You're probably confused and wondering how my being in China could possibly make me want to move to Denmark. Well, I went to their pavilion at the World Expo and fell in love! I keep falling in love these days (sorry, Alex! At least they're all with countries?) but I can't help it! So, allow me to explain this new infatuation:
The Danish pavilion is white and cylindrical in shape. The outer walls have holes in them, adding to the open and airy feel of the entire pavilion. In spite of its clean and modern design, two adjectives that I commonly associate with being cold and not welcoming, I felt embraced by Denmark as I walked into the building. There are multiple floors that blur together because the walkway is a ramp that gradually curves upward and circles up the structure. Along the walkway, there is bench that wraps and twirls around and, this is the kicker, a bicycle lane (!!!!!!!!!!). Visitors are encouraged to borrow a bike and to cycle around and through the entire exhibition, which I TOTALLY DID! This is meant to reflect the extremely bike-friendly attitude of the Danish and how they are pursuing a more bike-inclined society as a means of becoming a greener city. Walking up the the structure, the walls offer information on Denmark as well as a series of short silent films and blown up photographs that present Danish life. The films are beautiful and I watched each of them twice, marveling at the cinematography and the content. I will try to find them online and post a link because I think everyone should watch them! In the pieces presented, it is very apparent that Denmark is an up and coming country in the green and eco-friendly world. They are transforming major highways into bike only highways, they are creating more park spaces, they are converting to wind and water power, they are experimenting and are arguably ahead with green architecture... it's amazing and very inspiring! I feel like Denmark has its priorities in order (I also read about their health care and education systems- so great!) and, as someone from the messy United States, who can blame me for wanting to live there, honestly? So yes, needless to say, the Denmark pavilion was my favorite pavilion. It made me so happy to be there! And it helped also that it was there that I had my first full conversation in English since my arrival in China. I was starting to get lonely and homesick for English, a feeling I never really expected to feel for the language, and bam! There he was! He was a Danish boy who was interning in Shanghai and thought to help out with the Expo as well. We never even exchanged names, but for the 30 minutes that I talked to him, I felt so comforted and no longer isolated and alone.
It's amazing how important language is and how crucial it is to feel understood. I've always been spoiled in the past with my travels- I've only ever been in countries where English was common or I at least never had any problems finding someone who did speak English. But here in China, that is not the case at all. There are some English speakers but they are hard to find. I would go sometimes for hours and hours without ever talking, instead resorting to gestures and facial expressions as to avoid the awkwardness of trying to talk. To compensate for my lack of speech, I've been writing a lot. I've been journaling and writing letters and postcards, which has been comforting, but it does get difficult being isolated by a language that you don't understand and that doesn't understand you. But it's a good experience to be sure, and I'm glad that I'm experiencing it now.
Anywho, back to the Expo. Even though I went for 2 days, I still didn't get to see all that I had wanted. But I am content over all with my experience and what I did get to check out- Denmark, the Philippines, Oman, Vietnam, Korea, China, Switzerland, Belgium, the EU, Indonesia, Brunei, New Zealand, Spain and Africa. Yea, I would say I got around to enough. I can't go into detail on each of the pavilions, as that would take FOREVER, but here are some general comments. It was amazing and interesting to see how each of the countries presented themselves, which features they emphasized and what the pavilions looked like. Some, such as Switzerland, stressed their work at becoming more eco-friendly with lots of information on their goals and steps to achieving them. Others like Indonesia focused on their history and culture, showing traditional instruments and weapons. Each pavilion was so different from each other and it was such a great thing to see them all grouped together in one place, all represented together in Shanghai. I really do love the idea of the World Expo and I'm so glad that it exists. It encourages interactions between countries and it is a reminder that although we may be physically far apart, we are tied closely together by our humanity and our love for life and culture. At least that's something that I like to believe.
So yes. The Expo was excellent and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to see it. I hope to get another opportunity in the future! But anyway, must dash. Time for more adventures in Shanghai!