Communications and Miscommunications
I've officially hit the road (or rather, skies). Today marks day 4 of the journey. So far, I spent a day in in Reykjavik, Iceland, a half day in Copenhagen, Denmark, and two in Stockholm, Sweden. Although all of these countries are very fluent in English, I've had some trouble communicating already. This post is mostly about Reykjavik.
First the good things: upon arrival, my bus trip from the Keflavik Airport to downtown Reykjavik (40 min) introduced me to two cool Canadians: Jenny from Germany and Toronto, who is pursuing a career in science communications but on holiday, and Carol-Anne (?) from Vancouver who is studying Integrated Science at the UBC and in Iceland for a course on Icelandic sustainability! As I told Jenny, I hadn't heard of science communications until very recently. For the uninformed, this is the field that literally works to communicate science to the public. Often, this can be harder than you would think, especially if people are already opinionated (also see: Breaking Up the Echo[1:1]). Jenny's undergraduate was spent in particle physics and has spent time at many notable laboratories. Jenny, if you're reading this, did you see that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN shut down because of a weasel?!
In the morning on my way to Copenhagen, I missed the bus to the airport. Since this was run by a private company, the one following was scheduled to leave an hour later and would have gotten me late to the airport. The reason I missed it is because my ticket stated that pickup from Downtown Reykjavik was at 05:30. However, what they really meant was that pickup from the company's bus terminal was then. I actually needed to get to the Downtown transfer site much earlier. The attendant then called a cab for me and $150 CAD (15.000 ISK) later, I arrived at the airport. The cashiers at the company's airport office claimed that after they recently transferred to a new booking system, this issue was causing many people headaches. I was advised to contact their main office regarding a refund. Luckily, I kept my taxi receipt and the company was able to begin a reimbursement process for the taxi fare. The moral here is: stay calm, respectful, and work things out logically. Very few people truly act maliciously.
When I travel, I like to meet people and to learn new things. In Reykjavik, I really went on a museum spree. At Whales of Iceland, I saw some life-sized models of the world's largest animals. Of particular interest was the Bowhead, which I've seen in person - but only the top and tail. The Maritime Museum had a very interesting display about how medieval Icelandic women were not only allowed on boats, but were paid equally as men because they did the same work. However, this concept started to become unpopular in the late 1800's. The Photography Museum had an exhibition called MOOD trying to capture the simple life Icelanders lived years ago before the "materialism crisis." Something to think about later for me - is materialism a symptom of development? Reykjavik's Settlement Museum displayed some history of Iceland including ruins from one of the first buildings (see photo below). Lastly, the National Museum had a display that reinforced my perception that Iceland has uniquely valued women's rights. They were actually one of the first (modern) societies which granted women the right to vote.
At a one-person anti-corruption protest, I met two very lovely ladies from Stockholm, Sweden (my current location). One of them lived in Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver for some time 20 years ago! Also of note was the friendly Ainars from Latvia, whom I met at the local swimming pool Laugardalslaug (you must go here if you visit!). He works as an specialized renovator and takes time to ski, hike, and swim in the evenings. He's a great example of the European lifestyle but at the same time loves big American trucks.
A few last things to note about Reykjavik: they have very nice security at the airport (which is far from downtown!). Their busses are excellent though sometimes late. I also loved the abundance of street art that really gave the city a kick of flavour. The Cod Wars Iceland fought with the UK as recently as 1976 are also very interesting to read up on.
My next post will be brief about my time in Copenhagen. It certainly was not as eventful as it was much shorter. I've also already fallen behind on blogging - the last two days I have spent here in Stockholm have changed my life.
Sunstein, C. R. (2012). Breaking Up the Echo. The New York Times: The Opinion Pages. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/opinion/balanced-news-reports-may-only-inflame.html ↩︎ ↩︎
I'm an engineering student living in the future. I care about dreaming big, finding truths, and building equity into our society.