I enjoy taking free online courses, not necessarily with any end goal in mind, but just for the sake of learning new things. Over the last couple of years, I’ve taken everything my local public library offers that I’m interested in and now I’ve moved on to Coursera in my search for interesting courses to take. On Coursera, you have to pay if you want a certificate out of it, but if you don’t care about that you can enroll for free (this may vary by course; I’m only going by the ones I’ve enrolled in so far). I’ve been taking an introductory course in Linguistics for a few weeks already. But I was beside myself with joy today when I discovered the course Scandinavian Film and Television from the University of Copenhagen! I enrolled immediately!

If you’re interested in Nordic cuisine, Coursera also offers The New Nordic Diet – from Gastronomy to Health, also from the University of Copenhagen. And for environmentalists, there’s Greening the Economy: Lessons from Scandinavia from Lund University.

I have also been learning Norwegian on Duolingo for the past couple of months. A friend told me about the site and I love it! The game-style format makes learning easy. One of the reasons I’m learning Norwegian is so that I can watch Norwegian TV shows online even if they don’t have English subtitles, such as 4-Stjerners Middag and Himmelblå. After I feel I have a good foundation in Norwegian I will start learning Swedish.

As a side note, I took two years of French in school but thought I’d forgotten most of it, so while on Duolingo I took a look at their French lessons to see if any of it would come back to me. It turns out I remember far more than I realized and I’ve been breezing through the lessons. But I find that I don’t really care for the French language. It’s easy for me, but I don’t enjoy it. On the other hand, Norwegian is more difficult for me, and sometimes I feel like my brain is at capacity and I can’t possibly cram in any new vocabulary, but I love the language so much that I look forward to my lessons each day. I am progressing slowly but surely.

If anyone knows of any other sources for online courses (in English, and preferably free!) from or about Scandinavia, please share in the comments.

Ystad and Wallander

I love Wallander, in all his incarnations: Book character, Swedish TV show character, even British TV show character. He has a certain melancholy quality that reminds me of my dad.

I would love to visit Wallander’s hometown Ystad. Some of my ancestors lived in Kristianstad, which isn’t too far away (about an hour and 10 minutes by car, according to Google), so someday when I’m richer, God willing, I will plan a trip that includes both towns.

On the Kurt Wallander trail in Ystad, Sweden – The Independent

Where’s Santa From? Nordic Countries Can’t Agree

Oddly enough, my parents never did the whole Santa Claus thing with me when I was a kid. They thought I should only be told things that were true, otherwise I would end up disillusioned and jaded, or something like that. Nonetheless, being of Finnish descent, I’d like to believe Santa is from Finland.

Check out this article about the Nordic countries’ disagreement over Santa’s home:

Where does Santa come from? Nordic countries in annual tussle to claim his home

Nordic Crime Fiction

I’m an avid reader of Nordic crime fiction, but I read it because it’s Nordic and not because it’s about crime. Crime fiction is not my favourite genre and when it’s from anywhere else it doesn’t appeal to me. I’d love it if more genres of Nordic literature were as widely translated into English and available here in Canada as crime fiction. (I’ll post another time about the non-crime books and authors I’ve discovered, but will stick to crime fiction for this post.)

My favourite Nordic crime author is, perhaps not surprisingly, the late Stieg Larsson. Nothing compares to his Millennium trilogy. After I read it, I had trouble giving any other book five stars on Goodreads, because I measured everything else by the standard I felt it set. The Girl in the Spider’s Web has now been released, which is author David Lagercrantz‘s attempt to continue the story. I suppose it’s now a series, not a trilogy, but I will probably always think of Stieg Larsson’s original three books as its own self-contained trilogy. For some time I thought I wouldn’t even read the new novel because I was certain it would be a horrible disappointment, but the reviews seem to be quite favourable, so I’ve decided to give it a chance. I have it on order from Amazon and it’s due to arrive tomorrow. I’m actually rather excited about it. I’ve missed Lisbeth.

Another excellent author is Jussi Adler-Olsen. His Department Q series is the best thing I’ve read besides the Millennium trilogy. Other authors I enjoy are Jo Nesbø, Camilla Läckberg, Henning Mankell, Gunnar Staalesen, Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis, Arnaldur Indriðason, and Mari Jungstedt. This is not an exhaustive list of all the authors I’ve discovered, these are just the ones I recommend. I have read some sadly mediocre novels in this genre which I feel no need to list. There are also a few authors that I’m aware of but haven’t read yet, like Elsebeth Egholm and Roslund Hellstrom.

Check out this BBC documentary on Nordic crime fiction on YouTube: