Danish Fitness Gymnastics in Copenhagen, Denmark

25 June 2019

Yesterday, we travelled to Copenhagen by plane, which was a feat given 26 of us! Once we all got settled at the hotel, we headed out for a rapid paced class on Danish Gymnastics. 

It was quite different than what we typically think of as gymnastics in the US. Instead of a room filled with beams, bars, and trampolines, we were in an empty gymnasium with no equipment whatsoever. When we first walked in, I figured we would be going to another room- an “actual gym”- once we got warmed up. However, that was not the case. We spent hours doing exercises building trust with partners and body awareness with ourselves. 

Several activities included mirror work with partners or the instructor, in fact my favorite one involved both. We partnered up and stood facing each other, then the instructor was positioned at the front of the class so only one partner from each group could see him. That partner mirrored what he did up at the front, and the partner who couldn’t see him mirrored the one who could. It was almost like a game of telephone through moving bodies. 

On top of that, we did a lot of dancing and moving, to the point where some of my friends and I became sore in our shoulders and legs! He taught us some choreography to popular songs by having us follow along. It was very repetitive so as to make it easy, but it required each of us to figure out how to move our bodies to match what he did, because he didn’t slow down to walk us through it. Even with my dance experience, some of the moves took me a good while to understand the mechanics. 

The “walking on the moon” activity was the most fun activity for me. Since I was the lightest I was the ‘astronaut’ in my group. Essentially, the astronaut would close her eyes and walk/move. The rest of her group would have to figure out how to support her movements and hold her up, so she could keep walking higher and higher, somewhat simulating anti gravity. This was practice in trust, teamwork, quick thinking, and often, strength. 

For our group, I think this worked as a group-building activity as much as a workout. Mostly however, it was lots of fun, and a good way to celebrate our first night in Copenhagen!

  • Serena Mendoza

Danish Health Care/ Hospital visit in Copenhagen, DK

25 June 2019

On June 25th2019, we had the opportunity to visit Rigshospitalet, the Danish hospital, with Dr. Thomas Frandsen. Dr. Frandsen is a pediatric oncologist who has also been working as a Project Manager for a new maternal and children’s hospital, Børne Riget, that specializes in treating children with severe medical cases. 

While Børne Riget is a 2.5 billion Danish kroners project, (approximately 400 million US dollars), the Danish government provided two thirds of the cost and the Lego foundation provided the remainder. The architectural design for the Børne Riget, took approximately 5 years to complete and is kid, family and staff friendly. Each wing is designated to a specific specialty, like oncology or labor/delivery, that way individuals can navigate at ease. Also, with having so many specialties in one hospital, the families don’t need to make dozens of appointments over a long period of time. At Børne Riget, they will be able to have less contact points in a shorter period, which will also provide results quicker. Lastly, doctors, nurses and staff members spent countless hours doing home visits and patient questioning to see what would be best for the patients’ needs at the new hospital.

The mission statement for the hospital is “play with professionalism.” This means that as long as the staff keeps the children happy and entertained, they can do whatever it is they need to without the need to hold them down. By establishing a fun environment, the children becoming more accepting and trusting which puts both parties at an advantage. Dr. Frandsen said that his personal approach is to establish a rapport 5 minutes before practicing any medicine on his patients. Some doctors hope to hold seminars or compose academic journals to spread their mission to other health professionals. However, there is controversy. Some health professionals are resistant to “play with professionalism,” as they think they have to act different and not be themselves. 

The most common medical issues for children in Denmark include oncology, malformations, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, cardiovascular related issues and immune deficiencies. However, in Denmark, everything health related is paid for by income taxes. Depending on the bracket your income falls into, citizens pay between 40-50% of their wages in taxes. For example, a medical doctor makes around 150,000-200,000 US dollars a year, but they will only go home with half. Because of these high taxes, there’s never debt from a surgery and very little to no co-pay at a doctor’s office. Socialized medicine doesn’t prioritize anything, everything is equal. If someone needed a bone marrow transplant, it would be covered. If someone needed a breast reduction because of back pain, it would also be covered. 

I will leave you with these questions. Do you see socialized medicine benefiting the 300 million citizens the United States has? Do you think people would still want to go through 10+ years of schooling and give up half their income each year? Do you think Americans would take advantage of universal health care if the opportunity was given to them?

  • Mychaela Nelson

Sperm Bank in Copenhagen, DK

24 June 2019

On June 24, 2019, we visited the European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen, Denmark. We talked with and gained much information from the laboratory technician, Josephine, the shipping manager, Mikkel, and the director of strategy, Tonya. We were able to take a tour of the facility which consisted of the laboratory where the sperm samples are tested for quality and mobility, the shipping department where the sperm samples are sent to various countries around the world, and the sales department where the recruitment of donors and the intense behind-the-scenes action occurs. There are currently 300 active donors at this location where they could receive between 75 and 80 donations in one day. The donors can choose to participate in either an open or closed arrangement; being an open donor allows a child to contact their biological father only once when they turn 18, however the parents of the child can never contact the man. Within Denmark, 55% of the donors choose to be open. 

The sperm samples are rigorously tested within the laboratory for their quality and are only used if they prove effective. While the process for the sperm samples is intense, the donors must also go through a long process before they can donate their sperm. The donors must complete multiple steps before being able to make their donation and receive their compensation for doing so such as an online application, multiple sperm quality tests, interviews, evaluations, a full body medical check, blood/urine tests, and counseling. There are many qualifications for the men who wish to donate their sperm such as being between the ages of 18 and 40 years, the average age of the donor being 27 years old, and they must prove to be physically and psychologically healthy. The customers that wish to purchase sperm can choose between various characteristics they wish to pass along to their child such as eye color, hair color, athletic ability, educational attainment, or family history.

Through my experience at the European Sperm Bank, I enjoyed learning about this very complex process that many people believe to be quick and simple. It seems that many Europeans are open about various topics including sexuality, politics and religion, however, it is interesting that the topic of sperm donation is still a taboo. This process is often looked down upon and judged throughout the world, particularly in Denmark. Out of all of the men who go through the online application process, only 50% make it to their initial appointment; this is thought to happen due to specific stereotypes and judgements that exist around this topic. The road to becoming a sperm donor is long and taxing, therefore many people drop out and others may not meet the qualifications leaving only 5% of the men who originally applied being able to donate their sperm. Being a sperm donor is wonderful because the men who donate are helping families around the world turn their dreams into realities. People in a variety of unique situations who are unable to conceive a child on their own can use the sperm to create a beautiful family that without the donors help, would not exist. Becoming a sperm donor can often be looked down upon by friends and family, however this is not the correct response. Helping to create new life is a process that should be celebrated and never judged. 

  • Holli Gates

Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, NL

21 June 2019

Today our class visited the Anne Frank house. The tour first started off at the museum with a brief overview of the holocaust and the Frank family. Unfortunately, you are unable to take pictures throughout the museum, but an audio tour was provided to each student to make the experience the story through quotes and videos. Everyone was able to visit the secret annex, where Anne Frank hid for more than 2 years during WWII. The Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer also hid with the Frank family. The house has no furniture in it, but there are still pictures on the wall that Anne hung in her bedroom when they first started hiding. There were also short videos with the audio tour explaining the hard times throughout the Holocaust and interviews of survivors. There were also brief stories of individuals that knew the Frank family and how they helped them hide upstairs and be quiet so the offices downstairs didn’t hear them. The best part of the tour for me was walking through the bookcase that lead to the secret annex upstairs.

Most of us grew up learning about Anne Frank in school and reading her diaries so it was a surreal experience walking through the secret annex. The Frank family was not allowed to talk, walk around,  or use running water during the day just in case someone downstairs heard them. There were 4 living spaces and 1 bathroom. There was also an attic in the house that they could go up to during the day, although they had to be careful looking out the windows just in case someone would see them. 

In the museum, Anne Franks diaries were displayed in a glass cases. She actually rewrote her diary once and wrote short stories while she was in hiding. An interesting fact that I learned was the year of 1943 is missing in her diary, and was missing when they were first given to her father Otto after the war. This tour was a once in a life time experience and think it is amazing that her legacy is being lived on through the museum and her diaries. 

  • Sarah Haye

Body Worlds Exhibit (health, happiness, sexuality) in Amsterdam, NL

20 June 2019

Today we got to go to the Body Worlds Happiness Project! This is an incredible museum that has displays ranging from bones to brains to full bodies. The displays in the museum come from real people who were willing to donate their bodies to this museum to allow us to learn from. The bodies and parts are preserved through the process of plastination and are well kept-and surprisingly don’t smell too bad! 

This specific Body Worlds exhibit focuses on happiness through their “happiness project.” There were various quotes around the exhibit-my personal favorite being, “don’t compare your insides with other people’s outsides.” I think this not only emphasized the importance of embracing and focusing on our great qualities and less on our appearance, but it also relates to the main idea of Body Worlds-that on the inside we are all the same. We all generally have the same bone structure, muscles, and fibers-regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexuality. This is something that is so important to remember and something we have really focused on this trip. 

When viewing these bodies we knew nothing about the people or their backgrounds. We were enjoying the displays for what they were-incredibly beautiful displays of works that is the human body. So often we take for granted our bodies, so my challenge to you all is to continue exploring human sexuality and health in this class and beyond, and to remember of how lucky we are to all be so healthy and unique and to continue to embrace this! 

  • Yoko Petty

Thomas More Physical Ed/Nursing College in Turnhout, Belgian with Jan Van Dooren

12 June 2019

Thomas Moore college was not like the colleges we are accustom to. The modern build of the university was appealing and beautiful. The college was centered on real life and specific degrees. The college is open to international students and offers classes in English & Dutch. For international or exchange students you can take 1 semester of classes which would be 10 classes and 30 units. That is a massive difference to the universities in the United States and the requirements of each semester. I could never imagine taking 10 classes or 30 unites while also balancing a social life. 

We had the chance to walk around the university and talk to Jan who is the departmental director of the sports department. We had the opportunity to walk around the facilities and listen to Jan talk about each room as well as the college. As I stated before, this college is not similar to those in the states and there who many differences I witnessed. The classrooms in comparison to the University of Arizona were massively different, especially the chairs and desk sizes. Jan emphasized the area of the college he was most familiar and equip to show us which was the sports areas. Jan also explained to us the difference of costs of the college. To compare a instate tuition for a semester at the University of Arizona is 6,000-8,000 dollars, at the Thomas Moore college it is 1,000 euros. Thomas Moore college applies for research programs and projects and this is how they are able to afford equipment and the necessities for there students and faculty. 

Jan still teaches 1 class at the university and told us how much he misses teaching instead of being in charge of the facility. I thought that was interesting because in the United States, it’s very exciting to be moved up on the ladder of success and Jan told us how although he liked the accomplishment he wishes to go back to teaching. Another interesting fact Jan told us was how the men of the college weren’t responding well to a class called “yoga” because it wasn’t masculine enough. In order to get more people interested in the yoga class they changed the name to “body, mind & soul” and this helped more men take the class. 

The Thomas Moore College was an amazing tour and listening to Jan talk was something else! I think it was interesting to see and hear the differences of universities in the United States and Europe. I truly wish we were able to have more time to go throughout the college and tour more classrooms but in the time allotted we were able to see so much!

  • Tori Siegler

Sex Education in the NL with Sanne Klunder in Veldhoven, NL

13 June 2019

Today, June 13th, we visited David Lloyd Fitness Club to receive a lecture on sexual education within the Netherlands and on female sexuality. Sanne Klunder began her career as a sexologist with youth, and then moved to more specialized education. Individuals seek out her help in her office when they have questions about sexual health or sexual problems, and she will advise them on how to fix these issues. Some examples of the issues people come to her with are erectile dysfunction, delayed orgasm, and pain issues. In her personal life, she is a mother of a four year old girl with another on the way. 

During our lecture, we watched a video called “Dutch Lessons in Love,” which explained the historical progress Dutch society had made in the world of sexuality. It went through multiple decades beginning in the 60s, explaining many of the monumental events and ideals that developed, leading to a more open-minded society surrounding sexuality. In the 1960s, the birth control contraceptive pill became widely available, and one of the lead Bishops in the Netherlands announced that the responsibility of family planning is now on the parents rather than the church. The 1970s marked the liberation of women and homosexuals, which opened the gate in the 1980s to begin the talk about AIDS, STI’s, and violence against women. The video ended in the 1990s describing a sexual culture with highly explicit content, showing the major difference from just 30 years beforehand. 

Sanne also gave us a lecture on female sexuality and sexual health as a whole. “Sexual health is the state of physical, mental, social well being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as her possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.” The reason we need facts about sexuality is because it encompasses physical development, sexual feeling, sexual behavior, gender identity, and sexual orientation, which are large factors in all of our lives. We reviewed an image of a vulva that revealed what is underneath the surface, which many have not seen before, showing the organs that cause our sexual reactions due to it being highly sensitive. There is a current “reverse revolution” against the years of progress women have made in liberating our sexuality. With our male-dominanted society, there is a want to push us back into where we were before. In the Netherlands there is a new male crisis of not knowing where they stand because they have always been dominant. She ended our discussion by asking us to reflect back on sexual experiences in our own lives, asking us questions such as when we had our first sexual experience, our first kiss, a time when we may have overstepped boundaries of another, and when we first learned about our body parts. 

I personally really enjoyed this lecture because it was very relevant to exactly what we are studying. By comparing the Netherlands to the US in terms of sexuality, it is interesting to see the many struggles people in both societies have, although the Netherlands has gotten much further than the US. Sanne was an incredible speaker with fantastic information that I may have not considered prior. I found the self-reflection exercise very interesting because it forced us to review our own personal lives, which I don’t believe we as American women do enough because we have always been told what we want. The pleasure aspect for both individuals involved in a sexual relationship is highly important, and yet it seems to be so difficult for some women to discuss with their partner because, within heterosexual sex, it usually ends with a male orgasm without considering how the women is feeling. 

  • Cassidy Clark

NL Olympic Training Center-Papendal in Arnem, NL

16 June 2019

Today we were lucky enough to stop at the Papendal National Sports Centre in the Veluwe woods, miles from the nearest city center. The first thing I saw when we arrived was a statue of the iconic five rings, representing the five continents that came together during the 1912 olympic games. 

After complimentary drinks overlooking a golf course, we set off on our tour of the facilities. The property is large, with gyms, basketball courts, soccer fields, boxing rings, etc. Any olympic sport you can think of – the equipment was there. There were also dormitories and classrooms, because many young athletes live on campus and take classes while they train. They have physiotherapists and movement experts and dietitians on site to shape bodies capable of superhuman athletic feats, as well as video analysis cameras to fine-tune form. During the tour, we got to observe the Paralympic basketball team practice, which is a big deal, because the Netherland’s men’s national wheelchair basketball team has earned thirteen European medals including two world finals. We were in the presence of world champions. 

One of the coolest perks for the athletes is their meal cards. The athletes have swipe cards, just like students at the U of A, where they run their card through a machine each time they get a meal. The difference? At the U of A, the cards track our finances. At Papendal, they track nutrition. The cards keep track of each athlete’s calories and macronutrients to let them know what they need more of and what they need less of. Each time they eat, they are given individual feedback about how to maximize their performance through the food offered on campus.

I look forward to watching the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next year and hopefully seeing some Dutch athletes walk away with the gold! 

  • Carly Connell

Prostitution Information Center (PIC) in Amsterdam, NL

20 June 2019

After our trip to P&G 292 in order to learn about healthcare options available to sex workers, we spent some time at the Prostitution Information Center (PIC) in the infamous Red Light District. There, we spoke with a current sex worker, Karen, who left her career as a nurse to become a sex worker for the physically and mentally disabled. Hearing this woman’s perspective on sex work, prostitution, the tour ban in the Red Light District, and many other topics was fascinating. Too often, we as a society make opinions about and decisions on behalf of members of our community without actually speaking with them. This issue is one with which the sex workers of Amsterdam are well acquainted. 

Very recently, the Amsterdam City Council has placed a ban on tours in the Red Light District. For now, this ban is only effective after 7 pm, but will go into full effect in January 2020. Throughout our stay in Amsterdam, we heard varying opinions on this ban. Some think it’s silly at that the tours are a highlight of Amsterdam’s tourism. Some think the tours increase bad behavior in the area, cause overcrowding, and don’t actually support the women in the windows. Amsterdam citizens are pretty split on the matter. But what about the women working in the Red Light District? No one asked them when making the decision to ban the tours, and many of them are angry. Tours bring in customers, and without tour guides, who will monitor the behavior of the tourists? Who will stop them from gawking and taking pictures? It is an incredibly complicated situation with a lot of views and perspectives, but it is disheartening to hear that the opinions of the women most effected by the ban weren’t considered in the decision making process.

After speaking with Karen about the work that the PIC does to help sex workers unionize and to support the community, she gave us a tour of the district. She made sure to tell us not to take pictures or videos. She made sure that the group was facing away from the windows whenever we stopped to talk. She taught us the etiquette of how to behave in a respectful way. 

Whether or not you approve of sex work as a profession or you support or oppose the tour ban, I hope that this will help you remember that when making decisions, it is crucial that you consider the effects those decisions will have on the people you’re making them for.

  • Lily Katz

Transgender Health at Protestant Theological U (PThU) in Amsterdam, NL

18 June 2019

Today, we visited the Protestant Theological University (PThU) in Amsterdam. The university focuses on the formation of the pastors into the church, but they also focus on academic studies as well. The university’s mission is spiritual formation and academic training. Our speakers were Professor Helen Zorgdroger, Professor Marieke van den Berg and Carl Buijs. We were presented with different perspectives of the issues that trans* people face. Professor Zorgdroger spoke to us about the spiritual perspective of trans* people. There has been an increase inn visibility of trans* people in society and in churches. Professor Zorgdroger conducts interdisciplinary research that benefits academia, religious communities as well as social organizations. An interesting thing that we discussed was how images of God change while the person is transition. Often, before transitioning, a trans* person will have an image of God as creator or an almighty divine power. After transitioning, their view of God shifts to viewing Him as compassionate, loving and not judgmental. 

Professor Marieke van den Berg spoke to us about the representation of transgender people in the media. There are six different transgender scripts that we talked about. The transgender scripts are the successful trans, the pioneer, the pawn, the fringe figure, the victim and the fraud. Each one of the scripts are the most common ways that transgender people are portrayed in the media. The successful trans script consists of emphasis on the body of someone who is transitioning. The fraud script can be seen in current sports. Some transgender athletes are sometimes portrayed as a fraud for their reasoning on transitioning. Many people believe that some athletes with transition just to get an advantage over other competing athletes. One statement that Professor Marieke van danBerg said that I felt was important was that when researching minority groups, you have to stop talking about the vans start talking to the people within the minority group. 

Our last speaker was Carl Buijs. Carl spoke to us about transgender history in the Netherlands as well as current options that trans* people have when considering to transition. Two gender clinics are available in the Netherlands. The VUMC gender clinic consists of a psychologist, psychiatrist, endocrinologist, gynecologist, urologist, plastic surgeon and speech therapist. Almost all of the treatment and procedures are covered by the patients health insurance or the gender clinic themselves. Usually, a transgender person will go through phases during transition, the first phase is the diagnostic phase which is approximately six months long. The next phase is hormones. The hormone phase last about one year. The last phase is the gender reassignment surgery. The only upsetting part is that both clinics have a dramatically long waiting list. The waiting list for just to start the diagnostic phase is two years. Consequently, this waiting makes the transgender person feel stuck in a body that they don’t belong in. Carl is also part of two organizations. The organizations are the Patient Organization Transvisie and Youz. The Patient Organization Transvisie provides psychosocial care, information and support groups. Youz focuses on the trans youth. The organization provides psychological and social work, individual therapy, family therapy, support groups and even a youth camp. 

Overall, hearing from these experts who know the history and present of trans* people and who are actively providing advocacy for them is amazing. I, personally, learned a lot about the trans community in the Netherlands. Hearing different perspectives also help broaden my knowledge about trans* people in general. I feel as if hearing the spiritual perspective, media perspective and what the health care system is like for them was very informative. We had a great time at PThU learning about the trans* community in the Netherlands!

  • Joee Zucker