A Tale of Two Cities: Prague and Budapest

Before I start on writing about my December trip to Prague and Budapest, here are Kevin’s updates about Spain/Portugal (Don’t have enough time to write about those aka I’m too lazy)

Barcelona

**I was able to meet up with Drew from Westlake and Dylan from SB in Barcelona!

Madrid

Lisbon

**Wallet was stolen in Lisbon…

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OK. So after Thanksgiving, which was right after we got back from Portugal, Kevin and I had another month or so of 6 day weekends. So we planned a trip to Prague and Budapest for December 12th-18th.

Prague

We got to Prague pretty late and didn’t really have any energy to do anything so we bought some groceries from a glorified 7-11, took a nap, and waited for Lauren to meet us.

Sleepy friends having a post-midnight snack

December 13th

The next day, we took a guided walking tour of the city and wow, Prague looks like Disneyland. Everything is pretty much straight from a fairy tale. There are castles, towers, and even fireworks at night. Although, instead of the balmy 70+ degrees in Anaheim, this Disneyland came with below freezing temperatures and the need to wear about 15 articles of clothing. We walked around and froze our asses off but the walking tour was AWESOME and I definitely would recommend doing one if you ever visit Prague. Here are some fun facts from the tour!

  • There was a huge Lenin statue that overlooked the city and was torn down sometime in the 60s. Then they replaced it with a huge Michael Jackson statue for one of his tours…silly Czechs.
  • The Czechs invented sugar cubes (my favorite)
  • Hitler kept most of the Jewish quarter in tact because he was planning on making it into a museum for the “extinct race” after the war
  • The famous Old-New Synagogue was named because of a translation error
  • The Czech Revolution was called the “Velvet Revolution” because it was non-violent

Pictures from the day:

Lauren and I cuddled for warmth the first night…

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Charles Bridge

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In the Jewish Quarter

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Powder Tower

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FRIED CHEESE

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Kevin got half of a duck…

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Happy Lauren!

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Traditional Czech dancing

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December 14th

Kevin’s birthday! We had breakfast and this little crepe place and then decided to tackle the Prague castle and all of its surrounding buildings. The weather was still absolutely freezing so we had to wear multiple layers again. Hence why we look like we gained about 50 pounds.

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DAT STAINED GLASS

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Kevin lost feeling in his toes so he started pacing

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Trying to stay warm

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View of Prague

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That night, we went out to a Big Lebowski themed bar (complete with White Russians) and then ended our night by shamefully eating at KFC. Our bad. It was also so cold that I wore my ear warmers to take a nap. And then Kevin woke us up by playing our favorite song, Rack City.

Dancing in the hostel with 15 layers because even the kitchen was cold

White Russians!

December 15th

We said goodbye to Lauren in the morning as she was flying back to Copenhagen and Kevin and I went to the train station to catch our 8 hour train to Budapest. Not much to say about the trip, except the Czech, Slovakian, and Hungarian countrysides are just grey…

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Some of my notes from the journey:

1:57pm

– only 2 hours in

– everything is grey

– things look depressing

– woman next to me is blasting Ricky Martin…might kill her soon

– I hate small children

3:26pm

– it looks like we are in the middle of Siberia

– I just listened to the entire Across the Universe soundtrack

– new discovery: I have no good music on my iPod

4:39pm

– first realized we are in Slovakia

– there’s a guy on here who looks like Mark Hoppus

– it’s getting dark –> more depressing

– there is way too much TI on my iPod

Clearly I was having a lot of fun. We arrived in Budapest around 7 or 8 and it was raining. Hard. Found our way to the hostel, made dinner, and then passed out.

Budapest

December 16th

Some of my friends had been to Budapest earlier in October and all of their pictures were amazing so I was really looking forward to this part of the trip. The rain decided to put a damper on those plans, however. We were able to see the sights but it was cold and wet so we weren’t really able to fully enjoy them.

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Monopoly money

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OOOOOH puppy friends!

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Grand Synagogue

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Parliament

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Chain Bridge at night

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Then we went to an all you can eat, all you can drink buffet. There’s a 3 hour time limit. And we got kicked out at the end of our 3 hours. No regrets.

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Kevin trying shark

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December 17th

Note: Our hostel mates made me consider murder. They woke us up at around 4 and I didn’t fall back asleep until 6:30. Rage.

We held off on going over to the Buda side of the river until the 17th because it was rainy the day before. Big mistake. It was so foggy that we couldn’t see a thing from castle hill. So we just kinda wandered around. And then ate some more. (If you haven’t noticed from my previous blog entries, my friendship with Kevin is centered on our mutual love of eating)

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Sad Kevin is sad that we can’t see anything

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Stellar view – I had to turn my camera on manual focus because there was nothing for it focus on…

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Then it sorta cleared up

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Budapest was absolutely beautiful, despite the rain and fog. But, by the end of the trip, I was getting insanely homesick for Copenhagen. I was missing a lot of my friend’s goodbyes and I was worried I was missing out on everyone’s last weekends in town. Going to Prague and Budapest was a great decision, don’t get me wrong. It was just bad timing, I guess. I just missed Copenhagen wayyy too much.

Miscellaneous notes:

– The architecture of the cities of Prague and Budapest are absolutely beautiful, but once you get to the city limits, it all turns to grey, Soviet blocks

– I understand literally zero percent of any of the Slavic languages

– I’ve never ever been so cold in my life as I was in Prague

– There need to be more all you can eat/drink buffets

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Winter Time in Denmark

It’s winter time in Copenhagen!

The beginning of December brought icy weather, more wind, below freezing temperatures, and this thing called “sleet” – as a Southern Californian, I’ve really only ever visited the snow in places like Mammoth for snowboarding and Maryland to see my dad. I’ve never had to actually deal with it on a daily basis and still be a functioning member of society. Not really a huge fan of having to wear multiple layers of pants. No room for activities.

Copenhagen sunset (at 3pm…)

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Also, the Danes are apparently wimps when it comes to snow.

Snow and hygge!

December 8th

On Saturday the 8th, we had our Christmas dinner complete with DELICIOUS food, beautiful people, and a highly inappropriate Secret Santa exchange. The food was all made by a  group of extremely talented chefs and I don’t think I will ever have another meal as good as that one. I don’t really remember what all was included in this plate, but it was all ridiculously good. Just wow. WOW. Thank you Jack, Kitty, Stephen, Ria, Tal, and Omar!

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Photo dump of food and friends:

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It was also the first night of Hannukah so Tal lit a makeshift menorah.

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More food and friends

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Classic Tal

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Then we opened our Secret Santa gifts. Let’s just say my friends are a bunch of disgraceful, despicable and highly inappropriate people and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I guess I should probably include some sort of warning that the following pictures are inappropriate…sorry family.

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Zach putting my gifts of a sweet Christmas tree hat and straw glasses to good useImageImage

Photo dump:

Greg got fake snow as part of his gift, so this happened

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A sleepy and full MartinImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Lauren nuzzles >>>>>

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Group photo!

 

Christmas/Trip posts coming soon! I can only update so much at a time.

Hej hej!

Thanksgiving with the Copenhagen Family

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays back home (maybe because I really really like food…) and I was a little sad that I was going to be missing it with my family. But, I was able to spend it with my new Copenhagen family and it was an absolutely blast. Definitely a evening that defined the Danish term “hygge”.

People paired up to make traditional dishes (Greg, Norma, Zach, and I were on mashed potatoes duty and I also made the green bean casserole). 25+ people were there and we had enough food to feed probably twice that. But it’s not an American Thanksgiving if you don’t hate yourself by the end for eating way too much. Louis CK says it best:

We were all dying from fullness by the end but there really is no other way to enjoy this holiday. All we needed was some good ole American football.

We had:

  • two turkeys (one of them named Simon. Tak, Simon. You were delicious)
  • 7.5 kilos of mashed potatoes (with LOTS of butter, garlic, and cheese – thanks Norma!)
  • 3 kilos worth of green beans for green bean casserole (with homemade cream of mushroom soup, go me)
  • Mac and cheese
  • sweet potato casserole
  • candied sweet potatoes
  • stuffing and gravy
  • a bread/cheese dish from El Salvador
  • Oreo cheesecake (I think Kevin got a few marriage proposals after that one)
  • A classy rice krispy treat
  •  Apple strudel
  • 100 ᴂbleskiver
  • some other food I’m probably forgetting

Some pictures of happy and full people (and the tons of food)

Me making bacon (and absolutely hating it)

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Only a portion of the 7.5 kilos of potatoes

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Greg “helping”

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Kevin “helping”

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Making gravy

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Happy friends

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Full friends!

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Nicki carving the turkey

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Chris going back for seconds already??ImageImageImage

It was truly an international Thanksgiving. We had people from the US, Austria, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Colombia, England, Scotland, and Australia. I am so extremely thankful for all of these wonderful people that I was able to share Thanksgiving with. I adore each and every one of them and they’ve all made my Copenhagen experience so memorable.

Concerts in Copenhagen

Since I arrived in Copenhagen in the beginning of August, real life has pretty much been put on hold. I am essentially living in a fairy tale, and I am entirely too lucky with the opportunities I’ve been given. November (besides that whole finals week thing in the beginning) was entirely too fun as I was able to go to 3 different concerts put on my some of my favorite artists ever.

Bon Iver

Bon Iver was the first one on November 4th at Forum (right after the Fox Hunt in Klampenborg. See my previous entry about that!)

I had already seen Bon Iver at Coachella in April but I will never ever pass up an opportunity to see my love Justin Vernon play again. His performance at Coachella was nothing short of a religious experience so I had high hopes for this one. He had almost the same set list as his Coachella one (he opened with Perth again. Still got chills with the opening note) but it was a completely different experience.

Perth:

I loved everything about it. His albums are mostly quiet and calm, but he turns them into beating post-rock esque power songs. That and there are 9 artists on stage at a time. His shows are intense and really not what you would expect from listening to just the albums. I went with Lauren, Kevin, and Mirna and we even got into an Instagram picture taken by the band! (I circled us in blue).

My only disappointment was that they didn’t end with Wolves, as they did at Coachella. They did a really cool sing-a-long portion that honestly gives me chills just thinking about. Overall a fantastic concert though.

Picture of the stage:

Might as well post their Coachella performance that I mentioned for everyone’s viewing pleasure (may or may not have cried during Perth. Hint: I did):

 M83

The next day, (after my Entrepreneurship final…) I went to M83 at Amager Bio.

M83 also played at Coachella but they were during Explosions in the Sky so I missed them. (It’s a sore subject.) My friend Nick was going and convinced me to go pretty last minute so I bought my ticket at 4, asked the Copenhagen Music Facebook group if anyone else was going, found some more friends to go with, and headed out at 6:30. I wasn’t early enough to Bon Iver so we weren’t front row so I was determined to get to M83 early to attempt to get a good view of the stage. Apparently Copenhagen isn’t that big on M83 because I got there less than 45 minutes before the opener and I got front row standing…weird but I was able met up with a friend, Eline, from the music sharing group on Facebook (a fellow blogger!). (Link to her blog: http://onpuffinsandpenguins.wordpress.com/) The concert was GREAT. Their energy was infectious – even the infamously too-cool-to-dance-at-concerts Danes were dancing. Their set was entirely too short though. They didn’t even play Kim and Jessie…sad.

Here are some videos that Eline took – just look at how close we were!

Intro/Teen Angst

Midnight City:

Steve McQueen:

Swedish House Mafia

Finally, I went to Swedish House Mafia on the 26th at Forum with Greg, Martin, Phil, Henry, Daniel and a few of their other friends.

This was another pretty last minute decision. I saw that they were coming to Copenhagen a few months ago but I decided to not get a ticket because I had also seen them at Coachella (there’s a common theme here…). The Friday before the concert, Greg convinced me to get a ticket and I’m so happy I did. It was their last concert tour as they were breaking up as group and I was excited to see them in a little more of a “intimate” venue than the Main Stage at Coachella (same venue that I saw Bon Iver in a few weeks prior. So that was weird) The concert was so sick. That’s the only way I can describe it. Just ho-ly crap.

Some videos that I’m stealing from YouTube of the performance:

Antidote:

Don’t You Worry Child:

In My Mind:

 

Copenhagen, jeg elsker dig

Hej hej!

Halloween in Denmark and Fall Frolicking

The end of October in Denmark means colder weather, fall colors and, of course, Halloween.

Halloween in Denmark is getting bigger every year, but it’s still nothing compared to the Halloween back home in the states. And NOTHING compared to Halloween in Isla Vista (can I just say that I was extremely happy that I missed Halloween in IV this year?)

Lauren and I were “glam rockers” and only because I found metallic leggings at Føtex for 99kr. So great. Kevin was the Brawny paper towel man with a flannel from Episode that was only 120kr. Overall a successful Halloween.

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November 2nd

The Friday of that week was the first Friday of November which means it was J-Dag! J-Dag is probably one of the most Danish holidays I’ve ever heard of. Just look at it here. Tuborg’s Christmas beer comes out at exactly 8:59pm and is distributed to bars and cafes around the city by elves dressed up in J-Dag blue. We missed all of the elves and the trucks but it was still fun to walk around the city with what I’m convinced was every single person who lives in Copenhagen.

November 4th

This day was the best day ever. EVER. We went up to Klampenborg to see the fox hunt at Dyrehaven (Deer Park)

Here’s a description of the “hunt”. It’s translated from Danish so it’s a little awkward.

About Hubertus Hunt

Hubertus hunt is a symbolic continuation of the old parforce-chasing,
as Deer Park was originally built for. Here was allowed to dogs dust
fox up, and nothing was predetermined. Today there are no dogs,
route is planned and fox replaced by two experienced riders with fox tails
on their red jackets.

On land, at sea and in the air

Hubertus hunt is about 11 kilometers long and one and a half hours.
Along the way, passing riders both built and natural obstacles,
which is inviting for the horse. The route goes through Ulvedalene and includes
jumps at Sand progressed and a walk through magazines pond.

Hubertusjagtens roles

All riders are dressed in bright red jackets with black collar and white shirt,
white breeches and white gloves – a special Danish tradition.
Hunting supreme authority is the ‘master’, which carry a high, stiff hat and
riding a piece after the two ‘fox’. The riders must not overtake the master,
which determines the rate of hunting. At the back of the field riding ‘Bagmasteren’, which ensure that all follow suit.

Hubertus hunt is different from the others with hunts by connecting with
a 800 meter long race. The fastest rider who passes the goal,
winner Hubertus hunt. Chase winner receives Prince Henrik Prize
by Eremitageslottet.

But basically, it was a day spent frolicking in the fall leaves with horses, puppies and great friends.

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Having lived in Southern California for a majority of my life, I’ve missed out on seeing the leaves change into their fall colors. So, naturally, I got entirely too excited at Deer Park and took an excessive amount of pictures.

Almost done updating everything!  (Except not really)

Next post: Concerts in Copenhagen!

First Fall Break/”School Work”

Let me start out by saying that I am the absolute worst at keeping this updated. My last update was from the end of September. SEPTEMBER. Good god. I would love to be able to say I’ve just been busy and buried in more important things…but I haven’t. I’ve been frolicking around Europe and having way too much fun. But I guess I can update now.

I went to Istanbul and Athens for my first fall break (October 12th-21st). It would take me entirely too long to update on that, but maybe someday I will. I wrote extensive notes each day I was there but I’ve decided I’ll just link to Kevin’s blog to save time (Thanks for being on top of your blog, Kevin). Also, my albums on Facebook are pretty extensive. I’ll also send my Dropbox to anyone who desires to look through all 1,000+ pictures I took on that trip…any takers?

ISTANBUL:

Part 1

Part 2

ATHENS:

Athens

I was able to catch up with my friends Hayley and JD from Westlake while I was in Athens, as you can see from the pictures in Kevin’s blog. It was really nice to see familiar faces from home, even if it was only for a few days.

Some of my favorite pictures from that trip:

 

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After we got back from Athens, I went into full on panic mode regarding my classes. Block 1 was coming to a close so that meant I had to actually get on top of my school work and start studying for my finals. My Entrepreneurship and Innovation class required a final 20 minute business pitch, a 50+ business proposal, and a final oral exam. My Ethology course required a final 10+ paper about animal behaviour (yes, I did just spell that with a U) and a 4 hour final written exam. Shit. This workload quickly reminded me that I was in Copenhagen to study and learn…oops. I bet you’re all wondering what fascinating topic was the subject of my animal behaviour paper, right? Well, the title of it was “Analyzing the Imprinting and Mutual Recognition Methods Between Ewe and Lamb in Domestic Sheep”. Who wouldn’t want to read more?! Let’s just say I know more than I want to know about sheep and their imprinting methods. I won’t bore you with the rest of things I had to do for all of my classes but I will make a few comments about the Danish education system.

1. I really enjoy oral exams. They’re quick, painless, and you get your final grade right there. (I got a 7 in my Entrepreneurship class! Which translates to a B+ in American grades. Considering I absolutely HATED that class, I’m pretty happy. And it’s a good GPA cushion)
2. My ethology final was really unfair. It was open book AND open note. I hate tests like that. I don’t want to be a testing room for more than is necessary. Everyone showed up with every single article and slide printed out and the textbook, all highlighted and tagged. One of the questions on the exam was actually “In the article by blahblahblah, what was the point of the experiment?” ARE YOU SERIOUS? Let me just go find that article in the stack of articles I printed out…oh wait. I didn’t. Because I thought that was a waste of time. I mean I can get a perfect score on an exam too if you give me 4 hours with every single piece of paper we ever went over in class. I could have skipped every single lecture and still get a perfect score if I printed everything out like the other students did. Oh well. That class is over. Thank god. At least it made me realize that I never ever want to go into a field that deals with animal psychology…

Some pictures that week/other fun times from earlier in October:

Copenhagen City Walk:

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Just in case we get taller on exchange?

“Abby was here” – Thanks Tal!

The best “Disapproving Calum” look:

Clayton’s “C” themed birthday party (we were all cats…)

Tuesday hygge dinner:

 

Well that’s enough for one update…only about 1.5 months left to write about! Hej hej

Food. So much food.

Honestly, the only thing that sticks out from this week has been the food…typical. I’ll probably track my time here by the pictures of my plates.

September 21st

Woke up sick (again…this is totally karma.) so I missed my ethology lecture. I finally got up and decided to go into the city center with Kevin to look for thrift stores to find stuff for the geek-themed Tietgen semester start party (more about that later). I’ve missed thrift shopping. Copenhagen has made me into more of a hipster than I ever was back at home. Oops…We found some really cool ones (Wasteland Retro and Episode). On the way to one of them, we came across a huge food festival at Gameltorv (again, more about that later). There were booths from a few different countries with awesome smelling food and other snacks. Definitely made a note to go back later in the week.

That night we went faculty party hopping…as in the faculties at the KUA campus had themed parties..in the classrooms/cafes. WHAT. So weird. Try to imagine the courtyard around Girvetz and South Hall at SB being turned into a bar/club area. Sponsored by the administration.

– This happened.

September 22nd

Went to yet another buffet on Saturday afternoon for lunch with a few friends. Mental note that the Greek buffet near Paludan is not nearly as good as the one past Paludan close to the passage to Strøget.

That night was the geek party at Tietgen. Not much to say about it…very few people dressed up though, unfortunately.

– GAUCHOS!

– Pretending to be typical Isla Vista residents. Olé?

– #3bf (as always)

I’m pretty sure I saw everyone that I’ve met here in Copenhagen so far that night. It was crazy. It also made me realize that Tietgen is pretty much the perfect living situation. It’s just so…awesome. Proof.

September 24th

And so begins the non-stop rain. Monday was kinda awful, full day of class and rain. But I went over to Kevin and Lauren’s after dinner to watch TV and movies. We were all just in a hygge mood and totally over the weather.

September 25th

My most spontaneous day in recent memory. Woke up feeling sick, yet again, but I had already planned to go to Gameltorv again to check out the food festival that Kevin and I saw on Friday. Oh. My. God.

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– Oh so British

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– The Finns are weird…

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– Nej nej nej nej nej, tak.

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– Fudge for days

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– “This is Kevin looking happy with churros”

I ended up staying there well past the time I should have left to get to my seminar…and I made the decision not to go. (Sorry!). Honestly, it would have been horribly disruptive of me to walk in late (at least that’s what I keep telling myself.) So, naturally, Kevin and I went to IKEA. Because why not. (but first we wandered around Nyhavn trying to figure out what to do with all of our free time. So much room for activities!)

The Copenhagen IKEA is smaller than the one in Burbank, but it seriously had all of the same things. And they had a display of pretty much exactly what my room looked like back in Isla Vista (god, I was just so ahead of the trend. JK. but not really.) I think I annoyed Kevin after a while by saying “Oh look, I have that at home too!” Sorry for loving IKEA too much.

One thing we were thrilled to see was that they had a food court. Different food choices of course (no mac and cheese with tater tots…damn.) BUT, they did have the meatball meal.

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– Quick, look Swedish.

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– A rare picture of the elusive Danish soda fountain. I was so pleased to see they had the lingonberry drink. They don’t have the Swedish food market though. We sat there for far too long to take advantage of the unlimited refills.

Finally picked up some stuff for my apartment that I was desperately needing (like a new pan, dish towels, etc.)

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-Yes I just took a picture of all of this. And it was all under 100 kr. Don’t know why I didn’t go there when I first arrived.

Well, it was still a Tuesday so that meant Tuesday tradition – dinner and hygge at Kevin and Lauren’s! Burgers again. This time, there were pictures.

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– Kevin can’t eat like an adult…ImageImage

– Prue: “Calum, I can’t understand a word you’re saying”

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– Dinner = success

September 26th

[Insert typical complaint about Wednesdays here]

Some notes:

My group in my Entrepreneurship and Innovation class has been doing a lot of good work recently and we have to document it for our final presentation soooo I’m going to post them here to let everyone know that yes, I am taking real classes here! (Warning: It’s pretty boring.)

Our challenge is to solve issues concerning the chili production in Uganda. Their issues include: irrigation, cold transport and market access. This class is really throwing me out of my comfort zone, to be honest. I miss hard science.

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– So our group name isn’t great. The chilies that the Ugandan farmers are trying to market are green and not realllly that spicy. Hence, the lame name. ImageImageImage

– Sorry Sus!ImageImage

– Akis gettin sassy as alwaysImageImageImageImageImageImage

– Look, I still include color in my wardrobe…sometimes. ImageImageImageImageImage

– We decided that coffee, cake and MANGE øl is necessary for good group work. So, naturally, we included it in our cost structure. #SoDanish.

Hopefully this entry hasn’t been too boring…

Hej hej!

Hygge, Louisiana, and adventures in Gaucho ball

I’m writing this wearing a grey sweater, black pants, black nail polish and black boots. With my hair in a bun on top of my head. And a larger-than-necessary scarf. Assimilation into Danish culture: complete.

The past week has been pretty uneventful. Just regular class and such. Although, the weather has taken a turn for the worse, and so the time of having hygge dinners is now in full swing.

September 11th

I had a presentation in my ethology class on Tuesday about the welfare of broiler chickens in the meat production sector. It went from talking about solutions to lameness to a discussion about the international need for large scale chicken production. Definitely wasn’t prepared for that. And I wasn’t ready to be the only one answering questions because I was the only one in my group that was comfortable answering in English. But I definitely learned a lot.

After class, I went to Kevin and Lauren’s place up in Østerbro to make dinner because they have a communal kitchen with a real oven and more than 5 sq. inches of counter space. Kevin and I made AWESOME burgers. They were so awesome that we forgot to take pictures because we were too busy eating. They had swiss, avocado, hummus, fried egg, lettuce, and tomato. Lauren and her friend Csilla that was visiting made this delicious lentil dish. We ended the night just drinking wine, talking, and playing cards. Sooooo hygge.

September 12th

Wednesdays are just the absolute worst. Unless you’re into that whole straight class from 8am-5pm thing. Then by all means, go ahead.  After enduring 9 hours of torture, I continued on with my usual Wednesday routine and went to Studenterhuset for international night. A few of us decided to leave and go to the Jazz House for a concert. We somehow got in free and caught the end of an experimental jazz trio.

  it was cold…so this made sense.

September 13th

Thursday, I had my Danish culture class again. The topic of the lecture was Nordic mythology and literature, which sounds interesting, right? Nej. The lecturer didn’t really try to keep it interesting and it ended up just being a two hour class where she just talked AT us. No visual aids, no interesting examples. I honestly don’t think I retained anything. I miss the first lecturer…

After that class, I metroed up to Nørreport to get to my next class, “An Introduction to Medical Anthropology”. The North Campus of KU is absolutely beautiful.

When I signed up for this class, I was really really excited for it. I thought it would be a good way to see the more human side of biology and health and I thought it would be a good break from the more hard science side that I worked with at HGS this summer. After about an hour (it was a 3 hour class, 4pm-7pm), I already knew I wanted to drop it. It was TOO social science based. I know I was being too literal with the assignments because I had more of strict science background when it came to health and healing but I couldn’t handle the things my classmates were saying. The class was interesting, just not for me. For example, some of the students were convinced that a cold was caused by bacteria. Um…nej. I know when it comes to a holistic approach to healing, it doesn’t really matter what actually causes the sickness, it was just getting really frustrating. Like no, hot tea does not kill bacteria in your sinuses. No, vitamin C does not cure colds. And NO NO NO, you cannot get a cold from being outside in the rain for too long. After I decided I was going to drop the class, I didn’t hold back on correcting people…oops. My bad. Sorry I’m not sorry.

After that horribly frustrating class, I picked up some wine and went to Kevin and Lauren’s again for dinner. Our Danish friend Maj brought her famous lasagna and ooohhhh my god. Mental note to always make lasagna with lentils.

We also made obscene amounts of garlic bread.

I was there until about 1:30 until I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to get home because my normal bus, the 4A, was no longer running. I ended up having to take the 18 to some random stop in Frederiksberg and then walking for about 20 minutes. Oh well, learned my lesson to keep an eye on the time and know all the buses that go near me.

September 14th

Kevin and I decided to go to a Greek buffet for lunch to get ready for our October vacation. Their dolmas were to die for. I’m pretty sure I had an entire plate of them at one point. We stayed there for a long time in order to make spending 59 kr worth it. Although, we also had to pay 15 kr for a single glass of ice water – no refills. It’s hard to do a buffet correctly without refills on water, so we had to ration it. Quite ineffective.

Later that evening, some of Prue’s international friends came over to Kevin and Lauren’s and Kevin and I tried to teach them a classic IV game, Gaucho ball. (NO, it is not called Rage Cage) Turned out to be really fun after everyone got the hang of it. We ended up going to a “boat party” a little later, but it was honestly a bit of a let down. It was just music and dancing on a boat that was still docked…and the music was just techno remixes of popular music. AKA any party in Isla Vista. It was like I was back at home.

September 15th

Yet another delicious buffet adventure on Saturday. This time, Indian. And yes, we had to ration water again.

Scott (from UCSB) had his birthday party that night at the Åboulevard dorm. Yes, there were mustaches involved.

– Lauren likes adding cats to pictures. Basically the best thing ever.

September 16th

On Sunday was the first excursion with my Danish culture class to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. We were supposed to meet at the main building of KU at 10am but hey,  Denmark usually has a 15 minute grace period in their classes so I assumed being even less than 5 minutes late would be OK. We got off the metro at 10:03 and we saw all of the buses pass by…Damn. So Kevin, Greg, Nick, Elissa, Matt, his parents, and I decided to take the train to Humlebæk to meet up with the class. After some frustration with the 7-11 clerk, an 84 kr ticket, and a missed train, I finally made it. Since Greg and I missed the train that everyone else took, we got there too late for the lecture (but at least we were able to get in for free). So, naturally, we found somewhere to eat. And it involved another buffet. This time with really really good Danish food.

The museum was awesome. The grounds were beautiful and the exhibits were really interesting.

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-pickled herring with mint and dill…questionable.

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– The grounds of Louisiana are absolutely beautiful.

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– Appropriately placed mirror at the beginning of the self portrait exhibit

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– Really cool room with LED lights suspended from the ceiling with mirrors and a floor of water to help with reflecting the light

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-Norway’s “New Nordic” concept house

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– Finland’s

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-Denmark’s

Later that night, Nick (he’s also in my ethology class) came over for dinner and we made awesome grilled cheese and potatoes. And yes, I took pictures.

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– They had sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, avocado and Swiss cheese and toasted ciabatta. SOO good.

September 18th

Getting ready for another hygge dinner with Kevin and Lauren. So excited for this to become a Tuesday tradition. We’re going to attempt to make “gourmet” quesadillas tonight.

***Picture update from gourmet quesadilla night!

– Too happy.

A few additions:

  • We got onto google street view at Paludan!
  • It’s currently 7:30pm…and it’s pretty much dark. What happened to it getting dark at 10?!
  • Finally have my Danish CPR number! (That’s pretty much their equivalent to our SSN) That means I’m covered under the Danish health care system (if I get hurt, I get treated for close to nothing) and I can now open a bank account. The conversion rate between the Danish kroner and the US dollar went downhill recently so I’m basically losing money by having money at Bank of America still. (It was 6 DKK to USD when I got here, and now it’s close to 5.6 DKK to USD)
  • This week has been filled with awesome dinner parties and hygge. Fall/Winter here doesn’t seem so bad now.

First week of class, Rangleklods and more

So much for being on top of updating this…it’s been yet another week and half between posts. Oops.

That’s mostly because the past couple weeks have been pretty uneventful! Real classes started last week, and now I have no free time at all. But before I get into complaining about that, I’ll update about last weekend.

August 30th

After Wednesday’s musical extravaganza, I had high hopes for Thursday. Nope. All of my friends ditched me for cool jet setting adventures in Amsterdam/Belgium, Sweden, other parts of Denmark, etc. Just kidding. But not really. I actually realized it was the first day since I arrived in Copenhagen that I had absolutely ZERO plans. So, naturally, I didn’t put real pants on until 6pm when I realized I should probably show my face to the real world and buy something to eat. But being in Copenhagen, I actually had to put on real clothes to go to the grocery store that is 5 feet from my front door. None of this sweatshirt and leggings nonsense that I would do back in California. Since when do I have plan outfits for every second of my life?! Just part of being Danish I guess. I organized my flat (for the umpteenth time), did laundry, swept, did dishes, “organized” school stuff, etc. Felt nice. I always thought I preferred being alone because I did back at home. I would cancel plans all the time at school because I never wanted to leave my house. I just thought I was an independent person who didn’t really need that much social interaction to be happy. Nope. I can already tell my personality has changed here. I’m used to hanging out with people pretty much all day. I count on it now. Being by myself in my flat to sleep and cook is lonely enough, no need to prolong it by being a shut in.

August 31st

Because Thursday was an absolute waste of a day, I was determined to make Friday really awesome. And it was. In the early afternoon, The university had its official matriculation ceremony where we were officially welcomed to the university. We got to meet the deans of all the faculties and as we left the ceremonial hall, all of the students shook the hand of the rector. After the symbolic handshake, I was considered an official student of the University of Copenhagen. Pretty cool. Here are some pictures of the Ceremonial Hall! So awesome.

 

After the ceremony, there was a reception in the old courtyard and there was FREE FOOD. Yes, I just wrote that in all caps. It’s not very often that I’m able to eat for even less than 50 kr here. Free coffee, free cupcakes, free røde pølser. And free 4GB flash drives. It was glorious.

That night, I went to the official semester kickoff party at Studenterhuset. I don’t think I talked to a single American student the entire day. It was actually kinda cool. Although, I hung out with a lot of Germans and Austrians. And they would spontaneously break into conversation in German…felt a little awk just sitting there.

September 3rd

First day of class! I had my ethology class (9-12) and my entrepreneurship & innovation class (1-5). First of all, class in Denmark is so. long. I will never complain about a TR hour 15 class ever again. At least we get 10 minute coffee breaks every 50 minutes or so. But I think I took a few mini naps throughout each class. My ethology (animal behavior) class is mostly Danish students so they all speak in Danish to each other. It’s a little alienating, but I understand that they’re more comfortable speaking to each other in Danish rather than English. I was put into a group to prepare a research topic and they all spoke in Danish too…really awkward just sitting there waiting for them to realize I had no idea what they were saying and for them to translate what the last 5 minutes were about. Oh well. My entrepreneurship class was pretty interesting, there are a bunch of international students, and we all have very diverse backgrounds.

September 4th

Wednesday I had class from 8:30 to 5:30…one class…for 9 hours…just one. My entrepreneurship class. Honestly thought I was going to go crazy. At least this class only goes for one block. Don’t know how I would handle it for 4 months. We formed our groups that we’ll be working with on making a business plan for a company that has some sort of science emphasis (a hospital, green tech, developing countries, etc.). After our grueling 9 hour day, the organization that sponsors the class took us all out to dinner (3 courses, including wine). So so so so good. Never going to be able to eat like that while I’m here – it was 240 kr PER PERSON.

September 5th

Only one class on Thursdays! Had my first Danish culture class. Honestly the only thing I can say about it is that it’s going to be so much fun. You basically just sit there for 2 hours (a short class by Danish standards) and listen to a guy talk about the Vikings and the history of Denmark.

September 6th

Finally go to see Rangleklods! (failed a few weeks ago….). It was at a huge party at the Black Diamond – the Royal Library. Honestly, the party was sort of a let down but Rangleklods was awesome.

#3bf

Then Lauren sang in the metro…

September 8th

Kevin and I went around collecting cans on Saturday afternoon…no shame. We made 40 kr (like 6.50) for about 2 hours of walking around. We made a mess in Irma though…oops. We were able to justify our shawarma binges easily that night. And even though we walked around aimlessly and spent entirely too much money, it ended up being one of the funniest nights…Lauren, you know why.

September 9th

Sunday, Kevin and I decided to be tourists again (I’m definitely out of the “honeymoon” stage of culture shock. I just feel like I live here now) so we decided to go on the Carlsberg brewery tour. Except it wasn’t really a tour. You paid 70 kr. to walk around, look at stuff and get 2 free beers. Can’t complain about the free beers though. They were positively delightful.

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Few notes:

  • My classes are actually going to be pretty hard. My entrepreneurship is going to be really tough. We have to come up with a business plan to help a real company that has an area they need help in. They’re all pretty science based so at least it’s interesting.
  • Booked my October and November vacations! October = Istanbul and Athens and November = Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon. Sooooo excited.
  • I love Denmark.

Danish class, music appreciation, and more.

August 28th

PASSED DANISH! I had my oral portion of my exam on Tuesday and it really didn’t go all that well. I was given a story to talk about that I really didn’t remember but hey, I only needed to pass. My teacher said I did really well on the written portion and that my oral score brought my score down to a 7/12 (Like maybe a B or B- in American grades? Maybe higher?) but my writing portion was a 10/12 (like a B+, A- maybe). But I passed! I can honestly say the class helped me a lot. I feel a lot more confident walking around the streets and being able to pronounce street signs and at least tell locals that I can only speak English (in Danish) “Jeg kan kun tale engelsk”

Here’s a picture of (most) of my class and my teacher, Jørgen (he’s the one who looks like Justin Vernon in the front row)

9 different countries are represented here! (USA, Australia, Spain, Holland, Austria, Germany, Singapore, Poland, Denmark) and 2 students from South Korea and Switzerland are missing. Such a diverse class.

Note: all of the German speaking students did really really well. Because, and I quote, “Danish is just like drunk German”. Good to know.

After the test, I decided I didn’t want to be lazy and sit at home so I met up with Kevin and we went to the National Gallery of Art for about an hour. Their modern art exhibits are…weird. Like really weird. Weirder than the ones I saw at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in Montreal. There was a video of a horse sacrifice somewhere near the Arctic Circle…set to music…and then the parts were put on display…I don’t even…

Later that night, I met up with my classmates at a really small bar near the Christianshavn metro stop that our teacher recommended. It was really cheap and it was definitely a place to just sit and relax and chat with friends. He even joined us after a concert he went to! It’s really interesting to compare academia in Denmark to academia back home. A lot of social activities with your classmates and teachers involve “hygge”/bars of some sort. It’s a cool way to be more connected. I can’t even imagine a teacher recommending a bar to his students and then hanging out with them until 3am happening back at UCSB.

August 29th

Wednesday was the orientation for the faculty of SCIENCE. Honestly, I thought it was somewhat of a waste of time. The presentations were mainly geared towards students that had only just arrived and knew nothing about the e-mail system and such. They even had a 20 minute presentation on culture shock…I went through pretty much all of that information either before I arrived in Denmark or at the International Office orientation back in the beginning of August. Oh well, we got delicious free food out of it (which is very rare here in Copenhagen – definitely took advantage of that). I left before the tour of campus because I’ve already walked around a fair portion of it and I already know how to find my classes. They made us count off into groups like kinder-gardeners so I took that as my cue to leave.
After orientation, I went home and finally started to reorganize my flat. I’ve been spending very little time at my place just because it’s so far from everything so it got verrrry messy. Finally did all of my laundry! Except I finally have my first laundry casualty of a new country. My favorite $1 thrift store sweater from Jet Rag in LA. It got horribly stretched out. And pink. I almost cried. What am I supposed to wear in the winter now?!

my poor poor sweater.

I finished my adventure with trying to be domestic and do laundry/dishes and went to a concert at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. There were no seats for the first half so Kevin and I decided to just walk around and kill time. We saw a car that had an Obama sticker on it! So bizarre! He would definitely be considered a conservative here.

The concert was really good (I’m turning into such a cultured Dane. I’ve been to so many music events in the past few weeks! First the classic Jazz at Bartof, then Malmo, then a couple of times at Mojo’s blues bar). I was even able to understand some of the notes in the program about the violin player! Yeah Danish! We went back to Cafe Retro after that (a nonprofit cafe that plays awesome music and has a hammock swing seat thing. Seriously so hipster). We ended our night with a cross town trek to find shawarma (alright, my shawarma addiction is just getting excessive). Kevin and I both decided that we never want to leave Denmark. Everyday, I’m blown away by something. I love it here.

A few notes:

– diet Coke (or Coca-Cola light) is so much better here.
– I told a story to some Danes about being scared to call an ambulance when I got in my bike accident back in SB because I was worried about how much it would cost and they were absolutely shocked. They didn’t understand why I wouldn’t call an ambulance if I was hurt. They’ve never even thought about avoiding a certain medical procedure because of how much it would cost.
– I’ve seen more dads pushing around “prams” here than moms. It seems that parents spend equal time with their kids – Paid leave is “52 weeks. 18 to be taken by the mother, 2 weeks by the father, the rest as they see fit.” And the pay is 100% of your original paycheck. Unreal.
– Yes, this is a caricature of Danish culture but it’s surprisingly pretty accurate –> http://copenhannah.tumblr.com/post/14228929903/how-to-look-like-a-dane
– Denmark has a fat and sugar tax which means McDonald’s is actually pricey and Ben&Jerry’s pints are 65 kr. ($11). Explains why everyone is skinny.
– I never ever ever ever want to leave this place.

This must be a record for how much of updated this blog! Life will probably get less exciting as the weeks progress and the “honeymoon” stage of culture shock wears off.

Hej hej! (Danish for goodbye)