. Would we have season passes? Would this be the well known date location? Would we have birthday parties here as kids?


Overall, Copenhagen is fantastic! It is a much faster paced city than Oslo. I also definitely notice that nature is not as large of a part of their lives here. I am curious to see how Stockholm will compare to the two cities we have already seen. I really enjoy visiting cities that I have little previous knowledge about because I get to walk in with zero preconceptions and simply learn from what I see. We have less than a week and we will be home! How crazy is that?! 

Happy Stomachs, Happy Hearts


When we all wrote our introduction post, we sounded a bit like a broken record. Almost all of us stated that we could not wait for the friendships we would make on the trip! Traveling with other horned frogs gives us the great opportunity to build or strengthen relationships that we will carry on back in the lovely Fort Worth. For many of us, we barely knew half of the group before embarking. We are bound by one commonality (our scholarship), but we all come from different years and majors. The dinner table is the location where the most barriers have been broken and friendships have been formed.

Side Note: We have been extremely lucky to be fed so well, and I feel incredibly blessed to have all these delicious meals included on the trip! Not only that, but we have been challenged to chow down on some very unique entrees. In the past few days, we have had duck, reindeer meat, and raw trout on a spoon. Personally, I am the opposite of a picky eater, so all of this has been a blast!  
In Norway, meals are LONG and leisurely. Our evenings are sucked into the time warp that exists in restaurants. Time and time again, we arrive in a restaurant around 7 PM and leave around 11 PM (and of course it is still light out when we’re leaving). This style of eating reveals something important about the culture here. People value the time they get to spend with each other around the dinner table. It is a time of communion with those that are important to you. It’s a time of decompression after a long and exhausting day. It’s a time of growth from the stimulating conversations that will be encouraged. I find myself truly looking forward to our dinner times because I know it will be so fruitful. There is nothing more satisfying than reveling in a delicious meal together. Plus, you’re locked into conversation with the people around you for a good four hours, so you better get nice and friendly with each other.

I cannot wait to spend many more evenings around the dinner table with my fellow travelers in Denmark and Sweden and to see how their culture is revealed in their style of eating!

Bringing the Sunshine to Scandinavia

 

Hello! My name is Mikaela Miller, and I am a pretty lucky gal to be both a Chancellor’s IMG_4830Scholar and a student going on the CSI trip! I am originally from Arizona, and I plan on packing as much sunshine as I possibly can to bring to the rainy and cool Scandinavia. I am a senior at TCU, majoring in Biology with minors in Mathematics and Chemistry. My summer is absolutely perfect as it is packed with applications to medical school and travel. My journeys not only include Scandinavia but also a month of backpacking around most of Europe with another CSI traveler (who happens to bear the same fantastic last name as I, and no, we are not related).

I believe it was my sophomore year of college when I attended a sort of “town hall” meeting with the Chancellor’s Scholars to discuss our likes, dislikes, and ideas. TCU has been moving towards making the Chancellor’s Scholarship about more than just the money. They want it to be a whole program with many other benefits, and they hoped to reach out to us to hear what we wanted out of being a part of this prestigious cohort. Out of this town hall meeting arose the idea of a study abroad trip exclusively for us. Thus, CSI: Scandinavia was born. It is pretty darn cool that I go to a school that wanted to hear my ideas, made those ideas come to life, and now I get to benefit from this wonderful opportunity. It makes this trip so special and exciting for me, and it is one of the many reasons why I am so honored and thankful to be a horned frog.

My expectations are very high, as I know multiple people who were on the trip last year, and they all loved it! I was also very lucky to be able to go on one of the honor’s study abroad trips (Cultural Pilgrimages) after my freshman year, and I had the time of my life. The best part of that trip was traveling with other like-minded, highly intellectual, and passionate students, which will be similar to the dynamic on CSI! Everyone on the trip was committed to engaging with the cities, broadening their perspective, and participating in the culture. It made the experience so fruitful for me, so I have high expectations that I will get to explore Scandinavia with the same high level of engagement that I experienced before.

My specific interests for this trip are as follows:

Healthcare: 

One of the great things about travel is getting to come into contact with the unfamiliar. It reminds me that there is not one simple way of doing life and what I may believe to be “right” is only one miniscule piece of the puzzle. Currently, a very controversial topic in American politics is healthcare and whether it should be privatized or socialized or a mixture of both.

Scandinavia uses socialized healthcare systems, which is much different than what we are familiar with in the U.S.. Due to my interests in health and medicine, I am curious to see how the system works for individuals in the countries that we are visiting. What are the pros and cons? What does a socialized healthcare system mean for their countries as a whole?

healthcare

“How most Scandinavians feel about the American healthcare system.”

Nature

I am a big fan of the outdoors! This summer alone I have already had the privilege of backpacking the trans-Catalina trail on Catalina Island and the Narrows in Zion. I love being active, and I love taking advantage of my health and allowing my own two legs to take me to places that are not seen by everyone. It is so fascinating to me how much the outdoors is a way of life to people in Scandinavia, especially in Norway. I am excited to “trek the trails” and experience their culture in this way.

view_of_trolltunga

Trolltunga: one of the most spectacular scenic cliffs in Norway

Food

I fully believe that one of the best activities you can do in another country is to eat! It is such a cultural experience from learning what the norms are to tasting the local favorites to sitting around a table with good company and simply learning from their perspective. I cannot wait for good food with insightful friends in delightful countries.

23dadc5100000578-0-image-m-2_1417986434618

Reindeer meat is a staple of Norwegian cuisine.