Kari Andersen, Pat-Med Class of 2004 recently had the opportunity to trace her family heritage on a trip to Scandinavia . Kari is also a Class of 2008 graduate of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and while at Lafayette was a Marquis Scholar double-majoring in Spanish and Psychology. She was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society, the national collegiate Hispanic honor society Sigma Delta Pi, and the psychology national honor society Psi Chi. She is currently working on a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University .

In her own words, the trip to Scandinavia to trace her family’s roots was a “trip of a lifetime”. As Kari states in her journal, “As I tried desperately to squeeze another sweater into my overstuffed backpack, I began to have second thoughts on my enthusiastic decision to travel to Scandinavia over the interim break rather than Hawaii or South Africa . Bathing suits are much easier to pack and a mid-January tan is far more enviable than frostbite. With one last forceful shove, I reminded myself of one of the important factors motivating my choice: I would finally get the chance to immerse myself in the culture of my family’s Norwegian roots.

With this in mind, I set off with 15 other students from Lafayette and Professors Alix Ohlin and Joe Shieber to our first destination: Copenhagen , Denmark . To my delight, the city met every old-world European cliché: winding cobblestone streets, picturesque canals, and charming approximations of English by the locals. During the week we studied some of the cultural and social underpinnings that may have influenced the Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. Exploring various museums and art halls, we even managed to stumble upon Museum Erotica (which promises to “illuminate your conception of pornography and eroticism forever”) nestled among the breathtaking sights.

From Copenhagen , it was an eight-hour trip to Norway . Upon arrival in Oslo , I quickly forgot about the 50-pound bag I was hauling around as we stepped into something of a modern day North Pole. Bathed in fresh snowfall, the splendor of the picturesque city put some fairytales to shame. The next few days failed to muzzle this feeling, as we studied the plays of Henrik Ibsen, walked along the harbor, and visited the Viking Ship Museum . Most importantly, I was able to meet up with my cousin Renate and share family stories.

Toward the end of our stay in Oslo , my classmates and I suffered through an overnight train ride to Stavanger to admire the fjords. Besides meeting my family, sailing through the glacially carved valleys was probably the highlight of the trip. At one point, the captain even backed the boat into a spectacular waterfall so that we could drink the fresh spring water as it fell from the rocks.

Our final destination was Stockholm , Sweden . Unfortunately, our trip was condensed due to the falling value of the American dollar and we only had three full days to enjoy the attractive capital city. Studying the playwright August Strindberg, we visited Dramaten, a theater from the 17th century, and had a fabulous tour guide named Bengst who was perhaps more excited about the wardrobe room than the ladies. During our remaining time, we wandered into some of the dangerous areas of the metropolis – pedestrian streets lined with boutiques and price tags that could leave your bank account looking quite forlorn. After a whirlwind trip through Scandinavia , it was finally time to head home to the States. On our 13-hour turned 23-hour trek home (due to airport delays and a missed flight), we had plenty of time to reminisce about the last 18 days. Thanks to our professors and the other amazing students on my trip, I had an enriching educational experience abroad, while finally exploring my Norwegian heritage.”

While a student at Pat-Med, Kari was a member of the National Honor Society, Essayist at Graduation and played Varsity Lacrosse and Soccer. Her parents still reside in Patchogue and her brother, Kirk graduated from PMHS in 2007. The entire membership of PMCT wishes Kari much success in her graduate studies and thanks her for sharing her “Heritage Trip” with all of us.

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