Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Looking Back

Feelin' right at home in Malmo
It’s been kind of a crazy past week.  I barely had time to recover from my Germany trip before being thrown back into school work.  And now, as I’m writing this I don’t think I ever properly talked about Sweden, so I’ll try to tackle both trips in this one blog post.  We’ll see how this goes.
The great part about DIS, as my eccentric Environmental History professor put it is that “DIS is essentially a travel agency”.  This means that instead of following a traditional college schedule of 15 weeks plus a week of spring break, I have 4 weeks off where I can potentially travel plus any weekends (like this next weekend coming up: Farvel Kobenhavn, Bonjour Paris!).  Two of these weeks are reserved for going on study tours with my class and the other two are mine to do with what I want. 

Lund Cathedral
I went to Sweden nearly a month (!!) ago with my Sustainable Development class.  We spent one day in Lund, a small college-type town, and Malmo as well as another night in a tiny little town of 800 before going on a hike in Söderåsen National Park.  It was a really incredible trip where we ate some really great food, and toured around to a few organizations, companies, and neighborhoods in Malmo that were addressing sustainability in different ways. 

Despite the absolutely miserable weather (It was Sweden in February, what would you expect?), I had so much fun and learned so much.  We visited an afterschool program in Lund that taught kids about permaculture and how to care for animals and they even had a smithy that the kids could use! A frickin’ smithy! I didn’t even know they existed any more.  Even though the program was really cool, I think everyone was more interested in the animals that wandered around the property.  No one ever tells you that when you go to college, there is a distinct lack of furry creatures.  But I digress.
This is a green roof!
We also toured around two different neighborhoods in Malmo, the Western Harbor was a wealthier neighborhood where architects were invited to build these incredibly interesting and sometimes downright beautiful buildings that were creating sustainable solutions for living.  They had an electric car-sharing program that was run by PV cells and these chutes that took organic waste (I think it was then sent to a biofuel plant, but I can’t remember exactly).  The other neighborhood was in close association with the Green Roof Institute.  The neighborhood had become a bit of a slum a few decades back and now has become a model for the city of Malmo in sustainable communities.  At least, I think it has.

Maybe it was because the tour guide was really engaging, or maybe because the concept of trash incineration has interested me for the past two years, or maybe it was simply because our tour was conducted on a bus, instead of out in the elements but my favorite place on the tour was Sysav.  It was such an incredible company with a really interesting business model—they rely on trash to keep them running, but their advertisements are all about decreasing personal waste.  It was astonishing seeing the amount of trash that was collected and sorted.  The sheer magnitude of the trash piles everywhere really forced me to take a step back.  But although the trash was depressingly immense, the way that the company seems to approach it was not all doom and gloom (like most environmental issues).  But I think the best part of the entire tour was that they had the largest sanctuary in Sweden for sand martins that was started completely by accident.

Söderåsen National Park
Finally, the part I was looking forward to the most was the hike in Söderåsen.  It had been such a long time since I had been out in nature, and the park was so beautiful despite there being no leaves on the trees.  It was the perfect end to the trip, and reminded me of what exactly it is I want to work towards.  A lot of times when studying environmental issues, you can get bogged down by all of the problems and depressing statistics, but being out in nature really helps to clarify and put things into perspective.  It allows you to take a step back from the numbers and put a real, visceral connection to what it is exactly that makes it worth it.
View from the Top

Something to look forward to in the next post
And I think I’ll end on that inspirational note.  A little bit more on Sweden and Germany next time.

**I apologize for any and all spelling errors, I didn't read through this very carefully before posting**


  1. Love reading your blogs, Sarah. Seems like you are having an amazing college experience. I am you mom's friend from Carlinville, IL.

  2. After reading Garbology, I understand why you are based in Copenhagen. Very cool.