BestinCPH

A very disconcerted blog post.

I have less than a week left in Copenhagen, and of course I’ve been a procrastinator so there’s far too much to do academically (just two papers and two tests left) as well as the fact that I need to pack a years worth of stuff back into suitcases and clean my room. All this on top of saying goodbye to Copenhagen? Say it ain’t so!

But in order to ease my sadness about leaving this wonderful place, I decided to blog about  the fun things that I’ve done in the past two weeks.

One of which was….. (drumroll please)… convincing my host brother to deep fry pickles!

Now if you’re not from the south, that probably sounds really strange, but the next time you come across a chance to get some biscuits n’ gravy, Sweet Tea,  and other delicious southern soul food in your belly, order a side of fried pickles, you won’t regret it!

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Despite the fact that he’s been telling me for months that fried pickles sound weird, he was pleased with the results!

Another fun and exciting thing that I somehow forgot to blog about was my friend Nate’s visit to Copenhagen! Nate and I met at Founders walk the first day of freshman year at Vanderbilt, and we’ve been tight ever since, despite the fact that he actually transferred to UMich this year.

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Luckily it was fantastic weather, so we got to enjoy Copenhagen at its very best. We borrowed a bike from my host family for him and spent pretty much the entire weekend outside.

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We jumped on the public outdoor trampolines by the harbor (Why don’t more cities have things like these?)

and even made it to Tivoli, which I had only been to once before at Halloween and it had been too cold to ride the rides.

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I splurged on buying this gem of a photo because of its pure hilarity.  Overall we just had a good time hanging around the city that I’ve grown to love.

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Candid in fælledparken

Candid in fælledparken

May Day/ the first of May is International Workers Day. While it might be commemorated or acknowledged in small ways in many countries, in Denmark, it’s a pretty big deal.

In Copenhagen, starting around 10 am, thousands of people begin crowding into fælledparken in Østerbro just to hang out with friends,  drink beer, and relax. It’s not really like a party, but when you’re surrounded by thousands of cheerful people in a sunny park, you can’t help but feel happy and relaxed.

Artsy Carlsberg photo

Artsy Carlsberg photo

The Danes get pretty dark, gray winters, so when the sun comes out, everyone takes advantage of it. When the weather is nice, the city of Copenhagen can feel a lot like a college campus; every available park, beach, city square, harbor wall, public terrace and green space is filled with people just enjoying each other’s company.

Beautiful people

Beautiful People 

Maybe the high cost of pretty much everything encourages people to look more towards each other for entertainment than some sort of screen or product. But whatever it is, I know that I like it.

cutie #1 right here

cutie #1 right here

The best part of traditions like this is that they’re ideal for spending time with the friends that I’ve made since moving to Denmark, especially as it’s all coming to an end. It’s bittersweet to have to acknowledge that I only have two weeks left in this lovely country.

Staycation in Copenhagen.

Today is truly the last day of my final travel break; it’s crazy to think that in the last eight months, I’ve had six weeks worth of breaks meant especially for traveling, and during them I’ve been to Cork (Ireland), Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, London, Berlin, and Prague.

I realized that I’ve gotten pretty spoiled with my traveling, because peoples photos of Greek isles and warm beaches just made me insanely jealous. As a Southerner who legitimately likes the heat, even the stifling, humid, 90ºF heat of a Tennessee summer, the weather has been starting to get to me a little.

Luckily, the weather this week has actually been great, and I’ve been able to take advantage of it with lots of outdoor activities. But the best part of staying in Copenhagen for the last break was undoubtedly getting to spend lots of extra time with my host family and hang out with friends from højskole.

Too many selfies with my host sister

Too many selfies with my host sister

So without fourth ado, a list of all the possible fun things you can do in Copenhagen when you decide not to travel on one of your breaks.

 

Bake Cookies with your host family/visiting family

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Climb the iconic spire of Our Saviors Church in Christianshavn to get a nice view of the city

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Hang out in Amager fælled and enjoy the sunshine

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bring your bike on an s-train and explore a suburb

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Spring has most definitely sprung

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walking through the woods in Humlebæk

Go to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

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Legos in Louisiana's Børnehuset

Legos in Louisiana’s Børnehuset

Visit the old Carlsberg factory/museum

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Join a family/ community activity

My host mom & I washing boats at Lea's Fritidshjemmet

My host mom & I washing boats at Lea’s Fritidshjemmet

 

Despite the fact that I purposely planned nothing for this week, it was busy, full, and flew by all too fast.  It’s about that time where I need to start finishing up all my final papers and projects, with only a little less than a month left in Copenhagen until I head back to the Nashville heat for the summer.

and some days you fall off your bike.

In a city where bikes are the main form of transportation, accidents are pretty much inevitable, but don’t worry no one was (badly) hurt!

first, in case you need a quick refresher on how ingrained bike culture is, here’s a couple of photos from google image searches of biking in Copenhagen.

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none of the above images are even slightly unusual; bikes are for utility and everyday life here, so baskets overflowing with groceries, trailers towing loads or cargo bikes weighed down with people and things are all part of the everyday image of life in this city.

My host family doesn’t even own a car, so when they need to get a large amount of groceries, the Christiania bike is the way to go.

A couple days ago, I decided that if I’m to be truly culturally integrated, I’ve got to be able to ride one of those heavy monsters, so I took the Christiania bike out on the paths of Amager Strandpark

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Although it was heavy, and definitely different than riding a “regular” bike, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected. Maneuvering required a bit of getting used to, but these bikes are sturdy, heavy, and safe so it definitely wasn’t a scary experience. I jokingly referred to it as the Copenhagen equivalent of driving an SUV or a truck.

As I said before, with so many bikes on the road, crashes and falling off are just inevitable occurrences that spring up in day-to-day life. Predictably, they tend to happen when you’re using a bike in a way that’s not quite what it’s intended for… like putting a second human on the front rack.

This is my lovely friend Elsa, another full year exchange student, and the bike her host family has lent her has a front rack that looks deceptively like the perfect place to put another human who happens to not have her bike with her (me)

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it LOOKS like it’s made for another person to sit on.

Unfortunately, we decided that we should test out this front rack/chair on a downwards slope, and let’s just say we didn’t get very far before hitting the pavement. Luckily, the worst injury was a skinned knee and hole in my tights. We’re determined to make it happen before we go home in a month, just next time, maybe not on a hill.

Let’s Go to the Beach; AMAGER.

I’m sure that if you’re thinking of studying abroad in Denmark, sunny beaches are not exactly your expectation. But the weather in Copenhagen has been absolutely beautiful, so I’ve been doing just that.

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In Copenhagen, ‘beautiful’ weather still requires you to have blankets on all the chairs at cafes to stay warm. and for Hygge.

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BUT! we can still sit outside (with the proper clothes)

I live on Amager (pronounced like “Ahma” because that’s just the way Danish is), the teardrop shaped island that makes up the outer east part of Copenhagen.

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I love living out here because I’m close to the airport, a 15 minute bike ride from the center of the city, and most importantly, 10 minutes from Amager Strandpark, aka the beach, and one of my favorite spots in Copenhagen.

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It’s not exactly swimming weather

My host family introduced me to Amager Strand Park when the weather was still nice in August, and I fell in love with it, I avoided it all through the winter because I didn’t want to become disillusioned, but now that the sun is back, and I only have six weeks left in Denmark, I try to go almost every day.

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A new definition of appropriate beach attire.

As much as I love living in Amager, you can’t talk about it without acknowledging it’s (UNDESERVED) bad reputation. Danes have had terrible things to say about Amager for 200 years, even Søren Kierkegaard made jokes about its bad reputation. Perhaps it stems from the fact that originally, all the latrine waste from Copenhagen was carted over to Amager where the sheep grazed, earning it the nickname of “lort island” (which means “shit island”) until the city created “modern” sewage-a pipe that pushed the waste into Øresund/The Sound, but over by Sweden.

Despite the fact that this is not the case anymore, Amager is still the butt of many jokes in Copenhagen. For instance, in Danish, a lower back tattoo is called a “Amager Plade” meaning an Amager license plate, and even my own host family who lives in Amager love to make jokes about it; whenever my host sister starts acting up, Christian will shake his head and say “this is what I get for raising a child on Amager.”

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Regardless of what people say, I find it impossible not to love Amager Strandpark in this weather.

 

To do in Prague: Hemingway Bar

With three days in Prague under my belt, it’s safe to say that I love the city and would highly recommend a visit there to anyone interested. Although more extensive blog posts will wait until I get home, I haven’t shut up about the Hemingway since I went Sunday night.

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We arrived in Prague on Sunday, and after a group dinner with my core class (which is typical of DIS) I went to meet up with a friend of mine who is spending a semester abroad in Prague.

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We hadn’t seen each other in almost a year and decided to grab a drink to catch up. He suggested the Hemingway bar, warning me that it was “a little expensive” but had really interesting and tasty drinks. I can say with absolute certainty that I’d recommend it to anyone; it had a nice ambience and the mixology of the drinks was fantastic. I insisted on going back, and over the three nights I was there I had a “red carpet”- a fruitier take on a whiskey sour, a “dark &stormy”- which was pretty much a mojito with ginger instead of mint, and a lavender martini. It was the type of cocktail bar that I could NEVER afford in Copenhagen, but was quite reasonable in comparison.

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#WhyStudyAbroad

A multimedia account of my time in Denmark

A  couple days ago CNN started asking students to share their study abroad experiences in honor of Michelle Obama’s upcoming trip to China encouraging more students to study abroad. Last year only 1% of U.S. Students studied abroad. Finding out the number is so small is disappointing, because my personal experience studying abroad has contributed to my life in a way that is completely irreplaceable. From fostering independence and personal growth, navigating unfamiliar languages and cultural norms, to developing logistic skills and learning to coordinate travel and lodging, all while staying on top of your coursework, my time in Denmark has been the final step of not relying on Mom & Dad that started with moving out for college almost three years ago.

Although I’ve done my best to describe my experience in words over the past 6 months, sometimes easy  to watch visuals can be even more descriptive.

MexiMad i Amagerbro

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The big news that AUTHENTIC Tex-Mex exists in Copenhagen, or MexiMad (mad pronounced like “mel” means food in Danish) if you want to use my horrendous, but catchy, bastardization of the Danish language.

I’d gotten wind of some place called The Taco Shop while talking to some other people from DIS on my core course week. When I returned to Copenhagen, Nathan had also heard about it, so naturally it took us less than two days to find an excuse to eat dinner there. I got a ridiculously large super taco, the owner didn’t think I’d be able to finish it (I did) and Nathan got some sort of burrito, and of course chips and salsa to share. The owner told us to “eat here, have some extra guac, and pay at the end,” and as we sat down with chips, salsa, guac, and Corona wait for our food to be made.

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All of the delicious Mexican food was made even better by the fact that the shop is run by a cool expat from California, who’s lived in Copenhagen for 20 years, doesn’t speak much Danish and makes you feel at home right away. Nathan and I chatted with the owner about where we were from, what we were studying and where we had been, and basically had a grand ol’ American time. The only thing that could have made our homesickness curing experience better would have been our faithful third, Michelle (who SHOULD have stayed a full year with us).

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The food was delicious, AND reasonably priced–we both spent 100 kr, the equivalent of about $20, which is cheap in Copenhagen. Taco Shop will definitely be forever on my list best things in Copenhagen.