Seeking the Summit

In my life thus far, I’ve had quite a bit of experience with goal setting. I had meetings with my ski coaches every fall  (and bike coaches every spring) to set goals. I had strength and agility standards to meet. I had race series I wanted to qualify for and top speed records to break. In school, I had sporadic G-T (gifted and talented) meetings to talk about my academic potential. I wanted to be good enough for top scholarships and universities.

When I went to college and learned a bit about writing grants, I encountered a whole different way to think about goals and measuring progress. I learned about SMART goals – goals that were Specific, Measurable, Attainable (or Action-oriented), Realistic (or Relevant), and Time-bound. I learned to laugh at the girl who had eagerly told her coaches she wanted to ski in the Olympics. That wasn’t a realistic goal. I had no benchmarks between where I was and that end point.

And then I became a teacher. Teaching is FULL of goals. Standardized test score goals. Building-wide goals, department goals, individual goals. Goals driven by data, by current trends, by whoever your evaluator might be. Goals born out of professional development and dreams of what my classroom could (should) look like.

This is the first weekend of my spring break and I’m finding myself looking back at a lot of goals I made in September, shaking my head, and laughing ruefully. Maybe it’s because it’s March and I’m exhausted, but those goals seem completely ridiculous to me right now. I feel a bit like I’m looking at the girl who wanted to go to the Olympics. You wanted to have every assessment planned before you started the unit? Yeah right. You wanted to call parents once a week, ha ha. You wanted to incorporate formative assessment into your classroom on a regular basis and put learning in the hands of the students; what a sweet thought.

For this first weekend I packed up and came home to Steamboat. I’ve written a bit before about how absolutely wonderful it is to come home; Mom cooks, Jeffrey teases the life out of me, I play my piano and laze around in my Hufflepuff sweatpants. (What, you don’t have Hufflepuff sweatpants?) And I knit. Mom and I sit on the couches across from each other and duel with our knitting needles. And while we do this, we spend hours talking about anything and everything.

Last night we talked about my dream classroom. We were talking about all those goals at I had in September – students being meta-cognitive about their learning, awesome leveled assessments, and about differentiation. Especially in Anatomy and Physiology, I have students with completely different purposes for learning in my room. Some kids need another science credit to graduate or had too many free blocks. Some kids want to be neurosurgeons and are applying for pre-med programs. Some want to be personal trainers or dieticians, and some are just curious about why they get hiccups.

So we started building this dream-classroom, with strong class culture and student choice and opportunities for everyone to learn and grow. But instead of being inspiring, this felt crushing. How on earth was I supposed to create something like this?

For one thing, I trained to be a MOLECULAR biologist. I can tell you a bit about proteins and biochemistry. I can’t name even half the bones in the body. I don’t know what most hormones do. I reread the textbook before every unit so I know what on earth I’m talking about. For another thing, I’m already overwhelmed just trying to make sure I have a lesson every day for them, let alone an awesome lesson or a creative project or multiple options for them to explore. If I’m struggling to meet the normal expectations of a teacher, how do I ask myself to do more?

I know a lot of this feeling is because it’s March, and like I mentioned earlier, I’m fried. In my rant, I snapped out that I don’t need to be looking at a dream classroom. I need to be figuring out something that’s realistic for me to do for the rest of the year. Mom came back with equally valid logic; in order to move forward I need something to shoot for. It was past my bedtime and I was cranky (and I knew it), so I subsided with a grumble and took myself to bed.

This morning, we got up early and snowshoed up to the top of the gondola. It’s not an easy hike; it’s only just about two miles but over 2000 feet of elevation gain. This morning it started warm – about 36o F – and spitting corn snow. We hit the cloud ceiling about a third of the way up and it started snowing harder, with a gentle wind. My right eyelashes kept collecting ice crystals and my ponytail was completely stiff. The trees, lift towers, and other hikers were ghost-like in the fog.

I was delighted at the return of nearly-proper winter! It’s fun to pit myself against the elements and see how far I can go. I love the feeling of my hamstrings and quads contracting and releasing, moving me one step higher. I love the stingy feeling of blood pumping through my cold hands and cheeks. I think it’s hilarious how my hair turns into a demented Christmas ornament, all twisted and frosted.

One thing we definitely couldn’t see was the summit. Normally the lodge that also houses the top of the gondola looms over Heavenly Daze, the ski run we climb up. It can be a bit daunting, looking up at it and knowing exactly how far away I am. I tend to take tiny steps when I’m hiking up something steep, so it’s A LOT of steps for me to get to the top.

As Mom and I paused to catch our breaths, a woman on skins came up behind us. She stopped for a moment too, and looked over at us. “Crazy weather,” she announced. “It’s way harder to do this when I don’t know how far up I am!”

“We’re on the last steep pitch,” I offered. I’ve basically lived on this hill my whole life, so I was certain I was right. The other lady nodded and continued on with a cheery farewell. Mom and I started trudging up behind her.

I was wrong, in case you were curious. I thought we were a pitch higher than we were. Don’t be overconfident in low visibility, friends. My dad can tell an awesome story about how he got 180turned around in a snowstorm while hunting one time. He thought his compass was broken!

The symbolism of all of this was not lost on me. I told Mom wryly that this sounded an awful lot like a conversation we’d had last night. She laughed at me and just continued hiking.

I like reading mountaineering stories, of climbers on Everest and K2 (that’s the picture at the top this time) and other famous peaks. It’s interesting to see how the summit captures their whole focus, how that goal can become consuming. Mountaineers are incredible because they allow their desire to get to that goal to carry them through huge difficulties, sometimes past when it would be smart to turn back. Often the writers or the people who watch them climb wonder what it is about the summit that drives the climbers to try superhuman feats.

Now, the top of the gondola is in no way comparable to the summit of K2, but it is still  satisfying to get up there. It is much easier to sit around in my aforementioned sweatpants and drink tea. (Trust me, that’s what I’m currently doing, and I’m deeply enjoying it.) But I also enjoyed pushing myself past physical discomfort in order to reach that summit.

Mom (and the lady skinning up) is right – it’s easier when we can see the top. Just the same as it’s easier to practice a piano piece when I know what it’s supposed to sound like. It’s easier to attempt a new bread recipe when I know what it’s supposed to taste like. And it is easier to become a better teacher when I know what good teaching looks like.

So what I’m left with is a lot of questions. Why are goals sometimes motivating and sometimes not? When are expectations something to rise to and when are they a burden to carry? Where is the line between challenge and struggle? Is there a difference between a goal and a dream?

That’s your homework and mine, this time.

Hej då,

Jamie

The Art of Fika

I’ve seen a lot of articles and Facebook posts in the last couple of years about the idea of hygge. Hygge is a Danish word (koselig is the Norwegian version) that means a sense of coziness, comfort, and warmth. It’s a mindset that many people in Scandinavian countries have in response to the very dark winters. It is particularly prevalent in Tromsø, one of the farthest north towns in the world. Tromsø is 350km north of the Arctic circle, which means the sun remains below the horizon for a portion of the winter.

Over the winter of 2014-2015, Kari Leibowitz, psychologist from Stanford University spent 10 months in Tromsø studying the effects of light on people’s psychology. She devised a ‘winter mindset questionnaire’ to assess people’s attitudes about winter. She also administered the assessment Oslo area, which is one of the southernmost points of Norway. Her results were fascinating. The farther north they went, the more positive people’s mindsets towards winter were. People in Tromsø make a point of creating light – whether floodlights on the sledding hill or an incredible number of candles – and of enjoying the soft colors of twilight at midday.

In many ways, this reminds me quite a bit of the other bit of Norwegian wisdom I shared with you: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Rather than  falling prey to circumstances outside their control, many Scandinavians simply do their best to adjust and move on. One town called Rjukan, Norway adjusted by building giant mirrors to reflect the sun to their town, which is at the bottom of a deep canyon. (This being said, a lot of Swedish literature, songs, and humor have fairly dark and depressing themes, so make of that what you will.)

But wait, you’re thinking. Didn’t you study abroad in Sweden? Why are you talking so much about Norway? Truth be told, I never learned the Swedish word for hygge or koselig. But one of my favorite words and ideas that I did learn about in Sweden is the idea of fika.

Fika is one of those awesome words that really doesn’t translate. Even though Swedes are known for having some of the best English in a non-English speaking country, they don’t bother to translate it and just use it the way it is. Literally, fika translates as a verb: “to coffee.” But it’s used in a lot of different ways. People have said to me, “Let’s have a fika,” “It’s time for fika,” and “Would you like to fika?” Fika can mean to take a break, to grab a cup of coffee on the go, or to meet up with coffee and pastries and friends. Fika could be at a coffee shop, on a walk, or at someone’s home. (I keep saying coffee even though I don’t drink it. Even under many, many evil eyes, I stuck with my tea. Swedes are coffee OBSESSED.)

One important distinction that was made clear to me very early was that fika was a personal, intimate invitation. Asking someone to get coffee was much more formal. Especially in the winter, fika is a really important way for people to create a cozy, comfortable space where they can reconnect with important people. Sound familiar? Even though fika is an activity rather than a mindset, it feels a lot like hygge and koselig.

Fika is central to Swedish life. In my neuroscience class, we had four hour lecture blocks scheduled. At first, I was a bit worried about focusing for four hours, but our professor quickly made it clear that there would be frequent fikas, and we could bring our drinks and snacks back to class. My apartment was on a corridor with four Swedish girls and we all shared a kitchen; they were almost always having a fika when I got home. Perhaps it has something to do with Swedes’ constant need for caffeine (and in the winter, warmth), but I loved the constancy of people connecting with their friends.

I feel like fika is an art form that not as many people have discovered in the US. We have a huge coffee shop culture, that is true, but it feels really different to me. For one thing, we don’t often have fika at home. And when we’re in coffee shops, we’re there to work or to meet people for various productive purposes, rather than to get together with an old friend. It doesn’t have the same intimate feel as fika did while I lived in Sweden. And the US has a very interesting culture surrounding breaks and productivity, which could be a whole different blog post.

I recently read this article on the BBC. It’s about US cafes that are removing their WiFi and/or banning screens. In the article, the writer describes current cafe culture as feeling “more like open-plan offices than centres of community.” Some of the cafe owners interviewed cited the need for relief from technological imbalance as the reason for getting rid of WiFi, while others cited the desire to create a place of discourse and connection. The article explores societal, psychological, and economic impacts of creating spaces like this. It is a completely fascinating article (and links to a 69 page history of the purposes of cafes!) so I highly recommend reading more than just my little summary here.

Now, I spent a quite ridiculous amount of time sitting in Brewing Market throughout my college career. One semester I totaled it up; I wrote over 100 pages of graduate-level education papers in that coffee shop. The guy who worked on Wednesday mornings, my favorite time to go, started recommending teas to me based on what he knew I usually ordered. My other favorite place to work was in the engineering center, which also had easy access to tea and snacks. I still go to coffee shops sometimes to grade or plan because I like having the energy of other people talking and working around me to help keep me motivated.

But when I think about fika, I also think about this description of the original purposes of cafes. From that same BBC article, the purpose of cafes was “to act as places for lively debate and intellectual discussion and, above all else, social interaction.” In fact, the idea of a cafe without any technology is hugely appealing to me. If people actually talked to each other, I feel like it would ameliorate quite a lot of loneliness, feelings of being disenchanted, and isolation.

I still have lots of questions in my head about this kind of a cafe. I certainly don’t want to lose the ability to work coffee shops; some of my most productive work times have been in coffee shops around Boulder. And I also wonder about notebooks and books. When newspapers came out, people bemoaned the lack of connection lost to reading on the subway or time not spent listening to the radio. Will these older technologies (yes, printing is ABSOLUTELY a technology) still create gaps between people and isolation?

All that being said, I would welcome a “No-Fi” coffee shop in Boulder. I think perhaps it might be more popular than most people would expect. And I think it might help give us a way to start learning the art of fika.

Your homework: Have you ever experienced a cultural idea that you wished you could bring home? How do you connect with your most important people? What do you think about “No-Fi” coffee shops?

Hej då,

Jamie

 

Reading and Rereading

One of the only negative parent-teacher conferences I ever had as a student was with my seventh grade English and history teacher. Unbeknownst to me, she knew I’d been reading under my desk almost constantly in her class. I had discovered Anne McCaffrey wrote A LOT more books than I originally thought, and I was devouring anything by her I could get my hands on. So much for me being sneaky about it! My mom, I think, was more amused than mad at me, although I did have promise not to read in class anymore.

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. In one of my scholarship essays, I wrote about reading as something I really enjoyed.

“Reading opens up any world I choose; it’s a way for me to see other people’s point of view and learn their stories. There are books that require thought and analysis and challenge my perceptions, like Beloved. This kind of book changes how I think about myself and others, and inspires me to act on my newly acquired understanding. These books are not always easy to read, but they’re hugely rewarding because they have depth and themes that recur universally throughout life.

But reading can also be purely for pleasure, to take a break from reality and experience something completely different. There are books that are fun, like Twilight. They probably won’t change how I think or inspire me to do great things, but they make me laugh and not take myself too seriously, which is just as important. Other books are comfortable because I’ve reread them so many times; it’s like visiting old friends and reminiscing together.

I remember the first word I read in kindergarten: love. It was an appropriate first word to read because since that moment, I haven’t stopped. Reading has many roles in my life; the wide spectrum of possibilities is why I love it.”

In the interview process for that scholarship, one of the questions I remember was about this essay. One interview had noticed the incredible amount of time I poured into ski racing – upwards of 35 hours per week – and asked why I didn’t write about ski racing as the thing I enjoyed. I had to think for a minute. I hadn’t chosen to write about ski racing for any of my five essays for that application. Finally I told the panel that I did love ski racing. But ski racing is dependent on seasons, location, and having functional knees. It’s not something everyone can do, and I knew it wasn’t going to be something I could do forever. Stories unite people. Anyone can learn to read. It’s something I’ll have my entire life, and it’s purpose in my life will never change.

When I was in elementary and middle school, I used to imagine myself into the worlds I read about even once the book was no longer in my hand. I was a pioneer girl and sister to Laura Ingalls Wilder. I swam with dolphins and ran with wolves, I journeyed across the world, all while walking along side my mom in the grocery story.

(Alright, let me be really honest here. I still make up stories as I’m doing dishes or sorting papers or driving between Boulder and Longmont. This Friday evening, as I made dinner for Mom, I was imagining that I was the owner of a bed and breakfast in the Swiss Alps. If my imagination ever stops, I think life will be deeply boring.)

I love discovering new worlds and stories, but I also love rereading books. Like I mentioned in my essay, it’s like meeting up with old friends and reminiscing. Often I feel like I can see my younger self reading the books, and it’s fun to remember what I noticed and cared about the first time I read the book. But I’ve also noticed that as I’ve grown, some books’ meanings have changed or deepened for me. Some books (like Twilight) I’ve outgrown and likely won’t go back to. But all the books in the lead picture are books that have traveled with me from Steamboat to the many places I’ve lived within Boulder. Some of them even made the journey to Sweden and Panama. I love these characters and stories and the things I learn (and relearn) as I read them. Each of these books means something special to me.

(Those books are, from left to right on top, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling, Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, Picabo: Nothing to Hide by Picabo Street, and on bottom The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, The Ancient One by TA Barron, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Naya Nuki by Kenneth Thomasma, The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg, and Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery.)

There are a couple (ok, more than a couple) authors whose books I would add: Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane,  Paulo Coelho, Carolyn Keene, Gary Paulson, Will Hobbs, Philip Pullman, Ann Brashares, Jane Austen, Deborah Ellis…really, there’s a reason I can’t carry all my books with me!

I cherish all of these stories for different reasons, but there are two series in particular that have been incredibly formative for me. I’ve already written about Harry Potter (and don’t worry, I’ll write about him more at some point) so today I’d like to tell you a little bit about my second-most-reread-series-of-all-time: Anne of Green Gables.

This is a series that has grown up with me. There are eight books in total, following Anne through her life and her children’s lives. When I was little I loved the first book, where Anne grows from age eleven to age fifteen. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate the later books in ways I didn’t before. My favorite while I was in college was Anne of the Island, because Anne was in college. Actually, I think that’s still my favorite, but someday I can imagine that I will have a different perspective on the books where Anne gets married and has children.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Anne Shirley in an orphan girl who is accidently sent to Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, siblings in their mid-fifties who live at Green Gables. They originally wanted a boy to help with the farm, but through a miscommunication got Anne instead. Anne is red-haired, much to her dismay, talkative, and very imaginative. She gets into all sorts of scrapes but always with the best of intentions. I love her as a child and as an adult; I think it’s one of the best literary examples of character growth. There is a lot about Anne that I aspire to, especially as she matures.

At the moment, I’m especially appreciative of the fact that Anne never loses her imagination, not even as a mother of six. As I mentioned above, I certainly don’t ever want to lose mine. That’s part of why I continue to write, even when I’m writing something silly like fanfiction. Maybe especially silly things like fanfiction. As Anne would say, there’s just so much scope for imagination!

I got into the habit of rereading at least the first book every April my junior year of college when I was living in Sweden. Most years I also reread a couple more, though I haven’t yet made it through all eight since the first time I read them all. I don’t always read them in order, and sometimes I read more than one at a time. This year the urge to go back to Anne’s story crept up on me a bit earlier than normal, so I’ve already started into it. Perhaps this will be the year I actually get through them all again!

I could go on for a long time about why I love Anne – she inspires my nerd and also my old-lady-hobbitness. I love how much she loves flowers and trees and rambling walks outdoors. But, I’ll stop here for today and instead give you your homework!

Why do you read? Do you reread? Why or why not?

Hej då,

Jamie

 

See Forever

I’m sure most of you have seen the famous mountain silhouette on the Coors cans. Turns out that’s an actual mountain from Colorado! It’s called Mt. Wilson, and it’s near Telluride. (That’s my leading picture today. Thanks, Dad for taking that one!) One good way to see the mountain is to get to the top of the Telluride ski area and ski a run called “See Forever.” Mt. Wilson definitely isn’t the only mountain you can see from there; on a clear day, it’s one of the most incredible views in the state.

I absolutely love being up high and being able to see for a long way. It’s one reason I like mountains so much; I feel like I can literally see forever. It makes me feel small and like a piece of something so much bigger than me. I love the ecological patchwork of conifers and meadows and deciduous trees, and I love wondering what’s behind the next set of peaks or around the bend in the valley.

But it doesn’t just have to be mountains. I like getting up high just about anywhere. In fact, I’ve made a point of getting on top of something tall in nearly every new city I’ve been to. I helps me to get a sense of direction and put landmarks in relation to each other. I like to watch so many people go about their lives and wonder what their stories are. So here’s a few things (in no particular order), natural and man-made, I’ve climbed on top of.

  1. Mt. Werner Ski Area, Steamboat, CO. This one might seem a little obvious, and I’ve reached this summit a million and three times in my life. But whether I’m riding my bike, snowshoeing, or riding the gondola, I love the perspective on town I get from up here. I can see everything that’s important to me: the Yampa river, the high school, my house, and Howelsen Hill. I can see Sleeping Giant , Emerald Mountain, and the Flattops. I spent thirteen years admiring that view nearly once a week, and it’s still not old.mount_werner
  2. Stadhuset, Stockholm, Sweden.Stadhuset” means city hall in Swedish, and that’s exactly what this giant tower is. It’s a cool climb through narrow stairways and halfway up is a little museum. And of course, the view from the top is totally worth it! Stockholm is built on fourteen different islands, so when you’re in the middle of it all it can be a little confusing. But Stadhuset gives a great perspective on how water connects the city rather than dividing it.stockholms_stadshuset
  3. Altare della Patria, also known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, Rome, Italy. This giant white building is a huge focal point looming over the ruins of ancient Rome. I loved feeling like I could hold Rome in my hands from up there. It’s a huge city, and this monument is rather in the middle of everything so I could get a good grasp on where things were relative to each other. I loved staring out over the terra cotta tile roofs and wondering at the incredible amount of life that poured out of everyone.national-monument-de-emanuele-rome
  4. Holmenkollen, Oslo, Norway This is slightly outside of Oslo itself, but it was one of the nerdiest skier places I’ve ever been! Holmenkollen is the biggest ski jumping area in Norway and they recently rebuilt the jump. It’s a giant steel monolith rising above the skyline of the city. And underneath is the ski museum! There is a ski there from 500 BC, which is crazy. Skiing, particularly jumping and cross country, are huge parts of Norwegian culture. But alpine plays a role too; I got to touch one of Aksel Lund Svindal‘s GS skis! And yes, the edges were still sharp. I checked.holmenkollen
  5. Ancon Hill, Panama City, Panama Ok, so when you start at sea level, even 654 feet feels like a long way up! Ancon Hill rises above Panama City and gives a wonderful view of both the new and old downtowns and the port where the canal goes back into the Pacific Ocean. Panama City is definitely a patchwork of different neighborhoods with wildly different characters, and it was cool to see how they intermingled. I also got to see a toucan while we were up there!view-from-ancon-hill-panama
  6. Faulhorn, Grindelwald, Switzerland Grindelwald is an absolutely amazing town! The mountains there are about the same elevation as in Colorado, but they start so much lower that the elevation change is incredibly dramatic. On one side of Grindelwald, the Eiger tends to hide in the clouds. On the other side, a gondola called “First” takes you up to Bachalpsee, one of the most beautiful high alpine lakes I’ve ever seen. From there Mom and I climbed to the top of Faulhorn, which is known as “The Lady’s Alp.” There is a restaurant at the top (the Swiss are extremely good at putting buildings where it feels like it should be impossible to put one) but it was closed for the summer. Like many days in the Swiss alps, that day was foggy and a bit snowy, but it was beautiful all the same. This picture is from part-way up, looking back at Bachalpsee.part-way-up-the-faulhorn
  7. Calanque National Park, Cassis, France I got to visit this national park with my friend, Henri. The Calanques sort of reminded me of the fjords of Norway, except the pale and red streaked rock and the dryness reminded me of southern Colorado. Henri and I hiked all day through the Calanques and swam in the Mediterranean in the second Calanque. At one point we got way up above the second Calanque; you can still see people swimming waaaaaay down there. I loved this trip a) because I was hiking with a good friend b) I got to swim in the ocean and c) I got to see a part of France that was completely different than Paris. 2nd-calanque
  8. Grossmünster, Zurich, Switzerland If you want to get on top of something in a city, churches are usually a good call. Grossmünster is a large church near where the Limmat River flows into Lake Zurich. Across the river is another church with a shorter tower. You can climb to the top of one of the bell towers and see over the whole of the city. When Mom and I were in Zurich, we had taken the overnight flight from the east coast and landed that morning, and we though we were way more coherent that we really were! It was nice to get my legs and heart moving going up the narrow stairs, and then it was good to give my mind a chance to adjust to the new place from somewhere I could see it all.july-2015-018
  9. Mt. Hood, Oregon From the age of eleven to the age of eighteen, my family and I spent at least one week a year in Government Camp (which we fondly called Govy) at the base of Mt. Hood. Ski racers from all over the country flock to Mt. Hood every summer to train on the snow field at the top. To get up there, we would drive for a half hour to the Timberline Lodge. Then we would take two lifts from there to get up to the top of the snowfield. Some days it would be raining in Govy, foggy at Timberline, and then we’d ski all day in the sun above an ocean of clouds. Some days the weather at the top was absolutely miserable. And then there were the days that it was all the way clear, and we could see orchards and forests and green as far as we looked.mt-hood-oregon
  10. La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain The first time I went to Europe I went with an EF Tour through Spain. While in Barcelona, one of the things everyone wants to see is La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s famous cathedral. It was under construction while we were there, and it was the oddest experience. The outside is dark and convoluted, but the pillars inside are white and seem to rise effortlessly to infinite heights. Despite the jackhammers, there was a sense of peace inside the church. We spent the extra time to go up one of the bell towers. I hadn’t realized until then how hilly Barcelona was! And in the distance, we could see the Mediterranean glittering in the sun. This was one of my first experiences being up high looking over a big foreign city, and I was hooked.la-sagrada-familia
  11. Domkyrkan, Uppsala, Sweden I could tell you stories about Domkyrkan for hours and hours. It is, by law, the tallest building in Uppsala, and it was instantly one of my landmarks when I arrived and felt totally lost and adrift. It was halfway between my apartment and the university building where I had class, so on really cold days I would pause my bike ride home and go inside until I could feel my fingers again. I absolutely love that cathedral. But it wasn’t until my mom arrived in the last two weeks in Uppsala that I climbed one of the bell towers. After six months, I was pretty familiar with Uppsala. And I can’t say the view was outstanding; the window we had was really tiny. But nevertheless, I loved getting to see the Fyris river winding through downtown, spanned by innumerable bridges.002

Lots of people have something they typically do in every new place they go to, or a pose they strike at the top of every mountain they climb. For me, it’s all about getting up where I can see. I hope you enjoyed city-hopping through all these places with me!

Your homework: Do you like to be above everything so you can see it, or down in the middle of the action? Is there something you always do in a new place?

Hej då,

Jamie