Holy crap, I really need to update this more often or else my entries will just be super long (like this one will be, so sorry in advance!)
Tuesday night (August 7)
So after my afternoon in the city, I meet up with some people from UC and a girl from Australia. We decided to head to an “LA” themed bar downtown but ended up hanging out with some Danish people we met on the bus. Let’s just say the Danes really know how to party.
So on Wednesday, I had Danish class, as per usual. Still hard. Still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But I’m trying. After class we had a UC wide abroad meeting at the city center campus – mad at myself for not taking pictures, the building is beautiful! Actually, it’s safe to say that EVERY building in Copenhagen is beautiful. We met with all of the other students from all the UC campuses and talked about logistical stuff like how to transfer units, where to do resident permits and such. I did a lot of research before I came here so it was pretty much all a repeat but still nice to be able to get all the information again. After the meeting, I went back to my apartment to take a nap – still wasn’t over jetlag. Later that night, I went to Studenhuset which is the student bar in the city center to meet up with a bunch of the international students and hang out and mingle. I was really tired so I ended up heading back early to make sure I didn’t fall asleep in Danish lessons the next day.
Again with the Danish class. STILL doesn’t make sense. But we learned that we don’t have to conjugate verbs and the grammar is actually pretty easy so it’s starting to make a little more sense than the gibberish I was attempting to speak on Monday. After class, I had to go to the immigration office to start my resident permit process. The office opened at 3:30 and I decided to get there at like 1. Hey, I heard it was going to be intense lines so I planned accordingly. Yeah, I was the only one there. For a while. Met an Iranian woman in line but I’m pretty sure English was her 3rd language after Danish so a lot was lost in translation. UC kids started showing up a little later so we decided to sit miserably in the sun together on the steps of the office for the next 2 hours. By the time the doors actually opened, I was pushed to probably 50th in line. It was chaos. And imagine the DMV, but a million times worse. A million times. Safe to say the entire waiting room spoke little to no English – Danish was their second language. The whole process was just such an ordeal! An hour to wait for my number to be called, 10 minutes with person behind the counter going over my residence contract, my letters of acceptance to the university, letters from UC saying I was allowed to study, proof I was financially stable, copies of my passport, the whole shebang. And then another hour long line to get my picture taken and my fingerprints. And now a month wait to get my permit so I can get my Danish social security number! Thursday night was quiet, decided to stay in and fully organize all of my stuff.
After Danish class we had our first “Danish culture activity” in the huge park in the city center, Kongens Have. Met some people from UC at the metro and made our way over. The park was full with people, even though the weather wasn’t that great – kinda cloudy. Everyone brought a picnic of sorts, including bread and cheese and wine. So Euro and so classy. Ran into Kevin from UCSB and we decided to check out the castle that was right next to the gardens, Rosenborg Slot. It was pretty cool, we were able to walk around the grounds and we payed to get into the treasury to see some of the crown jewels and the throne room. The Danish architecture from that time period is very Baroque and/or Romantic and it reminded me a lot of French art. Here are some photos! I didn’t want to pay the 20 kr. to get a photo pass for inside the buildings so I don’t have any of the crowns or jewels.
After the palace, Kevin and I decided to go check out Christiania. It’s a “freetown” in the middle of Copenhagen that’s essentially a hippie commune. There are only a few rules: no running (it causes panic), no hard drugs and absolutely no pictures of any kind. They are really big on that one. The place itself is really hard to explain. Imagine walking in to an area where everyone looks like they are still in a Woodstock-era state of mind. Lot’s of small shops and little kiosks with handmade jewelry and such. We sat down in a little grassy area and just watched people. There was a dude that had a really thick African accent and was talking in English and they only things I could understand was “I mean, what is life, man” and “We’re all just slaves to ourselves”…I’m willing to bet that guy grew up in Christiania. He also brought a huge loaf of bread with him and was feeding the birds with it. Probably the most entertaining thing I’ve ever seen. After that we walked around to where the houses were and it was on this really beautiful water way in the middle of the city. You seriously couldn’t even tell you were still in Copenhagen. It was really wooded and some of the houses looked like modern cabins. Pretty much imagine the set of a Bon Iver music video and you’re there. Got some ridiculously good and really spicy shawarma on the way out. The people of Copenhagen LOVE their shawarma.
Friday night was pretty low key, hung out with some of the UC kids and ended up wandering around the city center for a few hours. And yes, more shawarma was involved.
Apparently I wasn’t over my jetlag because I slept in until noon…oops. Woke up and decided to be productive with my day and I saw that some people that I knew from UC were going to go to this music festival at some beach park on Amager. Took the metro to catch a bus and I ended up running into Lauren (Berkeley) and Kevin (SB)! (This is just the beginning of the weirdness of my day) The three of us went to the park and we were all really confused. I was imagining a big grassy area that would have music stages set up and then a small beach area on the edge of it. Nope. Not like that at all. The “beach” was a minuscule area of sand and we found out that “Amager Cable Park” meant exactly that; it was a park. With cables. For wakeboarding. Like picture wakeboarding by zipline. The music festival part wasn’t really what you would expect in that sort of setting. Instead of the typical beach music you would hear in Isla Vista (Iration, Sublime, stuff like that), it was Euro trash house music. It was strange. The whole vibe of the place was kinda like the River in SoCal but with a Danish twist.
The park was right next to what looked like a power plant but the water was still the cleanest water I’ve ever seen at a beach.
After a few hours, we decided to pack up and head to another beach on Amager called Amagerstrand. It was a typical beach, complete with a snack shack and everything (but in true Danish style, even the snack shack was a piece of ultra-modern architecture). You can see Sweden from the beach! That big tall skyscraper you can see on the horizon is the tallest building in Scandinavia and it’s in Malmö, Sweden.
We decided to throw a frisbee around for a bit and after a few minutes, some (slightly less than sober) Danish guy asked if he could play with us. And then more and more of his friends joined. It was so much fun. They invited us to stick around for a bit and hang out with them. We just sat in a big circle while one of them played guitar. They all knew a bunch of American songs so we were able to join in. Reminded me a lot of the Sycamore bonfires back home.
They invited us back to one of their houses because it was getting dark (at 10pm!!) More guitar, more music, more singing and, of course, more shawarma. They showed us a really cool Danish music artist Rangleklods. He’s playing at a music fest in Copenhagen next week and our new Danish friends invited us to go with them!
Overall the best day I’ve had here so far.
I promise, this entry is almost done! Sunday I decided was going to be the day where I did all of my grocery and clothes shopping. Yeah, good luck with that in Copenhagen on a Sunday. Nothing was open. And if it was, it had really limited hours. I managed to find an open Tiger shop next to the Nørreport station close to the city center. It has practically everything and it’s really cheap. Like a set of 3 tupperware containters was 10 kr. Got some essentials and then decided to do some sightseeing in Frederiksberg. The Frederiksberg Palace was the first on my list. I got there and I’m guessing I went around the the backside of it because it was kinda unimpressive…maybe I’ll go back next weekend when my shoes aren’t giving me blisters and I know where I’m going.
More of Frederiksberg
My kitchen is super super tiny so I decided to not try (and fail) to make pasta again so I went to the jazz bar/cafe down the street from me. So confused on how I was supposed to order. Eventually figured it out and it was really nice to just sit there, enjoy some classic jazz on vinyl, have good food, a good beer, and do some homework with the locals. I can’t do that often though, it was pretty pricey. 145 kr. for dinner and a drink!
Finally skyped with my dad, my mom, and Hayley and Lindsay! So nice to be able to catch up with all of them in one day.
More Danish class! It’s getting a little better. After class, Kevin and I went to the LIFE faculty campus to turn in our housing contracts. That campus is going to be the one where I’m going to be spending most of my time and it’s beautiful. It has a cute little cafe in a greenhouse, huge botanical gardens and really old brick buildings overrun with ivy. There was even someone getting married in the garden! That campus finally felt like a college campus as opposed to where my Danish classes are on the other side of the city. After I finished that I decided to go back to campus to listen to a lecture on the Danish economy. My intention was to find out more about the county I’m going to be living in for the next 5 months but instead, I was horribly lost and it made me realize how blind I am to the activities of the EU. Finally went grocery shopping in one of the bigger stores and oh wow…it was stressful. Imagine going into a huge busy grocery store/Target and not being able to read a single sign or label. And add on to that the absence of an actual kitchen back at my dorm. My food options were very very limited. AKA yogurt, cereal, and hot dogs. Yep. The life of a college student. There were some funny products though. Like “American” burger sauce (1000 island dressing), Nordic hair care products (their hair is super fine), and “Vertmont” maple syrup.
Some random thoughts:
- The Danes have an incredibly sarcastic sense of humor. And would be considered very politically incorrect
- Many Danish people I’ve met are very interesting in American politics. Like they even knew about the whole Chik-Fil-A scandal which, to be honest, was kinda embarrassing. Like the fact that the Danes knew about our crazy debate over religion, gay marriage and chicken sandwiches? Bizarre.
- They LOVE How I Met Your Mother
- It’s true that Denmark is the happiest country and Copenhagen is one of the happiest cities. I haven’t met anyone yet that wasn’t just willing to help at all times and extremely nice.
- We asked if they ever get sad and they said “Yeah, when we run out of beer.” Fair enough.
- The drinking age for beer here is 16, liquor is 18. (Yes mom and dad, those beers are legal!) and the driving age is 18. You’re considered an adult when you get your permit.
- No weapons of any kind are allowed in Copenhagen. I’ve never felt unsafe here, even walking back at 4am!
- There’s no word for please in the Danish language
- The Danes consider themselves to all be equal! I haven’t seen any distinguishable characteristics between socio-economic classes.
- Safe to say that this is my favorite city ever.
Here are some more random pictures from this week!
– the nectar of the gods. – my street! Nordre Fasanvej– I live at the Fasanvej stop and my Danish classes are at is Islands Brygge stop…kind of a trek. Also, Islands means Iceland in Danish. (Is = ice)
That’s the end of my super super long update! I’m loving Copenhagen more and more each day.