Sunday, August 30, 2015
Saturday, August 29, 2015
My summer break is about to end. When I think back on the past two months, I realized that apart from work and drawing, I also spent some time on the preparation of activities in the herbarium. We've been offering workshops every Saturday afternoon for four months. Though I have to make effort and study hard, I am gradually getting used to the pattern. Most of the time I really enjoy the two hours spent with the children. In fact, I usually leave the herbarium feeling positive and fresh.
If asked why I like the job, I'd say here I am offered an opportunity to do everything contrary to what is being done at work. Instead of cramming kids with knowledge, I make them explore the museum in their own ways. They can come to me or the staff if they feel like asking questions. If they do and ask a question that I can't answer, I won't feel flustered because I can learn something new with the help of the staff.
Today there came only three kids due to the rain. Different from my response at school, we are totally ok with that. In fact, even if there is only one child, we still provide the same service, well, even better. We had a knowledgeable boy who taught us tons of stuff today. I made him introduce and share what he knew with us. Guei-mei even explained to him what she had thought was too difficult before today.
Although I'd introduced and checked out small-leaved Barringtonia in the garden several times this month, today the boy noticed transparent sticky liquid attached to the surface of the fruit. Because of that, we got to learn a new kind of insect.
I relaxed without my awareness this afternoon. We learned the structure of the peach and the apple. Then we made the kids smell and touch the fruits. We even read really great poems about them. We talked about not only science but also writing techniques. In the end, I asked them who peels fruits at home before they ate the fruits. It was such a luxury not to care about time, which is the instinct of a teacher. How nice it is to be un-teacher-like in an un-school-like place.
Our activity usually ends with an art assignment. However, the kids today didn't feel like drawing, so I just said, "Then let's NOT draw!" They packed their bags in a good mood while the boy couldn't wait to sign up for our workshop next month.
I read about the introduction to a Finnish classroom. I am glad to have a chance to carry out my ideal on a weekly basis. Maybe, maybe one day, however faint it is, there is still the possibility of taking a similar try inside a traditional school.
Friday, August 28, 2015
I so love Norway, to such a degree that I feel like drawing lots of pictures for it!
Yesterday I received a superb gift. On the left is a picture book I bought in Busan last summer. Though I often thumb through it, I never get what the story is about. A year later, Huei gave me the Chinese version without knowing anything about the background story. I found it's a book written by the Norwegian author Åshild Kanstad Johnsen, who lives in my favorite city, Bergen. I've also got to compare the printing differences in Taiwan and Korea. What can I say? Everything in this world is all connected!
Better yet, I've gained inspiration for the Saturday activities in the herbarium next month!
I do wonder what the Norwegian version looks like!
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
It's located at one end of Karl Jogans Gate, built in the first half of the 19th century for King Charles III.
The architectural style is neoclassical.
On its left side is a vast stretch of lush woods. In summer, the view is especially lovely.
Keep walking forth, and you'll see thee national theater along the way. One of the statues in front of it is Ibsen.
Oslo City Hall:
Take a right turn when seeing the national theater. Go straight, and the city hall is further down the road. The construction started in 1931, but it was paused by the outbreak of the Second World War before the inauguration in 1950. Every year on December 10, the award ceremony of Nobel Peace Prize will be held here, as Nobel wished. The other Nobel prizes are awarded in Stockholm, though.
The outward appearance of the city hall is highly artistic too.
The murals are more than amazing.
Though the artworks are meant to tell the history of the nation, I still can't deny they're beautiful to look at!
Nobel Peace Center:
Go straight down to the harbor. The Nobel Peace Prize Center, which showcases exhibitions related to the Nobel Peace Prize, is nearby.
Norwegians that walk their dogs on a chilly summer morning. I don't know whether it's the weather, but the urban Norwegians do not feel so friendly as the suburban ones.
Time to go back to Karl Johans Gate. There are mobile lavatories which accept credit cards in the park along the way.
And the red balloon that can't fly.
I sneaked to a bookstore. It's cozy to read on the sofa. Books in Norway are pricey. I spent more than 2,000 NTD buying two books.
Blonde ladies enjoy their summer evenings in front of Stortinget.
Built in 1874. On the first floor is the renowned Grand Cafe.
The cafe oozes artistic aura, the kind that only the rich can afford. It is said that Ibsen used to lunch here with his artist friends. During our stay, we saw mostly middled-aged or elderly guests. We had all-you-can-eat sandwich buffet. However, it was a unique experience to eat cold colorful sandwiches on a cold rainy day though they were piled high with salads, seafood, and beef. Not quite yummy, but I'd do anything now to buy that experience.
I'll have to wait for another year to take such a photo!
Sunday, August 23, 2015
After traveling around Norway for four days, we made our way back to Oslo. Our first stop was the Viking Ship Museum. We were accompanied by a great guide, Wendy, from Taiwan. She is a fantastic story-teller. I thought I had kept her words in mind, but unfortunately, I didn't. Well, let me give a brief introduction of the history and culture of the Vikings after doing some quick research:
The Viking Age in Scandinavia lasted from 800 A.D. to 1050 A.D. They are known for savage rampage as well as their technological advancements and highly-developed crafts, especially in terms of ship-making and navigation. Craftsmen enjoyed a high social status back then. Wood works such as ships were decorated with complicated designs. Take Oseberg, the ship in the photo above, for example. Animal totems like intertwined horses, snakes and birds can be found on the bow.
Before Christianity was introduced into North Europe, the locals buried the deceased with grave offerings which varied according to their social positions. Affluent and powerful people were usually put into complete ships, and like in ancient China, there was also the custom of burying people alive as part of the offerings.
Three ships are on display in the museum. Oseberg, in the photo above, was dated back to 820 A.D. It was excavated in Vestfold County in the southwest of Oslo, about 1.5 hour-drive away. Apart from the ships, sledges, horse carts, a bed, wood carvings and textiles were also found at the excavation site.
In summery Oslo, the cherry trees and chestnut trees at roadsides have borne fruit. People walk and sit under the sun to enjoy summer days. In Vigelandsparken, you can have the blue sky, white clouds and green meadow all at once.
And there are also 212 awesome sculptures in the park, which were almost entirely made by the artist Gustav Vigeland. He also designed the layout of the whole park.
The major theme of the park is about human life, struggle and emotions. We entered from the back, so we were first greeted by the Wheel of Life, which is a sundial positioned at the end of the park. It represents the eternity, with four adult figures and a baby in a circle floating in harmony.
This is the door featuring the female body.
The Monolith is the highlight of the park. The column is 14 meters high, carved in one single stone. It is made up of 121 intertwined human figures desiring to reach the divine.
Vigeland, along with three other stone carvers, took fourteen years to finish the piece.
Around the monolith are thirty-six sculptures based on three stages of the human life, which are respectively the young age, the adulthood, and the old age. The mother in the photo is bidding her adult daughter farewell before her wedding.
The look in the angry girl's eyes is so vivid.
The Fountain is also a focal point. Wendy said that from the Wheel of Life to the Fountain, the theme is expanded from an individual's life to that of a nation. For example, the flowing water in the fountain symbolizes the riches that the government would like to share with its people.
The fountain is surrounded by sixty bronze sculptures telling the stories of every phase from life to death.
The girl entering her teens is full of confusion and fear.
The bottom of the fountain is decorated with more bronze reliefs.
Worried adult woman.
Will we conquer fear or the other way round?
As we stepped on the bridge that leads from the fountain to the gate, the heart-piercing music of the street performer made the visit even more unforgettable.
There are fifty-eight sculptures along the side railings of the bridge. Wendy said that Vigeland tended to portray women as sturdy.
The iconic bronze statue "The Angry Boy" was once stolen in the 1990s. As for the golden hand, it resulted from too many visitor's wanting to hold his hand while taking photos.
I didn't stop wowing at Vigeland's creativity and prolific works along the way. He spent more than twenty years from 1921 to 1943 creating the park. He also donated his sculptures to the city, each of which spoke to me. Not until we reached the entrance of the gate did we got to meet him. Though his upper body was covered in bird droppings, I still admire him all the same!
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Among the four countries I traveled to in North Europe, my favorite is Norway. Apart from the magnificent natural scenery, I also love Maihaugen, an open-air museum in Lillehammer a lot. The original founder of the museum, Anders Sandvig, was a dentist. He started by collecting the farm yards and old houses from Gudbrandsdalen, a valley town in the north-west of Lillehammer. In the beginning, he placed his collections in his backyard, but as it grew, the town council of Lillehammer offered him a permanent site for the museum. In 1904, the city of Lillehammer set aside an area known as Maihaugen, bought his collections, and established the museum formally.
Maihaugen accommodates more than 200 buildings now, including houses, a school, a post office, shops, a train station and so on. It records the culture and history of Gudbrandsdalen from the Middle Ages to the present. Also, the museum also collects furniture, artifacts, etc. from the Middle Ages.
The main attraction is the Garmo Stave church, a wooden church with a history of 1,200 years. It was disassembled and sold to Sandvig in 1882, reassembled and shown in Maihaugen in 1920-1921.
The architectural style of the church is rather unique. I feel it is masculine and feminine at the same time.
Unlike many other luxurious and grandiose European churches, the inside of Stave is plain yet warm. I ran into one young staff member, Margot, dressed in the traditional costumes working there. I have to say, I really enjoy speaking English to Norwegians!
There are three sections in Maihaugen: the rural area, the town and the residential area. The rural area is scattered with many small ponds surrounded by green trees.
In the school, a group of French tourists seemed to be taking an extremely interesting class.
Ancient Norwegians built wooden houses on layers of stones so that the wood wouldn't be dampened. In front of the house is a pigsty.
The encounter between a little dog and a rooster is lovely.
Andy, our tour guide, commented that the way the staff farms the land isn't quite professional.
Strangely, the ancient houses are rather low-ceilinged for tall Norwegians.
When we sauntered into the house, the staff was plaiting hair for the little girl. She was quite shy about playing the violin in front of the visitors at first. Though she is just a beginner, her innocent and angelic beauty really won us over.
The view from the window is so poetic.
The classic red mailbox.
If I hadn't traveled with a tour group, I promise I could spend an entire day in Maihaugen! There are picturesque scenes everywhere, simple and everlasting.
One can find stories in every corner. On my way I ran into some fellow travelers taking care of a duckling. It is said to have been pushed into water by a group of ducks while it couldn't swim yet. However, it didn't feel like they did it out of good will.
They immediately appeared at the other end of the pond, looking for the duckling with hostility. The duckling, hiding in the grass, was shivering with fear. Oh, how we hope it would be safe and sound until it found its parents.
Then I strolled to the residential area. The architectural styles kind of vary based on the eras. However, the use of colors is bright and eye-pleasing without being complicated.
The interior design gives off a warm feel. We were constantly updated on one important fact about Norway: It used to be the poorest country in Europe, but after the discovery of the oil field in the North Sea in 1970, Norway became the richest European nation. The government shared the newly-found riches with its people.
Norwegians seem to have a thing for the red color.
I ran into the postman upon stepping into the town.
The town is lined with shops.
Fire-red post office and post office vehicles.
Also the post train.
We topped the trip off with a three-course meal in the museum. We ate goldenberries for desserts twice in North Europe!