November 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Can’t believe it’s been almost six months since returning from Denmark and I still think about going back every hour of every day. As a midway point in my eventual (hopeful) return, I thought I’d do a post for any Danish readers about a tradition we have in the US. In addition, since having the opportunity to go to Copenhagen is one of the things I’m thankful for this year, it seemed a fitting topic. As customary for this blog, this entry will be very food centric. We got a break from classes for Thanksgiving so I went home to spend it with my family.

The Thanksgiving tradition is to eat turkey. Turkey was one of THE HARDEST foods to find in Denmark, but it is plentiful in the US. Here’s a picture of my family’s turkey. Besides the presence of the turkey, you can also tell we aren’t in Europe by the presence of a jar of peanut butter sitting out on the counter behind the turkey. I’m not well versed on my turkey anatomy, so I’m not exactly sure what those long things are hanging out by the back. I do know my mom found a store selling some extra “pope’s noses,” which is a colloquialism for the turkey’s ass. It is also a tradition to stuff the turkey with stuffing (to be seen later), which is a mixture of breadcrumbs, seasoning, mushrooms, and some other stuff.

Our meal. I would consider all components of this meal, besides the brussel sprouts, to be traditional for thanksgiving. From the upper left corner, clockwise around: candied sweet potatoes, stuffing (a special corn bread one, not traditional), turke\\y, gravy, corn pudding, brussel sprouts, traditional stuffing, apple pie.

A few notes: I was also surprised at how expensive sweet potatoes are in Denmark. In the US, sweet potatoes are very inexpensive. Additionally, I never saw pumpkin anything while I was in Denmark– granted, it was not the right season. However, I have a friend from the US who lives in Frankfurt now, and I actually had to send her pumpkin related treats because she couldn’t find any in Germany. So I’m guessing it’s similar for Denmark.
Anyway, that’s all I have the energy for tonight, just submitted 5 PhD applications. Only 4 more to go.

Later, all!



June 12, 2011 § 3 Comments

During my first night in Denmark, I crawled into my bed in my huge, barren, so-Danish room, and thought, “It’s gonna be so hard to leave this place.” And I remember that thought, and it was right.
I can’t believe how quickly the past six months went. Besides the fact that my family is in Chicago, it really feels like I am not going home, I am leaving home. Or at least leaving parts of myself.

I will miss, in no order:
– biking
– long daylight hours
– friends
– Tietgen balcony
– common dinners
– birthday breakfasts
– Danish introversion
– community kitchens
– cooking in Bumzen
– dream cake
– Christiania
– Nørrebro
– Assistens Kirkegaard
– Sumersby
– feeling safe late at night
– fisk frikadeller
– hearing Danish
– saying tak (though that habit will die hard)
– the explosion of people outside when weather is nice
– did I say biking?

Some things I want to do when I come back
– swim at the beach/harbor baths
– go kayaking
– go on a long bike ride along the coast
– Copenhagen pride
– road trip to Jutland
– have a traditional Christmas lunch
– understand Danish
– go to the medical museum, WWII museum, and Jewish museums


Update five days after being back in the States:

It turns out that thinking about leaving was worse than actually being back. The only time I got kind of emotional about it since leaving was when I changed my watch back to Chicago time. I’ve started a great research job that keeps me very busy, and the knowledge that I am probably returning to Denmark makes it feel like I am taking a break, rather than leaving permanently. There have been a few culture shock moments, most notably when I got off the plane and was waiting in customs, and everyone was talking SO loudly on their phones about personally things. People don’t really do that in Denmark. But I went to Whole Foods (a grocery store) today and was re-stunned by how huge it is compared to Netto. As I said before though, Denmark has a very dreamlike haze over it right now, almost like it never happened… (until I step on the scale, and then I’m like, yeah, it happened.)

Scholarship interview tomorrow!

Passengers are requested not to sleep on the floor, part II

June 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Written on the flight back to Chicago:

FYI, I’m writing this as we fly over Greenland.

After writing last night, I went to Lis’s place with Nadine and Katy as it was Lis’s flatmate’s birthday. (Confusing sentence but not worth rewording.) It was a fun low-key last night including inebriated dancing to lots of good music, mostly queued up by me (not modest when it comes to my music taste).


After going to bed at 5am, I woke up at 9am to do all those annoying last minute things. But speaking of annoying, first I took a shower, and I had already dropped all my towels off at a friend’s place (she is keeping them for me), so I had to just stand in the middle of my apartment and completely air dry. Then, after stuffing some things into my suitcase, I had to cycle to said-friend’s apartment to drop off my bike. And my hair was sopping wet under my helmet. Gross!

Because I am incapable of not dragging out endings, after I dropped off my bike, I decided I really wanted to go to one last community kitchen. Luckily, there is a brunch at noon right by where I left my bike, so I wolfed down some food, blew an air kiss to Nørrebro (that last part didn’t really happen) and hopped on the metro back to my apartment.

In the months I’ve been biking I first forgot how much the metro sucks (issues with buying tickets, delays, train routes, etc), but I also forgot how slow walking was. On the walk from the metro to my apartment I seriously almost felt like I was not moving. The walk seemed to take eternity (it is only about a one minute bike ride). Anyway, I got back to my apartment where a very hungover Katy and Lis were waiting for me to help me get the airport (Following the preceding night’s text from Katy about her alarm: “I’ve set it for 12. I WILL BE THERE. THATS IN CAPS. X”.) After drinking a juice box next to the canals, we headed up to my room and grabbed my bags. Or rather, we hauled them. Or rather, Lis and Katy hauled them since Katy said “I want to take the big one!” She didn’t know what she was in for…

So we hauled ourselves to the metro and journeyed to the airport, where of course my bag was overweight, ug. But I said some [actually] tearless goodbyes to Lis and Katy, then meandered my way through security (where, for the first time since I can remember, I didn’t get a sexy pat down), and onto the plane… and I am now past Greenland.

The whole leaving thing feels very surreal and it hasn’t sunken in at all yet. I’m sure once I get home some little thing will set me off and it will all be downhill from there. I just spent the last three hours of this flight working on a scholarship essay, so it does make me feel like I’m being proactive about arranging a return.

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Last days…

June 11, 2011 § 3 Comments

Had a great last two days.

Yesterday, my section of my kollegium had a goodbye breakfast for me and the other exchange student, Libuska. There was so much food, it was insane. I contributed American style buttermilk chocolate chip pancakes, and rhubarb coffee cake. (This blog is slowly morphing into a food blog.) Other food included: potatoes, sausage, eggs, rolls, fruit, chocolate cake, and a traditional rice pudding from the Czech republic made by Libuska.
I’m gonna miss common meals so much.

From left, clockwise around: Christian, Mads, Liv, Rikke, (embarrassingly can’t remember her name since she is subletting and not a regular), Camilla, Tanja, Joseph, Sari, Libuska

My coffee cake:

Afterwards, I spent the better part of the day packing. Then my friend Peter invited me to a concert at Tivoli to see Teitur, a musician from the Faroe Islands. I took this picture at exactly 10pm as I cycled there… and it was still light for a long time after:


The concert was good fun. Peter and I polished off a cider each and a bottle of wine together, which made it an even better time. We had a lot of laughs and I loved seeing Tivoli at night.


Afterwards, we biked to a party but they ended up closing the party early since not a lot of people showed up. While I was there, I met up with Fiona, one of her friends, and Thomas, one of my very first and best friends since coming to Denmark. We stopped at 7-11 for some drinks (just soda for me at this point) and snacks and walked to the lake where we sat and chatted until 4:30am. It was an amazingly great, low key and beautiful night, my favorite kind.

The sky at about 2:30am:

Me and Thomas:

Sky at 4:00am:

On a related note, I am so going to miss having the freedom and safety to just be out at a lake during the middle of the night.
We had some laughs about the fact that in Denmark during the summer, you leave home when it’s light and get home when it’s light. We joked that that’s the way it should be… except then in winter you’d have to go out at 3:30pm and not get home the next day until like 10:00am!
I cycled home in complete light. I love that so much.

Today, I woke up and met my friend Dubbi and her friend Walrus (nick name obviously) and we went to this hotdog for Japanese earthquake relief thing, which basically consisted of us getting “Japanese-style” hot dogs with Japanese BBQ sauce, and Japanese style pickles and onions. It was actually surprisingly good. We then went and sat in the park (Frederiksberg Have) and talked and watched this couple train a parrot, which was pretty cool.

I’d actually never been to this park before and it is definitely on my list of things to explore more. We also cycled back through a pretty trail which apparently spans quite a ways… another thing to explore more.

Too sentimental to function

June 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

I’ve had a very busy (and wonderful) past few days, but no time to write. Since the weather is less than perfect today, I’m sitting down to catch up:

The weather on Sunday was amazingly beautiful. I met some friends at the Islands Brygge harbor bath where we sat in the sun, sweated profusely, and made occasional trips down to the freezing cold water to dip our toes in. (We also ate ice cream). The area was even more crowded than it was on Saturday since everyone was hanging out after Distortion (a huge street festival I didn’t really take a part in– just too many super drunk people peeing everywhere). It was an incredibly lovely Sunday and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect final Sunday afternoon.






Afterwards, I went to meet my friend Tinne for dinner. Tinne is the first Danish friend I met and made when I arrived in Denmark: I had asked a question about a group she was in on facebook, and she answered and helped me with a few other things. On my first full day in Copenhagen, we met after I went to get my CPR number and she showed me around the center of town and took me to Netto and Tiger. On Sunday, we went to this restaurant in Nørrebro that I am a fan of (it’s an African restaurant, and I know that’s ambiguous and Africa is not a country but this restaurant has food from a bunch of different areas in Africa and proclaims itself as an “African restaurant”… anyway, the food is really good, and at least relatively authentic judging from the fact that I’ve always been the only white person there every time I’ve gone), then we took a short walk around the cemetery (not before stopping at a kiosk (convenience store) and buying a bunch of candy by the gram). Tinne is actually going to be studying in Seatle this fall and winter, so maybe she will stop by and visit me in the midwest.

I decided that this week would be the week (due to lack of alternatives) that I would do all the touristy stuff I hadn’t yet done. So on Monday, another gorgeous and hot day, I went and did the canal tour. While I didn’t learn much new information (it was at a very basic level and contained mostly facts I already knew just from living here for six months), it was nice to see the city from another angle. I especially loved boating past all the people and kids laying out in the sun and enjoying the day… there was something so Danish about it. And I liked the juxtaposition of the built-up urban city with the calm and almost pastoral boats and docks on the water. I didn’t know it was possible to have that summer beach house feel right in a major city. (I stupidly did not take a picture of this… the picture below is of Nyhavn, where the boats leave from, and one of Denmark’s most famous streets). A favorite part was when we motored through a more narrow canal, and groups of younger teenage boys would do cannonball jumps into the water right next to the boat, trying to get us wet. For some reason I thought that was really charming. I am obviously getting too sentimental too function…


Afterwards, I stopped in Christianhavn and got coffee with a friend, and then headed back to my kollegium for my last common dinner. I had volunteered to make mac and cheese since I had a bunch of boxes that my sister brought me when she visited, and it is a typical American food that has, for some reason unbeknownst to me, not made its way across the globe. It was sad having my last common dinner, but there is a “see-you-again-soon” common breakfast tomorrow that I am super stoked for.

On Tuesday, I met up with my friend Valentina (who I went to Venice with) and we headed to Christiania for lunch at Grønsagen.


Of course, this also entailed a stop at Sunshine Bakery for some chocolate dream cake. Excuse me while I go drool everywhere…



There is this big church, Vor Frelsers Kirke (Our Savior’s Church) right next to Christiania and you can, for 30dkk, climb to the top of it and look out over the city. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I got here, so Valentina and I decided to. After climbing about a billion steps, we got to the first outside level. At this point, I was so petrified (I am severely scared of heights) that I almost didn’t leave the doorway of the stairway… but then some people needed to get down (the stairs were too narrow for two way traffic), and I was forced, trembling and sweaty, to go outside. This was only the first level of outside, but no way was I going any higher… (you can kind of see in the picture that there is a first balcony, and then from that balcony there is a spiral stairway going all the way to the top.)







Afterwards, we went to Tivoli, which is the world’s second oldest amusement park (right behind another amusement park just 8km away). As you may be able to deduce from my experience with heights at the church tower (combined with my propensity to get nauseous), I am not a fan of amusement park rides, but Tivoli is a historical site and supposed to be very nice inside. In this respect it did not disappoint. Unlike my experience with American amusement parks, this park was not jam packed and there were actually very pretty, open green gardens. It also didn’t seem nearly as consumer driven as US parks; while there were obviously food and drink stands, there weren’t people bombarding you every second with tchotchkes (Yiddish word, can’t come up with a good English one) to buy.




Tivoli is also home to the world’s highest carousal (I wouldn’t call it a carousal, but they do). You can see it high above the city from far away. I, for some reason, do not have a picture of this but you can get the idea from this picture (found here), albeit it is not in context with the surrounding city. I think I will try to get a picture tomorrow… (June 11th– Updated with the second picture, my own picture I took on June 10th during a concert at Tivoli)



Valentina and I then said some sad goodbyes and I cycled back to my apartment, where I picked up a few things, and then headed to Nadine’s where I met up with Katy, Lis, and Nadine. We went to Netto and got some fixings for dinner and then had a nice, low key dinner of bread, cheese, olives, and my special addition of fish frikadeller. I then departed and met some other friends at a bar. That was super fun but it fits in with a different blog post that I am planning, so I will save it for then.

I then cycled back home with a simultaneously light and heavy heart. The experience of having another wonderful day, cumulating in some good laughs with friends and a warm bike ride home made me want to stay here more than ever…

Yesterday, Lis, Nadine, and I went to the Experimentarium, which is a hands on science museum. They had the body works exhibit running (where they plasticize people for anatomical demonstration) and we spent a while there. Everyone got to witness my super low blood pressure, otherwise known as “how is Hannah still standing?” I also had a resting heart rate in the zone designated for professional athletes, which we had a good laugh over.


The “kids” part of the museum was super fun as well, and there were a lot of great hands on activities, including (all these following pictures are courtesy of Lis):
– making a giant bubble around yourself (this was one of my favorite activities at this children museums I would go to as a kid)


– A tug of war game using pulleys (I lost this)



– This lion’s mouth you could put your head inside and then scream as loud as you could, and there was a bar that would register how many decibels your screen was. I single-handedly won this 😉


– This “magic carpet” that was supposed to function like an air hockey table, allowing you to glide around… unfortunately I was too heavy for this to work


– A spinning platform you stood on with a spinning bike week, and rotating the wheel would make you rotate on the platform


– A flat bed you could lie on and then flip a switch and a bunch of nails would rise from the bed so you were lying on a bed of nails


Lis and I then biked to Christianhavn (the pic of me below is a little outside the Experimentarium) while Nadine took the train, and we got schwarma (well, I got schwarma pizza). I then had to head home to finish my last exam (the topic was just released on Monday so this wasn’t me procrastinating.) I finished by about 10:30pm and then Nadine and Lis came over and we ate a lot of junk food and watched some TV.


This morning, I got up and turned in the exam I finished yesterday (for my Theory of Mind class) as well as the exam for my Welfare Model class (I finished that exam a month ago but hadn’t turned it in yet because the office is kind of out of my way, but it was due tomorrow). Afterwards, I went to Christiania to have one last (delicious) meal at Grønsagen. Afterwards, I wandered around Christiania little feeling sad about leaving… What better way to alleviate sadness than with chocolate dreamcake? So I stopped at Sunshine Bakery to get a piece. I was also going to get another couple pastries since it was probably my last visit there… I was taking a bit deciding what to get, so I explained to the guy in the booth (a middle aged heavier Asian man, so that I remember who it is) that I was leaving this Sunday and this might be my last time at the bakery… the guy was super nice and he put two extra pastries in my bag for free since it was my last visit!! He asked if I was coming back, and I said hopefully in a year, and he said he’d be there and he’d see me then.

This super happy exchange re-lifted my mood and I left smiling hugely.


June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

The purpose of this post is two-fold:

First, I’m testing a new client I’m using to update this blog.

And second, to answer a FAQ, I will be slightly maintaining this blog when I got back to the US. I hope to write a few posts about readjusting to the US, as well as some comparison posts between the US and Denmark. I also hope to use this space to chronicle my journey planning my return to Denmark. I have another (private) journal I use for my mundane day to day so for the purpose of avoiding redundancy (and boring you), I am leaving that stuff out of this blog.

I have a substantive post coming up, but I didn’t want to mix logistics and substance 🙂

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