Sweden – 9/15/2017 | Denmark – 1/14/2018 | Norway – 2/16/2018 | Finland – 3/6/2018 | Iceland – 8/16/2018
I did it! You are probably wondering WHY I made a goal to visit all the Nordic nations. To me, they are the most interesting places in the world. I became completely fascinated with the Nordic region after reading a book called The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth. This was the first time I truly became enfatuated by a place in the world. He talks about comical (and serious!) observations and facts … such as how apparently more people in Iceland believe in elves than God?! I highly recommend you read it even if you are the slightest bit interested in these countries, as it’s a good laugh.
With each country’s own little quirks and traditions, I was so compelled to travel to these places.
Below is one photo I took from each country, each symbolizing something in each nation: Sweden’s stunning waterfront, the Dane’s love for cozying up outdoors, Norway’s pristine fjords and nature, Finland’s saunas and long winter nights spent bundled up, and Iceland’s untouched beauty.
Favorite memory in Sweden: spending time outside at one of Stockholm’s outdoor markets, Hornstulls marknad. The sun was shining so bright and I loved seeing the local knick-knacks laid out on the tables.
Favorite memory in Denmark: renting a GoBoat with my friends after our classes ended in Copenhagen. It was a breezy, but sunny day, so naturally all the Danes were outside in the fresh air basking in the sun. We had bottles of wine, grapes, chocolate, and most importantly of all, good company.
Favorite memory in Norway: when I was in Bergen, I decided to take the Fløibanen, the cable car, up the mountain. I didn’t research anything beforehand and decided to give it a whirl. When I got to the top, I noticed many feet of snow, and a few solemn trails in the back. I decided to walk down some and got such a thrill of being a bit alone in the forest and somewhat “lost”. I wandered down pretty snow-covered trails and it was really one of the first times I learned to really enjoy solitude.
Favorite memory in Finland: during a study tour with my class, I visited an area about an hour north of Helsinki, where we went snow-shoeing and ice-fishing on the frozen lake. To say this was one of the most unique things I’ve ever done is an understatement. Afterwards, we cozied up in this cabin with some tea and an old Finnish man told us the importance of nature in everyday life. I will never forget the conversations we had in that cabin.
Favorite memory in Iceland: All of the memories I have in Iceland are quite special to me, and magical in some way or another, since it was the first solo roadtrip of my life. If I had to choose, my favorite memory in Iceland was hiking on top of Skogafoss. I remember (again, not having done any research) climbing the stairs to the top of the waterfall, and being tempted to follow one of the trails along the edge of the river. I was so overwhelmed with the peaceful rolling hills in combination with the mad, flowing river and deep canyons beside me. At the end of my hike, I remember laying down in the lush grass, feeling so grateful for nature and life and the forces that brought me to this place.
Why am I obsessed with the Nordic region?
I was also so compelled to travel to these 5 countries to investigate the Nordic model, and how it affects their business environment, society, and culture. For example, their model combines free market capitalism with generous social benefits such as free healthcare and free education. However, this comes at a cost: very high taxes. However, after visiting and seeing how forward-thinking this region is, I couldn’t help but dream living in one of them someday, despite shaking over a large sum to the government in the form of taxes.
Additionally, the Nordic region is buzzing with entrepreneurship, sustainability efforts, and thoughtful urban planning. Cities throughout this region are developing many ways to cope with the growing challenges on our earth. For example, Norway has an “apocolypse” seed bank, where a vast collection of seeds is stored underground in the case one of them were to go extinct, or something were to threaten the global supply. Environmentally speaking, in Copenhagen, all new buildings are required to have green roofs (plants, grass, shrubs, bushes) in order to reduce heating & cooling usage. Bjarke Ingels, a wonderful Danish urban planner, is bringing communities together throughout the world.
It seems quite nice to live this Scandi life with high minimum wages, free education, and life amongst environmentally-conscious folks. If I lived there, perhaps I would go to work and come home around 4:00pm everyday, since it’s all about that work-life balance, right? If I had a baby, I would get multiple paid months off, and childcare. I could drive to Austria during winter holidays to go skiing, and flee to my quaint summer home in August. My home would adhere to the Scandinavian minimalist trend, and I wouldn’t have an excess of material items because that’s “so American” and unhyggeligt. Is this a crazy dream of mine, or does this life sound pretty decent?
If you want to know more about these countries, please feel free to drop me a comment. I could talk about these nations all day so don’t get me started 😉 If you’re interested, I’ve already written a few posts on each of these places. I’ve written blog posts on the best Copenhagen Cafes & Healthy Hotspots, my Iceland Roadtrip Itinerary, Helsinki Highlights, and last but not least, Why I Love Stockholm.