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### Exploring Scandinavia: Study-Abroad Adventure with PennWest Travelers

Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway represent four unique nations with their own distinct cultures, cuisines, and political landscapes, despite being commonly categorized under the umbrella of Scandinavia.

In the recent month, a group of 23 students from various parts of PennWest embarked on a journey across these regions to delve into a European escapade during their Spring Break.

For Allison Dobrinski, a sophomore studying history with minors in pre-law and theatre history and literature at PennWest California, this expedition provided a platform to delve into the everyday customs and traditional dishes of Scandinavia, with a specific focus on Danish cuisine.

“Experiencing a different perspective through firsthand encounters challenges one’s established viewpoints, prompting a shift in perception,” she remarked.

During the 10-day expedition, guided by faculty member Dr. Sean Madden from the College of Education, Arts, and Humanities, the PennWest travelers commenced their exploration with a walking tour of Helsinki, Finland, visiting notable landmarks such as the Government House, Helsinki University, and Uspenski Cathedral.

Following their exploration of Helsinki, the group boarded a ferry to journey to Stockholm, Sweden.

Claire Mapes, a senior history major at PennWest Clarion, highlighted the overnight ferry voyage from Helsinki to Stockholm as a standout experience due to the breathtaking views and unique adventure it offered.

In Stockholm, the travelers were led by a local expert guide through the Vasa Museum to witness a 17th-century warship that had sunk in 1628, later salvaged in 1961. The Vasa, now displayed in the museum, showcases approximately 95% of its original wooden structure.

Mapes, who focused on researching women and gender in Scandinavia during the academic segment of the trip, emphasized the significance of such experiences in broadening perspectives and introducing novel ideas and encounters.

The Stockholm leg of the journey concluded with an exploration of City Hall followed by a delightful dinner in the city.

Madden, reflecting on the rich historical heritage and contemporary outlook of Scandinavian nations, emphasized the importance of global exploration in understanding the world and oneself.

The next stop was Copenhagen, Denmark, where the PennWest group engaged in a walking tour of Old Town and the city hall square. An expert guide led them through a culinary adventure in Copenhagen, where Dobrinski stumbled upon a hidden culinary gem.

Dobrinski expressed her unexpected delight in savoring a traditional hotdog from the renowned hot dog stands in Copenhagen.

The final phase of the expedition took the PennWest cohort on a ferry to Oslo, Norway, where they visited significant sites like the Nobel Peace Prize banquet location, Oslo University, and the Parliament House. The itinerary also included visits to the Vikingskipshuset (Viking Ship Museum) and the Vigeland Sculpture Park.

Apart from the historical and cultural discoveries, the trip provided insights into diverse lifestyles.

Mapes noted that Scandinavian countries prioritize leisurely dining experiences, sauna rituals, and cold baths for well-being, along with a strong emphasis on quality healthcare and education.

The journey also facilitated learning and bonding among the travelers.

Dobrinski cherished the group breakfasts as moments filled with anecdotes and laughter before embarking on daily adventures.

Dr. Sean Madden at SkyWheel Helsinki.