Becoming a Local

Well, my computer finally stopped being a rebellious teenager so now I can update everyone on the past 2 weeks or so. It really has not felt like that long though. I’m finally becoming comfortable with this city and I can honestly say I can get around like a local.

August 15th

After Danish class, Freya and I decided to go to the international office to pick up tickets for the matriculation ceremony for Københavns Universitetet (where I’ll be taking my classes). After leaving a store close to the metro stop, I realized that my American smart phone was stolen out of my pocket. My grandparents warned me that they were pickpocketed in Copenhagen before so I made sure to be careful but obviously I wasn’t being careful enough. Definitely learned my lesson. And I hope whoever stole it is happy with a phone that only works in the states, doesn’t have a SIM card slot, and has about 3 alarms that go off at 5:45am. Sucks. After that, I went to the beach with my Danish class (I swear I’ve been to the beach more in Denmark than back at home…in Santa Barbara…where I live on the beach.) We bought portable beach grills and BBQed on the beach.

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August 16th

Kevin, Lauren and I met up with one of our Danish friends, Magnus, at a bar to watch a friendly “football” match between Denmark and Slovakia along with his friends from Switzerland and Slovakia. Slovakia won the match but it was still really fun to experience how Europeans watch their football.

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-So this exists. It’s a Slovakian liquor that was made by the grandfather of Magnus’ Slovakian friend. Gypsies collect these berries and then his grandfather distills it. No joke.

August 18th

After Danish class, we had our next culture activity – a Copenhagen canal tour. We were able to see all of the famous landmarks of Copenhagen but we were sitting in the back of the boat so I wasn’t really able to hear much. And, of course, I forgot my camera so I’m stealing some of Kevin’s pictures.

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– the completely underwhelming Little Mermaid statue

Later Friday night, we decided to go to the Battle of Copenhagen. Also completely underwhelming. The website promised a huge spectacular with drag queens and fire and 100 double basses but really it was just a couple of ships sailing around the harbor area with some faint bass music coming from who knows where. We ended the night just walking around Nyhavn.

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August 19th

Kevin and I decided to check out the Copenhagen pride festival Saturday afternoon. I’ve never been to a pride festival back in America but I could imagine that they are very different. For one, there is barely a police presence. Like the only cops I saw were blocking off a portion of the street for the trucks/floats to pass by. All of the local businesses had rainbow flags/balloons out front (even McDonald’s) and the Prime Minister even participated. Can you even imagine what kind of media fire storm would happen if Obama got anywhere near a pride parade? It was great how much the community of Copenhagen supports everyone – regardless of orientation. American should take note.

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After Pride, we went to the beach – yet again – and hung out with some of the Danes we met the weekend before.

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– they threw Lauren in…

August 20th

Decided to go to Malmö for the Malmö Music Festival! Can’t believe how easy it was to get to another country. Met up with Greg and Kevin at the Central Station and bought a roundtrip ticket for less than $30 American. And the train ride was only a half an hour. Malmö was pretty much just a quieter, Swedish version of Copenhagen. Same architecture and same kinds of shops. Except everyone was a lot blonder. We listened to some great jazz and blues and some other questionable Swedish artists. We even heard a version of the musical of Evita – completely in Swedish.

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August 21st – August 24th

Nothing really report from this past week. We had our written part of our final for the Danish Language course on Friday and so the week was spent hitting up various cafes and (attempting) to study a very difficult language. One of my favorite places that I studied this week has been a book cafe called Paludan. Soooo hipster. And their food is absolutely delicious. Definitely not cheap though. I’m pretty sure the best tuna sandwhich in the world is made at Paludan.

August 25th

Last weekend on the boat tour, Kevin, Greg, and I made tentative plans to head up north and go to Hamlet’s castle for some sightseeing this weekend. Remembered those plans and planned the trip sorta last minute but hey, it wouldn’t be an adventure if we didn’t, right? Met at the central train station and bought tickets (it was more expensive than going to Sweden…) and took 2 trains to get there. The town, Helsingør, was a really cute town along the coast of northern Zealand. Made the mistake of not eating a lot before we left so we stopped at a shawarma place (of course) and got these fantastic chicken pizza sandwhich…things. They were amazing. Definitely worth 45 kr.

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Pictures of Kronborg Slot! (shout out to my senior year English Literature teacher, Mrs. Novak. She would be so proud)

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– only in Denmark

August 26th

During one of the times studying at Paludan, Kevin and I decided to come back to try the brunch. Wow. Just wow. I’m stealing Kevin’s picture of his brunch – I got the vegetarian one which was a little different.

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– SO worth the 99 kr splurge.

Sorry for the excessively long post (again)! I promise to keep this update more. These past few weeks were crazy busy, hopefully things settle down once I get a full class schedule.

My friend Kevin from UCSB (who is in 99% of these posts) is also doing a blog. Go check it out! I’m sure he’s included things that I forgot.

http://planestrainsanddanes.wordpress.com/

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So many updates!

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.

August 8th

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.

August 9th
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.

Some pictures of Nørrebro!Image– bike rush hour!ImageImage

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August 10th

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.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage– I think these were the royal guards going through some sort of training.

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.

August 11th

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. ImageImageImageImageImage

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.

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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.

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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!

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– a “USA” BBQ place…that sold sushi…ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Overall the best day I’ve had here so far.

August 12th

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. Image

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More of Frederiksberg

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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!

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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.

August 13th

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. ImageImage

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!

ImageImage– the nectar of the gods. Image– my street! Nordre FasanvejImageImage– 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.

Few things I forgot to mention

– all the restaurants and cafes in Nyhavn had blankets at each seat for people sitting outside. Seriously such a good idea. 

– I will probably get really good at dividing by 6 by the end of this – it’s 6 kroner to the dollar. 

– My Danish teacher looks like Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. His name is Jørgen. (pronounced “yoarn”)

– Everyone in Copenhagen is really fashionable 

– My first culture shock was hearing kids playing in the alley behind my apartment and I wasn’t able to understand what they were saying

– Even though I’m a pretty quiet person, I’m still lumped with the “loud Americans”. The Danes are a pretty reserved group of people, on average. Even me asking the people around me where they were from on my first day of Danish classes got me strange looks. 

Note to self:

There are NO ugly people in Denmark. Not even kidding. Practically everyone is tall, blonde, and looks like model. 

FINALLY settled in!

Well these past few days have certainly been an adventure. Let me just start from the beginning. 

 

August 5th:

So my flight out of Dulles was delayed an hour or so because of a radio issue but I had a 3 hour layover at my next top in Munich so I wasn’t really that worried. Landed in Munich at about 9am-ish local time. First thing I noticed was that the entire airport smelled like cigarette smoke. There were smoke lounges EVERYWHERE. Kinda weird. But my next task was to find out how to print my boarding pass for my next flight to Copenhagen. The Munich airport is HUGE so I had to walk really far, go outside of security, go through customs, and then re-check in. Had to go through the security line like 5 times because I’m pretty sure they were convinced that my DSLR camera was a bomb. They had me take it apart, show them the settings, take test pictures, the works. But I finally got to my gate and was able to relax a bit before my short flight into Copenhagen. All of the tourist shops in the airport were so over the top with souvenirs from Bavaria. Like beer and pretzels and lederhosen everywhere. 

 

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Took a small plane to Copenhagen and landed at around 12:30 local time. Jonas, my mentor, picked me up there. Didn’t really hit me that this is going to be the place where I was going to live for the next 5 months. Took the metro straight from the airport to my stop (Fasanvej) and lugged my somewhat broken suitcases like 15 minutes up the street. And then realized I was given the wrong keys. So that was cool. Jonas offered for me to stay at his place while he figured out how to get my keys. So we went back to his apartment (another 15 minute trek with the suitcases and bags back down to the metro, another metro ride to the outskirts to the city and another walk). I was finally able to take a shower and a nap and call some people. We made some dinner and watched TV and passed our around 11. It stays light here until 10pm! So crazy! 

 

August 6th:

So Jonas had work at 6am so that means I had to be up and ready at that time too. I took a bus to the metro station and then took the metro to where more orientation was to at least get myself situated before my first class at 9am. I walked around a bit to kill some time and found a pastry shop that was open and got a croissant and a water for breakfast. Wow, Copenhagen is expensive. For those two things it was 36 kroner or $6. Walked around a little more and decided to sit and read before I had to start going to my class. Another girl saw me with my welcome packet and said she was in the language program too so we walked together to find the class and I found out that she’s going to be in my medical anthropology class when the actual semester starts! Finally found the building for the Humanities Department and the University of Kopenhagen, KUA (Kobenhavns Universitet Amager) and we had our first day of Danish class. Met people from over 10 different countries – just in my first day. So surreal. Then we had lunch (a little sketchy – I had absolute NO idea what anything was in the cafeteria) and then we finished the day with our international office meeting. Finally trekked back to my apartment around 3 and met with someone who had my correct keys, took a nap, moved my stuff in when Jonas dropped it off at 8, took another nap, ate some dinner and called it a day. 

 

August 7th:

Danish class started at 9am today. I swear the pronunciation of Danish is just made up as people go along. Some examples:

– Hvor kommer du fra? (Where are you from?) – pronounced “vo commah du fra”

– Jeg kan selvfølgelig taller engelsk (I can of course speak English) – pronounced “yeh ken selfuuly tallah engelsk”

– Fasanvej (The name of my street) – pronounced “fah-sane-vy”

My favorite word in Danish is probably the word for 14 – fjorten. But after class, my friend Freya (she’s from Melbourne) and I decided to go to the city center and walk around and look at the shops and stuff. Once I got off the metro it finally felt like I was in a foreign country. It was so cool. Got my first official Copenhagen hot dog and walked around Strøget – the pedestrian only shopping area of the city. The Danes really like their Ben and Jerry’s….there were like 3 of them in that one area. And then there was this “American” candy store with “American” food and it was all realllly random. Like canned pumpkin pie mix, Goldfish, popcorn, bin candy, vanilla Coke, Peter Pan brand peanut butter, Nesquick strawberry syrup and a 69 kroner box of Reese’s Puff cereal. So wild. It started to rain again so Freya and I decided to part ways and go back to our own apartments. Overall a really awesome day!

Here are some pictures from Nyhavn (the colored shops), the city center and Strøget.

 

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Here are some pictures from my dorm! Sorry for the mess, I’m still trying to figure out where to put all of my stuff…the Danes aren’t big on storage areas.

 

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Well this post was excessively long so I’ll end it here!

Nordre Fasanvej!

Forgot to mention in my last post that I have my dorm assignment! I’ll be in Frederiksberg – a small town actually surrounded by Copenhagen so I won’t actually technically be in the city….

But the apartments are flat style so I get my own kitchenette and bathroom – no roommate. Which is pretty cool I guess, it just means I’ll have to really make an effort to meet people in my building. 

 

Here’s a street view!
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Counting Down

So as of right now, I have less than 2 weeks until I leave for Copenhagen. 12 days to be exact. 11 days, 21 hours to be even more exact. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet. Although I did have a momentary freak-out when I realized I didn’t even know the Danish word for toothpaste…like…what am I supposed to do without toothpaste. I know that all of these petty fears will mean nothing once I am actually abroad and I’m sure that I will be smart enough to get around the city once I get there. I just want to get there already though! I feel like I’m overly preparing – I already mapped out my first few days there: how to get to the metro station, how to get to my orientation meetings, what restaurants are around my dorm, etc. In the mean time, I’ve started making an “Abroad Bucket List”.

  • See the Northern Lights in Norway
  • Go to the world’s largest IKEA in Stockholm
  • See the castle that Hamlet was supposed to be based out of – Kronborg – in NE Denmark
  • See the Little Mermaid statue
  • Take a trip to Italy and hike in Cinque Terre

 

and more to come as I think of them…

Seriously can’t wait!