Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Procrastinated Post

I have been waiting to update until I had the energy and time to upload pictures and make everything beautiful and insightful, that clearly is not going to happen.

Last Saturday I spent the day at Frederiksborg Slot. The last time I was there was my 20th birthday. It was gorgeous.

Saturday night, I went out to dinner with my Danish friend Amalie. It was truly great to see her and catch up, even if we hadn't really talked in 3 years. She and I talked for a long time about the differences between the USA and Denmark. She had most recently been to Texas and said that it was "in the west, the most opposite to a Danish mindset you can have." Yep. I told her that it was pretty opposite of a San Francisco perspective too. Outside the restaurant there were trampolines in the ground. I don't know why, but it was awesome.

Very late into the night I had kylling (chicken) shawarma and it is the greatest fast food/drunk food of all time. If American mayonnaise tasted like Danish shawarma french fry mayonnaise I would eat it on everything.

Sunday it poured rain and we had a family party for the daughter's graduation. There were lots of Danes and drinking and good food. It was very hyggeligt. 

Yesterday I woke up very very sick. I get sick a lot in Denmark, I think because of all the viruses I haven't been exposed to as an American. My throat was so swollen that it hurt to swallow, but I didn't want to waste a gorgeous day inside. First I went to the beach, which I found out once I got there was clothing optional. Lots of old man butts. Then, I went to Dyrehaven (Deer Garden) and walked around for 3 hours and was lost for another two. I made it home by sheer luck and clearly labeled public transportation. By the time I got home I was extremely sick and did nothing but sleep the rest of the night. My temperature read 38.1ºC, which is a bit over 100ºF. Not too bad, but when I am healthy my normal temperature is 96.8ºF, so 36ºC.

Today I was supposed to meet my dear American friend Amy at the airport when she landed, but I was definitely like 45 minutes late. It was still absolutely amazing to see her. We met here and lived in Copenhagen the same year through the same program, and we just happened to go to the same university in California.We spent a couple hours to reminiscing and walking down Strøget. Her girlfriend (who I adore equally) is joining her tonight and I have been promised that we are going to cause lots of trouble out on the town later this week. As of now I am still sick and slightly miserable. But really, how bad can one actually feel when they are in Denmark?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Danish Graduation

The school in-between "elementary school" (folkeskole) and University in Denmark is called Gymnasium. Often this is translated to "high school." It is not high school at all. You finish folkeskole when you are about 16 years old, then you can either go to vocational programs or apply to gymnasium. If you want to go to university you have to go to gymnasium. It is more like community college than it is high school and is tailored to your interests, but is a lot of GE. You go to gymnasium for three years and then you graduate. Graduation from gymnasium is the craziest and most amazing thing I have ever seen.

There are a ton of traditions involved. Like, a TON. The most important of which, at least from what I can tell, is the hat. After you finish your last exam you can go and have your hat placed on your head by someone significant in your life. Then you have to wear the hat until your actual graduation. The hats almost resemble hats I would think of for the marines? But they are gorgeous with their names embroidered on the back. On the inside you write your last exam's grade, all your friends bite the rim for good luck, people sign the inside like a yearbook, and there are a lot of other rules about wearing it and head size ranking in the class, etc. After the actual graduation ceremony the different classes each rent a "wagon" that has been decorated by the first year students. They graduates proceed to ride around in these wagons for 12 hours with a DJ going to each of the graduating students' houses. The parents put on a welcoming for the students and they stay for an allotted time (they stayed at our place for 20 minutes) before they pile back in the wagon and go on their way. The graduates tally how many beers they have had on their forearm, the goal being 24. You have to stay up until the sun rises the next morning, and after the last wagon stop at 12:15am the next day I have been told that a lot of skinny dipping happens in the harbor. I am just obsessed with the wagons and the support of the community. The graduates wear the hats everywhere so they are easily recognizable and everyone is constantly congratulating them. The first picture is of the wagon the daughter I'm staying with was in, the rest of random to make sure you know that these things are EVERYWHERE blasting their music.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day-by-Day Overview of Norge

20/6/14 Boat to Norway:
The ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo is an overnight "mini cruise." It's adorable and also known to some of the locals as the "booze cruise" because of the duty free alcohol you can buy on board. Alcohol is expensive in Denmark, but it is outrageous in Norway. On weekends the boat is full of groups partying. I ate some amazing potato and bacon pizza (Scandinavian Italian pizza is the best) and while I was eating a group of 5 men dragged me over to join them at their table. They then proceeded to buy us 2 bottles of wine. I found out that they were actually a group of 12 who were traveling for a boys' weekend. They were intent on me having a good time and probably bought me a combined 600 dkk (about$100) worth of fancy drinks. There was a dance club on board and an outside deck where the sun set for hours. It was basically perfect.

21/6/14 First Day in Oslo
A very hungover me dropped my stuff off at the hostel, then set out walking to the Munch Museum. He was super dark and messed up, and I realized I really like his art. I did a lot of typical tourist things: the palace, parliament, churches, etc. The thing that struck me most was how different Norwegians are to Danes. They are far more reserved in some regards, like they are not as friendly when you are talking, but then they are super aggressive when it comes to crossing the street against the light or making noise in public. There was a ton of energy in Oslo. I was exhausted and went to bed at 10, before sunset.

22/6/14 Train to Bergen and Hiking Mount Ulriken
The train from Oslo to Bergen was gorgeous. I was a little disappointed because I was comparing it in my mind to how gorgeous some of my trains in the Swiss Alps were and I was expecting it to be better. It was definitely on par though. I took an obscene amount of pictures. The first thing that happened when I got to Bergen was I met a lovely Australian girl at the bus stop who was staying at the same hostel I was trying to get to. She jokingly suggested that I "take a walk up the mountain." Which I not-so-much-on-purpose did. My hostel was overlooking the city and right next to a famous hiking trail. I brought my heavy duty hiking boots, and felt silly when it started off as a paved incline. It very shortly turned into some of the craziest hiking I've done with the main theme climbing up rocks. The view from the top was breath-taking, but I fell in the stream on the way down and scraped my back and twisted my ankle. That night after the front desk made fun of me for being an American and being smart to ice my injury "unlike Norwegians who tough it out and pay with injuries when they are old," my new Australian friend and I met a group of other people. It is hard to make friends in Scandinavian hostels sometimes because there are a lot of families staying there and older couples. This was one of my favorite hostel-friend groups I've ever made and they really enhanced my time in Bergen.

23/6/14 Bergen, Bryggen, and Sankthansaften
I left the mountain to go into town and do the touristy things there. Bryggen in the cute 900 year-old water front area that is on all of the postcards. It was charming and all the lines of the buildings were crooked and a mess. I walked to some churches, went to the fish market, saw the Stave Church, hung out in a park, saw the fortress, and basically was in awe with how cute everything was. A few morally questionable things happened this day: 1. I pet seal pelts and they were so soft and I want everything I own to be made out of seal skin. 2. I ate a sample of whale and it was delicious. 3. We drank beer in public very sneakily on our way to a bonfire. 4. We hopped the fence to get to the bonfire when we found out they were charging 150nok to stand near it and none of us had that much kroner on us. The bonfire was for the midsummer celebration. The one we went to boasted "the largest barrel bonfire in the world" and it was truly impressive. They do bonfires all over Denmark and Norway for the event, it has pagen-turned-christian origins like almost all holidays, but has to do with celebrating Saint Hans, John the Baptist, and burning evil spirits. That night I also followed the tradition of putting flowers under my pillow so I would dream of my future husband, I chose daisies of course.

24/6/14 Back to Oslo
Played cards with my new friends in the morning outside overlooking the mountain. Took the train back to Oslo and took too many pictures, OH AND I FOUND OUT THAT COKE PUTS PEOPLES NAMES ON COKE BOTTLES ALL OVER THE WORLD AND THEY ARE DIFFERENT NAMES BASED ON WHAT COUNTRY YOU'RE IN. It is my favorite marketing thing that has ever happened and I am so upset they don't do it in America.

25/6/14 Last day in Oslo and Ferry back to Copenhagen
I went to the statue park in Oslo and walked around the city. I enjoyed the city much more the second time and the weather was gorgeous, I took the ferry back and it was WAY more low-key than the one I took on Saturday, but I still managed to get drunk and make a Norwegian friend.

Being back in Denmark is great. It is so refreshing to hear Danish instead of Norwegian again, that was really messing with me. I loved Norway though, I am such a Scandinavian girl. Today I didn't do much because I didn't sleep on the boat. I went into town and visited Den Lille Havfrue so I would feel like I did something, but I mainly was a bum. Now that Norway is done I can start really getting into Denmark.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Am I wasting my time or enjoying myself?

Jet lag is terrible and I always forget that it is the absolute worst.

Yesterday I wandered around the city all day and went to a lot of touristy spots and it was perfect.

Today all I have done so far is stay in bed and listen to the rain. There was a thunderstorm this morning and it was so nice to be all cozy and warm and hear the rain on the window. There are blue skies now so I think I will go take a shower, walk to downtown Lyngby, and buy some things I need for Norway.

My ferry leaves at 4 today. It is like a little mini cruise ship and I am very excited, but I have to figure out what type of food I want to pack for dinner. It's different not having my own kitchen. I am sure my family would let me use any of their things, but I'm just not quite comfortable with that yet. Denmark doesn't really do the convenience foods like America does, which is probably why their food is such higher quality.

I feel really lazy today. I know it's mainly jet lag, but I feel so at home here. It's hard to keep reminding myself not to waste time because I don't have that much time in the first place.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

jeg er hjemme!

I'm here! I am so happy, but I accidentally slept today away. I forgot that my phone wouldn't work here. I knew that I wasn't going to have a sim card or anything and couldn't do any texting or calling without wifi, but I forgot that I could not use it as a watch or an alarm clock because it won't sync up with local time. In fact, setting an alarm is fruitless as it seems to be randomly choosing what time zone to display. Sometimes CA time, sometimes east coast, and one that I did not recognize but I'm guessing was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. So my two hour nap turned into a giant 6 hour jetlag no-no nap.

My flights were pretty bad. The first one was from SFO to YYZ and was supposed to take like 4 1/2 hours. It was 45 minutes late taking off, and then we had to circle for a while outside of Toronto because of a thunderstorm. I had just a little over an hour to make my connection, so I was not amused.

Lucky for me, my connecting flight was ALSO delayed because after the storm cleared they had to change a tire. By the time we actually got on the second plane I was so over traveling. I hadn't slept at all on the first flight and I was hungry and exhausted and had been in a state of really high stress guessing if I would make my connection or not. Before we even took off, this terrible woman in front of me turned around and said in a very accusing tone, "I can feel your knees in my back." As if she wanted me to fix it? Everyone around me was judging her in a way that only overly polite Canadians and Danes can. A sort of silent exchange of looks and sympathy. She made a big deal about it several times to the point where I cried. It wasn't that big of a deal, but it just seemed like the most selfish complaint someone could have. I explained to her that there was nothing I could do about it short of chopping my legs off and that I was sorry but she would just have to deal. Then the bitch reclined and told me that the pain of my knees in her back got worse. I told her in my most polite voice that I was sorry she is in pain, and she should imagine how much it hurts me to have her continuously slamming her seat into my legs. The silent judgey Danes and Canadians loved that, and it shut her up for the rest of the flight. She did not, however, raise her seat up from being reclined. I felt no guilt when her seat got "accidentally" kicked for the last 6 hours of the flight. This is also the type of woman who did not fill out that she had special dietary requests, complained that it was unfair that other people got vegetarian meals because she is vegetarian and needs one too, and then demanded they bring her a veggie meal from first class... which of course the airline did. I really disliked this woman. I watched really great movies: The Wolf of Wall Street, The Lego Movie, Her, and About Time. I ate surprisingly decent airplane food and drank absolutely dreadful free airplane wine. The absolute best part about my airplane trips was that they ended up in Denmark.

The picture just above is the best one I could get of Skagen. The clouds mimic the curve of the left side of the peninsula so it is a little hard to see, but I was really excited because I rarely approach CPH from over Jylland instead of Germany.

My "visiting family," who I will probably just refer to as my host family from now on because it is easier to explain to people, picked me up from the airport and then I took my way-too-long nap. I don't think I am going to make it into city center today, but we are about to have dinner and then we are all going out for Paradis! Then we will probably hang out and catch up and watch TV. Not what I had planned, but so perfectly hyggeligt it is exactly what I have been missing about this country. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hello Old Friends

Passport and outlet converter. I am all set for my trip. My flight leaves San Francisco at 11:30am tomorrow, I have a layover in Toronto, and then I land in Copenhagen.

2013 was the worst year I've had in a long time. A lot of old demons came back, I dealt with a lot of medical complications, I lost a lot of trust in people I cared about, and I spent most of the year job-hunting and becoming more and more depressed with my unemployment. Honestly, the only reason I applied for the job I have now is because I knew I was qualified and I wanted to have some sort of income to visit a boy in Germany who doesn't want anything to do with me anymore. The loss of that friendship still hurts if I dwell on it, but I have transformed a trip to Germany with a detour to Denmark into a trip to Denmark with a detour to Norway. I am so excited.

There is literally no purpose for this trip. It is completely indulgent and frivolous. All I want to do is be in my favorite place, eating foods I haven't tasted in over 3 years, and to be alone with my thoughts. Besides one big bump in my 2014 road, I have been having a great year. Lately I have had so many wonderful things in my life it has been a bit overwhelming and stressful and I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to keep the positives escalating. When I was living in Denmark I was happy without trying. I like my life right now, but a break where I can just do nothing and be perfectly content with beer in a park and maybe some candles? Ja tak.

I have to pack now. I fully plan on having this blog active again for the next 3 weeks. Just do me a favor, if you haven't read it before don't read the last couple of posts because they are super depressing, go for something more exciting in the middle. Please also note that I did not learn the proper use of "then or than" until after this blog was pretty much done and I have no concept of correct comma use. Annnnnd I blog how I type which I can imagine some people find annoying.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

So Let Me Tell You About Living in America

I am completely miserable. Okay, that is a flat out lie, I am not completely miserable. I have a more solid group of friends at Sonoma than I have ever had before, I have a new boyfriend I am pretty smitten with, and I can buy a sandwich in a huge American portion for like 6 bucks. However, I have been back in California for 5 months already, and every week it gets harder to be away from Copenhagen. I have stopped dreaming in Danish. I can't understand the songs I have as well anymore. My pronunciation is bad to the point it doesn't even sound like Danish anymore. I am forgetting things like what frikadeller smell like when you cook them and how to ride a bus. I talk too much and I talk too loudly. I drive when I should be biking or walking. I eat low quality food. I just stress and worry all the time. I am back to setting impossible standards for myself. I feel not only my memories slipping away, but the change I saw in myself that I loved so much. I know that I will remember the big things like Culture Night and the first time I saw snow fall, but I am losing the finite details of what the air smelled like during the first snow and what hygge feels like on an ordinary night cooking a meal together and eating with close friends.

Feeling like I am losing hygge is my greatest sadness. I find myself frustrated with Americans for not understanding the concept, when it in reality it took me 4 months before I even started to associate it as something besides "cozy." In my Anthropological Globalization class we were discussing theories about being limited by the language you speak. You cannot understand something if you cannot describe it, because you are unable to conceptualize something if there is no way to define it. It is a rather abstract idea, but I feel that the rest of the world is limited by the absence of "hygge" in our vocabulary. Denmark is the happiest country in the world, and researchers always conclude that it is because of their low expectations and modesty. While this may be true, I am going to argue and say that the real reason that Danes are so happy is that they have a word that describes a wonderful and meaningful thing/feeling that no other country has realized is important enough to define. The priority hygge is given as a way of life in Denmark is what defines my experience abroad.

I just tried 4 different times to write a description of hygge for my readers who haven't experienced, and I can't. I am not sure if this is because I refuse to define it as "cozy" because it is so much more than that, or if it is because I haven't really experienced it since I left Denmark and am forgetting what it means.

I am trying to accept I am back in America for good, but every day I am here I feel a little bit of a part I loved about myself slipping away. I cannot live in the past, and I will never get to relive the year I had, but I wish that America would make herself a little easier to deal with. You don't need to hear about my struggles readjusting any more than to know that my life is hygge-less here, and that is heartbreaking.