Wednesday, February 27, 2008

They must have made that rule for a reason

View from one of the many Guest Room windows of Kronborg Castle

As quoted from the official Kronborg Castle Visitor's Pamphlet, that is given to you with your price of admission. One of the regulations (rules) while on the Castle grounds is:
"No gutting and cleansing of fish on the premises as this attracts rats."

Major laughs and giggles from my group and I upon reading this - imaging some tourist from say Asia or Latin America, coming all the way to Denmark, taking the time to tour this castle: the Queen's rooms, the Grand Hall and the Throne Room - with a fish in their backpack. How foiled they would be by this guideline (smile).

Also, I'm in love with this year's Oscar-award winning song, Falling Slowly, from the movie, Once. I'm playing it on my computer here in Copenhagen daily - I hope it does the impossible and break-through onto mainstream radio.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Helisgnor - Elsinore Castle

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Ok well nothing is really rotten in Denmark right now, however, if you haven't already deduced, I traveled to a Danish treasure, made famous by one William Shakespeare in a little play he wrote that you might have heard of......Hamlet. Ring a bell??

Kronborg Castle, known to most as Elsinore, Hamlet's home in Denmark, is a very medieval castle, perfect for a dark tragic tale of betrayal and hauntings. I went this past Saturday. The day was overcast and extremely windy, as evidenced in the above photo. Situated on the sea, right across from Sweden, used as a fortress to fight against the Swedes, this Castle, is not very ornate (doesn't help that it burned down in 1629, from its original foundations of 1585 and King Christian the Fourth who rebuilt Kronborg had more minimalistic views on home redecorating). But with the waves crashing up against the rocks that punctuate the grounds, surrounded by an honest-to-God moat and with dark unlit low-ceiling rooms (in America we would call that a potential lawsuit), it had the very feel of a haunted castle. Plus they allow you to go into the dungeon, VERY creepy. They have this statue in the cellar there of this giant that Danish legend says will awaken should Denmark ever be attached from a foreign entity (though he slept through WWII). Since we never know what happened to Shakespeare in those missing years, it is possible he traveled to Denmark, because a more perfect location for his angst ridden Hamlet, I have yet to find!

The rest of the weekend was fun; went to a friend's birthday party on Friday night, where my hair did a dippity-don't, but what's new. Also on Friday I went to the Danish Immigration office to get my work permit sticker. Lord talk about the black hole of death, I spent all morning (hours) there just waiting to be called and once attended to, it only took five minutes. Isn't that always the case? Interestingly enough Denmark, like much of Western Europe continues to struggle with its immigration, namely Muslims from the Middle East. I don't know if maybe I'm a bit naive, but though we have our immigration problems in America, if you ask me, we are leaps and strides better than Europe in accepting and integrating immigrants into larger American society.

Finally capped off the weekend by heading for brunch this morning to a quirky cafe I found when coming back from the Immigration office on Friday. Its called the Laundromat Cafe, you can do your laundry and have breakfast at the same time - think a step up from the Waffle House (but not as cheap). I enjoyed it, though the pancake stack sizes were so small, like half dollars - we Americans got a hoot out of that. You can see what I'm talking about on their web page (warning its mostly in Danish).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wedding Dresses - Danish Style!

I had to post this picture because well, it made me giggle a little when I walked by it. Its a wedding dress in a very swanky store here in Copenhagen and yet it doesn't really strike me as being very sophisticated. But than maybe that is the point; here in Denmark, weddings are not the big production they are in the States. Actually statistics and from what I've heard when talking to Danish folk, is that many people in Denmark do not get married, they will live together for years and years without formally saying, "I do." Often they only get married when a baby is on the way. There is no real tax incentive to get married here, nor is it culturally frowned upon to not be married.

While this dress is very Scandinavian in its simplicity coupled with its nods to modern art, I should point out that just a street adjacent to my place has one or two wedding dress boutiques with more traditional dresses (which sorry I didn't take pictures of, but think elegant and classy), so not all Danish brides are being dressed as if they just came out of a Courtney Love video.

Still, perhaps I simply got a hoot out of this dress because a very good friend of mine who wants a very traditional Virginia-themed wedding, is currently shopping for wedding dresses and I thought she would die at the idea of wearing something this frilly and rather avant grade (but if you like it S, let me know and I'll see if they ship to Virginia, ha ha).

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Roskilde Trip

Valentine's day was lovely - thanks for everyone's well-wishes.

Today the school planned an optional event to Roskilde. Just outside of Copenhagen, Roskilde use to be the capital of Denmark. We were to get up early for this trip, a heady 8am! For students like me who had spent the previous night going out to see an Indian movie, this was an unGodly hour but get up I did. Alas, with a sore throat, which was not helped by the fridget cold weather in Roskilde.

Yet enough complaining about this horrible weather - the trip itself was quite nice, a simply 20 minute train ride outside of Copenhagen. We went into the big Roskilde Cathederal, most of Danish royal family is buried here, interesting note Marie Fedoreva (the Dowager Queen of Russia prior to Nicholas II, a Danish princess married into the Russian Royal family) was buried here as well (since she fled Russia during the revolution) but recently Russia wanted her back. I have to say Danes are always surprised by how much I know of their royal family history...pleasantly surprised I might add. The church was lovely but a bit creepy to think about having service surrounded beside and below your feet of all these dead people. I asked one in my group if they thought they would have a wedding here and she looked at me with skepticism and said "no, not the right mood."

We had a cheap meal and went to the Viking Museum, which the picture is from. It was fascinating to see this history, these were a very hardy people, my God just think if you were rowing one of those boats and fell in, in the artic cold water - I think death would quickly follow. The Vikings, from what I read, were not a very nice bunch, lord some very barbaric practices, but I guess which culture doesn't have that, no?

Right, I'm off to bed - must get some sleep and fix up this throat!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


As promised - here is the picture from the train between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden of the wind turbines - powering both sides I believe. How amazing, no?

Happy Valentine's day to all - the girl's in my residence are all getting together and watching Bridget Jones Diary (except one girl who has not been particularly friendly [more like down right rude], I don't get it, its like reality tv show contests who say "I'm not here to make friends," this girl is very focused on her program, but if things don't work out, would not networking while being here have been more beneficial to her than dismissing us?). Whatever, her loss.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Malmo, Sweden

Deliciously warm weather here today in Denmark - but it is about my side trip to Malmo, Sweden that is the subject of this post.

I went yesterday, with a group of friends from CBS to Malmo, Sweden. Its about 30 minutes from Copenhagen; very simple to get there from Copenhagen, just hop on the train and voila, you're there before you know it. It was a beautiful sunny day and complimented the trip perfectly. Malmo, as the picture above should give you a clue, is this charming small Swedish costal city. Reminds me of a college town. We walked all around the city, saw the viking ships, castle, city square and their historic part of the village (which is where the picture is taken from). I'm sorry if this makes me sound like a crass American, but doesn't it remind you of an amuesment park; like I'm in Busch Gardens or something?

You cross over a tiny portion of the North Sea to get from Denmark to Sweden and some in my group took these amazing photos of the bridge and the wind turbines that are placed in the water (for energy purposes, gotta love Scandanvia, very environmentally friendly!). Unfortunately they haven't sent me those pictures yet so I couldn't post them.

All the exchange students are eagerly making trips to see various parts of Europe and yet I am not. Having, through my airline travels, seen most of the big cities in Europe, I really just want to focus on Scandanvia - is that strange? Let's see, I've been to London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Milan, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Madrid, Malaga, Lisbon, Stockholm, Athens, and even parts of Russia - St. Petersburg and Moscow, so I'd rather go to new locations I haven't seen or experienced, which might not be the big names but are adventures in themselves, no? I don't know, I kind of get the impression from many of the exchange students that this is the wrong thinking......

Well enough pondering, off to get some studying done, trips to Sweden are fun but they also push reading assignments for another day (smile).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Politics and Careers

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and such sweet sentiments of sending me food - very appreciated - you guys are fabulous!!

Much happening here in Copenhagen (or as they spell it Kobenhavn). My school, Copenhagen Business School, had a big job fair today (see picture above). It was so much better than the ones I have at my home university; big multi-national companies. I talked to the people from KPMG, Carlsberg Beers, PriceWaterHouse Coopers, NovoNordyesk - I would have gone to Nokia but there was a line at that booth. Still networking was done, many of the firms gave me names and web addresses for their American recruiting teams. Ahh, there was a reason I came here, connections baby!

Also, had to let everyone back home in America know that people in Denmark are very much following our primary elections. The main headline in the papers on Tuesday was "Super Duper Tirsdag" (that's Tuesday in Danish btw). People are very polite here about politics, they don't usually talk about it, but once you make it clear you are not a Bush fan, they will let their guard down. I think they don't want to offend if you like Bush et al. I have yet to meet anyone in Denmark who likes him - some people have even said they are waiting till next year to visit the States when hopefully he will be gone. Great going G.W., that's taking nation-building in a new direction!

I think because of the extensive coverage over here, many Danes even have a candidate they like (of the Democratic party), generally most are leaning towards Obama, though some will ask why I'm not a Hilary fan (when I tell them I don't like Bush they usually follow with "who do you support?"). Also interesting to note, here in Denmark they have (like most of Western Europe), a rather right-wing racist political party. Yet, when the professor's in class mention this group, the Danish People's Party, which campaigns on xenophobic ideas, everyone laughs. Its comforting to know that a racist group in a Western European country (with all of its immigration problems, Denmark is not immune to that issue) is not taken seriously. I only wish the same could be said of the States, when silly politicians run on the basis of some very ridiculous ideas (i.e. building a wall between Texas and Mexico).

SHOUT OUT TO THE GIANTS AND MY SISTER - she is a die-hard Giants fan (we are talking Giant jerseys, blankets, slippers, not going out on Sundays in the fall to watch her teams games) and I'm happy her Giants won (though really you did not have to text me at 4am Copenhagen time to let me know that, LOL); the girl deserves some happiness in her life! Rock on Charmander!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Introduction Week at CBS

Officially two weeks I've been here in Copenhagen - and I'm loving it (except I could do without the wind, it reminds me of Edinburgh, sans rain).

This week was the Introduction week for school - basically a second orientation, there was a large group of new students who joined the exchange program (they came this week because they didn't want or couldn't afford last week's Danish language crash course).

The activities for this week included Danish folk dancing. It was a funny night, as the English guy in my building said "I'm in hell." You can imagine how the boys/men enjoyed sashy-ing and jumping around the floor. But in the end everyone had fun. Monday was movie night, a weird Danish flick, one thing I haven't been able to pick up or understand yet is the wacky Danish sense of humor.

Last night was the formal dinner - it was all Danish traditional food for the exchange students. I sat with this French guy and we laughed all night over Seinfeld episodes (ahh Seinfeld the universal language of humor, hee hee). The event was buffet style and I'm telling you, its the first time since I've been in Denmark that I've truly been full. I ate and ate and ate, with no shame.

Food is one of the most costly items in Denmark, the newspapers here even note that food in Denmark is either the MOST expense in Europe or a close second to Norway. All of us from North America have learned to really penny-pinch when it comes to food - but in a way it will make me appreciate America so much more when I get back, I can eat chocolate chip cookies without having to sacrifice, oh say, milk. Crazy, no? Nothing in the grocery store is less than two dollars, with most things much more expensive (6-8 dollars). For example, today I went to the Wal-mart like store and they had a box of cookies for 25 kroner, which is $5, and we are not talking American size portions either. And forget about food variety, you get very little choice in foodstuff here, except in cheese. Boy Denmark loves its cheese and pastries. The above pastry picture is the one splurge items my friends and I had while shopping today at this lovely bakery in the big shopping mall, we each got one of those items for 9 kroner, which is like $1.90. They were delicious!!!

But enough about my hunger pains - do please try to help my lovely and long time friend (since middle school!) Jelly Kean, end world hunger by donating to her Bare Ass campaign. You can go to her blog and read all about it. She rocks!

I'm off with most of the rest of the people in the building to go to a pub here and watch Superbowl. Go Giants!