SKNA -(1st touch on)SWE

First touch on Sweden. A 3-day trip in west Sweden.

This time I can’t get to the capital region, because I want to travel straight from Aarhus to Sweden on ferry.

For my first time in Sweden, I went to a small city in Sweden, and lived like a local Swede. I actually feel I should have chosen a bigger city to visit, but I still learned a lot even in this small place. And I think it doesn’t matter where you go if you can learn many things.

June 19

It took me some effort to arrive in Grenaa from Aarhus, get the ticket, and board the ferry. It was an inconvenient memory, except the moment when I looked up and saw the flags: img_6253

June 20

I lived in this fortress-themed hotel where most visitors are Swedes. They have coffee or beer outside when the weather is good. The hotel is situated inside a prison, but the lounge has cute tables, chairs and flowers which make the ambience somewhat better. People like to watch tv, which is in Swedish.

Everything is normal. I went to expresso house, a chain coffee house in both Norway and Sweden(in Denmark, they have baresso coffee), listening to a Swedish man ordering his coffee in Swedish. The waitress is a typical Swedish girl. She looked skinny, dressed up very clean, and had only a little makeup, in contrast to those long-eyelashes-girls in Denmark.

I ordered my fruit tea and my chocolate cake and sat next to the window. There is a park outside, where many little kids played alongside with their parents. People ride bicycles most of the time, the sidewalk is paved with stones, not concrete.




Walking in downtown Varberg. The streets here remind me of Northfield, where most buildings in downtown are red brick. But I saw few cars here. Most shops are located in downtown. It is a very walkable small city. The grocery store looks old, but it has a variety of food, and it even has mochi ice cream(which you cannot find easily)! img_6199After I bought a croissant and a yogurt for 12 krones, I entered a little store called

“hemmakväld”, where people can buy some candies and their favorite movies. Walking in downtown Varberg, seeing those stores people love, I found how essential ice cream, books, movies, coffee and sunshine are to Swede’s happiness.img_6048

And then I come back to the fortress, where the ducks swim in the water, flowers blossom near the sea. The wind was too strong for me to take good photos. I recalled how my favorite Swedish photographer, Erik Johansson, took photos in Faroe Islands in a harsh weather. Locals love to walk their dogs alongside the sea in the fortress, and kids like to climb up to the top and look at the city.

img_6262img_6273For some reasons I just can’t help the music in my brain start playing. The music reminds me of old architectures I visited before. It has very broad soundscape, a giant orchestra. I probably heard brass and strings.





img_6279The rocks I sat on, the stone gate I used, are centuries old. When I walked in the museum, I saw when and why this fortress was first built up, and how it was abandoned a century ago. Here, Swedish children can dress up like people in medieval times, as if they are time traveling.





I was taking my photos when the sun touched the horizon. Maybe from some angle I am able to capture a moment I saw on a glance before, which I thought is definitely in a place like this: a small yet content place.

June 21

I made my mind going to Helsingborg, 1 hour from Varberg.

I missed the speech of Erik Johansson, so I have to see his exhibition in Helsingborg no matter what.

The train rides about 1.5 hours. The staff checked my ticket and said “tack så mycket”.

Walking in the room Erik has been, I feel like I had something in common. I regret nothing for the 3 hours spent on the train.

img_6346I mastered on the great language game after listening to Swedish this days. Scored 1000+! Here is just something to share:

  • The way they roll up the “r” is different.
  • Norwegian tone is going up more, while Swedish is going down.
  • Jag – jeg, och – og.img_6227

June 22

Living in a very Nordic room today, eating apples and Finnish ice cream and writing my Iceland blog post. Wanna get ready for summer school.

img_6378Watching a youtube video about refugees(Search “more than a refugee” on youtube). Now I am in Sweden, the country which is said to be dangerous because of the refugee crisis. Many people left comments supporting closing borders and stopping accepting refugees.

This is indeed, very different from what I saw in Swedish people. They are speaking to me in action, “Refugee crisis cannot be solved by us, so we just have our coffee and sunshine, for our well-beings; and no one is going to blame anything. We won’t worry about what we can’t do anything with. “ (To be continued)


June 16, København

img_5477img_8057img_8062I love how open, yet how original Copenhagen is.

As the capital city, Copenhagen looks like Beijing in some ways, as it experienced both history and modern changes; But it is better inside out.

In Beijing, many apartment buildings we have were massively built up in 1980s without any artistic nor practical design. While the aesthetic value of modern architectures in Beijing is still controversial. People wear mask, cram themselves into the subway, and walk the boring streets every day.

But here, every apartment building is finely designed or well-protected classic European architecture built century ago. Bicycle is just part of daily life, when you can have contact with fresh air and warmth as well as the nice street view of flowers and trees. Scandinavians look ahead for a modern way of living, of simplicity and joy. I hope we residents in Beijing can embrace our city with art and love, and a desire to change.

When I was imagining about Copenhagen, I first got to know a Danish blogger based in Copenhagen(, whom I thought to be a typical Dane. I visited places she recommended, cafes, parks and museums. She loves foreign cultures as well, as she travels a lot and wrote her travel diary about those hidden gems in the world. I followed her suggestions in order to be a Dane for a few days:

  • Danish Design museum. I saw an exhibition called “Learning from Japan”. Danes declared themselves to be “Japanophile” when they were inspired by Japanese art in 19th century. At first, they were copying from Japan(or east Asian art in general), but when looking at their modern designs, I can’t see any trace that they actually “copied” before. Maybe there is no such thing called “Scandinavian design”, but “Scandinavian attitude of design”.img_5377
  • Assistens Kirkegård(Don’t miss up with that Danish philosopher). People had picnic here with humans who changed into another form. The ambiance is very calming, and I can’t see a point of being afraid here. Scandinavians take death as the way of life. They can’t do anything about it, so they just take it as the way it is. “Carpe diem.”img_8087

June 19, Aarhus.

img_5901In fact, I came to Aarhus just to see that fancy “Your Rainbow Panorama” in ARoS, which I read in an architecture book 3 years ago. But it is surprising to find out more than the modern designs, that as the second biggest city, Aarhus preserves more classical Danish towns than Copenhagen which was bombed by invaders. The cultural ambiance is not less attractive than its appearance.img_5787

ARoS: This is not just somewhere to see how to make art, but how to interpret human minds, history, and human relations. I was very lucky seeing the limited exhibition called “The Garden”.

img_5889Part 1: “The past”. Mostly it is art on canvas or film. Some classic art pieces are shown, which depict a very nostalgic, idyllic Europe without too much modernization. I also saw some photographs of recent decades when industrialization was going on. I love a series of photos of a wheat field near NYC: wheat symbolizes wealth, growth, and power, and our beautiful nature feeds us for such prosperity. Walking in the concrete jungle, we are supposed to find such connection between our city and nature, the soil we survive on.

Part 2: “The future”. This part, however, contains mostly modern art installations. One of them is plants under purple lights, where their vivid green color is killed by the disturbing lights, and they look like dying. There were movies about endangered tribes and culture because of climate change, and about Chernobyl. I also saw an installation of blue silicone fluid representing our impression of water, suggesting that our nature is the nature WE interpret.

img_5810“No man is an island” is a permanent exhibition here. It uses both classic and modern art pieces to show how humans are connected: even everyone is different, we are binded together in many ways. In another museum called MOMU(I will talk about it later), I also find this Danish idea of humans as one.

MOMU: you can have a sunbath on the hill which is on the roof of this building. Again, I came there just for its finely designed shell; but I didn’t expect to learn many great philosophical lessons here, on egalitarianism Scandinavians believe. Here are (some) of those lessons. img_5933

  • A gallery on “black”, addressing on darkness with ecological awareness of light pollution, over-urbanization. It also addresses on coffee, which Europeans consume every day, and it describes how those raw white coffee beans are made black. It addresses on blindness, black metal, gothic culture, and finally, black people. I read some Danish quotes written in a dark room here(and I asked Danes visitors near me to help translate them). One of them says about the beauty of darkness as a kind of fear which is never felt in daytime.
  • A gallery on “human”. Many of us put people into categories by their races, ages, and wealth. This gallery, however, is seeking something we have in common. That is, there is something that binds us together, although we are all different. Birth, love, beauty, fear, loss, death.

Den Gamle By

When I arrive, I almost laughed listening to the broadcast. Næste stopp: Den Gamle By. Danish is like speaking Norwegian with a hot potato in the mouth.

This is a theme park which consists of Aarhus in 19th century and 20th century. Old buildings, even people with classic style clothes. Am I walking in another century? So nostalgic Danes feel about who they are.

Old towns, as wells as new towns, and new political movements.

img_5861img_5914I also saw a gallery about Europa in poster museum. It uses many posters to summarize each country, its history, politics, cultures, and landscapes; One poster summarizes one country. And there was a poem written for Europa. I love such diversity of culture and language in Europe, and how Europeans preserve it. ♡



img_6750Stayed in the loft in Aarhus for a few days. The loft is situated on the top of an apartment building. My host has one shelf for wine and another shelf for a variety of spice in this loft with skylight. He introduces himself as a gourmet who can cook food from around the world. The room isn’t too big, but I felt the most blessed staying here. In the morning, I made myself a cup of hot milk tea and had yogurt topped with nuts and jam for breakfast. After I finished my visit to the city, I came back and drank my lemon soda, and looked at the live stream of the speech of my favorite Swedish photographer, whose exhibition I would visit in a few days. The speech was in Swedish, and I finally got to hear him speaking his mother tongue.


Yes, I have a photo taken in the toilet, which won’t get any like on social media. But I took it because I like how the sunshine lighted up the whole room in the morning: when I brushed my teeth in front of this window, I feel a new day has begun. I just wanted to grab this moment of sunshine, and appreciate the beauty of it all by myself.

Aarhus Ø

Well, yes I did come here for architectures. Here are the creative designs I saw here!!

P.S A Danish guy said “nihao” to me when I took those photos! It made my day 🙂



So… I guess it ended here. But hold on,


img_5358It took some time for me to decide what to write about the stay in Scandinavia. On Jun 13, I took a flight from Reykjavik, Iceland to Copenhagen, Denmark. For the next 52 days, I stayed in Scandinavia, the destination I have dreamed of for years. In order to distinguish myself from those ordinary visitors, I recorded things every day when exploring and studying in this SKNA series.

In my country, Scandinavia is beautified as a paradise with many cute, blonde children, beautiful blonde women and men, timeless comfort and satisfaction for everyday life. And nowadays, photos and articles of Scandinavian lifestyle and design went viral on social media as merchandise, while few people wonder why it comes to be this way while imagining the “lifestyle goals” on social media inspired by Scandinavians.

So, my goal of this trip is basically to unveil the myth of Scandinavia. Previously I studied Modern Scandinavian history, and during my stay in Oslo I took a Norwegian Literature class and I learned about Norwegian culture and society via my visits in some museums in Scandinavia. I am not that typical tourist, thank you for not misjudging me. ☺︎

First of all…

Here is the diary from June 13:

Leaving Iceland today, saying goodbye to the Icelandic guide in an orange jacket, the Iceland punk museum owner who somewhat looks like David Bowie, and that Icelandic cat which said hi to me when I passed by its home.

I experienced something hard today when leaving for Copenhagen. I missed the hotel bus leaving for KEF airport, so I called a taxi to the general bus terminal, and arrived in airport 30 minutes before the plane departs… I was running all the way with my heavy bags. And I made it!

The best thing today is, I got the window seat! When I got on the plane, I saw a redhead man seating near the aisle, and after a while, a skinny woman came and sat between us. She spoke to that man in her language and the man asked, “Sorry, are you Danish?” “No, I’m Icelandic. ” She replied. And so for the rest of the flight, she talked in Danish with him. Iceland is like a far relative of Scandinavia(but with a closer relationship with Denmark, for political reasons), and even though countries are different, they still share too many things.

I was just with the landscape I could see from my angle, thinking about where that Icelandic guide is heading to today. Holding my phone, I saw my location on Google Map, and seeing the plane went by Faroe Islands, Norway, and west Denmark. When the plane is landing, I also saw Malmö and some fancy windmills on the sea between Sweden and Denmark. Seeing the buildings of Copenhagen, Scandinavia was still under a mask. But I am here, and it is waiting for me to explore.

Um, today is full of troubles. When I was in the train station, all markings are in Danish so I didn’t know where to go! Luckily, I asked a local Danish girl about directions, and I safely arrived at my Airbnb host’s apartment. A nice Danish guy helped me handle the luggage as well.

Also, I am lucky to have a considerate host. I contacted him in the morning about being late, and he said, “that’s fine, don’t worry!” When I arrived in Copenhagen, he also asked about my location and was ready to help me.

I met him at his home and we greeted each other. He is a German architect living in Copenhagen. He has traveled in China before and he knows some Chinese, and he pronounced my Chinese name correctly… at the first time! This really impressed me. It is why we should be multilingual! Yes, finally I can settle down. Godnatt København☽⭐︎

Iceland. Ísland.

Ísland – Before I begin

Ísland. I heard about this country for the first time when it announced its bankruptcy in 2008. People joked about it, saying its people loved a lazy way of life without any economic pressure… Why is there even a country near the Arctic circle, and what kind of unusual way life those people have? Why is there even people there? So, I did research on this country when I was in middle school for geography class, and for the first time, I see why this country can exist thanks to the warm sea water from Atlantic, and its internal heat. Even barely nothing grows on its barren land.

On my most rebellious age, I started to listen to Bjork. This political and environmental activist and avant-garde musician made me imagine her homeland even more. She supports the independence of Scotland and protests against the nature development for economy in East Iceland. And until last semester I took classes about Scandinavian history, and in our final project we did research about striking of independence in Iceland and I did my individual paper about the perseverance of Icelandic national identity in the modern, globalized world. Icelandic Pagan tradition has considered nature as a crucial part of it, and such tradition distinguishes Iceland from the others. They still use a language that stopped evolving since medieval times without any loan words, an old patronym naming system.

Volcanos, hot springs, barren land, glacier. Half year of brightness, another half darkness. Extremely high latitude, but surprisingly warm in the winter. This is the nature Iceland survived on. The nature is the God, the sacred one.

Ég Mukk – 9 juni

I’m lucky.

I arrived in Iceland on my birthday.

This is the first time I come to a country where the language is not at all understandable. Listening to people speaking some language that I don’t understand, or English with strong, unique accent. Signs are all unreadable, long words with some new letters such as þ and ð. I tried to pronounce hl- and hr-, and all those signs.

This song “Ég Mukk” by Sigur Rós has very clean, wide soundscape. I walked the streets and visited every place. Here is the real version of that mysterious land I was curious about.


I’m lucky. I’m lucky to be here, walking in a city which once only appeared in my dream. A dream, just like that floating boat in this video.

Jóga – 10 juni

Got up early for seeing the Viking landscape. Outworldly landscape.

This song title means “Yoga” — which has, surprisingly, had its music video filmed with this “emotional landscape”. Where people rest their body on, take a deep breath and connect to such constant miracle. “All these accidents that happened followed the dots” — because the formation of this island is an accident, a beautiful one.

I made a new Icelandic friend today. He is our guide for the tour to Glacier Lagoon and his name is Hreindýr. We discussed how disappointing that Icelandic nature becomes merchandise & part of the popular culture, and this sacred land which is important to Icelander’s national identity loses its meaning in tourism. I told him that while people take selfies and tourist photos in front of Skógafoss, I was listening to Icelandic national anthem and watching the landscape. And he told me how Icelandic football players are singing the anthem in a game. When I told him that I study in Minnesota, he said he has been to Minnesota before and stayed for three months, and he knew there were many Scandinavians there. We handshaked and said goodbye after 15 hours since our first greeting. I will miss him.

Crystallized – 10 juni

Sailing through the crystals under the arctic sun.


Von – 11 juni

Another day in the city…

Visited National Museum today, and reviewed what I learned in my history class. This is the history of the real Vikings who settled in a place where there was no human at first, and I see how much they love and are proud of their country.

When I was in downtown, I can always see how multiculturalism has transformed this city so much. I saw a black guy performing in the city center where people surrounded him, an Asian staff in a souvenir store… the entire city is tourists-oriented.

I talked to another Icelandic guy today. He’s the owner of Punk Museum in Reykjavik(where I saw Bjork’s posters). He speaks different languages including Danish, Swedish and some German, and he also knows some Chinese. There are two German travelers who speak Swedish. We joked about the interesting differences of these languages and felt so blessed living in a lingually diverse world. He also expressed his attitude of Scandinavians referring Icelandic as Old Norse: “If they think our language is ‘Old Norse’, then why they can’t speak it?”

And I asked some question about the rising tourism and immigration trend. There are so many workers in tourist center who are apparently not Icelandic. He said that this trend is so powerful that they are in a fear of dying out, literally. There is one thing to point out: He is not xenophobic. He definitely loves to meet people from a variety of background. But each culture should exist only on its homeland, and none of them should put others in danger on their homelands.

I agree. I won’t allow beautiful traditional Chinese culture to die out on my homeland due to economic or political factors either.

In the evening, I listened to an Icelandic music recital in Harpa. One of these songs uses very straight-forward, protest-like, and somewhat funny lyrics with opera-like music to shout for feminism in Reykjavik. People laughed, but also applauded. Icelanders are humorous people, indeed, but also urging in doing important things for their homeland.

Von, in Icelandic, means “hope”. People say Iceland is a barren, icy, and desperate land. But there will be hope, if and only if we have something to hope for — and go for it.

Heima – 12 juni

No regret for anything going to Reykjanes. We saw a small, lonely church built near the seashore where I felt like I am about to fly, like those birds. A graveyard is built behind the church, and behind the graveyard is endless flower field. People born 19th century are rested here. I imagined how they looked like, and what they were doing at that time. Was it the same scenery at that time? A bird flies under the Icelandic flag and looked at the flag, like a patriotic blonde Icelandic boy. He doesn’t know why he is doing, but as a creature survived by this island and sea, he felt the strength and nostalgia his homeland provides.

Today, we are children again, listening to fairy tales and re-narrating them to ourselves in our sleep. We are at the edge of this world, where no one else’s happiness can reach.

And there is hardly anyone. Purple flowers blossoms everywhere on both side of the road.

IMG_7943IMG_7948IMG_7944IMG_7947It took some effort to get to the beach, where giant rocks stand. I walked across uneven rock field, difficult to follow the path, but eventually found out one for my own.

IMG_7975.jpgIMG_8010.jpgGiant things far away from you always look like easy to climb up. But it isn’t. So I didn’t climb. But I found the debris of a lighthouse nearby. This is the first lighthouse in Iceland which was destroyed in the storm. Now inside of the lighthouse, the nature has reclaimed itself by layering grass and tundra.

Tundra can be easily found on the barren land of Iceland.

Also some incredibly strong flowers. They are definitely unlike those turnips growing in Netherland. No one cares about them— but they made their way out and exist, drinking sunshine and raindrops.


Nattura – 12 juni

Another example to prove Icelanders living on nature: Just with the volcanos, hot springs, they enjoy comfort and heat even in winter. Hot water is used to warm the streets in downtown Reykjavik, so the snow just melt by itself and no one needs to clean it up. Some hot water is stored in Perlan, a landmark near my hostel. After water is used, it is cleaned and sent back to underground for a balance. In summer, while the sea is not warm enough, they use hot spring to warm up the sea water and import white sand, creating a beach resort.

Texture of Iceland…


So it is the all about my first encounter with Iceland, the real Iceland, the reality behind all those myths. And both reality and the image have touched deep inside of me.


Just before my 20th birthday, on my way to the airport for my flight to Iceland, I saw a passage about Natalie Portman. She has the same birthday as mine, June 9. And she is such a flawless individual that I can never become.

I have been thinking about my future sometimes but most of the time I am in chaos. I have never been extraordinary in any field since I was young. Now, maybe also after graduation, in a country I was not born in… I have to handle everything.

I have made many mistakes so far. I met wrong people and made wrong decisions… I blame everything that happens to me, believe that all my problems is others’ fault, while never try to fix it. In real world where we set standard for great people, discriminating each other while calling for equality… I don’t fit in with any these standards. And thus I am negative, hard to feel confident about myself. At this point I will tell “I wish I can be as pretty, skinny and I wish I was born Jewish like Natalie” so that I could be flawless like her.

For 20 years I was a negative individual. Maybe this is some bad luck when I was born, I was not able to befriend with everyone and I was always judged of being grumpy… so I try everything to please people around me, but at the same time I lost myself. While people left me alone, without actually thinking about me… I haven’t actually do something to achieve a better me. I don’t know what “being yourself” means, is that remaining as an imperfect person, or becoming a gem?
I complain a lot here, because I always feel uncomfortable with my life. I wasn’t born and raised in perfect conditions for “prodigies”… and I have to live a life worse than those who I admire. I mean, I have to. I feel myself someone in a empty church with all windows and doors sealed. This is where I was. I hit myself against the wall, screamed, and try to rip everything off the wall… and one day I broke a window… and the sunlight came in. Now it is actually the time to look around me where it was dark, to find something new. And I have to find an exit.

I’m glad that I know so many great people here in my college. They help me to know to that I’m not alone, and I’m not as badass as I have imagined… I find a direction for my studies and I am going further and further. I will be traveling in where I love, doing what I love. Someone is going to appreciate me. But I don’t break the window and find the exit — I never will.

I will not be the same as Natalie. But I am gonna be respected by some people as extraordinary.

One day.


Love of people is a necessity for me, just like the love of food, music, and nature. I fall in love with someone for many reasons, such as the culture he/she belongs to, his/her talent in art and music, etc. And I try to connect to them, so they have a place for me in their hearts too. However, it isn’t always like this.

However, it isn’t always like this. Isshi, visual rock musician from Japan, passed away 6 years ago. My Norwegian friends and Finnish friends always hang out with the people who do the same things like them, which is not what I am doing. I am so tired of forcing myself loving something I am not interested. I will miss the speech by Erik Johansson in Helsingborg, while I planned to travel in Aarhus, Denmark. I wish I can hear him speaking his mother tongue, Swedish, and say hello.

Life is always like this. Imperfectness everywhere.


But it isn’t that important now. I sat on the balcony and watch the sun, imagining Erik speaking Swedish to me, while I use my elementary Norwegian skills to reply him. Dreams are perfectly beautiful only when they don’t come true yet. My imagination of having a strong relationship with my favourite people lead me to somewhere I may never be, creating thousands of beautiful nights with tears. It is just so nice when I can do this. love someone without letting anyone know.

And thus I am good.


For the first time, I searched “is this world getting worse?” 

Recently I can’t help remembering the past, I listen to the music, watch the films that are part of my childhood memory. 

Unfortunately my effort is never going to revive the old time. If the places I dreamed once can be found in the true world, they will always gonna be impure. 

Because the world is getting worse, or maybe it’s because of me. As I grow up I can’t help seeing the dark side of everything. What for? I don’t want anyone see the bad thing of me, especially people I like the most. But no one wants me to be like that. Totally unnecessary effort of self-torture. 

I just want to be happy by myself now.


I was thinking about doing visual kei makeup and kimono for Prez Ball in order to look unique. But I know it only makes me a weirdo and people will be staring at me, because I have done this in a new year ball when I was in high school. 

So, tonight I stayed with myself. I called my parents about my thoughts, and they told me that if I don’t fit with this world, I should choose to fit with myself because I’m going to create a new one. 


IMG_2173This is my phone number. I have been using it for 10 years since I got my first phone. It was in primary school, when we trust people and make new friends easily. When we graduate in 2009, we told each other: we are friends now and forever. I promised from my heart that even after several decades, they are able to stay in touch with me.

I still believe that one day someone who has my phone number will remember me, and want to message me, how are you doing? As we grow up, we all moved to different places, greet new people and find new experiences. We learn the stradegies to stay on the top and not get defeated, we learn what the others are actually saying… Our focus is more on ourselves.

I still use that phone number. Sometimes I pick up unknown calls with some expectations and excitement, but all I get is spams. I wonder where these people, the people I once trusted and wanted to be friends with forever, disappeared.

Time keeps killing us.


This one is serious.

Mom just skyped me yesterday that she and my dad plan to move to Hangzhou, my dad’s hometown due to the health condition of my grandpa and grandma. They will soon find new jobs and say goodbye to the apartment in Beijing, where we have lived since I was 4. 

I had my personal room in this home until last year when my parents decided to refurnish the entire home. At that time I just enrolled the college in another country. The bed I used for 10 years and the desk I used for about 15 years were all sold. When I was back for summer — I don’t see anything that evoke my memory about my home, where I played with my friends, quarreled with my parents, …

My grandparents… I love them. I love their food and pocket money, but most importantly, they devote themselves to their children as well as the children of their children(that is me and my cousin). They are getting older. One day I will see someone who I have get used to seeing them every year disappear… Things we think will always be here are eventually going to fade away. The house, the school we treated as second home, the city we live in, and at the end our family. 

Your time is limited. Use every second to love, stay alive. I’m serious.