It was the best of times

June 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Beach. Brygge. Book. Bikinis. Barbecue. Blonde. Babies. Boats. Birds. Blue. Boys’ Bathroom*. Boom Boxes. Beer. Bare. Breeze. Birkenstocks. Beauty.

*Line for the girls’ was too long.

I finished my book (Just Kids by Patti Smith) and it was so good, I might have even held back a few tears at the end.

And, as if to mock my too-soon departure, when I got back to my apartment, this was on CNN.com: “Need Some Balance? Try Denmark.” Out of all the OECD countries, Denmark scored #1 for work-life balance. No surprise to me.

  • Danes work 1563 hours a year, a full 205 hours/year fewer than in the USA.
  • Only .02% of Danes work over 50 hours/week, compared to .11% in the USA (still not very many, but five times more than in Denmark).
  • Danes spend 16.3 hours/day on personal care (e.g. leisure, hobbies, eating, and sleeping), compared to 15.1 hours/day in the USA.

Some other interesting tidbits about Denmark:

  • 97% of people [in Denmark] believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, one of the highest rates in the OECD.
  • Nearly 3% of people in Demark reported ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ spending time with friends, colleagues or others in social settings; this figure is one of lowest in the OECD.
  • In recent polling, 90% [of people in Denmark] were satisfied with their life and 92% believe that their life will be satisfying five years later. This makes Denmark the highest ranked OECD countries in terms of life satisfaction… much higher than the OECD average of 59%.

It seems like only yesterday that I got on the plane to come here, but it seems like a million years ago that I was sitting in the CMU library for 14 hours without a break, hammering away at a 78(!) page lab report. Yet those events were only four weeks apart. Yet one so close and another so far.

I was there for these moments, but so young and preoccupied with my own thoughts that I hardly recognized them as moments.
Patti Smith

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Himmelfartsdag

June 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

No window picture, but things I bike past and love:

“Hej cyklist! Hvil foden her… Og tak fordi du cykler i byen!”
“Hey cyclist! Rest your foot here… and thanks for cycling in the city!”
Love love love.

Yesterday I said my first goodbyes. My friend Jutta was leaving for a three week vacation, so I’ll be gone when she gets back. We had drinks and dessert at my flat with two other friends, then went to a show in Christiania. We said goodbye with the promise that in one year I will be back and she will be skating on the roller derby A team.

Today, the plan was to cycle (I’ve noticed that since being in Denmark, I solely use the verb “cycle” for bike riding rather than “bike,” probably because it sounds more like the Danish cykler) to Louisiana with a friend, but she ended up canceling. Instead, I went with Libuska, the other exchange student on my floor, back to Christiania where we ate in my favorite little place, Grønsagen. (I’ve mentioned it a bunch of other times.) We also stopped at Sunshine Bakery on Pusher Street (real street name, not my pet name) and indulged in chocolate dream cake. Since you can’t take pictures in Christiania, this picture is from flikr. (I would put up a picture of Sunshine Bakery as well, except it is kind of unremarkable and kind of just a shack, so there aren’t really any good pictures.)

Afterwards, I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful day and maybe finish my book, so I went to my favorite people watching spot on the bridge. On the way there, I saw this shop that I thought must be catering towards my mother:

It actually turned out today was some random Danish holiday so everyone had off from work and all the shops were closed. According to http://www.fyidenmark.com, it is Kristi Himmelfartsdag (a funny name for an apparently serious holiday) which is to celebrated “to commenorate Christ’s ascension into heaven, which occurred 40 days after his resurrection.” Needless to say, I didn’t see any mention of religion or Jesus, but instead just tons of people enjoying the weather and drinking beer. Yesterday was also the first day of Distortion, a huge street festival that moves around the neighborhoods in Copenhagen. The combination of holiday and distortion in Nørrebro meant my bridge was very busy today.

    

Besides dream cake, another Danish food I will miss are fisker frikadellen, which is basically minced fish and breading or something, kind of like a fish meatball/fish cake. You can get them 4 four about 10dkk (2 dollars) in the grocery store. For some reason I really like them hot with lots of salt. (Apparently the Danish way to eat them is cold, on a sandwich, with remoulade, eww to remoulade.) This looks like the ones I buy, they come in a plastic wrap bag thing:

Also, I submitted my first scholarship application last night!

Nothing rotten in the state of Denmark

May 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

Daily dose of things I bike past and love:

And daily dose of the view out of my window, this taken at 3:00am on the dot. It is only completely dark from about 11pm to 3:00am, which is pretty fantastic.

This weekend was rainy but fun, on Sunday I had brunch with my friend Jutta, and I made American style pancakes from a box of Bisquick all the way from the States. I then went over to Jutta’s to help her pack, as she is moving apartments. We also tried to come up with a derby name for her since she joined the Copenhagen roller derby team after we went to the match! Despite some major troubles figuring out how to assemble the cardboard boxes, the day was a success.

Yesterday and today, as if to make up for its karmic debt, the weather decided to cooperate and be lovely. Yesterday was perfectly sunny, so I biked around a bit before doing as the Danes do and stopping on the side of a bridge with my book, where I spent a few hours reading, people watching, and enjoying the sun. At one point the cutest dog ever came waking by and licked my barefoot toes. I really need to take a picture of this bridge over the weekend when every inch is covered with sunbathers sitting on blankets.

   

I also decided to cross another item off my list and went to Botanisk Have (Botanic Gardens). They were pretty but I much prefer the cemetery in Nørrebro; I think the cemetery has a much more organic, mysterious, unplanned and free feel to it. It feels like a little secret cove, while these gardens just feel like a garden. I did like the statues of the women yielding weapons though.

    

I then came home to a delicious common dinner of home-made pita bread and various fillings, and then made some last edits to my scholarship essays, which I am submitting tomorrow.
I also had a meeting with my potential research supervisor today and I am getting really excited about my potential project. I also found someone to teach me Danish over the summer. I don’t think I’d be able to handle leaving without making preparations for returning.

That way I can say vi ses instead of farvel!

Style differences #2

May 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

1) I had to get some medicine from the pharmacy that, in the US, would be sold over the counter (meaning you could just go walk over to a shelf and pick it up). Of course, I remembered that I had to get some around 7:30pm, which is after just about everything in the Copenhagen closes. So, first I stopped at a Netto, which is a grocery store chain. They had some vitamins but that was it. I asked, and was told to go to 7-11. At 7-11, they had a small assortment of a few things (Benadryl, cold sore medicine), but everything was behind the counter and you had to ask the store keeper for assistance. They didn’t have what I needed, so the cashier directed me to what is apparently *the only* twenty-four hour pharmacy in Copenhagen (which also translates as the only pharmacy open past like 5pm). Upon arriving there, I was surprised to see that ALL the medication, apart from sunscreen, was in the back and inaccessible. Instead of going up to the shelf and picking out what you needed, you had to get a number, wait for a pharmacist, and then tell them what you needed, and they would get it for you. Even for medication that doesn’t need a prescription. So you want Advil (ibuprofen)? Have to ask. Want Tylenol (acetaminophen)? Have to ask. Want something more embarrassing like a stool softener? Have to ask! (Lucky you!)

For those of you from outside of the US, this is how it works in the US. Let’s say I needed some ibuprofen and it’s midnight. First, you can get nonprescription medication at a variety of different stores: grocery stores, convenience stores, even gas stations. Second, no stores in the US close before 9pm, and for grocery stores and convenience stores, the majority are open 24 hours. So, I could go to anyone of the dozens of stores around where I live. Third, all nonprescription medications are available “over the counter,” which, as I said before, means they are just sitting on the shelf. Hence, you can just go up to the shelf, pick out whatever you want, then go up to the counter and pay for it.

2) The more I learn about the Danish language, the more confused and amused I feel. For instance, Danish has 4 different words for think. Here is a funny post I found on a random blog about this very subject:

I think my Danish is getting better, but I’m not sure how to say that in Danish. That’s because they have all these different words for “think,” depending on how confident you are that what you’re saying is true—or whether it would even matter. (They also have words for “feel” and “believe” and so on, so it’s more than just that.)

If you’re expressing something that’s purely your opinion you would say jeg synes. But if you’re expressing an opinion or belief that might be mistaken, you would say jeg tror. (For example, “I synes this cheese smells like used diapers,” but “I tror the sun will rise at about 3:30 tomorrow morning.”)

I think this is interesting because, for example, I wouldn’t quite know how to translate this very sentence.

Here’s why: when I say that I think something is interesting, I realize that it’s only my opinion—but it wouldn’t be my opinion if I didn’t think it was true. I’m no good at believing in things that I myself think are untrue. (If I was, I’d already be in Congress.)

On the other hand, I acknowledge that other people might not find this as interesting as I do (and have therefore probably already stopped reading and will miss all the upcoming stuff about bikinis), so I would probably use synes to say that I think this stuff is interesting.

But that’s sort of a trap. By saying synes instead of tror I’ve pretty much acknowledged that what I’m saying is up for debate. If I’m in the Danish army and my commanding officer tells me that he synes we need to take that hill, hasn’t he invited me to contradict him?

Okay, so they just issue orders in the military. Forget about the military. Think about realms where opinions about the possible and the probable come up against the need to curry favor. Restaurant work, for example—or Congress.

If you ask your waiter how the steak is tonight and he replies that he synes it’s good, wouldn’t you be a little less likely to order it? After all, he’s admitting he could be wrong. On the other hand, if he tror it’s delicious but it tastes like shoe leather, you’d probably be justified in at least a word of reproach.

I thought (in American English, thank God) that I might have misunderstood all this, so I asked the DMB. She said she synes I’ve got it all wrong. That just confused me further—was she implying some other Dane might think I was correct? She said she tror I was an idiot. I asked if that meant she doubted I was an idiot. She left the room.

A (Danish) friend also supplied me with this handy but confusing chart. As you can see, it is not even straight forward because it appears that tro and mene are interchangeable when talking about assumption, but then synes and mene are interchaneable when talking about opinion.

  1. Tænke – to think (the ‘thought-process’ to think)
  2. Tænke sig om (idiomatic –consider/reflect) – Ex. I must have time to think. He did it without thinking
  3. About assumption
    a) Tro – Ex. He thinks I don’t like him
    b) Mene – Ex. He thought he had seen her before
  4. About opinion
    a) Synes – Ex. I think it was a good film; I thought him a nice man (syntes at han var)
    b) Mene – Ex. John thinks we ought to stay

Also, when I was looking up some more detailed explanations, I found this cool study that basically says Danish children talk more about their mental state than Canadian children, perhaps due to the fact that there are more ways to express words like “think” and “want” in Danish than in English

Anyway, I synes I should move on. (Correct usage? Who knows!)

3) In my last post I talked about how Danes take their vacation time vary seriously. I did some more research on this phenomenon and it turns out the US is one of the only OECD countries that doesn’t have a law about vacation time! Again, for those of you not in the US, this means that employers can give as little or as much vacation time as they want. I have friends where they didn’t get ANY vacation for the first year they were working, and only a week after that. Additionally, in the US, there is no law that says you have to be paid extra on holidays, although most businesses pay a 50% bonus. (I worked at a job though where I got nothing extra; I worked on independence day for 7 dollars an hour before taxes were taken out, which roughly translates to 35dkk an hour. Minimum wage in the US varies by state; in IL right now it is around 37dkk an hour before taxes are taken out. When I had the aforementioned job, it was around 27dkk before taxes). The Danish law states:

“Danish law guarantees employees 30 days of annual leave per year worked, prorated at 2.5 days per month worked between May 2 and April 30. Under the now-common 5-day workweek, this translates to 25 workdays of paid leave. Employees may take their annual leave during the year after it is earned, and may not carry it over from one year to the next. […] Finally, employees are guaranteed bonus pay of 100 percent for work on any of nine public holidays…” (read more here).

Um, no wonder Danes are so happy! I also learned in my Scandinavian model of welfare class that, in Sweden, at any one time, 20% of the workforce is not working (they are on parental leave, doing volunteer work, in training, etc). I imagine the statistics are very similar for Denmark. And a little factoid for my fellow science geeks out there:

“Scientists in Denmark – compared to their colleagues in 15 other countries – are the most satisfied with their jobs, finds the first-ever salary and career survey conducted by the journal Nature. This conclusion is based on survey responses from more than 10,500 scientists from countries across the globe.

The survey finds that scientists in Denmark are particularly happy with the regulation of maternity and paternity leave (0.937 on a scale from 0 to 1.0, with 1.0 representing complete satisfaction). They also appreciate their holiday entitlement (0.87) and the degree of independence they experience in their work (0.841). Their satisfaction is in line with the findings of the World Database of Happiness, according to which subjective levels of happiness in the general population in Denmark are extremely high, too” (read more here).


Style differences

May 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

First, gratuitous pictures out my window (this time, out my kitchen window):

  

During my time here, I have noticed some major social style differences between the Danes and Americans. I think the root of the difference is the laid back attitude that is so familiar to Denmark and so unfamiliar to us in the States. Some anecdotes:

1) Today I went to turn in my essay for my Food and Culture class. The essay had to be handed in to a secretary. I got to the department at around 12:25, and everyone (all the staff and faculty) were sitting at a big table eating lunch. I inquired as to where I could hand in my essay, and they said I would have to wait until 1:00 because the secretary for my department was eating lunch. Naturally, I assumed that the secretary was actually out at lunch and couldn’t receive my essay. I asked if there was a mailbox or someone I could leave it with, and I got a curt no. So, fast forward to 1:00pm, and I have my eye on the door waiting for the secretary to walk back in. Low and behold, he instead gets up from the lunch table, walks into his office, and then calls me in, and I hand him my essay and leave. He was at the lunch table the whole time, while I waited 35 minutes. I could have just handed him the essay or put it on his desk! I have no idea why it was necessary to make me wait that 30 min.
Which brings me to my next point: Danes take their breaks very seriously. Before I came to Denmark, I had some questions about course registration. I kept trying to contact someone, but it was December and literally no one was around to answer any questions. Phone? Forget about it. Email? No way. There isn’t the always-connected-to-work atmosphere here as there is in the United States.
This is also exemplified in the contact I have with my professors. In the US, if I email a professor on the weekend, I normally get a response later that day. If I email in the evening, I generally get a response that same evening. Here, business days and business hours only.

2) Another style difference: expressions of enthusiasm. I don’t know if part of it is lost in translation or it is just the Danish way, but Danes are NOT good at expressing enthusiasm. For instance, if someone asked me to hang out and I really wanted to go, I might say or text something like, “That sounds perfect! What time were you thinking?” and then I would follow up with, “Great, see you then!” or something equally enthusiastic. When I have suggested plans to Danish people, the range of responses are “Sure,” “Ok,” “Fine.” No enthusiasm or qualifiers. To an American ear, these responses sound like, “Sure, because I have nothing else to do,” “Ok, if I must,” “Fine, just because I can’t say no.”
I have also heard, conversely, that Americans can sound over-enthusiastic to Danes. I get where that is coming from, but I am honest with my enthusiasm. So if I said, “Sounds great,” I mean it really sounds great.

Anyway, I am greatly looking forward to a picnic in the park tomorrow with some friends at the community kitchen I cooked at. We are reuniting at our usual time since there is no cooking tomorrow.

Let’s go on pretending the light is never ending…

May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

First, today’s addition of things-I-bike-past-and-love:

And today’s addition of views-out-my-window:

What’s new this week…

Monday was, sadly, my last birthday breakfast in Denmark, as no other people in my block at Tietgen have birthdays while I’m still here. The breakfast was at 7am, so I woke up, stuffed my face with two different types of rolls, pancakes, cheese, fruit, eggs, and sausage, and then went back to bed until 1pm… ’cause I’m cool like that. In contrast to last week, this week has been super rainy so it wasn’t like I was wasting a great day. Singing happy birthday (hurrah hurrah hurrah!):

I spent Monday working on some scholarship essays, and then I went to a meeting about one of the scholarships. Immediately upon returning to my apartment, I got a text from Nadine, Katy, and Lis asking if I wanted to get schwarma to celebrate them finishing their Danish exam. Despite that I had just eaten dinner, I of course obliged. It would have been great fun except I was biking back to exactly where I came from, and it also started POURING rain. <sob story> I was in heavy jeans and slip on canvas shoes, and I got completely soaked. So even though the schwarma was delicious, I was freezing and miserable. </sob story>

I had made an appointment on Tuesday to get my hair cut. When I was getting ready to leave, it started to pour. Having learned from Monday night, I opted to take the metro for the first time in months. The haircut was actually really good, I would definitely go back to him again. After the haircut, since I didn’t have my bike, I opted to walk around for an hour or so back to central Copenhagen. I walked along the lakes (although I hesitate to call them that– having grown up along Lake Michigan, these are more ponds), and at one point saw over 40 swans. That was pretty cool (picture does not do it justice, but if you click the picture to enlarge it, you can see a bunch of white specks in the back; those were also swans. You can also see how big this thing is they call a lake)

Then I went back to my apartment, worked a little more on my scholarship essays, and then met Lis and we biked to Nørrebro for dinner at a community kitchen. I figure since my gig cooking ended, I should branch out and try some other community kitchens. This one was good, but the place was SO crowded you couldn’t move around. Also, they made about as much food as we would make at the kitchen I cook at, but there were maybe 100 people at this kitchen, versus the 15 that show up where I would cook. Lis and I then went to cycle home, and on the way talked about how much weight we were gaining while in Denmark… but that conversation didn’t last long, because we cycled past a Danish ice cream shop that we just had to try. So we did. No regrets. I then met up with some other friends at Cafe Oscar, and cycled home at around 10:30 without needing my bike lights.

Wednesday… got up, worked some more on my scholarship essays, then went to Lis’s place where we (mostly she) made cherry ricotta muffins. (I forgot to write that on Sunday I made scones and cinnamon bread… I think I have a baking problem)

I then left and met up with three other friends, Brittany (US), Fiona (Ireland), and Tiina (Finland), in Nørrebro to go to another community kitchen. I’d been to this one once before but usually couldn’t go as I would normally cook on Wednesdays. The food this week was Pakistani-inspired and super delicious, and the company wasn’t too shabby either. As we were leaving, we saw a big group of people gathered in Blågårdsplads, the square right outside where the dinner was. I inquired of one of the people what the demonstration was for, and found out it was commemorating May 18th, 1993 when there was a protest against the EU and many people got shot (that’s the simple version). I had to get home to go shopping with my apartment-mate for common dinner, so I didn’t stick around. That night, I read some articles in the newspaper, including this one (I obviously translated it, did not read it in Danish), which basically said that at the demonstration, the police approached and demanded to search people, and when they refused to be searched, 65 people were arrested and at least one person got bitten by a police dog (again, simple version). Parts of Nørrebro are what they call visitation zones, which means you can get searched any time without probable cause or a warrant. I know I wrote about this before but it just baffles my mind that this is allowed or considered acceptable.

After dinner we also stopped at a little produce shop and I bought a some vegetables, including a bunch of rhubarb (which I was very excited about, love the stuff) that I balanced precariously in my bike basket. On the ride home, I was going downhill and hit a bump, and out flew the rhubarb. Since, as I said, I was going pretty quickly downhill, I couldn’t stop for quite a few meters (hey, metric system), and then had to run back and get the rhubarb. Brittany, who bought a bag of 10 apples, told me her bag broke also when she was biking home and all her apples went everywhere!

Anyway, today it was actually sunny outside. I have a list of a whole bunch of things I want to do in the next four weeks, and one of them was to see Assistens Kirkegården (Assistens Cemetery) during late spring. (I had visited it during the beginning of April but there were no leaves on the trees yet). I cycled over around 12:30 and I was so happy I did. I cannot adequately describe this cemetery except to say it reminds me very much of how I imagined the garden in The Secret Garden, which was one of my favorite books as a child. Even the air smelled like earth and flowers.

‘Oh! The things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there. At first it seemed that green things would never cease pushing their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds, even in the crevices of the walls. Then the green things began to show buds and the buds began to unfurl and show colour, every shade of blue, every shade of purple, every tint and hue of crimson. In its happy days flowers had been tucked away into every inch and hole and corner… Iris and white lilies rose out of the grass in sheaves, and the green alcoves filled themselves with amazing armies of the blue and white flower lances of tall delphiniums or columbines or campanulas. (Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden)

A specific description of the cemetery via s Swedish poet, circa 1827:

In order to enjoy another softer, quieter celebration, I walked out one evening through Nørre Port (the North Gate) to the so-called Assistens Cemetery. It is certainly one of the most beautiful graveyards in Europe. Leafy trees, dark paths, bright open flowery expanses, temples shaded by poplars, marble tombs overhung by weeping willows, and urns or crosses wrapped in swathes of roses, fragrance and bird song, all transform this place of death into a little paradise. (Karl August Nicander)

Pic spam ahead (as always, click for bigger)

  

 

  

   

  

  

As you see in the third to last picture, there were watering cans that you could use– you put in a coin, and you can use the can (kind of how they do shopping carts here as well). The last two pictures are of the favorite spot I found– it felt like I could be miles away from the civilization I was only minutes away from. It was there I decided to plop with my book and some Beach House on my ipod. (Click through to listen to a song– the mood of the music seemed to fit the atmosphere perfectly “Let’s go on pretending that the light is neverending.”)

I read for a bit then went to meet my friend Dubbi, who lives around the corner, and we walked around the cemetery and discussed, among other things, politics and my utter inability to pronounce both the r, the vowel sound, and the d in rød (red)… so basically the whole word. Yeah, told you, cool like that. (If you think you’re so good, you can hear it pronounced by clicking the speaker icon under rød on this page).

I headed home around 4:30pm because it was my night to cook common dinner, yay! I was cooking with Libuska, the other exchange student in my block, and, per my suggestion, we were making chicken pot pie. I couldn’t find premade pie crusts in the supermarket, so I had pizza crusts I was using instead, and it actually turned out perfectly. (I also only did a top crust because I felt the bottom was unnecessary.) Just so the luscious green isn’t the last thing you remember about this entry, here’s a picture of the baked pot pie, complete with sauce oozing out of it’s pores:

It got good reviews for all involved. My apartment-mates had also organized a game night for tonight, so after dinner, we played some games: First, we played Uno, which the Danes have some good twists on: for instance, if someone puts down a +2 card, the next person, instead of drawing two, can put down another +2 card, and then the next person has to draw four, or then can put down anther +2 card and then the next person has to draw six, and so on, so all the drawing can accumulate. The game of uno took literally an hour (there were four of us playing and there kept being epically long draws) but I eventually emerged victorious! We then played Yahtzee (which I lost at, and which, in Danish, is spelled Yahtzy, which means it must be pronounced Yahtzoo, because Y’s are pronounced like an “oo” sound). Finally, we played trivial pursuit, albeit it was the Danish version. We played in teams of two and Tanja and I won, even though I was kind of a liability since I obviously didn’t know any of the Danish history or culture questions. (I did, however, know that Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness, -pent is the Green prefix meaning five, the medical name for a broken nose, and a few other things I can’t remember).

Apparently tomorrow is also a Danish holiday (who knew?). According to wikipedia:

Store Bededag, translated literally as Great Prayer Day… is a Danish holiday celebrated on the 4th Friday after Easter…. The day was introduced in the Church of Denmark in 1686 by King Christian V as a consolidation of several minor (or local) Roman Catholic holidays which the Church observed that had survived since the Reformation… Another tradition on the evening before is to buy and eat ‘varme hveder’, a traditional bread. This comes from the fact that bakers were closed on holidays and people bought bread for the following day.

It’s funny because all my apartment mates had bough the bread (they are really like fluffy rolls) but no one knew why they ate it. I postulated it was like eating the wafer and the body of Jesus, but apparently not. Also, apparently all the stores are closed tomorrow. Hm. Anyway, while we were playing yahtzee we ate a bunch of these rolls with butter and jam and cheese. Picture of the roll (not my own picture):

Anyway, despite the rain, it’s been a great few days. I also have most likely found someone to tutor me in Danish over the summer, which will be super great! Maybe then I will learn how to pronounce rød. And hygge. And Strøget. And døgn… and all my friends’ names (awkward).


Happiness is…

May 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

So, I haven’t written since Tuesday because I haven’t done anything *major* but all the little things add up, and now I feel like I have a ton to write about. I usually try to keep each individual post with one “theme,” but I guess this will just be a collection of odds and ends… that I will attempt to partition in one way or another.

First, since I know you are all dying to know, I finished drafts of my two papers, which were 15 and 18 pages, 1.5 spaced. (I have one more exam but the topic hasn’t been released yet.) Yay!! I wrote these 33 pages in fewer than 10 days, so I think CMU trained me pretty damn well. So if anyone feels a pressing desire to read about paternity leave and the feminist welfare state (for my Scandinavian model of welfare class) AND/OR breastfeeding trends in Singapore (for my food and identity class), I’m your woman.

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There are a bunch of little things that I bike past every day (or almost every day) that I love and want to remember. I am trying to make a concerted effort to capture all of these things… I usually remember to take a picture either when it is raining or when my camera is packed up in my bag. I actually just ordered a cheap memory card online and may try to take a video of my “commute” everyday. A few things I love:

This is located kind of as you enter the city. The top number tells you which number cyclist you were that day to bike past the sign. (As you can see, at 3pm on May 11th I was cyclist number 6370). The bottom number tells you how many cyclists have passed so far this year. Almost a million!

This is what Tivoli (a historic amusement park in the city) looks like at night.

That’s all I’ve captured so far (see what I mean about needing to make an effort?)

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The daylight hours here are INSANE. I am never actually asleep when it is dark outside. It doesn’t get completely dark until after 10pm, and it starts getting light again at 3:30am. I took this out of the window of my room last night at 3:30am.

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Now for the less-listy more-diary stuff:

On Wednesday, I went with Brittany to go cook in the kitchen, but they are unfortunately ending the community kitchen for the summer (or indefinitely) so it was our last Wednesday cooking. It actually felt really sad because it was like the beginning of all the stuff that is going to be ending. 😦 😦 (Don’t worry, I ate some extra chocolate croissants to quell that sadness. And they also had cheese bread this time! Score!)

On Thursday I met up with some friends at a cafe, but then Elisabeth (Lis) and Nadine and I decided to leave and go to Christiania. Nadine doesn’t have a bike, so she steered Lis’s bike while Lis sat on the back. I seriously almost died from how flipping hysterical it was. I guess that was a preview for the rest of the night, because, due to a variety of factors that are not blog-appropriate to publish, it was seriously the most funny and nice night in recent memory.

    

On Friday, Nadine and Lis came over and we made dinner. We were then going to watch a movie, but we were all craving this chocolate dreamcake that you can get in Christiania… Lis graciously volunteered to bike over there and get the cake (it’s only a few minutes from where I live). And she found out the bakery is open 24 hours ($%(#!@%). Upon returning back, she announced to us she had received a text saying it was the last Friday bar at her faculty. (If you remember, all the faculties have bars on Thursdays or Fridays.) I’ve only been to Friday bar once before because it is NOT my scene, but I went along because I didn’t really have anything else to do. So we got there and I sat around being uncomfortable for a while… (there is such a pretense at these Friday bars, at least in my opinion, where I just feel like everyone is just looking for someone to spend the night with). Anyway, after a while Nadine and Lis either got bored of it also or saw how much I didn’t like it, so they humored me and went with me to this other bar at this place called Cafe Under Konstruktion, which is, to put it simply a cafe/collective run by volunteers where the money goes to political causes. Nadine left kind of early, but Lis and I stayed and played foosball and listened to the music until they closed at 3am. We then went and ate schwarma and frenchfries (a non-sober ritual) and biked home in the DAYLIGHT at 4:00am.

This morning it was back to Cafe Under Konstruktion because they have a biweekly Sunday brunch. I went with my friend Mara from Holland, but as I cycled up I saw (or rather, she saw me) my other friend Fiona (from Ireland). We all ate brunch together, and then Fiona and I went to Kongens Have (the King’s Garden). My faithful readers will remember that I went to Kongens Have the first weekend I was here with Elisabeth, but I’ve heard how nice and beautiful it is in the spring, so I wanted to go back and experience it again.

Some comparison photos of January 6th and today, May 15th:

    

    

    

Happiness is… that last picture. It’s is kind of the epitome of my life right now.

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