Tuesday, December 18, 2007

LAST BLOG

Everything I know I learned in Kindergarten…and Denmark


Not to be read for spelling and grammar…but to be read as my mind has thought…a stream of refelctions


Some people come to study abroad to become a new person-they want to “find their selves”. They think it will be a life changing experience. Many have the goal of coming home again with a foreign romance or someone who changes their life. Some come for a change of atmosphere after they realize they are growing bored of their home university. Some come to learn something they could have never been exposed to back home in the United States, whether it be in the cultural or academic sense.
Note here that there is always a key word I am using when I describe the different aspirations and interpretations of a study abroad program: CHANGE. What I realized when my study abroad time came to an end was paradoxical. I changed not in the sense that my viewpoints, attitudes, and beliefs have adjusted, I have changed in the sense that I have not changed…and know it. When I reflected upon my time here, and accounted all of my experiences, whether through travel, school, or personal encounters, I realized that I always act consistent, and not just consistent in the way I have acted in the last three years of my life, or eight years ago when I became a teenager, but from the beginning of my memory…kindergarten.
I have a lot to attribute my personality to, because I don’t just believe you are who you are when you are born. I do believe that it is shaped during your integration with family and society. Luckily for me, my parents have raised me in a life that has always seen stability, yet like most humans, I have also been exposed to negative externalities. Pollution, crime, spoiled people, na├»ve people, war, people who make you think…”oh my gosh…is this person real, because they act like that stereotypical brat you see on TV but think the producers are making act in the extreme.” No these people really do exist, horrible break-ups are real, vulnerability, and depression are all real feelings. However, what else you see in TV and movies and books is also real…like the beauty and history of the world. The beauty of societies and the tribal uniqueness is also real, and should definitely be experienced first hand. Though I have only had the opportunity to travel through Europe, and not the wonders of Egypt, the Middle East, or Asia, I have nonetheless been more in tune with the world just being in a foreign land that is geographically closer to others. I feel the influence of Russian society, how communism ruined people lives, and how China is the biggest force affected the earth (yet many Americans remain unaware). I have learned that people in China are not poor, but do live in small places, and people in Russia still do not think Stalin was a bad person. Most importantly, I have personally witnessed the greatest artwork by the greatest artists. It was all I expected and more.
Now I will once again have to prepare for culture shock, except this time in the reverse. Yes, it is true… your home nation will also shock you and for the first few weeks I will look at others and think how much they have changed. I think that I will be disappointed when I have to stop and fill up my gas tank. I think I will be frustrated to pull out my ID, and even more baffled when cops approach me as I carelessly walk the streets with an open beer bottle. I will be overwhelmed by the choices in the store, and piping mad when parkers compete for the closest spot…then get out and walk just fine. I will laugh when I respond with “nej tak” to unwelcomed comments…and then continue to be surprised when everyone around stops and stares with confusion. “It means no thank-you in Danish,” I will respond. And then everyone will continue on…unable to relate to the overuse of that phrase I implemented throughout my four months…well, me and every student here. It was our favorite phrase, partially because it was one of the few we could say.
However, pulling up through drive-thrus, ordering pizza to my door, and not having to check the night bus schedule every time I leave my room will be nice to return to. However, I realize these things are unfortunately just conveniences that I grew up around, and thus in some sort of way rely on, though completely unnecessary. The Danes, despite the five hours of sunlight, rain, and trains that like to shut down if a leave blows onto the track, continue to be the happiest people. They love their country of five million because perhaps it is more like a close-knit tribe. It is a land inspired by fairy tales and hygge. They love candles, they love talking, and they love what has been given to them. Because of this immense love…though you cannot see it on their faces…I too have come to love Denmark and it will always be in my heart. I found enchantment in the cold, the buildings, the shops, the canals, and the babies in snowsuits. Denmark is like a mermaid...mysterious and alluring. Once you encounter one up close, it will pull into depths unknown by strangers, but a fantastic home to all that inhibit it. Denmark, like the mermaid, sings a song that can never be replicated and intrigues the human. It must be studied…and when it is, it is more beautiful on the inside then what a wonderer can see from the outside.
Once, Copenhagen was just a pamphlet to me. It was a city that offered business courses that would transfer for credit. It was a program that didn’t require a foreign language (thank god because lord knows I still can not pronounce the name Copenhagen correctly in Danish), and a program located in a city I could have never located on the map. However, it turned into my home. First it was my very expensive vacation, and then my annoyance, and then my sublease, and then my home. Many are not strong enough to leave their home, their friends, their life…but as Mark Twain once said, and as it was repeated at the DIS closing ceremony, “20 years from now I will be more disappointed by the things I didn’t do than the things I did do.” We all should free the rope that chains us to normalcy, and make a new normalcy and see if we are who we are in our first home as we are in our new home. I am. This leads me back to my first statement. Everything I know I learned in kindergarten. For example, I love people and being around them and I am not shy. I can strike up a conversation with anyone and make it last an entire train ride home, even if I barely know them. I like boys, but I am always on a higher level than them. More mature, more independent, more giving. And speaking of giving, I love to share. It is not something I feel obliged to do, but something I want to do to make myself happier. I like to share the dinners I cook, the chocolate I buy, and I often try to push these things upon others if at first they deny. I like to be creative and I really miss baking. I try really hard in school. Though I thought I didn’t try as hard out here, and was often disappointed by the marks I received, my hard work was apparently recognized by my Danish professors, when during today’s closing ceremony, my named was announced as a nomination for the student that showed the highest Academic Excellence. However, I must admit that though I feel I would have enjoyed that award in the past, this semester was some of my worst work. On the other hand, my last statement may very well ideally capture another consistent part of my personality- I am my biggest competition.
I could write for pages and pages about everything I saw and learned, but then this reflection would turn into a novel. In ending, I would like to re-iterate a Russian philosopher’s wisdom when he said, “you cannot stare at the stairs, you must climb the stairs.” I have climbed many stairs in my life and reached new levels that I believe have made me a stronger person, but the stairs I just climbed, and indeed I did, were longer than any in the past. They weren’t harder, and I didn’t sweat as much, but they raised me to another level. They were hidden, I searched for them, and I voluntarily climbed them. I am not regretful; in fact I am thank-you for the fact that I made the effort on my own will. (With of course my parent’s unconditional help). I am on a level that many of my peers will never be on. I am not better than them; I have read a novel they have not, and of course I can explain what the book was about, the characters, the highlights, and the ending, but until they read it, they will never actually know the effect all the pages have in their entirety.
For now I say farewell to Denmark. Good bye to the mermaid, the fairytales, Tivoli, the trains, the 7-elevens, the narrow streets, the medieval architecture, the water, the ice cream, and most importantly the hygge. To me now, Denmark is a country that the Beatles sang when they wrote, “There are places I remember, all my life…”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crictical Thinking

Crictical thinking...it has been pushed a lot by the Danish teachers here. However, they also are very crictical.

I received my first A today on a paper...b/c usually it is impossible to please the teachers past B's...and ususally your best is just not good enough.

Anyway, I have nine days until I come home and the only thing I can think about is how many papers I have written, yet my writing skills are decreasing. I have never turned in more work that I am less proud of. I can't decide if it is because I gave up after the first assignment I turned in was graded so subjectively, or because so much has been due at once, or because I figure there are better things to do in Denmark.

Basically what I do like is that even though anything you say is always doubted and debated, you yourself can do the same thing right back. For example, when our teacher was going over our marketing report with us...he had a lot of things underlined that he didn't like and was CRICTICAL about. However, all we did was argue our viewpoint of it...and that was that...A was the grade.

I am still worried that our other professor will not like the paper. When I handed it in, he asked if we thought it was good. I looked him in the eye and said...I've done better...then again, I knew what to do. Silly teachers out here never tell you what to do...they just say write a report.

Anyway, nine days until I am home and even though I do not want to go back to school, I will be so happy to have IU teachers again. I will sit in class and think...oh my gosh, they are actually telling me the exact requirements of an assignment. I can't wait to fill out a bubble sheet and have them run it through a scanner, receiving my grade within 5 hrs as opposed to 5 weeks.

What may become a problem is when I question something the teacher says and write a paper purely based on my opinion...encouraged in Denmark, but frowned about in the US.

Oh well, we will see.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Marketing Strategy Report

Graphs and pictures to be used in class presentation...not real blog!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bittersweet Symphony

My thoughts about knowing I have about 2 weeks left in Cph are bittersweet. I hate how I have so many papers and presentations due and I am glad to be leaving the school, however, I have come to love the city. I like Denmark despite the bad weather and high prices. I was walking around today because all of the streets are decorated for Christmas and things here just feel so spirited. I feel that the people here have developed extra holiday spirit since it is usually such poor weather and dark. However, the sun was out today for one of the first times in two weeks and it was so amazing. It has even warmed up to 8 degrees celcius. Basically, I am starting to realize that home will not be as exciting as I am expecting and the four months that have almost passed was not that long of a time. Know I want to do all the things left in Cph that I haven't time for. I want to go to a ballet at the old theatre. I want to go to the Opera house. I want to visit the castles. I want to go iceskating and visit every single christmas market they have set up.

However, school is a killer right now and time will not permit. Oh well...soon it will all be done and over with and before I know it I will be home telling everyone to go visit Cph. I feel sad today for the first time about leaving. A week ago I felt sad about being here and missing home, but know my feelings have reversed. I still want to go home and see everyone, but I think when I get home I will miss what I have left in Denmark.

Like I said...very bittersweet will be the last two weeks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My new danish obession: Hans

Hans Christian Andersen is the writer of many fairy tales. Before I came to Denmark, the name sounded kind of familiar, but i could of never told you who it was. When I first arrived, I discovered he was the writer of "The Little Mermaid". This is why Kobenhavn has a little statue of her...b/c this is the country where Hans is from. Anyway, after visiting Tivoli a couple times, and looking through the Hans books my fellow students are reading for class, I have discovered he has written many stories i am acquainted with. For example:
The emporer's new suit
The princess and the pea
thumbellina
the ugly duckling
the nightengale
the tinder box.............and more

After visiting the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale shop today in Illums, i really want to get one. But I don't want just the most popular collection, i want the whole book...the one with over 80 fairy tales.

Anyway, the point of this blog is to point out that even though Danmark is very small, great ppl still come from it. I mean, there is only 5 million ppl, and there was way less when Hans lived long ago. So what I am trying to express is that there are some things that make me happy to be in Danmark. Hans is one of them. I wish I could of taken the class. Maybe not as practical as "Doing Business in the European Union", but certainly more entertaining.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Snowsuits

So today every baby I passed was in a snowsuit. Apparently, Danish mothers like to put their small children in snowsuits, even when it is not snowing. Though adorable, also unusual. How can an entire society do the same thing...I guess Denmark is only 5 million people.

However, I was thinking...a snow suit may not be a bad idea for my room. It is so cold that sometimes I can't even focus on reading or fall asleep. Though DIS said that if you email them they would give you an extra blanket, I never received one. I've gotten use to wearing 4 layers in my room, and by the way, the same four layers. This is because I am trying to save my laundry money until only 2.5 weeks are left. This is because even though I have 80 kroner left, apparently DIS stops the validity of the card at 50. I guess they won't let you use the extra 10 dollars because they figure they need more service fees for all of the non-service they do. Anyway, in light of our living arrangements and DIS, we all make jokes to make each other laugh. The other day, a fellow student and friend made the joke that he was going to write DIS a short letter that says, "Dear DIS Housing Services, I sleep outside now because it is just as warm as inside, but i see more people."

It made me laugh a lot. Anyway...back to whole baby thing. A snowsuit would be nice for my room. I might even put it on and walk the streets of Copenhagen and see if anyone mistakes me as an overgrown danish baby.

Monday, November 26, 2007

22 and 72

So today when I was talking to Katie on the ride home and over dinner, I realized that being overseas has already neutralized me to the whole "bar" scene. I also realized when I told her that in Amsterdam I spent most of my time at museums, I act like an old person...which is actually a good thing because I appreciate art and things others my age might think are boring (like my brother). Basically, I have determined that being in Denmark has made me feel like two different ages in mind: 22 and 72

Age 22: Pretty much, in the US, young adults can't wait to turn 21 so that they can legally drink. Usually a lot of partying occurs, a lot of drunkeness happens, and a lot of bars are visited. Usually, this feeling seems to last about one year before it becomes a normal feeling. You think at 22, "no big deal...I am ordering a beer right now in a bar". This feeling has already taken over my mindset. I figured this out when in the beginning of the semester, on Tuesday nights everyone made plans to go out to visit new bars in CPH since we don't have classes on Wednesdays. However, just tonight me and Katie were like, "do you want to have a movie night tomorrow with Kelly and eat popcorn?" YES was the answer. This options seems much more pleasing now than going out. In fact, we made the same decision a couple saturdays ago to stay in and watch a movie. I think i went to bed at midnight or early that saturday even.

Age 72: So I remember as a child, I hated visiting museums on field trips. In fact, I think the only museum I ever liked was the children's museum because there were things to play with. However, ever since I arrived in Europe, I have loved visiting all of the museums and other sightseeing places I would have whined about 10 years ago. I stare at painting forever and read every caption. I love learning about the artist, technique, and political meanings behind these paintings. I loved all of the sculptures in Italy too. I loved the huge churches and walking about building. Basically, these are the kind of thing retired ppl like to do, however, I like it now too. In fact, me and Katie both agreed that when we went to the Veneto hills with the retired group, they were our favorites to talk to. Maybe I am lame, or maybe I have finally realized to absorb everything and learn everything and not take anything for granted. Now that my time here is running low, I realized how little I have actually seen in Europe and how much more awaits me. Some ppl the age 72 or older have nvr got to see the things I have already seen, and knowing I have been able to have these oppertunities is amazing.

I guess it only takes one 30 min train ride back home with a friend to realize your true age. But really, about the going out thing, who can really afford $10 beers every night?? Not I!
And P.S. I don't have the Danish genes that keep me skinny even though they drink so much and eat so much...why do the Danes have such good genes?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Copenhagen revisited and Amsterdam

So when Jimmy arrived, I realized that it would not only be an oppertunity to revisit the city I have lived in for a couple months now, but also to explore new areas. To begin with, I must state that due to high costs, I have nvr eaten at a restaurant in cph before. However, once Jimmy got here, we ate at lot. Buffets are the best choice becasue they offer the most food for your buck. During this past week I ate a lot of frikadeller (danish meatballs), ham, pork, potatoes, and chocolate. I am pretty sure i gained all the weight back i had been trying to lose after travel break, but i figured, jimmy's on vacation, so am i.

because of this mindset, i barely did anything for school except turn in a paper and make a presentation an hour before our plane left.

however, i learned so much more about cph. here is a list:

1. i realized i can walk around the city and know where i am at. i can walk from the canal areas with the little mermaid, to the black diamond on the other side of town, and back into the main area where tivoli, stroget, and DIS are. i didn't even need a map.

2. during these walks, i realized i liked the city of cph more than i thought. i don't like the cold, but i like to try to adapt like the danes and i have become semi-fond of the walking streets and canals. so many shops, so many chocolates...

3. i finally traveled into the old red light district, known as vesterbro. i found it quite enchanting...the streets were filled with only the young and a hundred cute, trendy cafes and restaurants. it was fun to explore a new area and jimmy and i found a really good restaurant. we got amazing sandwhiches and it was neat looking inside as well.

4. i once again realized my visiting family is awesome. they cooked me and jimmy their christmas dinner...which is duck, frikadella, potatoes, and rice pudding. the rice pudding is served with a warm cherry sauce and cinammon sugar. it was so amazing! we once again exchanged opinions about cultural differences and politics. jimmy said it was his favorite night in the city.

5. I realized cph has so much i haven't taken the time to see or use...like the black diamond. besides a place to study and find books, there is a cafe and cultural events.

6. Never ride amusement rides when it is below freezing!! wow, being at Tivoli this late in the year was a voluntary action i almost regret. we had fun, and it was lit beautifully with xmas lights...but so cold!!!!!!!!! NEVER AGAIN! of course, we observed that the danes were perfectly fine riding rides and walking around lesiurely in the cold weather...Danes are crazy. It is official.

Moving on to amsterdam....

1. People who go there just for the red light district are dumb. amsterdam has so much to offer...it was an amazing city and i loved walking around. a lot was happening in every district...and the streets were lined with more bars, cafes, resturants, and shops than any city i have visited yet in europe

2. I got to see artwork by FAMOUS artists like Van Gogh and Rembrandt. It was nice to learn more about different art techniques. I was greatly intrigued by the life of Van Gogh.

3. The Anne Frank house was also nice and of course a little chilling. i can't believe so many ppl lived in hiding for so long. the musuem was nice...though the rooms are empty now, they still paint a picture in your head of what use to be there. little quotes from her diary were in every room. it made me sad. the view out the windows we all had was the once the view she had.

4. The red light district was like how it is described. i am intrigued that this kind of town still exsists. i guess the girls in the windows actually have to pay to rent them out...like 150 euro a night. however, they usually make around 750 euro a weekend...or something crazy like that.
hmm....a career i would never choose, but i guess different strokes for different folks.

Anyway, i found the city very nice and would like to visit more of holland eventually. for now though, i will continue to try to adjust in cph until i leave for the states.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chicago in Copenhagen

Yesterday, being Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from my Danish visiting family. Alice, the mother, told me they had an extra ticket to see Chicago at the Det NY Theatre (the new theatre) in Vestrebro. She also invited me over to lunch at the family's cousin apartment. I gladly accepted...I was worried that I would once again be trapped in my room all do writing essays.
Anyway, I got to look nice...and Danish I might add. I wore my brown dress (purchased in Chicago) with a green undershirt to match my green tights...and of course of leather boots from Italy. I looked quite Danish!!
The food I ate was traditional danish as well...some egg salad with fish concoction on rye bread and ham salad and pork. It was good and I was full quite quickly. The whole family was talking danish around me, so for a while I thought I understood danish...but of course i do not.
The show was also in danish...which i preferred because it felt more cultural. Alice and I both agreed that certain roles should of been switched, because we thought some of the dancer and singers were better than the main characters.
It started snowing during intermission and the whole Randrup family told me it was quite unusual to be snowing this early. They asked me about the states and how warm it was when I left and they were quite surprised to find out how hot Indiana can get, and also how cold. I told them in was unbearably hot this summer...and when trying to put it in perspective for them..guessed it was around 40 degrees Celcius. I do not know if that is actually right or not...but regardless...it is way hotter than the -3 degrees celcius it is in DK right now.
Anyway, the show was very good, even in Danish. Some of the family members there were even ahead of me in the fact they had already seen it on broadway in NYC. I have only seen part of the movie; regardless, even in another language you can still get the jist of what is happening and it is always fun to listen to good music and watch good dancers.
I would have posted some pics of me with my visiting family, but currently my camera is experiencing techinical difficulties. I would like to restate that I was very appreciative of the invite and am excited to introduce them to my brother who they are very excited to meet and cook frikadella (traditional danish meatballs) for when he gets here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Christmas Beer

So starting in november Copenhagen begins celebrating Christmas with beer. The brewery, Carlsberg, makes a special xmas formula and label for all of their beer. We all find this quite exciting. So yesterday we had a dinner at the Riz Raz, which is the vegetarian restaurant with amazing food. When it was over, there was about an hour before the midsemester party at the Austrailan Bar began. We collectively agreed that since we are all back "home" in copenhagen now, we should all once again take advantage on our favorite places in the city...7/11. We dashed over there...and i say dashed because it was below freezing and sleeting and windy...looked around this place of wonder...and then finally picked up our first tuborg xmas beers. Of course we had no where to go after that, so our first tasting had to take place outside in the miserable winter conditions. we were being blown over by the wind and everyone's hand froze because i was the only one who remembered gloves. i felt bad, so i let katie use my gloves and others use my scarf. funny when you are the person in the group that is farest north in the states and thus most tolerant of the weather.
anyway...it was a good time nonetheless and we all feel that we truly became a part of denmark's culture. most did not actually like the beer as much though; it tastes more like an ale. i liked it though and it is really cheap, so i may make it a goal to only drink xmas beer until leaving copenhagen. i think it would be a fun thing to attempt. i may possibly try to bring carlsberg's jacobsen brand back because it is the high quality, top of the line formula and katie says they are selling 3 for 100 kroner at the stores. i have tried this when we had a business mtng at the brewery one day and it is quite amazing!! i want all back home to somehow experience this xmas beer too.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Copenhagen is "home"

So i recently got back from a three week study tour in which i saw so much, their is absolutely no point in listing it all. A general assessment would be as followed: three weeks is a long time to travel when you are living out of a large backpack that hurts your back. you also realize how long a trip it is when you are wearing jeans that are falling off your body...and not because you have lost weight (because quite the opposite happened), but because you haven't been able to wash them in so long. Katie and I walked around with loose clothing and stains all over us. It wasn't until florence when we met up with marc and lance that we all collectively decided it was necessary to find a public laundry mat to wash our clothes. Note that I leave out the word dry, because Italy does not have dryers. Because of the lack of dryers, I realized I could not do my jeans still, so i simply cleaned underwear, socks, and undershirts....since they would all dry on their own in a short time.
Though I am not going to talk about all the sites I saw, I do think it is important to inform that the statue of David is not lifesize...he is enormous!!!!!!! I mean huge! and the detail is incredible. I often caught myself wondering how sculpters can make something so powerful out of a rock? After touirng through the Vatican city and different parts of Florence, I realize why they named the 4 Mutant Ninja Turtles after Michaelanglo, Donatello, Rapheal, and Leonardo. On the subject of Leonardo....all I can say about the Last Supper painting is "SPECTAULAR". I feel very privledged that i got to view that...and I learned so much about the meaning behind it. Note that Judas is the only apostle in the painting that is not standing (no face of alarm after Jesus' annoucement). Plus, Leonardo studied so much geometrics that his pictures are perfect to a tee.
Anyway...so much more I could say, but the real point of this blog is to say that after 21 days of training through Italy, searching for hostels, and walking a million cities, Copenhagen finally seemed like home. It was so nice to arrive in a city where I know the train system...I know where I am at all times, and I already know what to expect from the culture. At the same time, arriving was still not the same feeling as arriving "home home" would feel like. Besides that, school gave us an unpleasant welcome...
We all have a 3-5 papers due within the next couple weeks. And these are not just papers, they are full length essays worth anywhere from 20% to all of our grade. The downfall is that after receiving my essay back from my core business class about the EU, I feel like the teachers grade exceptionally subjective in Denmark. I got a B...not bad...but I have two problems with this.
1. We didn't actually get our essay back, just a typed response from the teacher with commentary and the letter grade.
2. The commentary seemed like opinion. For instance: "Good response, but maybe could of used subtitles." Could have included more specific details about this company..."
Okay, well first off...so i answered everything...and didn't include a few details...that may be becuase they gave us a word limit. So orginally I had a very thorough essay until I realized I was 800 words over. How do you expect me to include every detail? Don't give a word limit. Also, can i please see my essay so I can see the parts you liked and didn't like?

Besides that, the Danish teachers are very ambiguous with their assignments. What I liked about I-CORE at IU, though many complain is that it is too hard, is that it is very well organized and the teachers tell you what to do and what they are looking for. Also, when the big report was due, they didn't keep assigning more reading and hold class. Here, at DIS, we have all these huge assignments due, yet the teachers keep having class and assigning more reading. One teacher looked over our outline for a marketing report and said, "I give it a B. It looks like you guys wrote it in a rush. You could of done better, no?" We were like, "Sure, whatever." What we all would of said (if their is a point even trying to explain concepts to the Danish teachers) is that "you had this due the same day you wanted a presentation due and had a midterm. We also hadn't even talked to the president of the company yet to get info because he was not available to meet like you said he was. You also fail to note that we are all in 4 other classes and had 3 other tests to study for"
The danish teachers think everyone here is in like 2 classes. In fact, our EU teacher was quite surprised when we told her she was assigning too much. She asked, "But this is your core class, how is to much?" We said...all classes hold the same weight and that we all have just the same amount of reading in our four other classes. She was shocked to hear that we all had 4 other classes.

Anyway...I have decided that my grades overhere may be lower over than usual, yet telling recruiters about my experience will still seem pretty impressive. Copenhagen is a city that I will nvr be able to explain to anyone else...they will nvr understand without living here themselves. I am still learning in a way that will nvr be graded, yet it is probably the biggest lesson my college life will ever see.

My last comment is...
I can wait for free water and free coffee refills!! Europe...you are so behind the times in this trend!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ode to Danish Pastry Desserts

So I have done really well at avoiding the bakery shops, but earlier this week I caved. I didn't actually cave, I just felt that I deserved something since it was midterms. I walked into Albertslund's bakery, where they speak no English, and looked at my dozen of options. Plain tarts, whipped cream cinnamon pretzels, chocolate, sugar.....so of these just look like all of my favorite ingredients combined into the cutest, most delicious looking pastry desserts.

I could not choose. Katie chose for me. It was a pastry rolled around some kind of cream and half was dipped in chocolate.

My first bite was revolutionary. NEVER have I tried such a great pastry. Katie laughed at my expression...but it was absolutely AMAZING. So good even that I decided to save it for until I got to my room and brewed coffee. Each bite followed by coffee was equally amazing and for a moment I believe I found my heaven in Kobenhavn. I decided to try one new pastry until I left for travel break...which is like in 8 hrs. The next day was so oatmeal, chocoalte sprinkle mess. Good, but not like the first one. Then today I bought a peanut/nutty sandwhich with that same almond flavored cream in the middle, also dipped in chocolate. It was delicious...but I devoured it immediately.

My goal is to slowly narrow down on the best three pastries, and then bring these back to the US, particularly for my mom and Crystal to try. I need to share this wealth!!

Okay, Friday was my last Kobenhavn night before travel break. It was Kulturnatten (Culture Night) in the city, and for 75DKK you buy a pin, and get into over 200 events for free. There are light shows, staged fighting, singing, dancing....the zoo was open and all of the museums were open until midnight. Me, Kelly, Katie, and Robin went to the zoo first. We saw like a dozen simbas. Then we went to the oldest building in the city...now a museum...but on this particular night it was opened for Halloween card-making. The average age participating was six, but it was by far the best part. We then met up with others at the City Hall for dessert pancakes, followed by a quick stop at the Dansk Design Center. There we posed in pictures with BMW's. After that we planed on attending a fashion show at the Museum, but didn't get there in time for tickets. We then tried to find a light show, but it was lame. At the end of the night we made it to a mock version of "Oktoberfest". It was okay but there was one bartender who was mean...and the beers were too expensive, so we didn't stay long.

Anyway...my last reflection on Danes pre-study tour is that they think they have a lot to offer...but not really. Oh well, it is still a city full of many, expensive options. I can't wait to see Italy and take a Tuscany cooking class and Chianti wine tour.

Kobenhavn...it will seem like home soon once I get sick of being lost down south. Oh well, at least I will be warm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Danish teachers make me laugh

Okay, so I knew it after the first couple of classes...but it is now verified. DANISH TEACHERS ARE CRAZY.
How are they crazy?
>disorganization in the classroom...everyday
>assigning 200 pages of reading a night in binders we are not even allowed to annotate in
>having papers due the same day as midterms
>asking the same questions repeatedly
>not actually ever discussing what we read in class but putting it on a midterm
>forgeting thier own questions

the list could go on...but then it would become way to specific. anyway, we aren't really mad anymore, we LAUGH. None of us our the same students here as we are back home, none of us can be. We don't know what to read out of the hundred of pages assigned and we don't know how to prepare for tests or papers with ambiguous guidelines. It seems like a hopeless cause at this point. However, after brewing several cups of black coffee I am hyped enough to randomly be productive.

From now on, I will never believe a Danish teacher when he says, "You'll have plently of time." or, "The questions are really general."

FYI: I have only been in Denmark for 6 weeks and do not know enough to anwser the following question:

"Name 6 positives and 6 negatives corresponding to the PESTLE model in Denmark." This question is neither short to write in time or general...but whatever.

We LAUGH a lot, and it is a learning experience all in it's own. Family friends of my visiting family who have been through the Danish education system, which is free for them of course, confirmed my assessment. They said, "Yes, Danish professors are scatterbrained, disorganized, and anything they have written down or say means nothing." I guess when social institutions are paid for by the government, quality is a little lower. Like the same family friend had to weight over 8 HOURS WITH A BROKEN ARM IN THE E.R.!!! Joke? No, it is not.

My last reflections on this post are as follows:

First econ lesson: There is a tradeoff for everything in life.

Basic proverb from somewhere: The grass is always greener on the other side.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Stick Shift

So it finally happened...my need to drive stick shift. Of course i figured it was never important enough to know back in the US since everything is automatic, but in Europe, if people drive, they drive manually. If you are driving an automatic, it is bigger or luxurious, and thus costs way more to rent for a trip down to Oktoberfest. I know this now after talking to ten car rental places in the airport when we found out the car we booked for a small fee of 50 euro was stick. All of the automatics were 2000 to 3000 kroner.

Oh well because planning Oktoberfest a year in advance is necessary for better places to stay and tent tickets. So maybe I will go back when someone else I know is studying abroad another semester.

One last note about the cars here...the taxi's are all Mercedes. I guess that is why is cost like 300 kroner to go from town to albertslund, becuase it is a Mercedes. And no, they will not allow you to bring a piece of pizza in the cab with you.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Money, Money, Money

So I was starting to get use to the high cost of everything in Copenhagen until I went to Hamburg, Germany on a field study. We were given 10 euro for lunch...and i was thinking, how is this going to buy me anything. However, i bought a coffee (actually big), bottle of water, large snitzle sandwhich, 3 postcards and 3 international stamps, and still had 3 euro left over. This made me really upset that I am living in a city that charges so much for everything.

It is also outrageous that if you lose the ONE key they give, you are paying around 2000 kroner to get another one (500 dollars). It is also outragrous that the person to replace these keys is only open one hour a day at my kollegium...of course when I am in class. So today I stayed home from class so that I could get my new key, and of course, when I called, they had to call someone and said they would call back. Now it is after their office hours and they did not call back, so i guess i skipped class for no reason and will have to continue relying on people for another day. The only thing I could think of doing to make myself happier was to buy myself flowers from one of Copenhagen's hundreds of flower carts. I also bought some strawberries and dark chocolate to make chocolate dipped strawberries. They were delicious.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bornholm...Denmark's "Martha's Vineyard"

This past weekend I traveled to a small island south of Sweden and 7 hrs east of Denmark, smack dab in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Though there is nothing particularly special about this island, it felt amazing to get away from the city for a few days. We biked around trails that had nothing but hilly farmland or coastal views. The sea was so peaceful and at one point the blue of the sea blended in with the blue of the sky. Many adventures were encountered in the group of five I rode around with. Some include the following:
1. Finding a hilly pasture...walking up it to see the view...then realizing we were on a bull farm.
2. Being caught in the rain for 20km
3. One member had a flat tire and DIS would not come help us
4. One member fell off of his bike and injured both hands and a knee...all becuase we had to ride back in the dark because DIS did not come help us
5. Jumping into the frigid sea just to say we were in the baltic sea

Anyway, we saw some amazing things. My favorite was an old medieval castle on the nothern tip of the island. it is in ruins now, but it was located in an amazing place...on top of a cliff and the surrounded by the sea.
The second day we hiked instead of biked because we were too sore, and we stumbled upon some sacred cliffs. They of course were beautiful and so was the entire hike becuase the trail just followed the coast line.
Another observation I made on the island was that cats and dogs roamed everywhere. Everyone was walking a dog...and they weren't ever neutered. How strange.

Anyway...now I am sick of course. I knew my body would give in eventually and catch up with everyone else. Although I am sure the bike ride in the rain did not help. My mine has also given in to the fact that no sandwhich or any kind of meal out here is under 30DKK (6 dollars). I will never, EVER think anything in the US is expensive again. And I really want Taco Bell, as do we all out here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Visiting Family!

I am so happy that I signed up for a visiting a family...and they gave me everything I expected. They are Per, Alice, Morten, and Katja Randrup, plus Morten's two roommates were there. We started by getting acquainted over some snacks like carrots and dip and bread with pesto. It was not awkard at all either. Then we sat around the table for traditional danish dinner, pork and potatoes with some kind of relish or side thing to go with it. The food was delicious and warm. They served me some French white wine that is produced in a town near the German border which went perfectly with the pork. Then Alice had also prepared traditional dessert of thin pancakes with the options of adding in icecream and marmalade. Her homemade marmalade was supurb and I also added some whipped cream on top of the rolled pancake. We had coffee with it. The whole time we talked about the danish health care system, school systems, cultural differences, where I was from, movies, their views of American parents....
which to note on that...they are very confused as to why American parents pay so much attention to the children's school grades and activities. They spoke about how a student that lived with them a few years ago always would say, "My dad is going to be so mad about this grade." And Alice would reply, "Why do you care? He is not even here." The Randrups basically think American parents shelter their children too much and of course noted on how silly our drinking laws were.
Anyway, the whole conversation was amazing and I ended up being there for four hours. It didn't feel like it at all though. I told them "Tak for mal" (Thanks for the meal) over and over and we planned on doing something similar again.
I am very glad to get to know the Danes and I think that the students that came out here with their friends or frat buddies are dumb. They will nvr experience the culture, get to know the Danes, or get outside of their comfort zone. I have already learned so much about Danish culture and I love how liberal they are...yet completely under control.
The only thing that dampens my night is the fact that I have to turn in an essay worth 20% of my grade by tomorrow before I leave for Bornholm. Of course, like always, DIS made another assignment due the same day trip is over, so of course, I have to to do it three days early. I would have already started it, but I had another essay due on Monday and a test to study for which I had today. I don't know why this school is so demanding, but me, as well as everyother person here, feels overwhelmed. We don't understand why DIS has made this college harder than any of our home universities. Why do some many assignments and tests overlap and happen right after weekend trips? I think I am just going to have to realize that I probably won't recieve grades that I am use to, but to not worry because I am learning in another way that doesn't award grades. And once again, I loved my visiting family!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hmmm...Denmark in Totality

So we took a short field study to other cities in the main penisula of Denmark..and the best comparision I have is as follows:
It is like you left Chicago to visit Indiana for a few days. Sure, there were things to do, people to see, but it is no Chicago. We basically visited a toilet seat company that focuses on designer, innovative toilet seats, and then the biggest slaughter house in Denmark. Plus there were a few musuems and castles in between. My favorite part of the trip was our night in this small town called Randers. They brewed their own beer, I believe called Thor, and a system of underground golden pipes distributed it throughout the city. So supposedly, we drank the world's freshest beer.
I don't have too much else to say about the trip except Danish castles look nothing like the castle at Disney Land, and toilet seats can be neat. Sooooo...anyway....
I am still not a fan of the weather here and am quite jealous of everyone who is not on the same lines as Northern Canada. Oh yes, and I have also recently discovered that event though I am paying thousands of dollars to study abroad, the school I am at does not even have Office 2007. Not only that, they do not even have compatibility packs installed. I found this out when I tried to open an essay due today at the school computer labs to finish editing and printing. However, I was not allowed to open it since the computers were still in Office 03...so at least an IT person got it to print off...but I could not finish editing. So that is my story for my first assignment due, and I am not happy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Babies at 20

I learned some new things today that in my opinion were more important than the actual field studies I had. To begin with, Danes are must not be very Finance-orientated in business, becuase if they were, they would have more carefully calculated the rate of return and capital costs associated with constructing a huge building. However, they apparently didn't take into consideration risk or time value of money, and half way through the construction of this amazing architectural design, realized they didn't have enough money to finish it. So what was the solution? "Sacking" half of all the employees who work there, even ones that have been there for 20 years. Of course this happens on the same day we were taken to this site to learn about subtitling for tv and movies. Unfortunately, the lecture kept being interrupted by employees full of tension, and finally we were asked to leave because soon may Danes would be asked to leave themselves. Wednesday though? Is that really a good day for firing? Hmmm...I would like to know the logic behind that because I know in the US it usually occurs on a Friday.
I was also recently educated about Danish women having babies young. At first, as an American, you have to wonder, "Why would you want a baby in college?" I mean, there is all of the expenses of college, not to mention mental frusterations and that period in your life when you start off as a young, poor professional. But then you must remember that the government in Denmark actually cares about their citizens and would rather use tax money to benefit the domestic community instead of external affairs like the US would rather spend our money on. Because of this, not only do all Danes recieve a free education for as many years as their field requires, but they are actually given a stipend per month for living expenses. What the Danish women have done with this idea is as follows:
Have a baby young while the government is paying for your life (i.e. while you are in school). Then you simply only have to find someone to look after your child while you are gone for a couple of hours a day, as opposed to an eight-hour work day. The only thing you have to worry paying for is food and the clothing on your back. Then, by the time you finish school (4-5 years), your child is old enough for school. That means the Danish mom can start her job and not have to pay for daycare because her child is in school. Some may argue that this may still become somewhat of a financially challenging situation, but then you have to remember that Denmark does not allow it's citizens to go poor because of it's excellent welfare system. In fact, Denmark has the lowest separation between it's upper and lower classes out of any country in the world. And welfare isn't just abused or used by lazy druggies, it is a part of life, something natural that even middleclass citizens recieve some part of. In fact, I have seen one seeminly homeless person since I got here...in this city of millions.
Another interesting encounter occured last night when I entered the kitchen to cook a corn on the cob. I ended up joining an African group (family and friends of one of the residents) in the dinner they made (which was delicious) and came to realize that all men think a like. One of the guys had a conversation with me that women are perfect and have to be in our double standard society, but this is only because men are like babies and should be treated as such. He continued by saying that women are the most powerful in the sense that they must guide men through life, keeping them out of trouble, teaching them right from wrong, or simply reinforcing maturity. He also said that kids truly are a factor of mostly the mother; and therefore is the mom is messed up, the kid will be too. I had to mostly agree with all of these assertions. Men are babies. What is true in America is true even in Africa. What a small world...yet completely different ways of life.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Observations

Today after class, which I gave a presentation in, I decided to stroll along Stroget so that I could compare prices of boots and coats. I really want a good European looking coat and boots, but it is so hard to choose between all of the shops. It is amazing how many options they have out here, perhaps to much. It makes deciding much more difficult, especially when the buyer is already an undecisive person. However, as I walked, I kept noticing more and more things I still haven't appreciated. For instance, Copenhagen has a store called Illium's which houses fabulous danish designs (I think just danish). There is amazing, artful, sophisticated kitchenware and candles. I have never been so intrigued by french presses, candle holders, pots, and even basic kitchen utensils. I wanted to buy Christmas presents right then are there, and it is moments like this that I wish I could share with others back home. I want everyone to see what I am seeing, because it is simply spectacular.
Our strategy teacher told us that the Danes, and Scandanavia in general is known for being a very creative and innovative society. I believe it. I guess that employees in businesses are allowed to be more open about ideas and challenge the boss. This creates an atmosphere conducive for wonderful designs. Maybe this is also why people come to Copenhagen to study architeture. I have also observed several bedroom stores, those too with amazing looking furniture. I think Scandanavian design is becoming popular for interior decorators to use over in the States, and I can definitely see why. They seem so ahead of us. Of course, they prices are in my mind outrageous and the only reason why I haven't purchased the boots or coat I want yet is because of this factor. I need to get use of the European ease of spending large amounts of money though because in reality, the US is one of the few countries that consumers buy based on price. We look for cheap things, economical purchases, while here they look for quality. Tomorrow through Saturday I will visit four different Danish businesses and it will be quite interesting to compare and contrast.

Monday, September 10, 2007

False advertising

So I went to Tivoli, which is like the Disneyland of Denmark. Of course that would be inaccurate to say because Walt Disney actually got his inspiration from Tivoli. Tivoli was basically created by the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson, and though he has a very charming mind, his park was a little less than expected. There were a few rides, nothing like Six Flags or King's Island of course. Mostly is was pretty scenery, lots of restuarants, a theatre, a concert stage, and yes, of course, icecream every square block. I would say the best part of the experience was going through Hans Christian Anderson's fairly tale land (kind of like the ride "Small World" at the Disney parks) because we just sat in a thing that revolved us around scenes and toys that compromise his stories. There were many, but I only recognized "The Little Mermaid," "The Ugly Duckling," "The Princess and the Pea," and "Thumballina" (sp). Anyway, the total experience minus some german food I consumed was $279 kroner, so roughly $50. I guess the Danes are appreciate this one tourist attraction, besides Legoland, but I could of done without. I did appreciate the danish experience however, and appreciate it's marketing techniques.
I have also been thinking lately that the kollegium experience I signed-up for was falsely advertised. The social areas aren't so social, I apparently live in a not so good part of greater Copenhagen, and I don't even have a can opener to open my can of tuna I purchased a week ago. Though I have met several people from my kollegium that I hang out with on a daily basis, it wasn't entirely because of the kollegium setting. It was because when we had introductions in class, several people announced they were in the same kollegium as me. Then after that I started talking to them. Oh well, what are you going to do. I have signed up with a danish visiting family, so hopefully they reply soon and I can have another danish get-together.
Before I end this post, I would also like to note the atrocity of assigning essays that are due the day after we get back from field studies. All of the readings and overlapping papers are going to stress me out completely and it will become quite difficult to balance the traveling with the homework. I am completely jealous of those students who are allowed to make all of their study abroad classes pass/fail. This way, they don't actually have to be so in-depth with the academics, but enhance the abroad experience through fully living in another culture. In the end, I can only hope that my experience contains the quality of "hygge"...a danish word that is apparently not translateable, but used to describe a feeling of enjoyment. This of course I have to now turn into a 2000 word essay.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Icecream and Beer

So I could write about all of the shops and bars I has seen or visited, or I could simply say that the dominating theme of this city is icecream and beer. At lunch, when I walk out from classes to the square to get some fruit, tables are filled with glasses of beer. Walking down the streets like Stroget, everyone is eating an icecream cone. In fact, there are icecream parlors every other shop. Sometime they even make belgium waffles you can order to put icecream on top. The question is, how to the Danes stay so thin? My only guess would be that they it is because of the mass amounts of walking and biking they do.
I have recently signed up for a danish visting family because they night at my professor's home was amazing. We all arrived aound 6:30pm, and didn't leave until 10:30pm. His wife made some of the best pizzas, danish meatballs, danish potatoe salad, and french hot dogs. They had a keg connected to their home as well. We all immersed ourselves in conversation while eating and drinking. I learned so much more about their culture in the four hours I was there. His wife was fabulous, as was the daughter. They were also very interested in some parts of the States, so it was fun to talk about our cultural differences.
Yesterday I went to Nyhavn, (New Haven to us) with all of the boats and colored buildings. It was very nice to walk around. It was also very warm yesterday and quite sunny. When it is warm and sunny, people don't go to work. Instead, they walk around the city shopping and eating. Music was playing, all of the merchants had set their shops outside...it is very different and I love it. I want to buy so much, but so far I have only purchased a long sweater from their mall Fisketovet. I plan on buying different colored stocking/tights with boots so I can fit in with the Danish fashion.
The last thing I should mention was Cafe Svejk in the Frederiksberg district. It was a small, quiter pub that served czech. beer. I ordered a big class of Prezente for 45 kroners...and have decided it was the best beer I have ever tasted. I savored it for a half hour...like wine. It was amazing and I will prob. visit again.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First Impressions-delayed

Important Note: My blog posts will not necessarily use correct grammar or sentence structure...as I am quite tired of perfecting documents. In fact, I will write these without even looking them over...so don't judge and hopefully they will not be too confusing.

It has now been officially 11 days since I arrived in Copenhagen. Within these short 11 days my mind has experienced many different thoughts, feelings, and emotions. What I write now will probably change again within another week…because soon the vacation will be over and my desires to be back with my normal friends and surroundings will not be met.
When we went downtown for the first time, my first thoughts were that is was nothing spectacular. Yes, it looked different than any other city I had been in, but it still just looked like a city. Big buildings, lots of people walking around, trains, buses, restaurants. However, it was still exciting to explore a city that is foreign, and a part of European history. One main difference is that this city is full of bikers. I took a picture of hundreds of bikes together. If I were in Chicago there would be many cars driving here, and lots of traffic. Here there is no traffic, but walkers and bikers. It is cold also…but it seems the Danes are used to be cold. I walk around hugging myself from the wind, but they go about completely normal. Also, for the most part, besides immigrants, everyone has very light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. They are definitely classier looking. No one wears sweats and hoodies. They dress very fashionably and black is very popular. Black tights under black skirts and black jackets with scarves is the norm. Whenever I wear my brown wardrobe downtown I stand out.
Restaurants are very diverse…Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Moroccan, Mexican, Greek. When I eat at just normal Danish places, the common food is some kind of sandwich. I have eaten many different kinds of sandwiches, including the traditional smorrbrod (open-faced sandwich on rye with a sauce) around 25krones to 50krones ($5-10). I used to think Starbucks was expensive; a coffee around two dollars, and latte around 4.50. Here, for one black coffee (8oz), I normally have to chuck up 25krones ($5). This is way too much, and it is why I have decided I need my coffee pot sent immediately.
However, what I like about the coffee shops is that they are much more environmentally friendly…as it every shop. For example, to mix sugar and cream into my coffee, they don’t have plastic stirrers, they have little bowls of small silver spoons. When you are down, you just leave the spoon on the counter. The trains are very clean…the streets are clean. People don’t litter…I guess a cultural thing. And bottles can be returned for one kroner.
Like I have read, alcoholic drinking has been implemented through parents and socialization. A Dane I ate with was very confused why the drinking age in the US was 21. He asked if there was any connection with that age, and of course my answer was no. He was also confused as to why we didn’t first begin drinking in homes with parents. The Danes can buy alcohol at the age of 15, and usually begin drinking it in their homes with family and friends. By the time they turn 18, they can order it at clubs, bars, etc. This way drinking becomes not something to consume at parties to get drunk…it is something to complement other activities. Professors (who like to be addressed by first name) also commonly have a drink with their students. My marketing professor has invited us back to his home this week for drinks and conversation. My strategy professor also has an outing planned of the same nature.
School is kind of different for the Danes. They usually attend college for three years, and work for three years in an internship…it is a more real-life approach. For doctors, they go to medical school for 12 years, but after three years, they are already in the hospitals, working as residents and such. Of course, they also do not pay for school, not one penny. In fact, sometimes the government gives them more money, to use on housing for instance.
My mind has already come about one revelation on a train ride home from classes. At first, my biggest fear coming here was meeting enough people to become friends with and go out with. I wanted to see and do everything. But after I realized how expensive it is, and how hard classes will be, I have already changed my approach. I want to be a very focused student, as are most foreign exchange students. I want to focus on my studies and absorb everything I can about international business and communication. Of course, when I do go out, I don’t want to worry about finding other students from DIS, I want to go out with Danes and other people studying abroad. I have already met a girl from Iceland who I enjoyed hanging out with. I like having conversations about each other’s culture and country. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the company of my fellow DIS students, and the US is so big that we too have differences to share. But I have realized studying abroad isn’t a time to meet a million friends and go out every night…it is a time a self-discovery. I am only 20, thus beginning a phase in my life that trying to understand myself becomes a constant thought process.
Though details about my changing thought processes in the last week would make this entry unnecessarily longer, it must be said that each day my mind has already adjusted perspectives of Copenhagen and the people. Soon I will be going on many field studies and trips throughout Denmark, which will be even more eye opening. I still cannot wait until my travel break though because Italy has so much history and sight-seeing. Plus it will hopefully be warmer and less rainy!!