Things have been so crazy lately… my time in Copenhagen has drawn to a close. I am so sad, and it seems like time has gone by so quickly. I’m trying to stay positive, though, and it’s on to the next adventure! For me, this means a couple of whirlwind weeks of traveling… first to Prague, then to Split, Croatia; Budapest, and Brussels. I’m so excited about what the coming days have to hold… Hopefully they will be amazing! I’m sure they will be 🙂 More to come after I return back to the states on the 31st.
Much of my first months here were spent trying to figure out how to hide my American-ness and blend in with the Danes. When you are already 100% Northern European, like me, it’s not all that hard… just wear all black and look pretty serious all the time. By now, I’ve pretty much mastered the art of not standing out as an American… until I open my mouth, at least.
Why wouldn’t I want to be recognized as American? Well, if you’ve spent time living in another country, you would know that people in other countries have a spectrum of stereotypes of Americans, not all of them positive. The one that I try to separate myself from the most is the loud, obnoxious, always-in-the-way American that everyone gets so annoyed with. It’s the person who makes you ask, “why are you here? Ugh”.
Of course, Danes who know me know that I am American, but when I talked to others about America, there was always a little sense of shame. After all, there’s so much screwed up in my country. Just look at our political system… to someone like a Dane, it just doesn’t make sense. And then there’s all the poverty and violence… sure, America is riddled with problems. However, in my final stretch of time here in Denmark, as I’ve started to tire of the things that at first seemed so exotic and wonderful, I’ve realized what a pity it is that I was embarrassed of my own country.
The tragedy in Boston shattered my Copenhagen bubble and left me kind of longing to be home. While I’m not from Boston, my father went to graduate school there, and we know people who run the marathon… it’s hard not to feel connected to such an incident. It’s times like these when I am reminded of the strength of America, and how proud I am to be from such a resilient place. We have such an incredible history (I know, there are some dark periods that I’m not so happy about, but every country has those…) full of so much hard work and courage to build a freedom for future generations. I love that America represents freedom, and that the “American dream” requires (sure, not always successfully) lots of hard work and dedication. I am so happy to be from a country of immigrants, where anyone can fit in and make a life. Am I romanticizing America? Yes, a bit, but come on, I think we deserve a little love right now.
And just look at how America bands together in the face of terror… I will never forget hearing about the planes that had crashed in New York when I was not even 10 years old. For the first time, I started to understand the American spirit, one that will not be broken. That spirit has continued to grow in me since… working in America’s capital city last semester definitely made me extremely proud of where I lived. To see all these foreign tourists coming to see and learn about my country? Amazing! Not many countries see such a range of different visitors. Everyone wants to visit America because it is an awesome place! We have so much diversity, both in landscape and in people.
All this is just to express some feelings that I’ve had lately… why shouldn’t I be proud of my country? Being American is nothing to be ashamed of, even though there may be some iffy stereotypes. I am so proud to be an American through and through, and my heart goes out to those affected by the tragedies that have taken place in my home nation lately.
For those of you who don’t know me, it’s important to know that my parents used to live in Amsterdam, and that the city is actually the place of my conception. True story. My parents hadn’t been back there since 1991, when they moved back to Chicago to raise me in the states… until now.
I thought it would be fun for my parents to visit me in Copenhagen, and then travel with me for the first part of my travel break. We decided to go to Amsterdam, because I’ve never been there, and my parents were interested in returning.
Before we could go to the Netherlands, though, we spent a few days here in Copes as I wrapped up my classes for the week. It was a little busy, because I had a lot of work before the vacation, so my parents had to spend a bit of time on their own, but we worked in some good quality time.
My parents arrived on Tuesday afternoon/night, and I met them at their hotel to take them on a walk around the city. I showed them the area around Vestergade and Stroget, where DIS is located, before stopping to get some sushi. Sushi in Copenhagen is surprisingly mediocre for a city located on the water… I’m telling you, Copenhagen ethnic food… usually not great. Although the new Nordic cuisine is apparently to die for–I’m looking at you, Noma.
The next day, I had class, but I still managed to bring my parents to the palace and, of course, to Nyhavn! Nyhavn is the picture that always comes up when you Google Image search Copenhagen. It’s the rows of colorful buildings along the harbor (havn in Danish… and new is ny. So, Nyhavn = new harbor! A little dansk lesson for you). We had lunch there, and we all acted really Danish while ordering, because my dad and I got Tuborg (which actually is one of the best beers in the world, true story) and I made my mom order the herring butter bread open-faced sandwiches. Such a Danish meal.
I had some classwork to do after lunch, so I didn’t meet up with my parents again until dinner… one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at, called Fiskebaren. It was a seafood place, and while the portions were teeny, the food was so good. I can’t even think about it without getting hungry again–it was incredible!!
While that meal was definitely tasty, the best meal by far was the next night, when my parents came over to meet my host parents. I was a little worried about the two worlds colliding, but they all got along great! My host parents made one of my favorite meals, duck and potatoes, served with plenty of wine and followed by strawberry cake. We couldn’t linger too much, though, because I had to pack my things to go to Amsterdam the next day! Our flight was right after my last class of the day, so we had to rush to the airport. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed, so we didn’t get in until late. By that time, we were all so hungry and cranky, so we walked around arguing about where to eat until we finally stopped at an Italian place that was not too satisfying. But, hey, it was food!
On Saturday morning, we woke up and headed to the Anne Frank House. The line was long, but I convinced my parents to wait, because it was the place I most wanted to see in Amsterdam. While we waited for an hour and half, I had the chance to take a little time to walk around with my mom and then with my dad, so it was nice to talk to them.
Finally, we got into the Anne Frank House. It was so interesting and so, so sad. I felt especially overwhelmed when walking through Anne’s family’s old living quarters and seeing the pictures she had pasted on the wall to make her room more cheerful. It was so heartbreaking.
After finishing the tour of the house, we stopped for lunch and walked around the city for a while. We eventually made our way over to where my parents used to live. It was cool to see their old apartment and hear how their old neighborhood has changed since they lived there. Apparently, their street is now very expensive, and Dutch celebrities have homes there… David Beckham even owns a house nearby!
We had dinner at a restaurant in the little area near their apartment. We all shared a bottle of wine (and a little grappa) and had a very pleasant evening just talking and enjoying each others’ company.
The next day, we went to the Rijks Museum. It had just reopened on Saturday after a 10-year period of being closed, so we lucked out by being able to visit! We saw the famous “The Night Watch” painting as well as a lot of other paintings and some other stuff. Honestly, I’m not the biggest museum person sometimes. I just don’t always have the patience for it.
After our museum trip, we were all hungry, and my parents wanted me to try pannekoeken, which is basically a crepe served flat with other delicious foods over it/baked into it. It was so delicious!! We went to this place called Pannekoeken Upstairs, which advertised itself as being the smallest restaurant in Europe. I’m not sure if this is true, but it was pretty small, with only three tables!
We spent the rest of the day walking around and going on a canal tour before heading over to a fondue place I had found for dinner. Unfortunately, the oil provided to cook the meat in was peanut oil, so I had to resort to holding my meat over the little flames beneath the pots. It was not an ideal way to cook my meal, and I probably ended up ingesting more than a little undercooked meat, but it was so delicious! I hadn’t eaten fondue in a long time, and wanted to try something different.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for some drinks at a bar. My dad and I tried some of the bar’s own beers, which were very good, while my mom played it safe with her usual wine.
On our last day, Monday, we kicked off the day by taking in Van Gogh’s artwork at the museum. It was so interesting to see his progression… he started by sketching the hands of the peasants to master the human form, and his art evolved as he found his style and also started to succumb to his mental health issues.
After the Van Gogh museum, we went to get some lunch and then walked around to do some shopping for souvenirs. My dad found a really nice restaurant for dinner where the waiters talked us through their short list of menu options… it was so delicious! One of the best dinners I had eaten in a while for sure.
I left on Tuesday morning to fly back to Copes and spend the day there before flying off to Nice on Wednesday!! It was so nice to spend time with my parents and see the city where they used to live 🙂 More on my France trip to come soon…
Ever heard of The Pirate Bay? If you’re around my age, chances are, you probably have. The Pirate Bay (aka TPB) is a huge file sharing site (started in Sweden–that’s the connection to Scandinavia! And now the rest of my post will choose to ignore that completely) where anyone could find and download free music and other files. There are many other similar file sharing sites where people can upload and download media. The big question is: is illegal downloading okay? Also, is restricting what people can post on the Internet infringing on our right to privacy and free speech?
Anyone who knows me knows that I love music more than I love most other things in life. I take pride in introducing my friends to lesser-known artists, and I love making music playlists for my best friends. Sorry, sorry, but I love the Seth Cohen music/OC/mixtape thing 🙂
Any exposure I can get to new music is great, and the more I listen to, the more songs and artists I find that I enjoy. I’ve used various methods to find music throughout the years. When I was younger, I listened to the radio, and then with Pandora and the introduction of Internet radio, my horizons expanded. I also began reading magazines that highlighted new music, like Paste and Nylon. I subscribed to eMusic, which carried the catalogs of more obscure artists (and has since gotten rights to more mainstream labels). Basically, I have been obsessed with music since I had my first cassette tape/radio player, and while this love has been on-going, it has also been evolving.
So what if all music on the Internet was free?? How amazing would that be? Pretty amazing, I think. And I really don’t believe that future is too far off.
To be completely honest, I wouldn’t feel all that bad not paying $10 for Rihanna’s new CD. She seems to be doing just fine. Big artists like her don’t need money from little people like us. But what about the lesser known artists? Well, thank you for asking. I actually really care that new and up-and-coming artists can make it, because otherwise what would I listen to? T-Swift? Nej, tak. I believe that even if Internet music was all free and legal, struggling artists could still be pretty unaffected.
There is a great little website called Noisetrade that I believe is such an awesome idea. On Noisetrade, you can download songs, compilations, and even full albums completely legally and completely for free! This site, and similar ones, introduces people to musicians they may not otherwise hear about… and then downloaders can choose to tip the artists for their free music! That way, the musicians can still be making money. Alternately, artists can post music on their websites and ask for contributions. Chances are, the only people who may choose to download for free (without tipping) are the ones who wouldn’t pay for the music in the first place. The people who enjoy the music and want to support the musicians can still do so by paying! So the bands and individuals still make money, and people have access to so much more music! Win-win!
If that isn’t convincing enough, with free Internet radio (I previously mentioned Pandora, but there are so many others… I’m looking at you, Spotify…) people no longer need to pay to listen to music anyway! So come on, music is a right, not a privilege!
This is NOT a top ten list… that’s too been there, done that. This is just a list of the most random reasons why I am looking forward to going home. Most of them have to do with food.
1. Affordable food. Vi ses, Scandinavian prices!
2. Chipotle. You are my one true love.
3. Colorful clothes. Even thought I don’t wear you, I miss you!
4. English. Nuff said.
5. Driving. Just driving…
6. Friendly people. I think I may just start hugging anyone who smiles at me on the street.
7. Good Mexican food. This is not a repeat of the previously mentioned Chipotle. The Danish version brings shame on all that is great about TexMex
8. My family. Obviously 🙂
9. Target. I love you, I love you, and I can’t wait to spend hours wandering through your endless selection of merchandise. American consumerism at its best.
10. Not getting groped every time I go out. WHY is this socially acceptable in Copenhagen? Touching is not complimentary. Ew.
11. Seeing people from different cultures. Not everyone needs to look exactly the same!
12. Appreciating these different cultures as expressed through their cuisine.
13. THE FOURTH OF JULY!! HOW MUCH MORE AMERICAN CAN YA GET? Not much.
14. My iPhone. Finally my baby will be useful again… Data plan, I miss you.
15. Being able to watch TV online without using an illegal Chinese website. WHYYYYY
16. Chillin in the land of the free and the home of the brave. That is all.
Disclaimer: This blog post is based on my own observations, and not on any formal surveys or anything.
When I was thinking about where to study abroad, my advisor advocated for Denmark, because it’s the happiest place in the world (according to some measurements)!
Why, why, WHY would the happiest country on Earth be someplace so cold and dark? And EXPENSIVE?? Well, that’s what I wanted to find out. Here’s part one of my analysis of the Danes…
1. Priorities. Danes have their priorities straight. The lives of most Americans revolve around work, but this is not so in Denmark. For example, my host dad is always home before I get back from class. He’s a doctor, and makes good money, but isn’t working all day! He works as much as he needs to, and then relaxes. It seems like Danes have at least a little relaxing time every day, which is so different from the U.S. I have had so, so many packed days at home when I haven’t had a moment to myself other than the minutes before I fall asleep at night.
2. Homogeneity. To my fellow Americans, this may seem like a strange contributor to happiness (it seems weird to me as well!), but it seems pretty true. Homogeneity makes the Danes very happy. Denmark is a pretty homogenous country, full of people who are more or less completely Danish, with a small immigrant population. The sameness of Denmark means that everyone generally looks the same, buys the same stuff, and has the same goals. It means that the country is safe, and that parents feel comfortable enough leaving their babies outside when they go shopping or out to coffee/dinner (Seriously! It’s a totally normal thing here!) It also means that the welfare state can function smoothly. When the country is full of Danes who all value hard work, the welfare state can collect and distribute funds fairly. The Danes feel threatened by immigrants who they feel are coming to the country to take advantage of the system and consume what the Danes have worked for. The homogeneity, reinforced by the welfare state, creates a level playing field for Danish citizens. Everyone is equal, and it’s not socially acceptable to brag or to place yourself above others in any way in Denmark. Danes don’t have the American mentality of working hard to get places; rather, they are satisfied with where they are and understand that they will achieve pretty much the same as everyone else… no pressure.
There are other probable contributors that I don’t have time to go into right now, but these two reasons are a huge start, especially the homogeneity, as the priorities part is kind of a part of that… because Danes want the same things, they have the same priorities and all agree that work isn’t the end-all in life. To make an analogy, it would be like when an exam is graded on a curve and the students all agree that they’re not going to stress about it, and just see what happens. That’s not to say that Danes aren’t hard workers, though. I’m not sure about this. They definitely don’t put in as many hours as their American counterparts, but hey, quality over quantity maybe??
Honestly, I don’t even know if I can agree that Denmark is happier than America. The concept of happiness in Denmark is just different than it is in the U.S. Many Americans would be extremely unhappy in Denmark, as the way of thinking is a bit different.
When thinking seriously about Danish happiness, the most important factor is homogeneity. That’s why the Danes are all freaking out about the immigrants. They have this established way of life, and they want to maintain their own culture without having to worry about others. This wouldn’t make everyone happy, but it works for the Danes, so good for them! As for me, while I love living in Copenhagen, observing the Danes has also made me so proud to be an American and everything that stands for.
Dear American Boys,
Since adolescence, I have spent my years studying you, pursuing you, and trying to suppress my teenage awkwardness in order to impress you. I thought you were the only kind of boy available, but as I have learned in Denmark, this is incorrect.
It didn’t take long after I moved to Denmark for me to notice a marked difference in the boys here. All of a sudden, they smell nice, dress well, and have the most amazing hair I have ever seen. It’s not a general European thing either; on a weekend trip to Berlin I missed the steady stream of attractive men and therefore concluded that Danish boys are, quite simply, the best looking.
So, American boys, now that I have seen that such excellence is possible, I recommend that you step up to your European competition. Luckily for you, I am willing to share a few tips that will allow you to imitate the Danes and impress the ladies.
Step 1: The general look. To look Danish, you must be attractive. You also probably have blond hair, preferably light blond, but possibly darker. You must be tall, but not too tall, and must have the body to pull off skinny jeans. Your eyes should also be blue.
Step 2: The hair. This is important. I am fortunate enough to know several Danish boys well enough to warrant their forgiveness of my excessive hair touching. Touching the hair of Danish boys is quite fun, and it is one of my favorite pastimes here in Denmark. Danish hair is somewhat long, but it is not sideswept like a certain Justin Bieber’s crowning glory; rather, the hair is perfectly tousled on top of the head. Often, the sides are a bit shorter than the hair on top of the head. If you have true Danish hair, your hair will look perfect at all times, even on a bad hair day. There is a difference between a good Danish haircut and a bad one. If the sides are too short…no… Just no.
Step 3: The stubble. You must never be completely clean-shaven. Instead, you should maintain the perfect small amount of facial hair.
Step 4: The wardrobe. Your jeans or khakis should always be slim-fitting. No baggy, hanging down jeans allowed here. You may wear tennis shoes, but only if they are clean and stylin. You should tend to wear pull-over cardigans in all colors, including those traditionally thought of as feminine. Sometimes you will wear a hoodie, but you will still look sharp. When dressing up for a formal occasion, wear a tux. Always classy. Basically, pretend like you are an H&M model at all times. H&M is pretty big here, after all. For outerwear, you need to keep warm in the chilly Copenhagen weather, so you should wear a puffy (but not too puffy) coat with a fur-lined hood. Scarves are also encouraged.
Step 5: The demeanor. You usually look uninterested or bored, and will keep a steely expression as you walk down the city streets. Think New Yorker, but a bit more laid back.
Step 6: The scent. Danish boys never smell bad, but they never really smell like cologne either. I can’t really explain how they pull this off, but they do. Some Danish boys smell like cigarettes due to their excessive chain smoking habits, but this is gross.
In conclusion, American boys, my standards have been significantly raised though living here in Copenhagen. I am spoiled by the plethora of attractive men here, but I can’t help it. Even so, though, I have started to miss American boys a little. I’ve learned that Danish guys (ok, I am generalizing, but just know that my observations here are obviously biased and limited to the people I know) have a certain air of arrogance that is a bit off-putting. So, guys, I recommend adopting the Danish look, but maintaining your sweet personalities. After all, that’s what counts 🙂
I’m writing about social media and this blog post isn’t required! I guess some of what I’m learning in class is sinking in and making me think a little more…
More and more kids my age are using social media, on more and more sites and platforms. Fortunately and unfortunately, this social media documents our path to adulthood, the good and the bad. From young teen years and up into the early twenties, people are in the period of their lives when they will fundamentally develop into full persons. This basically means that they’re guaranteed to post things they may later regret. While it’s funny to go back through old photos on Facebook, it’s also important to keep tabs on all parts of one’s social media presence.
Now, for the incident that sparked this train of thought…
I saw this guy a few times and thought he was pretty cool. Then, when looking at one of his Facebook posts, I stumbled upon an old blog of his. Now, it actually isn’t that bad, but what I saw just didn’t reflect how I had come to know him. His blog was a side of him I hadn’t seen, and didn’t particularly agree with. Based on what I saw, I just didn’t think it was worth my time to hang out with him anymore.
Who knows if he cares that those thoughts and opinions are out on the web under his name–maybe he’s proud of it! Personally, though, seeing that he once wrote those things (even if he doesn’t still believe them) is enough to prompt me to make a character judgement. So, people, the moral of the story is that you should keep track of your online footprint as carefully as possible, because you never know who may be looking at what!
Hej, hola, and hello! Last week was my first free travel break, and I chose to spend it with my friends Brooke and Rachel in sunny, beautiful Barcelona. We had such a great time. Although the weather forecast called for rain for many of our days there, we got really lucky and were gifted with sunshine every day! I even got tan… my friends say I’m probably the tannest person in Denmark right now 🙂
We flew out of Copenhagen on Saturday morning, connected in Stockholm, and then arrived in Barcelona that night. Rachel, one of my travel companions, had stayed with a Spanish family for a month in Barcelona for an exchange program in her high school. They have a daughter, Maria, who’s 21 and who was kind enough to pick us up from the airport!
We checked in at our apartment, which was at the beach-end of Las Ramblas, and then walked to a restaurant. It was so nice to be able to eat and drink our sangria outside! We were pretty tired from traveling, so we grabbed a beer at a nearby bar and then went to bed.
The next day, we went to Sagrada Familia, the famously always under-construction church designed by Gaudi, for Palm Sunday service. The palms there put American palms to shame; the boys held long poles made out of palms, tied with ribbons, and the girls held elaborately decorated structures made out of palms.
Afterwards, we got some coffee before heading to Maria’s house around 2 to get ready for lunch. We talked to her family and helped get things set up, and then sat down to a delicious dinner of duck, fried pastries filled with cheese, wine, and salad.
When we finished lunch, Maria drove us to Park Guell, a park designed by Gaudi. This was the one time during the week when the rain affected us, and we had to cut our visit a bit short due to periodic rain.
Maria dropped us off near the Picasso Museum, and we spent an hour or so walking through the building (which used to be four castles!) until the museum closed.
The next day was supposed to be our nicest day in Barcelona, so we decided to head to the beach! First, though, we made a stop for some churros con chocolate! Yes, I know, I know, it is a nighttime snack, not a breakfast, but Rachel really wanted some! Who was I to refuse? The churros were my favorite part of this dish, as the chocolate was a bit much for my taste, but it’s clear the chocolate is actually what sets the Spanish version apart. The chocolate is thicker than hot chocolate, almost like a hot pudding. It was very delicious, but I didn’t need to eat chocolate for almost a week after that! We also stopped at La Boqueria, a huge market, to grab some food for later that day.
The beach was only a twenty minute walk from our apartment, so we meandered along the harbor and finally found a place to spread out and enjoy the sun. After a while, we got hungry and walked to a restaurant by the beach to meet a friend from DIS and get some paella!
When we finished, we stopped by our apartment to drop off our beach stuff and then walked to Casa Batllo, a house designed by Gaudi (if you haven’t noticed, Gaudi is a pretty big deal in Barcelona!). We walked through the house (possibly even slipped past some ropes to check out hidden spaces) and went back to our apartment for a light dinner of fresh ingredients we had gotten at the market earlier (bread, cheese, avocado, tomato, mmmm…)
We kicked off the next day with some shopping! The clothes were so amazing, and I could actually afford to get some…unlike in expensive Copenhagen. I split up with my friends so I could meet up with Justin and his friend Dave. We all walked a a random restaurant to have an unfortunately very mediocre meal. When we finished lunch, I was a bit chilly so we went back to our apartment so I could change. We ended up meeting Brooke and Rachel there and then all went out to check out some of the churches together.
Dave and Justin went back to their place, and Brooke, Rachel, and I went to the most amazing restaurant for tapas. Some of my favorites were the patatas bravas (mom, please learn how to make these!) and calamari. We also had clara, which is a surprisingly delicious mixture of beer and lemonade–kind of like an alcoholic Arnold Palmer.
At the restaurant, we were sitting next to a couple who sounded like they were speaking Danish. Naturally, then, we asked them “kommer fra Danmark?” and they started going off in Danish. We told them we barely spoke any Danish, and that we didn’t understand them, so they switched to English and we proceeded to talk for almost two hours! The man was from Australia, and he had met the woman when she had visited Australia. Now they live together in Amager in Denmark! (that’s close to Copenhagen).
When our delicious food was unfortunately gone, we walked back to our apartment and started getting ready to go out. I walked to meet Justin at a metro stop, and the strangest thing happened… this random Asian guy came up to me and started asking for metro directions in Spanish, but I could tell he was American. So I told him I spoke English and he said he was studying in Cambridge and was traveling on his break by himself. I felt bad for him because he was wandering around alone and looking for something to do, so I invited him to come out with us. When Justin got off the metro, we walked back to our apartment to meet up with Rachel, Brooke, and Maria before going out.
The next morning looked like it would be rainy, but the rest of the day was so beautiful! We walked around some parks by the Olympic Stadium and just took everything in. I couldn’t believe how nice it was, and how lovely the gardens were, and I had to keep taking time to just soak it all in and enjoy it.
We had tapas again for lunch, and continued to walk around until we were exhausted and our feet were sore. We headed back to our apartment and I accidentally took a little siesta 🙂
That night we went out to watch flamenco dancing!! It was so fun and expressive, with lots of hand clapping and foot stomping and what looked like artistic interpretation of the music. It looked so natural.
On our last day, Thursday, we woke up and went to La Boqueria to get some fresh juice before heading back to get in some serious sun at the beach! We met up with Justin there and got some pizza before going to the Barcelona club soccer stadium. Maria’s family was trying to get us in for free (they are members there) but since we couldn’t use their membership cards (they had pictures) we were forced to walk around outside instead.
Back at the apartment, we reunited with Justin and went to the delicious tapas place from the other night. They remembered us and we got free tomato bread!
I went to a club with Rachel and Maria that night. I really appreciate how Spain treats women–we got in for free and got a free drink (men have to pay, heh heh…). Copenhagen could really learn a thing or two. However, people didn’t start going out until so, so late! We went out after midnight but the club didn’t start getting full until 2! Crazy! We had our flight back to Copes the next morning, so we couldn’t stay out too late.
The next day was another beautiful one, but we unfortunately would not stick around to enjoy it. We flew to Oslo, where we were reminded of Scandinavia’s killer high prices, before connecting to Copenhagen. This weekend, I have mostly just been relaxing and enjoying the (finally!) sunny weather. Now, it’s back to school, and I need to buckle down to make it to the next travel break in two weeks! Yay!
“One language is never enough.” That’s how I felt when I arrived in Greenland last week for my long study tour. As if Danish wasn’t foreign enough to me, Greenlandic sounds like clucking and gibberish. Oh well, it was a small price to pay for five days in the coolest place I’ve ever been… literally. It was negative 30 degrees.
The town we stayed in was called Kangerlussaq. If you fly into Greenland from another country, you need to fly through that airport. Because the location is good for traveling and is close to the ice sheet, scientists built the Kangerlussaq International Science Support (KISS) building for people to stay in between their excursions to and from the ice sheet and other places in Greenland. We stayed in the KISS building, and it was luckily well heated and felt a lot like a college dorm building, only with labs and science stuff.
We left Copenhagen around nine in the morning and got in at nine. That’s right… the flight was four hours and Greenland is four hours behind Denmark. It was a long day.
When we arrived in Greenland, we unpacked and headed to the store to marvel at how expensive alcohol was. To give you an example, in Copenhagen, a handle of Captain Morgan is around 140 DKK (about $25) but in Greenland it would be closer to 440 DKK ($75).
We drove around and looked at some rocks and the beautiful mountains surrounding us. Then we went to pretty much the only restaurant in town. We had reindeer for dinner, mmm. Well, technically in Greenland they are called caribou, but they are the same species.
The next day was dogsledding day! The day I had eagerly anticipated since hearing dogsledding was a possibility. We didn’t get to drive the dogsled; we had an inuit lady sitting in the front of the sled and handling all that stuff while three of us laid on top of each other in back, all cozy in the sealskin suits they lent us for the day. It was unbelievably beautiful to dogsled across a frozen fjord surrounded by rocky, snowy mountains.
That afternoon, we went to the local museum and to the house of a family for some kaffemilk and narwhal. Narwhal is a delicacy in Greenland, but I honestly don’t see why. It is cut into tiny pieces and consists of a layer of skin and a layer of blubber, with cartilage separating the two parts. I couldn’t even swallow it.
Tuesday night was the best night for seeing the Northern Lights. They were so beautiful! It was freezing cold outside obviously, but it was so worth it.
On Wednesday we had our trip to the ice sheet. It was cold. I wore wool tights, two pairs of thermal leggings, jeans, one thermal running shirt, another thermal shirt, north face fleece, puffy coat, two pairs of wool socks, mittens, scarf, boot liners, and boots. The first half hour or so on the ice was extremely miserable, as my toes and exposed skin experienced a new level of cold. Our teachers told us to check each other’s faces for white spots, as these mean that the flesh has frozen and needs to be warmed immediately. Also, as we sat outside eating our sandwiches, our sandwiches were freezing as we ate them. Each time we would bite into the sandwich, the exposed part would freeze a little so we were always munching on tiny ice crystals.
I can’t even describe the ice sheet. It was so massive and so beautiful, all frozen waves of slick blue ice spreading in front of me for miles and miles. The ice was so slippery that we had to be very careful walking. I think everyone fell at least once, and falling was not without pain. We made good use of the slippery ice, though, and would slide down the ice on our backs and also used the sleds we brought for carrying equipment. We were all acting like five-year-olds, having a great time.
On the ice sheet, we also drilled for ice cores. I have to say, I’m pretty much a natural ice core driller. Even my teacher said so. Drilling ice cores consisted of sticking a metal tube, which looked kind of like a thick corkscrew, into the ice and turning a crank so the metal would drill into the ice. Then, we would pull out the drill and slide the ice core out. We took some samples to analyze next month as well as some samples to drink with the whiskey my professors brought along later that night 🙂
That night was the Greenlandic buffet. It was so much food. There were different varieties of smoked fish, scallops, beluga whale, shrimp and prawns, fish, reindeer, muskox, and on and on. Basically it was a lot of seafood. Those who know me know I love seafood, but this was too much for my delicate stomach to handle. I started feeling a little sick to my stomach from the smoked fish overload and couldn’t eat too much more. I skipped the second course, which was meat and potatoes, but indulged in the blueberry tart, which was so good, yum!!
On Thursday we did a bunch of random things. We went on a “muskox safari” which basically was a not what I pictured a safari to be. We did get to look through binoculars to watch some muskoxen fighting on a frozen lake though, which was cool.
That night, like every night, we had a few powerpoint presentations by our professors. This night was the best for the presentations, because they both shared about their work on the ice. One of my teachers, Trevor, showed us pictures of when he went back to visit one of his old sites, which used to be an above-ground dome and is now buried under the snow and ice. Everything in the dome was slowing icing over, immortalizing the place.
On Friday we basically just went to the airport and came back! And now here I am, slowly readjusting to reality… It may have been cold, but I miss Greenland!