A little while ago I went a short study tour with my Cross-Cultural Communication class to northern Denmark and Malmo, Sweden. There we saw a few examples of how clashing cultures are brought together, and it was a taste of what we will soon see on our trip to Northern Ireland.
First we traveled to Northern Denmark to Helsingør where we saw Kronborg Castle, also known as Elsinore, or Hamlet’s castle. It was the castle that Shakespeare used as the location for the play Hamlet, renaming it Elsinore. When I told my visiting family that I had visited Hamlet’s castle they scoffed and said, “Only a foreigner would refer to it as ‘Hamlet’s castle’ instead of ‘Kronborg.’” Sorry Danes! I guess I haven’t lived here long enough. The only unappealing thing was the pungent smell of sulfur (probably from the moat) at the castle. So, is there something rotten in the state of Denmark? Maybe it’s just at Kronborg.
After seeing Kronborg, we took a 15-minute ferry ride to Sweden where we explored Helsingborg, a quaint little Swedish town. All of the buildings were beautiful, and the houses were very colorful and old (some dating back to the 17th century).
After that we took a very cold and wet hike down to Nimis, where a man named Lars Vilks had built a number of bridges and towers entirely out of driftwood. When Vilks heard that it was going to be knocked down, he had it registered as art so that the Swedish government couldn’t touch it, and then declared it a private nation called Ladonia. How the Swedish government feels about this I am not certain, but if you wish to be a member of this nation simply go online and register. The queen of Ladonia currently lives in the United States.
Next, for a couple of days we explored the architecture around Malmo, and went to visit a Swedish Newspaper (Sydsvenskan) and the Swedish television station (SVT-Sveriges Television.) At both places we spoke with reporters and news anchors about how they deal with conflicting cultures within the community and how they address sensitive issues. It was fascinating to hear their views on the way the United States has dealt with similar issues, and even how they believe Scandinavian countries are being portrayed to Americans. One news anchor was particularly upset that Malmo had been inaccurately portrayed in an American newscast as a very dangerous and conflict-ridden city.
Here are a couple of shots of the beautiful Swedish countryside: