Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm Charming

Each time I post a new blog entry I walk away from my computer and a bunch of little things I wish I had included pop into my head. So i've started jotting down my thoughts as I walk around the city so I don't miss a beat.

I'm watching the Denmark vs. France handball championship right now with the fellow Tasingegade-ers in the common room. SO EXCITING!! Theyre in overtime, DANMARK is up 33-32. Oops, and France just scored. Tie game. It's a crazy game, so fun to watch, really fast paced and there's a lot of action. France scored again. 34-33, at the half of overtime. yikes. Some of the saves these goalies make are absurd, occasionally falling into splits to boot the ball in another direction. The goalie for Denmark is only 21. crazaaaay. Denmark scores! 34-34. France scores, 35-34. Aaaaand again, 38-34. damn. France wins. repeat world champions. Heavy hearts in this common room right now. wah wah

I didn't mention in the last entry, big jump #4. I got the idea from a little friend I like to call slam pooper. Miss Samantha Hooper suggested I start a charm bracelet, so I decided that I would collect charms from places I see and travel to over the course of this semester. So as of last weekend when I purchased a small copper coin with the image of a viking ship on it and clipped it to my bracelet, i'm charming!

One thing I wasn't ready for, being charged for tap water! WHY? I went out to dinner and ordered a pitcher of water for four of us and when we were done, thinking nothing of it, I asked for a refill. It's tap, so what, it's free right. Wrong. 23 Kroner for a pitcher of water...equivalent to about $4.50. Bummmmmmer.

Although the water charge was a nuisance, it didn't keep me away from indulging in a lovely little Danish brunch with a few people from my floor today. This time I brought a water bottle thought, learned my lesson. We had an all you can eat brunch complete with smoked salmon, brie, pasta salad with sun dried tomatos and chicken, keish, tasty Frøsnappers (a little danish), scrambled eggs, bacon, and little hot dogs of course! No Danish meal is complete without a hot dog option. I was all about the smoked salmon ooooh my, so good. Apparently Sunday brunch is a big thing among the Danes. It was nice to taste some of the Danish cuisine.

So Thursday night I went to my professors house for dinner with my International Marketing class, it was so nice to have a home cooked meal and get to know my professor and other cool classmates. His family was there too, his youngest son's name is Oliver SO CUTE, he was kicking people's ass in FIFA. His wife Lene was precious and made some bombbbb dig pizza on top of more Frickadeller and delish pasta salad. He provided us with some beer and some wine and he said we could have as much as we want but "when the bucket is done, you're done." Bon Apetit!

After dinner, Alli arrived. Her visit with us was so funnnn! So glad she came. She experienced her first franks hot dog...and LOVED IT. We showed her around the city during the day and then at dusk, introduced her to the night life, starting each night with the standard Tasingegade 29 pregame. She fit right in!

It was actually soooooooooo weird on Thursday night, quite a coincidental occurance. There's this program called DIS buddy network and my school matches you up with a young Dane to become friends and spend some time getting an idea of the Danish culture. So i signed up for it and just got matched up with someone the other day but haven't talked to her or hung out with her yet, just got her name. On Thursday night it was just so strange, i was walking to this club and didn't know how to get there so I approached a rando Dane on the street asking for directions and she was going the same way. So we walked with her a bit and started chatting and she said "my name's claudia i just signed up for this DIS buddy program" so freaked out and said wait a minute nooooo way, and she said "omg youre not rachel stone are you?" SHE WAS MY BUDDY. i just randomly approached her in the street and she was the girl i just got matched up with the other day. talk about small world, how crazy.

I have to go work on an article for my International Reporting class and I need to start planning my trips throughout the semester and my spring break! Any suggestions, followers? Let me know!!

PS..tomorrow is TACO NIGHT with the crew here, complete with Sangria and Margaritas. I'm in charge of tortillas and black beans. arrrrrrrriba!


Thursday, January 27, 2011


whhhhere do I begin.

Well for starters, tonight at about 9:30 pm a fellow Miker will be taking on the city of Copenhagen for the weekend with Catherine and me. Alli Roberts, who is currently studying abroad in London for the semester, is heading north! Neither Catherine nor I are anywhere near sufficiently acquainted with the city yet so she's going to join us for weekend #2 of exploring Danish life. Here goes nothing!

So big jump #3 is underway now as well. I have a roommate! I was just starting to accept the whole single room thing, because it is pretty lonely, but then on Monday (or Mandag -Danish) morning I got an email that I'd be getting a roommate. So a couple of days later, Jenna from Texas moved in! She goes to Vanderbilt and alreadyknows a lot of people on my floor from meeting them over the past week here, so she fits right in. It's a pretty good deal.

I forgot to include a part of my Christiania trip in my last entry. After we got our crepes (can't emphasize enough how delishhhh they were), we were trying to warm oursevles up and maybe even meet some Danes. There were fires in garbage cans scattered around the premisis so we figured we'd just post up next to one of those with the Danes standing there and see how it goes. Well it acutally didn't go so well. We tried one of the fires by a stand, kind of exclusive, so kind of risky, but we didn't think anything of it. We walked up all smiley and innocent, stood there for about 10 seconds until someone with a very straight face muttered, "You can't stand here." we moved on to the next fire. This one was less crowded and in a more open spot so we walked over to them hoping for the best. Then again, "You can't stand here," one man said. So now this is just awkward. I could not even stop laughing but it was painfully awkward as we turned around and walked away, rejected from fire #2. So we just kind of loitered in a corner freezing our tails off for a while until we decided just to leave. On the way out, there was one garbage can fire that was right smack in the middle of the whole area and we assumed this one must be okay so let's just try and see. So we stopped, and the people there let us stay maybe 20 seconds this time before they once again told us "You can't stand here." I burst out laughing and just walked away because seriously? rejected from three fires, we look completely idiotic and it's just more and more awkward every time but for some reason we wouldn't give up. Learned our lesson though, don't even try the fires.

Last weekend I went on a DIS organized event to Roskilde, the original capital of Denmark. We learned a lot about the Cathedral, its architecture, and the town itself. Denmark's biggest industry used to be Herring back in the day, interesting. The Cathedral was beautiful, so many intricate designs and so much history based on each part of the building. Apparently Denmark has hundreds of churches, several in each town, but overall they are not a very religious group of people. Maybe just have them for estheic pleasure? After Roskilde, we went to the Viking Ship museum and looked at some enormous ships and learned a lot about the viking adventures during their time.

Just a side note - I haven't talked too much about the whole Biking culture here, which is odd because it's insanely huge. Bikes everywhere, people on bikes at all times of the day. In the dark when I wait for the bus to go to my first class (yeah it's dark until about 8:30 am), all the way into the wee hours of the evening (or morning i guess- 2/3 am ish). It's really cool, they have a specific bike lane with street lights for the bikers to follow, they're just like cars. Except their slightly different than cars because cars tend to stop for pedestrians...bikers don't. The bike lane is more dangerous than the 2 lane main streets with cars on them. It's kind of like frogger - cross at your own risk.

My friend Zoe has a visiting family, it's through the DIS program, they match you up with a Danish family to spend some time with throughout the semester. So on Tuesday night, they invited her and a friend to dinner, so I was the friend. They have a daughter who is our age and she is just hilarious - she played soccer and studied in Florida for a few months last semester and she had a lot of funny things to say about America. She warned us about her house before we got there "It's not like houses in America," she said. We weren't sure what she meant by that but then she followed up with "I've seen the houses in LA, Orange County, Florida....we don't have a pool." Zoe and I reassured her that those houses are actually NOT what most of America looks like...and in fact, neither one of us have pools either.

So for dinner we had this Danish food called Frikadeller (hence the title of this blog). Very very very tasty - it's just kind of like meatballs, but in a different shape. Nina, the daughter, was all about ketchup and was utterly shocked when I politely declined her offer for ketchup with my meal. We discussed European traveling, which places are best to visit, and also talked about the "Happy Pills," Danes must be perscribed to that make them so content. Personally, I have not noticed any sort of outstanding happiness. Danes seem very reserved, and not really as friendly as I expected - I guess I had a specific idea and expectation of the "happiest people in the world," to be overly friendly and jolly - not exactly how it is from my perspective but hey, i'm new here, only 1 week in.

It was so great to sit down in a little Danish home and see what it's like. It wasn't drastically different, just interesting. After dinner the whole family crowded around the tv with a bowl of gummies (that I nearly single handedly got rid of...yum) to watch the Denmark Vs. Sweden semi-finals handball game. It's all the rage. My professors told me about it too, Denmark is undefeated! And they remain undefeated, winning the game we watched over Sweden 26-22 I believe. Nina was very funny when she talked about her friends from the US -"I thought on halloween everyone would dress up as something scaaaary, but no, they were all slutty! Everyone was SNOOKI!" (or "shnewki"-as she pronounced it). Yeah, I guess you're right, Nina, some aspects of halloween are a little different in the US.

So today I have two more classes - International Reporting, for which i've started an article on Danish fashion. I interviewed a woman in a very trendy store to use as a source, she was so cute and very helpful. The articles I write for this International Reporting class are going to be put on the DIS website as a tool for potential study abroad students to hear what it's like in CPH from an American sweeeet. Then my final class of the day is International Marketing - it's a cool class. The professor is the best part. Tonight he invited us all over for dinner at his house! So at 6:30 i'll be heading over there for dinner, and getting back just in time to meet Miss Alli for some Thursday night Danish FUN!

I just uploaded the first round of pictures to facebook so check em out! I should include a few here but I have to get going. Until next time,


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Capers. And No Photos

The littlest things make the world of a difference when I finally begin adjusting to the culture shock. The time telling difficulties i've experienced since being here contribute to the several instances of sleeping through my alarm clock and ultimately placing myself in a frazzled state even beyond my usual discombobulation. Military time is taking a toll on me. However, just as I climbed into my bed a minute ago and planned to take a cat nap, I remembered to set my alarm in military time, so 19:45, not 7:45. This way, if all goes well, I won't stroll into the discotek for the DIS arrival party at 10:55 just in time for last call on the free drinks they had been providing since 8 pm. lovely.

So today we finished the first week of classes. Two days of classes, I guess. But all of the courses seem really ineresting and i'm feeling very good about this semester academically and otherwise. Today after returning from class, I collected myself from the hilarious evening I enjoyed last night. It was complete with introducing my RA to the game Thumper and playing with him, meeting and becoming facebook friends with group of 17 year old Danish guys, and a successful experience with my new flashy black lace designed tights. A fantastic round of photos will explain the young danes and entertain with some other great captured moments of the evening, and the city itself. Around 3, I headed out to explore Christiania with a great crew, Zoe, Tom, and Vinny - three fellow shared housing pals. It closely resembles my idea of a fairy tale, a world that couldn't possibly exist and especially in a small borough of the trendy, busy city of Copenhagen. Well it does exist, but you'll have to go see for yourself - NO PHOTOS ALLOWED. But its kind of nice knowing that underground little world is happening, with the law that does not allow dogs to be on leashes, delicious Danish pancakes, and a variety of other tasty "treats" scattered along the cobblestone streets. The best part, the beautiful wooden welcoming sign that says "Christiania" as you enter, and "You are now entering the EU" as you leave.

Upon my re-enterance to the EU, I began observing little details of the Danes and Copenhagen. The abundance of the womens' ponytail hair-dos caught my eye first. Long healthy looking, usually blonde, hair tied up high on their heads, letting the rest hang down over their shoulders. Beautiful. Adorable, trendy, diva-licious pre-teens sporting fabulous outfits - little hot pink practically patent leather boots with dark pink leg warmers showing out of the top, unique little knit beanies, and hip attitudes. Glamorous! Other particular distinctions: .dk; black things; fabulous fur and leather boots; repetitive exchanges of tak - mangtak, or thank you - many thanks; hyggle- the word for the danish "cozy" craze, and a tendency to swallow your letters when you speak. It's really wild how another side of the world can seem like a completely different world.

So the small but noteworthy big jump #2 kind of just presented itself today, and from this, I decided each big jump I make will just be noted as an observation of the phases I go through as I go through daily life. As I jump into each new place, or experience, or ineterest, i'll note it as a big jump, and document it through the blog. I've been cooking for myself for about a week now and because of a very unexpected ingredient, my dishes have been delicious. I've been using capers in each one of the concoctions i've prepared. Pasta salad, chicken and mushrooms, sauteed brocoli with pesto, the omlet I made this morning. Capers are the next big thing. Jumping into an obsession with capers, my tastebuds can thank me later.

The diskotek evening wassssssss excellent. Free beer all night, lots of mingling, lots of new faces. Catherine, my friend who's also from St. Mike's, brought her "Danish Buddy," Nadia, along. Nadia was not too pleased with the American behavior - "Why do Americans rub up against each other when they dance? You'll never see a Danish person doing that,'' she said. I wasn't quite sure how to I later threw myself into the pulsing mass of DIS students on the dance floor, I didn't see how you could avoid the rubbing, maybe Danes just give each other a little bit more space. Very funny.

I went on a run today, after waking up at 1:30 pm, probably the latest i've ever slept in my life. It felt good and it was cool to just explore the neighborhood I live in that is set on the outskirts of the busy city. Lovelyyyy little place. CPH just keeps pleasantly surprising me, every time I turn the corner there's something new to check out. Last night it seemed that every time I turned a corner I was at a hot dog stand, and because of that I bought two hot dogs, complete with the works, and a hamburger. (GROSS RACHEL). But I didnt eat the hamburger, handed it off to someone else. Good decision. The hot dogs were fantastic though. A bit of an upgrade from the Quad Food I usually indulge in on Friday nights at St. Mike's - although still love that dearly.

Okay, off to get ready for tonight - pub crawl with our RAs and the other students living in our building. Starting the night off at the "Great Dane Cafe" - aka the common room of our building where we all hang out before we head out. Oh yes one more thing, I told one of the 17 year old Danes I met the other night that "we should hang out tonight." He asked "What do Americans mean when they say 'hang out'?" Quite funny.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

One More Thing...

OOPS! I forgot to mention that I saw the changing of the guards at the royal palace two days ago! It was very entertaining. The marching, the funny furry hats, the strict, conscise line formations, good stuff. Also, the Queen's birthday is happening during our time here - I was encouraged by one of the DIS speakers who was telling us about the royal palace, to skip class on that day and go by the palace - probably will be quite an event!

One last thing, we took the "harbor bus," from one point in copenhagen to the royal palace. It's just public transportation by boat because it's quicker. I don't know, maybe they do that in America but i've never seen it before so it was pretty awesome for me! I'm just all about new experiences now, whether or not they are Danish. :)

The Sun Will Come Out

Now 5 days into my European journey and I've encountered several noteworthy experiences. We've had orientation over the past few days - consisted of an opening ceremony, the University of Copenhagens string quartet played a few pieces for us, including God Bless America which was kind of funny. The director of the program gave a witty presentation with his lovely accent and two interns spoke to us with encouraging words on how to handle the adjustments, how to embrace Copenhagen, and how to get the most out of our study abroad experience. One of the interns actually graduated last year from St. Mike's and returned to Denmark to work in the IT department here at DIS.

After the opening ceremony - we were put into groups and walked around the city with a scavenger hunt, familiarizing ourselves with the area. Saw lots of cool places and had a great group of people to walk around with. The next day of orientation we did a similar walking around activity with a new group of people, this one was more exciting- we learned a lot about the history of denmark and the current goverment system. We went to a part of the city I didn't even realize exsisted with even more beautiful structures and buildings - incredible historic architechure that dates back to the 12th century I believe. That's what is so amazing about Europe so far, realizing that the history that lies within these cities goes back way before the US was even a thought. I've never been one much interested in history but I'm experiencing a bit of a change of mind - i'm incredibly intrigued by the history of this place, and the ability to see with my own eye where everything took place - it's very neat. and still so much more to learn and explore.

I'm having some trouble adjusting to certain things here - for one, it's very gray. Not only is the daylight painfully short, the sky is always gray! Yesterday for a brief minute, the sun came out, and it was beaaaaautiful. You really start to appreciate little things when you embark on such a drastic change, something as small as sunlight has so much meaning. It's been tough getting used to things here but the sun will come out! I'll figure it out.

So the grocery store was a bit of a tragedy for me - spent an absurd amount of money on things and I really wasn't sure what a lot of things were. It was overwhelming, I wanted to use a carraige to put all my things in but all the carraiges were locked up to each other and the idea of asking someone what to do was incredibly daunting so I struggled with the basket, nearly cutting off the circulation in my arm as I stuffed it with groceries, until I just couldn't take it any longer and had to ask for help. Asking for help wasn't as bad as I thought - and the carraige made for a much more pleasant grocery experience so i'm glad I asked.

My dorm is located about 20 minutes outside of the city which is kind of inconvenient and I'm having a little trouble with that - I don't know my way around here at all yet and I hate that feeling of being lost, just need to get more comfortable with my surroundings. I live with some pretty cool people - we all just hang out in the common room where we can enjoy some social beverages together and watch futbol! It's been nice - still getting to know everyone.

It's a really weird feeling not using a cell phone. I can't use the one from home, and I haven't needed to use the one we got here to keep in touch with people from here much. Its an interesting feeling of disconnect that is a little bit scary - unfortunately. It's not even that I need to communciate with people more, just the feeling of being so disconnected is a bit frightening. It's just the technological habits and dependencies i've developed in this virtual world we live in that are making me feel this way - hopefully once the discomfort of this disconnect settles, I can enjoy being less connected, might be a good thing for me.

Tomorrow night is the Arrival Party for DIS students at this discotek located in the city. An open bar and a bunch of dancin for the new students - yep sounds good! I'm looking forward to it. Tomorrow i'm done with classes at 11:30 so i'm going to check out Christinia, this talked-up part of Copenhagen. Should be pretty cool, i'll let you know how it goes!

ta ta for now

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Next Stop: Copenhagen

6 months of tedious preparation; research, professors’ signatures, graduation plans, confirmation deposits, visa applications, flight arrangements, money saving, and mental preparation, now I’m flying through the European sky from Iceland to Denmark as the sun rises, getting closer and closer to my long awaited destination: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Why Denmark? The initial appeal: a predominantly English speaking country making it possible for me to take Journalism courses and continue working towards the completion of my major. Also, while residing in Europe, I will be able to travel and experience several different countries and cultures over the course of the next semester. As I continued to research the benefits of residing and studying in Denmark for the semester, I also discovered the prevalent international aspects of the country that will provide me with a unique education and contribute to the ultimate quality of my Journalism major and International Business minor.

I have always known I wanted to study abroad but never had a set destination. Freshman year I would occasionally sit in the back of certain classes and could not get my nose out of the study abroad booklets that I picked up at the fairs in Alliot. I was convinced I would have to decide between New Zealand, South Africa, or Greece. Funny, when it came down to it, I was deciding between England and Denmark. It’s a very long and complex process to decide where to study, it can go in one million different directions before the final decision is made, but I’m sure it’s going to be worth every ounce of effort.

The program I chose to enroll in at DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad) is Communications and Mass Media. The courses I am taking are Current Trends in New Media (the core program course), International Marketing, International Reporting, Journalism and Public Relations, and European Storytelling: From Homer to Harry Potter. I am considering making some alterations to my schedule because once I arrived here, I realized I want and need to know more about the history of Copenhagen and look more into the Danish language. I have a couple of weeks to decide that so I’ll figure it out soon.

Aside from the educational aspects of my study abroad experience, for the cultural immersion and discovery of European life, I’m not sure what to expect. This will be an adventure. I know the basics that I found on the DIS, but other than these few helpful hints, I’ll be constantly observing and learning about the Danish culture from today, day 1, until May 17th when I fly home. What I know so far…

The Danes:
“Denmark is full of ridiculously attractive blondes.” –DIS website. Yes, no problem, I can deal with that. Also, DIS noted that Copenhagen is the “world’s most livable city and Danes are the happiest population in the world.” What a fabulous combination. The Danes are very tall! Also, I think almost every child I have seen is in a one piece snow suit. It’s precious – they have great little accents.

The City:
“Copenhagen is the second safest city in the world.” –DIS website. My mom was happy to hear that. It’s clean, it seems easy to navigate, and the buildings I have seen so far are very cool – uniquely designed. I have a neat dorm room equipped with my own bathroom (SO GREAT), a stove top, sink, mini fridge, and some cabinets. There’s a common room with couches, TV, and an oven, coffee maker, and toaster open for the other DIS students and I to use as we please. I’ll be grocery shopping at the supermarket called Netto that’s down the street, and cooking all by myself every day for the whole semester! I’m so very excited about that. I’ll be exploring the city more tomorrow and will have more to report on my observations then! My building is located in Osterbro, a borough within the city of Copenhagen. It’s about a 20 minute public transportation ride to my classes at DIS – much different than life at SMC but it’s going to be thrilling. Do one thing every day that scares you, right?

The Food:
Well…with my personal addiction and obsession with Italian food, the idea of indulging daily in authentic Italian cuisine is mouthwatering and arguably a reason I would have chosen to study in Italy, however I’ll have to resist my temptation and the desires of my taste buds until I can travel during my Spring break. Instead, I’m not sure what to expect of the Danish cuisine. Based on several google searches, the cuisine consists of an abundance of pork dishes. Hot Dogs wrapped in bacon, sausages, pork chops, pork tenderloin – almost anything that can be done with a pig, as I have been told, the Danes will snack on it. But for my first night in Copenhagen, I joined about 40 other DIS students who I live in Tasingegade (a DIS Shared Housing residence hall), for some Thai food! Thai food must be one of the most universal cuisines – everywhere I go, people can’t get enough of it. It was indeed delicious, as always. Although, due to jet lag, I took a nap and slept through the group’s departure from my building to the restaurant so when I woke up 20 minutes late, I had to google the restaurant name and use my keen mapping and directional skills (none) to find the group – it was painless, proud of myself!

Tomorrow we have orientation starting at 11. It’s an all day event, including a scavenger hunt and I’m sure many other little ice breaker activities. I’m looking forward to seeing the other parts of the city and where I’ll be taking classes and spending most of my time. So far – it’s excellent, I can’t wait to see more.

My journey to Copenhagen will be an adventure to say the least. The uncertainty and ambiguity of the trip is incredibly exciting and I expect nothing but the opportunity to explore, learn, and enlighten myself through the thrill of a completely new culture and world.