Saturday, August 18, 2012

Formerly MIA Blog Post #1

Fulbright Arrival, written early September 2011?

The first time I landed in Copenhagen, the weather was amazing. As the plane came into Kastrup airport, the music being piped over the loudspeaker was that "Perfect Day" song from Legally Blonde. Windmills, sparkling blue water, tiny rustic cottages, and not a cloud in the sky are the images that come to mind when I think of my first day. I remember getting a sunburn the first week because hey, what were the changes I'd need sunscreen in Scandinavia?  Well, touché Copenhagen, you sneaky little city, you and your weather have fooled me again! I can now say I have worn a scarf in August.  According to records at the University of Copenhagen, this summer has been the wettest on record in over 100 years. In retrospect, I would have been much better off leaving my sundresses at home - bringing some rainboots would have been a MUCH better idea.

I was lucky enough to have the entire row to myself on my flight over this time; however, I was sitting in the very back of the plane, located directly by the bathroom. This resulted in two scenarios happening multiple times during the 7.5 hour flight: a) I was woken up repeatedly by loud flushing noises, or b) made awkward physical contact with someone waiting for the bathroom in the aisle. Why was this awkward? I'm not really an attractive sleeper, and this is especially true when traveling (anyone sitting next to me in the van during Randy's Colorado class can testify to this!). My mouth falls open, my head tends to flop around, and I can violently jerk awake at random moments. The Danes seated around me were much too polite to crack a joke at my expense, but I could feel their stares of judgment.

I arrived in Copenhagen at 7:20 AM on August 22, exactly two years to the day that  I first came to Copenhagen when I was studying abroad. Amazingly, I think I may have actually brought less stuff with me! Watching my host family try to fit my XL suitcase into their tiny Volkswagen Jetta the first time around made quite an impression. However, this did not make wrestling my three suitcases onto a luggage cart any easier – enter host dad Thomas to the rescue! Thomas, who works for SAS, was thankfully on duty that morning. After a nice big hug, we went outside to meet my host mother Tina, who was enthusiastically waving a Danish flag.  Tina gave me a ride to my apartment, located on Store Kongensgade, between Kastellet and Kongens Nytorv.  

I’m going to be honest – my first thought upon opening my apartment door was that I’d made a huge mistake in choosing to live here. The radiator was leaking, the "man in the oven" was making weird banging noises, and our bathrooms resemble a set from the movie Hostel. In my jetlagged state I decided it would be more healthy to laugh about my situation. I wasn’t laughing so hard half an hour later, when I ended up holding up the shower curtain  with one hand and standing in five inches of water. It made my old bathroom in Corkran 209 look like a palace. Then I collaped onto my bed and slept until 1 PM the next day, when I opened my door and literally collided with my new flatmate Caroline, who is from California. She’s also incredibly tall, and I look completely ridiculous standing next to her. Caroline had been staying in the apartment alone since the beginning of August, and was overjoyed to not be alone anymore. 

View from my room.

Looking down Store Kongensgade toward Kongens Nytorv.

My Fulbright Orientation began on August 25th, giving me three days to unpack, settle in, and become completely confused when grocery shopping. Last time, I was lucky enough to not have to do shopping as I lived with a host family. This time, I brought home what I thought was milk – imagine my shock when I ended up pouring peach yogurt onto my cornflakes the next morning. Even more shocking? It actually didn't taste too bad...

The day of orientation ended with dinner aboard the Saga Queen, this swanky dinner boat docked at Havnegade. And guess what, Courtney and C Hoy! Carsten was doing the Danish history tutorial! Of course, I already knew ALL about the British bombardment of Copenhagen and the five-finger system of building. Carsten remembered me, and later that night we had a happy little reunion where we discussed the wonders of dentil molding and pilasters.  After the dinner was over, a bunch of us went to a bar and proceeded to celebrate the Fulbright, meeting new people, and it generally being such a great night. I hadn’t really celebrated the grant yet, so it was nice to finally do so – in Copenhagen, too! However, all of that celebrating took its toll – it ended up taking me an hour to walk home, as I went in completely the wrong direction and found myself in Radhuspladsen instead of Kongens Nytorv. Undskyld!

 The next morning, I opened the kitchen door to reveal our third flatmate, Stefano from Milan, Italy. He asked if I had been to Milano, to which I replied that I had not, but I was a huge fan of the Pepperidge Farm cookie. This was the first of many references to be lost in translation during my first week living in Copenhagen. 

First Semester in SKG 97, written November 2011?

Despite its flaws, our apartment is located in a great area, right between Osterport Station and Kastellet, a short walk from Den Lille Havfrue and Magasin. Store Kongensgade 97 is an  six-floor apartment building located on one of the main streets off of Kongens Nytorv, with the first floor housing a closed pub. All flats in this building are student-leased, although the surrounding buildings in our block contain mostly families.  There’s a great inner courtyard with grass, trees, and a couple of picnic tables – of course, surrounded by many, many bikes. Our apartment houses seven people in two double rooms and three single rooms, plus two bathrooms, a kitchen, and the world’s smallest common room. Annerieke and I are in the first double, while Ola and Ala, aka “the Polish girls,” are in the second. Stefano, Julien (France), and Caroline all have singles. 
How to describe daily life…Stefano likes to sing. A lot. So chances that I will hear Nirvana lyrics, songs from the musical Hair (his favorite), or random verses from an Italian opera each  day are quite high. Ola and Ala are super sweet, and make tea about ten times a day. Julien usually stays in his room, except when he emerges to make the same thing for dinner he has eaten every day since he arrived – pasta with bread and either fish or chicken. I am convinced he will come down with scurvy before the end of the semester. Annerieke is typically on Skype, or being super blunt or sarcastic in Dutch fashion toward me, her crazy American roommate. Caroline can be found reading, at the gym, or fighting with Steffie. 
Our adorable courtyard.

My first CPH adventure with Steffie at Vor Frelsers Kirke..."Okay, we go down now?"

Oh Care Care...

It was like living with a French Abercrombie greeter.

Anneriekie & Clementine at Tivoli Christmas
SKG 97 love!

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