Monthly Archives: August 2012

Norway: Culture Shock is Real.

 

As I’ve already mentioned, there will be some travel posts mixed in throughout all of this, especially in the upcoming months. Now, most people hear about culture shock and think, “Yeah, yeah that’ll never happen to me.” That’s what I thought, too.

During my time studying abroad in London, my friend and I traveled to Oslo, Norway, and it was a complete accident. As embarrassing as it is, we saw an extremely inexpensive ticket on Ryanair to a city called Oslo and bought it instantly. Instead of researching the city before clicking “Submit,” we had committed ourselves to a long weekend in Norway…not Switzerland, where we thought Oslo was located. Ahem, anyway…

The weeks before the trip, we were amused by the fact that we would be going to Norway, a place neither of us had thought very much about before, to be completely honest. It isn’t the most spoken about country when visiting Europe, and I definitely thought I would’ve been to France or Spain before ever setting foot in Norway. I guess we raised our hopes too high, however, because once we got off of the plane, we immediately had our first encounter with culture shock.

It started out small, and then gradually grew. It wasn’t even the land or country that was the catalyst, but the pepole themselves. I am not judging or placing a title on them at all. We simply did not run into the nicest of people in the beginning, or in the entire first day. This was the first culture, and the only one in my case, where we experienced culture shock. I had heard about it countless times from my study abroad leaders, but after falling in complete love with London and Scotland, I thought that maybe, just maybe, it could have been overrated. Boy, was I wrong. I realize all of the steps of culture shock usually occur over a few weeks or months, but we experienced the entire scheme within four days. For those of you who do not know what stages I am talking about, let me enlighten you…

1. Stage 1 – Excitement:                                                                                                                                             

  • In this stage, you are fascinated by everything revolving the culture. You are happy to experience it because you have little to no knowledge of it. It’s new and exciting, and you have a positive outlook on everything. For my friend and I, we had talked about going to Norway so much that we could not wait to get there. When the pilot announced, “Welcome to Norway,” we looked at each other laughing and were excited to step off of the plane.

2. Stage 2 – Withdrawal:

                             

  • Once you reach this stage, all of that excitement will have diminished by some extent, if not completly. You notice negative differences between the culture and your own and generate some resentment. You don’t understand how people could be so mean, things could be handled so poorly, etc. You may even criticize those living there and reserve yourself. This definitely happened to me; my friend and I were nice to others and, in return, were treated with disrespect and hatred. Our fascination quickly turned to a negative outlook, and we didn’t like to associate with Norwegians. We actually tried to change our flight back to London, missing the city we had fallen in love with and feeling upset that we would be spending our time in Norway instead. However, since we had already checked-in, no changes could be made. We decided to make the most out of the time we had there and to not give up completely on the culture.

(Just a side-note: We even spun a Krone, a Norwegian coin, as a totem to see if we were dreaming. We weren’t.  See the movie Inception if you do not understand what I am talking about).

3. Stage 3 – Adjustment:

                                      

  • This stage is where everything changes. You began to accept the differences and do not feel so alone. The excitement felt in the first stage is regained in small doses, and your sense of humor even comes back somewhat. This stage changed our outlooks on the trip completely. Everything definitely happens for a reason; because we were unable to change our flight, we did not give up and actually began to like the culture. It helped that we met some locals who were not only extremely nice, but also very funny and the Norwegian equivalents of ourselves personality-wise.

4. Stage 4 – Enthusiasm:

                              

                                                        Posing with my curling shoes!

  • With the last stage, you adapt to mostly everything and enjoy the culture as your own. You experience new things and are comfortable in your surroundings. Two of the Norwegians we met were Junior Olympian curlers who even taught us how to curl for the very first time. Who else can say that they traveled to Oslo on accident and then were given curling lessons by Junior Olympians themselves? Like I said, everything happens for a reason. …I have many videos of my curling experience; however, this one is my favorite.

Summary: Don’t give up on a culture simply because it frightens you or makes you uncomfortable. Those can be the biggest challenges which can lead to some of the greatest experiences overall. I am so fortunate that we were unable to change our flight. I can’t believe we even tried to in the first place. While leaving our hotel room, my friend and I both simultaneously, without even planning, said out loud, “Bye room, I’ll miss you!” What started out as a terrible “mistake” turned out to be one of our favorite trips. I have a feeling both of us will be back in Norway at one point or another.

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Venturing into the Unknown.

Today was my first day off in a while. You would think it would be full of relaxation and absolutely no stress; however I feel like it has been just the opposite. As I was getting things organized for my upcoming move to Germany in a month, I started to have a sort of panic attack. I started to think about my plans after I return from Germany such as where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing. And that’s when the panicking began. The fact is, I don’t know where I’ll be once I return, and there is no telling what I’ll be doing.

“All of life is a foreign country.”
– Jack Kerouac

In my perfect world, I would find some job in television or film production in New York City that would provide me with a steady income and wonderful benefits. However, as we all know, those industries are very hard to break into, especially the movie business. I am not set on living in NYC, but I know that I need to be where the opportunities are taking place. Will I even have enough money once I return to move if I did somehow get that magical job? If not, would I settle with living in Atlanta for a couple of years to earn more money for a potential move? There are, of course, movie and television productions happening here. The problem with that is, I don’t want to live in Atlanta. Having been born in Houston, Texas and then moving to Atlanta, Georgia when I was sixteen, I’ve come to the conclusion that Atlanta is not the place for me. Sure, it was great during my high school years and I wouldn’t have changed a second of it, but what it comes down to is that I don’t become inspired in this city, and I don’t see myself happily living here for the rest of my life.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
– Martin Buber

This may sound far-stretched and a bit crazy, but ever since I studied in London and became absorbed with filmmaking at the University of Alabama, I feel like there’s something bigger out there for me. I realize many people probably have this same feeling, but I didn’t feel it until only a year or two ago. I had never envisioned big plans for me before; I always thought I’d follow the black-and-white, or the very simple and obvious, route that most individuals follow: college, any job you can take, marriage, kids, and then boom you’re forty. I used to see that for me, but now I want something more in the job department. Yes, I still want to be married and have kids, but unlike most of the people I know in the South, I would not want to get married until I am 26 or 27 years old. Even with that age on the table, I’m terrified because there is so much I want to do beforehand. The fact that I did not envision so much for me before actually makes me sad, because now I know that I would have missed out on so much if I did not have my sort of epiphany.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”
– Mark Twain

(*Street Art from Berlin, I do not claim rights to these pictures.*)

Basically, what I’m saying is, I don’t know what is going to happen when I return, and I don’t know where I’ll end up; as of now, all I can do is continue to do what I love and inspires me and hope that everything will fall in place after that. My life motto is, “Everything happens for a reason,” and that phrase has seriously been the shoulder I lean on when unfortunate things happen. I need to live completely in the present and not worry about the future, especially when the future I’m worrying about is over a year away.

While in Berlin, I will be making videos for a production company, exploring one of the most historical cities in the world, and becoming involved in the Berlin Film Festival where I can hopefully make contacts that can seal that future job for me. I mean, I may even be bilingual by then! I may not know how the future will play out, but I know I’m taking all of the right steps. Where those steps will lead me, who knows? But you have to admit, there is some type of excitement in the not-knowing part. Hopefully, a year or two from now, I will look back upon this post and laugh. I will think about how ridiculous I sound considering how great the future turned out. The truth is, I’m scared. However, I know from experience that the situations that scare you the most and force you out of your comfort zone are usually the greatest lessons of all. Wish me luck! I will do the same for you. As Mary Oliver once said, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

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“All You Need is Love”

I’m guessing you’ve heard that quote before. I’m also guessing that you’re guessing why I guessed that. Did I guess right? Ahem…well, regardless of the obvious innuendo I could be making in relation to London (to be fair, I warned you that I’m obsessed), it is a more literal correlation this time. I am, in fact, talking about the Beatles, of which I’m sure you’re very aware. Now, why am I bringing up the Beatles? Well, other than being one of the most popular and influential bands in the history of the world, they have a strong realtionship with England. Although most of their history lies in Liverpool, England, they left a lot of their footprints in London! When I say footprints, I mean it in a literal sense once again, as in Abbey Road…yes, the Abbey Road! It is located just a short walk from Regents Park in London, which is where I actually took the picture(s) located above (and below).

So yes, I’ve been there. And when I say I’ve been there, I mean I’ve literally been in their footprints. So, I guess the past few sentences have had a circular effect, but the point is (yes, there is a point…I think…) that one needs to explore unique things about the cities he or she visits so that amazing memories, and pictures, can be made! If you have lived under a rock for about, oh, fifty years or so, then this is the famous crosswalk I am speaking of: http://www.abbeyroad.com/visit/

Yes, there is a constant webcam which films everything around the crosswalk, and yes, I watched this before going there with my friends. And no, that isn’t creepy…

Anyway, two friends and I walked to Abbey Road and were quickly surrounded by many other tourists. We knew they were tourists, because, like us, they would quickly run onto the crosswalk, scream to their friend, “TAKE THE PICTURE! QUICK!” and then sprint off of the street as a double decker bus sped by blaring its horn. I realize this was probably not the safest thing to do, but it was worth every second.

So, about seven attempts and much more than seven horns later, we ended up with the best picture we could get. I realize I ruined it…in the sense that in the real Abbey Road picture with the actual Beatles, they are all facing one direction and looking serious. I, on the other hand, am facing the camera with a goofy look on my face (you can’t blame me…I mean, I had already been threatened by buses at least six times). However, I feel like the picture came out well. We then saw Abbey Studios as well as a red Sharpie.

What was the Sharpie for, you ask? Well, go to Abbey Road and see for yourself…as you will see my name written next to two of my friends’ names. We were able to sign the wall and write our own history.

The point is, in any city you live in, there will always be the typical tourist attractions to see, but it is important to find those that have a special meaning to you. Although Abbey Road was obviously known to many other tourists, it was a spot that was special to me. My best advice when traveling would be to research the place you are about to go to, not only so that you check the major attractions off your list, but also so that you can find certain places unique to you that will make your trip stand out from those typical tourist itineraries. You don’t have to put too much time into it, simply know what is there beforehand so that you don’t arrive back home and say, “Wow…I wish I had gone there or done that,” when you had been right around the corner. It has happened to me and is not too great of a feeling. Although there is much time to return and to see it “later”, if you keep saying “later” then chances are you will never make it back there. Take advantage of the opportunity at hand.

We definitely made our mark on Abbey Road just as it made its mark on us.

And if you’re bored, feel free to look at the webcam of Abbey Road to watch as tourists speed across the road attempting to take the picture without being run over. Yes, I’ve done this, and again, that is not creepy. …What?

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Any News on “The Newsroom?”

As I sit here rewatching HBO’s The Newsroom, I wonder what everyone else’s thoughts are on it. Being one of the biggest fans of HBO, it seems only natural that I would be watching an episode of one of its newest shows…yet again. Yes, I am one of those people who watches episodes and movies multiple times without ever growing tired of them. The movie “The Holiday” with Jude Law? I watched it yesterday, the day before, and two days before that. This episode of the newsroom? Well, maybe I’m rewatching it simply to understand every line, but that’s the type of person I am.

When Game of Thrones was airing, I was hooked. I’m not even ashamed. I was introduced to it in March and still cannot get enough of it to this day. I’m even about to start reading the books. This may surprise some of you, but yes, I am that girl who is about to read Game of Thrones. The only thing keeping me from starting is the fact that my brother is currently reading the first book and taking his sweet time to finish it. I could buy my own version, but I am extremely frugal. Ergo, I may have to wait a few months…or years.

Anyway, I suppose I need to stop chatting away about Game of Thrones. (I even had Game of Thrones nights at my house where people brought different dishes each week). Back to The Newsroom, I can’t help but to wonder what other people think about this show. I wonder this mainly because I, myself, cannot figure out whether or not I even like it. Yes, I watch it every week, and like I have already mentioned, I may or may not watch the episodes multiple times…however, some episodes I love while others simply mesh together.

“Big news breaks when you least expect it.” – The Newsroom

To explain my point further, I will start with the first episode. The speech Jeff Daniels gives in the pilot episode sold me on the show entirely. Everything he said spoke to me; so many people in America are very cocky when they talk about our country (I’m American so I feel as though I can say that). If I hear “‘Merica!” one more time, I may snap. I grew up my entire life believing that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world, and maybe at the time it was. However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve been exposed to much more and have been able to form my own ideas about the world. The point Jeff Daniels’ character makes is that maybe America isn’t the “best” country in the world anymore. I have to say personally that after studying in Europe for a semester, there are many things that Americans need to be exposed to in their lives; those who shout out “‘Merica!” every other hour are usually those who haven’t taken the time to realize that.

Getting back to The Newsroom, I have more to say. I suppose the fact that I keep getting distracted from talking about the show explains my point exactly. At some points, I love the show, and at others, I am completely distracted. Like I was starting to say before, the speech Jeff Daniels gives in the beginning of the series is phenomenal. I did not want him to stop talking. The rest of the pilot episode was very exciting to watch,  too. However, the second and third episodes seem to mesh together to me. I cannot remember what happened specifically in each, but I do know what happened overall in the two. Does that say something that I cannot differentiate between two episodes…when I have currently only seen five of them? Who knows. I do know that the fourth episode got me back in the groove, so to say, mainly because of all of the events happening at the end while a Coldplay song was heard. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for Coldplay, but the song mixed with the plot as well as the emotions of the main characters after stating that they were the only news station to call things based on their ideas rather than the public opinion really gave the show points in my book.

While talking about the plot, it is hard to ignore two of the main relationships in the show. Those, if you have been watching it, should be obvious. I am talking about the characters Will McAvoy and Mackenzie MacHale as well as Jim Harper and Maggie Jordan. Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, is a very straightforward and blunt man known as one of the most watched anchors on television. His new Executive Producer, Ms. MacHale, is actually his ex-girlfriend who cheated on him with one of her ex-boyfriends. The ironic part is that she didn’t realize how much she loved him until after she cheated on. Now, jealousy and confusion absorb the newsroom.

However, they’re not the only two causing drama in the workplace. When thinking about the characters Jim Harper and Maggie Jordan, I begin to be frustrated. Jim Harper is new to the office under Ms. MacHale’s authority and has a “secret” crush on Maggie. I say secret in quotations simply to emphasize that from the pilot episode, the fact that he has an infatuation with Maggie is made apparent. As the episodes continue, it is obvious that Maggie has also thought about Jim in a “more than friends” manner. However, her boyfriend…yes boyfriend, Don, obviously stands in the way. To add suspense and drama, Jim tells Maggie to learn how to fight with Don rather than break up every time they argue, as the couple is known to do. Whenever I see Jim act inferior to Don, I become really frustrated. People who have no confidence in themselves really bother me; that may sound blunt, but it’s true. When people constantly put themselves down, I take it as them trying to gain sympathy and attention. People who look for sympathy only deter themselves from gaining confidence in what they have the potential to do. Jim needs to step up and say something to Maggie, especially when she and Don are clearly not right for one another.

To sum everything up, I am curious to hear how others are liking (or not liking) the new series. It seems to be very intellectual with how it incorporates situations that have happened in the past years, such as the BP oil spill, but I wonder how people are enjoying the plot and characters of the show. I will continue to watch it, but it doesn’t have the effect on me that Game of Thrones does; however, who am I to compare shows of entirely different genres? Let me know, and enter your email address on the right of this blog to receive a notification any time a post is created. Thanks again!

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RECapture YOUR CREATIVE SPARK.

“See if something inspires you. Do something with it.”

                                                                  – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Are you a creative person trying to make your name in the world? Many people believe that if they take off and move to L.A., then they are bound to find the job of their dreams and have their name in the spotlight. However, if everyone has this same idea, then what does that do to an individual’s chances? I recently came in contact with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s production company called hitRECord which started in 2010. His organization speaks out to those same people trying to make their names and work recognized. HitRECord is an “open-collaborative production company” which uses the website not as a means of showcase, like YouTube and Vimeo, but rather as an online studio for those who choose to become involved. And just how hard is it to become involved? Well, not very hard at all. You simply go to the website http://www.hitrecord.org/ and click on the large green circle which encases the word, “Join!”

To break the process down for you a bit more, let me try to explain. So, like I mentioned, the company is directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself. Yes, the same Joseph Gordon-Levitt who you’ve seen in InceptionThe Dark Knight Rises500 Days of Summer, and the like. One of my personal favorites of his still to this day is Ten Things I Hate About You. Still love ya, Cameron. When I say he directs the website, I mean he starts a collaboration (or you, too, could start one) which ignites the creativity of “collaborators” all over the world. Now, these collaborators could be anyone, including again, you. They upload their material to the website, and other collaborators can download it, being a song, video, tomato, to-mah-toe, and remix it. When they say “remix”, they mean that the media is simply taken and then altered with one’s own personal touch. Then, this new altered piece is re-uploaded to the website for others to put their own unique spin on it.

“Remix isn’t theft; it’s just how we work together.”

                                                                   — Joseph Gordon-Levitt

After altercations have been made, final products can reach all-star status and be sold! Yes, you receive the moolah (or cash money) for your work, and your name will be associated with that piece of media. Finally! Am I right or am I right? The profit from the sold media is then split 50/50 (how fitting considering Mr. Gordon-Levitt’s filmography). HitRECord gains half of the profit while the other fifty percent is split among all of the collaborators who added to it. Yes, again, this could be you!

Now, what kind of media are they creating? There are opportunities for making songs, videos, books, poems, images and the like. One example of how collaborators use their creativity of text is the self-published book entitled, “The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories”, where believe it or not, people have joined together to create tiny stories in this tiny book. It was so successful that the company was given a three-book deal, so expect to see even more of these tiny stories. Any filmmakers out there like me? Well, they are now collaborating to adapt the tiny stories into tiny videos. (Okay, I’ll stop using the word “tiny.” Though, I have to admit, it does become a tiny bit addictive). In fact, if you want to see more of the items created by hitRECord, then go out and purchase your own version of RECollection, a book with many of their final products, including text, images, a DVD with videos, and a CD with songs. They also do a lot of live shows where items made on the website are presented as well as impromptu pieces made up right there on the stage. They have taken place at large venues such as the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW.

“We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

                                                                                               — A Wise Man

In 2010, hitRECord sent out checks for a total of $49, 849.70. And that was only in their first year. Interested but still think it sounds too good to be true? Why not go to the website, http://www.hitrecord.org/, and find out for yourself? You can browse their featured records and as Joseph Gordon-Levitt says in his introduction video, “See if something inspires you. Do something with it.” For a complete run-down of how the whole process works, hear it from the man himself. The introdcution video that I just mentioned will be seen on the home page, and it does a perfect way of explaining it all in a fun and easy-to-understand manner. Plus, you get to watch Mr. Gordon-Levitt for four minutes and thirty-four seconds. That’s enough to reel me in. I apologize, that sounded creepy. Ahem…anyway, I highly recommend this new innovative idea so go ahead and give it a try!

**I was given permission by hitRECord.org to use the previous images.

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