Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Family, tailspin and a musical city

Meeting my visiting family on Sunday was such a wonderful experience. I meet Inge and John, the parents (the girls are 24,23, 21&18 and mostly out of the house) and Lisa, the 18year old, (but she was only home for about 15 minutes). Inge's niece Astrid picked me up outside my apartment at 845am and gave me a lift out to Birkerod where the Harris's (my visiting family) live.
I live in Norrebro ( a village in the city of Copenhagen) down in the lower right corner of the map, and their town is Brikerod, a little right and north of the center of the picture.

The car ride was about 25 minutes and she was a great person to talk to. She has lived many different places around the world including the states for a few years and Africa for three. Her three year old daughter spend the night at Inge and Johns the night before and her 3 month old son was in the car with us. Interesting fact: maternity leave is for a whole year over here!!! Inge and John had put together a lovely breakfast for us outside on their back patio.

Bread and jam and cheese and juice and yogurt and eggs and berries.
Simple food but beautiful and a great meal.
Funny culture shock moment: they eat SOFT boiled eggs here. not hard boiled.
Luckily I didn't try to break the shell on the table! I was trying to open it in my hand and it pretty much came apart and yoke went all over my hand and plate. it was really unexpected  but funny. as soon as it happened Inge said, "Oh! you thought it was hard boiled! I forgot to tell you, we only eat soft boiled eggs here." With the help of a towel the mess was an easy clean up. I find it funny little things that seem so a like  between here and home (like boiled eggs) can become culture lessons over here.
Since they do not know very much about California, they really enjoyed the book of postcards and pictures my family and I put together while I was still at home. So we spent most of breakfast trading stories and information about our homes. The walk we went on after lunch was exactly what I would have imagined the Danish countryside to look like. Green, meadows, lakes, big trees, little lodges, and bike paths... i cant wait to go back there.
On the walk, we passed a tree full of baby pacifiers tied up in the branches. Apparently, when the kids grow out of their pacifiers they tie them up and leave them in the trees so they don't go back to them again.
Inge drove me back into town a little after noon. Going to their house made me realize how different a place feels when it is a home verses just a house or an apartment where people live. Walking in, I realized that I hadn't really felt AT HOME since I came to Copenhagen. (Which, hey I haven't even been here two weeks of course it doesn't feel like home yet) But it was amazing that I could just walk in their front door and feel the difference. I fell like that speaks highly of the kind of family that has lived there  and I'm very excited to get to know them better this years :)

After burying  my head in books for a few hours i had had ENOUGH and really needed to get out. So Margaret, Claire and I went exploring around our neighborhood.
We found a swing by the back corner of our building.
and a candy store!

that had chocolate frogs...
and skull candy that made me think of KAYLA :)
The cemetery is supposedly a popular place to walk and spend time in, so we figured we'd check it out.
I've never seen a cemetery like this before. It was HUGE! The plots went from extravagant to nice and simple but what really made it cool were all the plants and trees.
some were giant!
we found Hans Christian Anderson's grave
and some great bumper stickers on the walk back home

My Monday ended up being a tailspin of lots of things going wrong one right after the other after the other.....
in a nutshell-  "it was a terrible horrible no good very bad day".
By the time I got home around 530 the last thing I wanted to do was go the the Cafe night with my Language class that started at 7.  But at 630 I founf myself on the bus off to search fo rthis random cafe my teacher had chosen for us.
The food was BEAUTIFUL and the place was darling but par to course for the day, I forgot my camera. yep. so sadly no pictures of that. Just know that a club sandwhich in the Copenhagen is SO MUCH BETTER than a club sandwhich from California. At least in my experience. :) Everthing is super fresh, the chicken is a full chicken breast ,and they use this special sweet mayo/mustard mix that I still don't fully know what it is but I'm coming to love it!

Sooooo I'd meant to include my adventures from today.....but that's gona have to wait til another day, 

Søde drømme!
(sweet dreams)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Classes, Parties and Castles

OK, so life here got really busy really fast. These updates might get a little scarce at times but I will try really hard not to get too far behind. So... rewind to Thursday....

After getting a short introduction to our main study program, Sarah, Amy, Justin and I headed out exploring again. This time we stayed on Stroget, the main walking/shopping street. After a stop for some much demanded postcards, we wandered into many random little stores, a beautiful bakery, even the Apple store ( called Eplehuset here).
Viking sized beer mugs!

Very familiar faces, but totally foreign written words!

Danish pancakes!                       
From there we wandered to Rosenburg Palace and the Royal Gardens. The rose garden right next to the palace is bursting with roses right now. The park was full of people enjoying the sunny day by getting outside to walk, play gaes, bike, picinic, and lay out on the grass.  So far, I think this is my favorite place to simply hang out in the city during the day. Everything is so wonderfully green since it rains so much here. The lanes of trees, scattered benches and carefully placed fountains make the whole place an oasis in the middle of the city.

It must have been "Grandparents take your babies to the park day".  As soon as the kids would get free, they would make a beeline for the fountain and try to touch the water. This grandfather (in the red) spend a long time leaning over and dipping his grandsons hands in the water and finding sticks for him to through in then watch and try to find again. It was an adorable exchange.

Time for another stupid American moment. Justin had heard about his drink that 'we had to try' so when we went to Netto on the way to the park we picked one up. When we opened it it seemed really think but suposedly it was a popular drink so we figured we shoudl at least try it. Everyones faces after they took a sip of the thick purple liquid were a priceless mixture of surprise and disgust. I was the last in the circle so had a bit of a warning from watching ther other three's reactions. YUCK!! This couldnt be right!
So what did we do?
We asked a couple Danish girls what we were doing wrong. They thought it was a great laugh that we really drank some of the liquid straight from the bottle. The way you are suposed to drink it, is to pour about an inch into a glass, then fill the rest up with water, kind of like a lemonade mix or something of the sort. The drink was MUCH better this way, though still not something I think I would get again. It was an odd mixture of too much sweetness with a bitter aftertaste.

At the end of the day,  walking  along Stroget on my way home a rastafarian man was sitting in the middle of the walk way handing out newspapers in Danish. As I passed, he offered one to me and I raised my hands in a shrug and said “I cant read it”
He said something else back to me in Danish.
And I replyed, “I cant speak Danish yet.”
He laughed and said, “I was telling you to have a good weekend!”
“Oh, tak! I exclaimed, “You have a good weekend too!”
Through the whole exchange we weren’t really standing and talking but moving as we talked and by the end, we were yards apart. We both smiled and waved and went our separate ways.
little exchanges  like this throughout my days are constant reminders that I am not at home, that I am the visitor. The day that I can be asked a question in Danish, understand it, and then maybe even answer, will be a day to celebrate. At this point, the crazy vowel sounds and the amount of letters they skip in each word when they talk has me questioning my abilitiy to pick this language up.   

Friday classes really started. so from 10 to 3 I went from one classroom to another back to back and soaked up as much as I could about the challenges ahead of me in Developmental Disorders, History of European Ballet and Danish Language (for Child Development majors).  Needless to say that par to my usual course, i came home stressing about the coming weeks and all teh work I have ahead of me. As it is, i usualy react this way on the first day of classes, but over here, when all I want to be doing is exploring and beig out in the culture, thinking about reading assigments, essays, research papers and tests is the last thing I want to be doing.


So after trying to get organized for a bit, I said NO MORE!! and got ready for the DIS Welcome party with my roommates.
This was not like any 'welcome party' I have ever been to. It was a club in every way shape and form. The only DIS part about it was the free beer and champange for the first few hours. 

......... SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After we had been dancing for awhile, Sarah, Amy, Justin and I decided to head to another place. A group was heading to gay bar a few streets over and we went along to check it out. there i made a new friend named Cristina, who was very drunk and probubly did not remember my name this morning. Hahaha, she was just super friendly and talkative while we were both inthe same area of the bar. After that we met a guy named Alexander and had a surprisingly in depth conversation about politics and Danish verses American ideas. He studied  for a year in the states in 2004 so it was a really great conversation. His friend Daniel joined us a bit later, after having just graduated from University that day.
At one point when Daniel and I were talking, after he had learned I am from Northern California, he said something about California being 'hella' cool. Hahaha He already knew about the Northern California vs Southern California 'hella' disagreement. I ENVER thought I would travel so far from home, end up at a bar talkign to a guy who grew up in Denmark and have 'hella' come into the conversation like that. :)
At some point, I decided i needed to get back if I was going to manage to be up and on time for the DIS trip the next day. Our whole group decided it was time to call it a night, and everyone walked me down to the my station before I said goodbye.
Riding the bus that late at night, by myself , still feeling the music and dancing and drinks from earlier was an odd experience. I don't know how to explain it, but it was really great.
Getting up and out of the house this morning by 930 was not easy!!
But we made it to the bus on time and then had an hour bus ride to really wake up.
First we went to a town called Helsingor and explored on our own or a few hours.

(this is not it, but I found it in this cheese shop and treated myself)

We had breakfast.lunch at a pizza down one of the lanes.

the grapes in the plants overhead were so pretty!
and the pizza was DELICIOUS! I tried bamboo shoots for the first time :)

Then back to the bus and onto Kronburg Castle

a metal toy size replica of the whole castle is outside the bridge over the moat

this is our "we're are going to turn this into DIS and get paid for it"  group picture :)
The sun was out and EVERYTHING lit up with color. it was breathtaking.
 watching the birds soar :)        the inner square seemed huge, even with more than 100 people in it.
I can't get enough of watching teh children throughout the city. You can see in the way they move and interact with everything around them, the differnces between the American school system and the Danish school system that I have been hearing about in classes. These kids have a sense of freedom, exploration and confidence that American children take so  much longer to develop. Before the boys in the picture below started playing with the drinking fountain, there was a pair of twin Italian boys about 6 or 7 years old enjoying the fountain with thier parents. As they left, they exclaimed "La fountana! la fountana! Addio la fountana!" What is it about accents that is soo fascinating? Especially coming from children?

Aparently no one who has ever been married in this church has gotten a divorce, so it is a very popular place to hold weddings ( if you have enough money).
This is the great hall. In the castle, the tallest tower is 62 meters high. This room is also 62 meters high and rests perpendicular to that tower.
These are ancient space heaters! they aren'tjstu for decoration. The kings and queens who lived here would leave them by the fire until they were very hot, then they would be moved around the room to spread heat.
In the areas under the castle, there is this statue of a giant Danish warrior (i forget his name). Legend has it, that he is not really gone, but sleeping and waiting. The day that Denmark is attacked, he will raise up and kick out the invaders and protect his homeland.

This trip was beautiful! Tomorrow, I get to meet my visiting family! Wish me luck!!