Denmark Trip! – Pre-Departure

I’m leaving for Denmark on Sunday! I am going for an international educator’s training workshop at a study abroad organization we work with, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. I was supposed to go in April, but because of a certain volcano that decided to spew ash all over the European skies about 2 days before I was supposed to depart, the trip was canceled. I’m thankful that I got stuck at home rather than abroad, but I’m really excited to finally get to make the trip!

It should be a lot of fun. Of course I’ll be working, but the workshop contains a lot of fun stuff in addition to the work stuff. Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to the most:

-Danish lesson! I love languages, and I’m excited to learn some “survival Danish” (although from what I hear the Danes speak excellent English, so I’d probably still survive with out it.  )

-Field study in Nordic Mythology, which means I get to go with the students to visit the Arnamagnean Institute within the Department of Scandinavian Research at the U of Copenhagen, where we’ll get to view the manuscript collection on Medieval vellum, and paper originals of the Icelandic sagas and Eddic poetry.

-Attend classes on Positive Psychology, Muslims in the West, and Human Trafficking in Europe (will be good, as I’m in the middle of reading The Girl Who Played with Fire, which deals exactly with that subject!)

-Visit to the old city of Roskilde, including visit to the Roskilde Cathedral and the Viking Ship Museum. SO excited for this!! I really like ships, so going to the Viking Ship Museum will be awesome!

-Visit to a folkehøjskole, which is a specific educational institution for young Danes between the ages of 19-25. The Danish students live at the school and participate in a wide spectrum of courses and extracurricular activities. The idea is to ‘educate for life’, and Danish students attending a folkehøjskole do not take any exams nor receive grades or credits. Our students don’t take courses there, but they can live there and be part of the social life there.

-Concluding banquet at Kronborg castle, otherwise known as the Hamlet castle. Wheeee!

Unkind Radio DJs

Lately, the radio show I typically listen to on the way to work has been really cheesing me off.

It all started the other day. They have this bit where people can call in and the DJs will weigh in/ask listeners to weigh in on a problem the caller is having. So the other day, the caller’s problem was this:

She’d gone on a few dates with this guy, she really liked him, and the night before they’d been making out and heading in the direction of getting intimate for the first time. All of a sudden, the guy stopped and said he had to tell her something. The something he had to tell her was that he has a vestigial tail. She said even though she really liked this guy, the tail was a deal-breaker.

WTF? You really like someone and you can’t overlook the fact that they have a small (3-4 in.) vestigial tail? I think it’s sort of cool, actually! She could have at least given it a chance. But she sounded like a shallow b*itch anyway (incidentally, she had the same first name as me– that ticked me right off!). The thing that really got me is that the radio DJs were right behind her. “Oh yeah, that’s a total deal breaker” and making fun of the guy and everything. Granted, most people get those removed at birth, and one wonders why this guy’s parents didn’t have that done, but is it really THAT big of a deal? And what if the guy had been MISSING a limb, instead of having an extra one? Would they have still made fun of him? I don’t think so. UGH, shallow people!

So then the next day, they were doing “Treywalking” (like Leno’s Jaywalking) where their producer, Trey, finds a random person on the street and asks them questions. So the guy he picked the other day was an 18-year old, and when Trey asked him what he did for fun, he said he played the cello. The DJs were like, “Ohhh, a cellist, I don’t know how he’s going to be,” in a kind of derogatory way, implying that he’s obviously a total geek for playing the cello. He did get all the answers wrong, but they were all things about sports and pop culture– I would have gotten them all wrong too! The DJs were totally making fun of him the whole time, saying things like, “He’s terrible!” and “He’s a geek!” Are those things REALLY that important to know? I’d have been more concerned if he didn’t know the name of our president or something like that, but what pop star just announced that she’s divorcing her husband? Who TF cares?? Good for the kid if he has better things to do than listen to celebrity gossip.

My Grandpa Just Died

We weren’t really close, because we’ve never lived close to my mom’s parents. But it’s still sad, of course. And to compound things, my parents were overseas and we weren’t able to reach of my mom to tell her that her father had died. My parents didn’t leave any emergency contact with me, and they were checking email very sporadically (they checked Saturday morning; he died Saturday night) and of course their phones didn’t work abroad. My aunt and cousins kept bugging me to try and get in touch with my parents so they could make funeral arrangements, but there was literally nothing else I could do – they didn’t leave contact information with me! What was I supposed to do, hack into their computer and find out where they were? Well, I guess I could have driven over to their house and tried to find info on their computer, but it may not even have been there, and I had my own stuff to take care of (getting ready for a class presentation today, getting ready to leave for Denmark on Sunday) and really didn’t have time to drive out there.

I finally was able to talk to my mom yesterday (when they returned from overseas). She was upset– she knew it was coming, but she didn’t expect it to be so soon– obviously, or they’d have left contact info or been sure to check email more often.

The viewing and funeral are planned for Friday and Saturday in the boondocks of south-central Florida. I would like to go to be there for my mom, but I leave on Sunday for Denmark, and I have work obligations on Friday that I can’t get out of, so I just can’t make it. My mom is okay with that, but I still wish I could be there for her.

Shine

The song ended with a final chord on the lead singer’s white, custom guitar. The chaotic din of 100 people shouting over the music to their friends morphed into a rainstorm of applause, whistles and hoots emerging from the pattern like lightning through the gritty bar.

“Thank you, thank you,” acknowledged the singer, his Castro-style cap pulled low over his eyes against stage fright. A fellow intovert, I suspected.

Requests for the songs from the band’s old album out all around me. “Mr Fancy!” “Talk to me!”

I wanted to hear a new song.

“Shine!” I called, my voice cracking with the uncharacteristic exertion. My boyfriend and I were only about three or four rows back in the crowd at the foot of the stage, but I doubted the two slutty-looking bottle blondes in front of me had heard me, let alone the band. Oh, well.

As others continued to clamor for old songs, I watched the band members’ lips move inside the veritable Cone of Silence created by the crowd noise. After a moment, the singer spoke:

“Alright, this next song is for you.” He was looking straight at me.

In front of me, the blondes went wild, screaming and holding their Bud Lights up in the air.

“This song is for you,” he repeated, raising a bit onto his toes and tilting his head, looking pointedly at me over the screaming blondes. The opening chords of “Shine” crept out from behind the screams and shouts.

Meeting his eyes, I smiled and gave a slight nod.

“He was totally talking to you,” my boyfriend said, leaning in close.

I smiled at him and nodded again. “I know.”

Playing Hostess

Yesterday at work we had a visitor from James Cook University in Australia. He’s a professor of geology there and head of the Environmental Science school. We send several students to James Cook every year – it’s by far the most popular Australian university with American students. So we played host to this guy, and as the Associate Program Director for the University Study in Australia programs, it was my job to play hostess all day. Again, not something I really look forward to. It turned out that wasn’t too bad, but still not my favorite thing to do.

He arrived at about 10 am, and then the director of our office and I took him for coffee at the Starbucks in the business building and chatted a little bit about our university and our study abroad office. After that, he checked his email in the resource center and I printed out some additional information for him that he’d asked for, as well as some information about scenic drives in the area, as he expressed interest in renting a car for the weekend and seeing the fall colors. I guess they don’t really have that in Australia, at least in the northern part where he lives.

Then we went to lunch at Campus Club with the director of the University Study in Australia programs. That was nice because Campus Club has good food (it’s the university’s membership club) and the office paid for it. Woot!

After that, the hard part started, because during the afternoon it was up to me to escort the professor to several meetings with faculty members in our environmental science area. That meant that it was up to me to make conversation with him and several faculty members I didn’t know, as well as navigate the St Paul Campus, which is where most of the science buildings are located, but I’m really not familiar with because I never had a class over there. It actually was interesting though, because I got to listen in on these scientific conversations about entomology, geology, soil science, etc– things that are interesting but I know nothing about, and also I learned about some things going on in these departments that I didn’t know about. It also seemed like there was some real opportunity for academic collaboration because our departments and theirs have a lot of similarities, but are also very different because of the different environments in Australia and Minnesota!

Then we took the bus back to the West Bank (of the Mississippi Rover!! Our campus has 3 major parts: the St Paul Campus, and the Minneapolis Campus which is made up of the East Bank and the West Bank. So our campus spans 2 cities and 2 sides of the river). On the bus we had an interesting conversation about higher education becoming very commercial. I showed him how to get to his hotel. He thanked me for being his guide and seemed genuinely to mean it.

I think I did okay at playing hostess.

Class Presentation on Physics!

And a long-winded brain dump about my degree plan and biological clock

The class I’m taking right now is called Chaos and Complexity. It’s a Liberal Studies seminar, which means that is in interdisciplinary in nature. In order to complete my Master of Liberal Studies (individually-designed, interdisciplinary) degree in May, I needed to take a 3-credit Liberal Studies seminar this semester so I can take the Final Project class in the Spring. I normally wouldn’t have taken a course called Chaos and Complexity, given that I have no background in physics, I hate math, and it’s not very applicable to my focus area, which is Language & Identity. But the only other 3-credit seminars offered this semester were even less applicable and sounded even more boring– one was a Nonprofit Arts Management course and I think the other one was called The Heritage of Hope or something like that. I’m an NF and that sounded too Feelery even for me!!

So I’m taking Chaos and Complexity. Really, it is fairly applicable to my degree, because once we get past the hard-science, physics-based theories, we will be applying them to the social sciences and humanities. That will be no problem for me, and I do grasp the overall concepts, but the book I had to read last week was very hard science and I felt quite in-over-my-head while reading it.

Post-Fest Reflections

This is a note I wrote on Facebook after last year’s Fest season ended. I am copying it here for several reasons: Because it provides a nice contrast between my feelings at the end of last year’s run with my feelings at the end of this year’s run; because some of the feelings are still relevant (like not being able to form “quick” friendships like everyone else); and because it really delves into one of the plights I experience as an introvert, which is kind of the topic of this blog (even though not all most posts are germane to that topic).

Reflections on the 2009 Fest Season

Another year of Fest has come and gone. It wasn’t my best season. My heart just wasn’t really in it this year – I missed more Saturdays than I attended – but hey, I’m a newlywed, give me a break! I am very jealous of those whose other halves are just as nuts about Fest as they are, but while my husband likes Fest, he’s not as fanatic as I am and this season, my heart was at home with my new husband.

Another reason I think I struggled this season is that after 5 years as a chocolate wench, I decided to sell beer with the Jaycees this year. I’m glad I did, because selling chocolate was not a great gig, but after 5 years, I was just starting to get to know the people in the Bakery Stage area.

It takes me forever to get to know people well enough to open up to them, and Fest is a real challenge for me because I have seven weekends a season to get to know people, and typically I start to open up a little around weekend 6 or 7, just in time for the season to end. Then, 10 months go by, so that by the beginning of the next season, I feel about as ready to open up as I did around weekend 3 or 4 of the previous season. So after five years in the same place, I felt like I saw kind of starting at square one again this year.