Lessons Learned While Writing a Thesis

Of course, anyone who has ever written a thesis knows that what you learn is not found as much in the final product as in the process.

1. I talk too fast and abstractly sometimes. This issue is heightened if I am working together with people from another country, especially if their first language is a different one. In the past couple years I have subtly adjusted the vocabulary, slang and phrases that I choose since I've been hanging out with Swedes so often, and want to be be understood without a hitch. This takes practice, I think. But if you are discussing theoretical issues and empirical analysis, you must make yourself even more clear. And I don't always, with those things or when discussing social or practical stuff. Since I will be working in with a company that does work internationally, this was a crucial lesson. I must go a bit slower. Finish one idea before I go to the next. Make the abstract more concrete.

2. This could be a bit of the American in me... but it could also be partly from the family I grew up in, or my introverted nature coming out or something... but I am so independent to the degree that it startles me when I realize how differently I am expecting to do things compared to others. One time my thesis group had to go to a meeting downtown, and we'd been at our school library all day, and I just assumed that those of us who had bikes would bike there, the one walking would walk. The others assumed we'd all walk together, so as not to leave someone behind. I started to take off on my bike and they looked confused, and then I felt so bad... I had been operating on the instinct that you use your own resources to get to where you want to go, and if that takes you somewhere faster than someone else, fine, they can catch up later. I noticed this instinct wanting to take over many times when moving around in groups. Also, it wasn't my instinct to always eat meals together when you're working with people all day. When I was hungry I just wanted to keep go on my own and eat something, not disturb the work flow so all could eat together. But in my group and most other groups, everyone expected to take lunch at the same time. I am not so group-oriented in this way, and I wonder how much continuing to live in Sweden will change this about me.

3. Danes are pretty cool. One Swede who works a lot in Denmark said Danes are considered to be the "Texans of Scandinavia" since they are perceived as the loudest, proudest and most outgoing in the region. We spent a lot of time in Copenhagen for our thesis (and I've just been there more often this semester in general) and after interaction with people in business and around town, there are 3 things that really come to mind about the Danish (allow me to do a bit of generalizing :)

a) They like to be loose and have a good time... preferably with beer. You can drink on the streets and buy alcohol at any corner store in Denmark (unlike in Sweden with the one government-owned store). This carries over into their culture, with a sort of 'anything goes' vibe.

b) They don't really like anything too authoritative or structured, relatively. If you are more bossy than you are chill, you won't make many Danish friends. If you like things to primarily be about the bottom-line, and/or if you like things to go according to your big ideas and decisions most of the time if you have a high position in a company, don't work in Denmark. You would find this in Sweden too but after much business culture research and interactions and conversations, it seems it is stronger in Denmark.

c) This could likely just be about Copenhagen and not all of Denmark, but Danes show a heightened eclectic and creative sense of style. The city feels large, super urban and super international, and that carries over to a thick sense of playful and intelligent style, both in clothes and art and design. I feel like Copenhagen is one of the most graffitied big cities I have ever seen, which bothers me a bit but doesn't seem to bother Danes as much... 'if it's on a stone bridge going over the canal but looks artistic, fine!' The city has a very different feel compared to Stockholm. The former, I truly love visiting, the latter, I will love living in. :)


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