Monthly Archives: November 2008

Americans in Copenhagen

On Monday, we all awoke. . . a little foggy from the massive quantities of red wine consumed the night before. . . and sat for a nice breakfast around 10 am.  After breakfast my mom, aunt, and I accompanied Bjørn to the grocery store.  We wandered about the store and tried to be helpful in gathering groceries for tonight’s dinner.  I think we may have hindered instead of helped since I still don’t quite know my way around a Danish grocery store and my aunt and mom were a little less knowledgeable than me.  We return back to Mama’s Hotel and everyone piled into Mama’s bus to head into downtown Copenhagen.  Today’s lunch will be served at Ida Davidson’s, a famous Danish treat known for their smørrebrød.  At Ida Davidson’s we peruse the counter of smørrebrød delicacies and pick out what we’ll eat for lunch.  The table was covered with herring, shrimp, smoked tuna, poached eggs, caviare, and an assortment of other treats.  (For a few though, this was not the ideal meal after the previous nights wine and beer.)  

After a good lunch I got to play tour guide and Bjørn and Irena returned to work.  First we walked to the Marble Church and the Queen’s house.  We observed the guards on duty and wondered how long they had to stand there in those funny hats!  We couldn’t come up with a solution so we wandered to the Little Mermaid statue.  I tried to explain to my family that the statue really isn’t that impressive. . . but they insisted on going.  I guess it is mandatory to come to Copenhagen, walk to see the Little Mermaid, cock your head to the side and say “Is that is?”.  Just as I predicted my family had the very same response.  We took a few touristy pictures and walked along the canal towards Nyhavn.  Along the walk it began to snow.  By the time we reached the Nyhavn Christmas market it was a full fledged winter snow surrounding us.  We decided to duck into Nyhavn 17 (picture below) to warm up and enjoy a hot chocolate, irish coffee, and beer.  From the inside of this cute pub we watched the snow fall over the Christmas Market and canal while listening to Christmas carols. . . some in english. . . other’s in danish.  (We heard a version of “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in this pub.)  We finished our drinks and wandered over to my apartment a few blocks away.  I had to show them the penitentiary I’ve been living in with the model UN.  (It really isn’t that bad. . . but still.)  

Back at Mama’s hotel we had a light dinner and settled in early.  I headed back to my apartment in Copenhagen because I had class the next day.  It was nice to get an early sleep and finish up some work.  The next morning I awoke refreshed and ready to go to my last day of class.  I went to Negotiations in the morning and then popped on the metro to meet my folks and aunt and uncle for lunch.  We ate at Hoppe’s.  Everyone enjoyed a beer and good hearty sandwich.  My family continued shopping and I returned to school to attend my last danish lesson!  

After school on Tuesday I met my family and Bjørn at Tivoli.  Tivoli is the world’s oldest amusement park.  It is normally closed during the winter, however it opens back up for Christmas.  In the summer the park has many rides, beautiful gardens and is beautifully light at night.  During Christmas I believe that anything standing still is covered with Christmas lights.  I have a theory that if you stop and stand still too long someone will come, cover you with Christmas lights, plug you in, and you become a part of the park.  We didn’t test this theory. . . we kept moving through the park at a quick pace.  We passed beautiful gardens, trees, castles, rides, christmas booths, and stopped to enjoy a Swedish traditional warm red wine drink called Julegløgg.  We then met Irena and their son, Jacob at a nice restaurant inside the park.  We started to discuss if the rides were open at Christmas over dinner.  Jacob assured us that they were and he wanted to ride a few after dinner.  Aunt Trish and I agreed to ride the big roller coaster. . . after we finish our enormous dinner!  Sure enough we walk through the park (Jacob skips and runs because he is so excited) toward the roller coaster.  My aunt can’t remember the last time she has been on a roller coaster and I’ve never ridden a roller coaster at night. . . in the freezing cold winter.  Needless to say the two of us were a bit nervous.  We board the roller coaster . . . front row at Jacob’s request.  Jacob takes his shoes off first.  We ask why and he says that sometimes people lose their shoes on this ride.  To which my aunt replies, “If Amanda’s boots blow off we are in deep doo doo”.  The ride starts and Trish tells me she loves both me and Jacob. . . we head down the first hill and the screaming begins.  Poor Jacob, I feel Trish and I may have cause major damage to his ear drums.  We survive and it actually was really fun!  I would have gone again, but it was getting late and cold and I don’t think my vocal cords could take another ride.  

Stacie, Trish and I walk back through town to pick up my stuff while the others head back to Mama’s Hotel.  The walk was beautiful with the city decorated.  It was a bit chilly but just right for a brisk walk.  We pick up my stuff and take the train to Gentofte where our shuttle service picks us up and takes of to Mama’s hotel to reunite us with our guests.  Another great two days. . . smørrebrød, Christmas Markets, snow, beer, Tivoli, roller coasters. . . no one can accuse us of not vacationing to the fullest!

The Americans Arrive in Denmark!

Saturday, November 22nd – Bjørn picked me up from my apartment at 2:30.  We headed to the airport to scoop up the Americans that are arriving.  Irena, Bjørn’s wife, met us at the airport.  We arrived before they land and watch the “Arrival” monitors with anticipation as the status of their flight changes from landed to the waiting for luggage countdown.  Finally my mom, dad, sister, aunt, and uncle appear and the American invasion for Thanksgiving has begun!

We hug and kiss and talk about their flight and eventually pile everyone into the two cars.  We head to Mama’s Hotel.  (This is what Irena has dubbed their house in Gentofte – complete with welcome mat to confirm their home’s new name.)  We get everyone settled in Mama’s Hotel and make ourselves comfortable in the living room while enjoying cocktail hour.  Most family holidays in the states are spent at my Aunt Trish and Uncle Mike’s house in Annapolis.  It is so different and yet so familiar to be settled at another relative’s house in Denmark.  Our cocktail hour consists of the normal Gin and Tonics accompanied with peanuts and good gossip. . . just like home.  For dinner we have salmon and potatoes. . . already I’m eating better than my normal grilled cheese or pasta!  After dinner we sit and talk for a bit over a few glasses of wine.  The battle of sleepiness begins to take hold with the jet lagged Americans.  My mom is the first to throw in the towl, followed by my sister and then uncle.  My aunt and dad are battling out to see who will be the last one standing, when my aunt finally gives in.  My dad wins and retires to bed at the grand hour of 10:00 pm.  Everyone calls it a night so they are ready and fresh for their danish adventure.

The next morning we wake and have a lovely breakfast.  After, we all pile into two cars and head to Sweden.  We drive down and take the bridge to Malmo.  The day is sunny but cold.  The sun looks beautiful over the snow in Denmark and Sweden!  We drive up to Helsinborg in Sweden.  We then take the ferry over to the other half of the city, Helsingør, which is located in Denmark.  On the ferry everyone enjoys their first Carlsberg beer while saying goodbye to Sweden and hello to Denmark again!  We then head to Kronborg, otherwise known as Hamlet’s castle.  Kronborg is a beautiful castle that looks out over the narrowest part of the Øresund.  The castle dates back to the middle ages and for almost six centuries the king’s men monitored the ships passing through toward the Baltic Sea.  Over the years the castle has been pillaged by the Swedish, served as barracks, and served as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Now you can wander through the historic rooms and even host a party in on of the expansive dining rooms. . . let’s hope none of those brats on “My Super Sweet 16” ever find out you can rent out this castle.  Most entertaining done in the castle is for political events with the royal family.  I learned that the Clinton’s had the privilege of eating at Kronborg.  Once we are done exploring the castle we pile back into the family busses and head back to hotel Mama.  

Back at Mama’s Hotel we enjoy happy hour and help prepare dinner.  On this evening’s menu we had amazing racks of lamb.  The table is set with giant wine glasses for red wine.  We gather to the table and drink and eat. . . for the next 5 hours.  After millions of conversations, a few spills of coffee and wine, tons of laughter, and seven bottles of wine later we decide it may be a good idea to teeter off to bed.  What a wonderful end to a first day!  If asked what we did this day I could truthfully say, “Well I woke up in Denmark, went to Sweden, rode in a car and ferry, explored a historic castle, and then drew the day to a close by personally finishing off a bottle of red wine and a rack of lamb!”  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

The First Snow in Copenhagen

Last Friday, the day before my family was scheduled to arrive, it started to snow in Denmark.  I was trying to be productive and get some school work done before the onslaught of Americans arrived the next day.  I was studying diligently (aka playing on facebook) when I looked out my window to see snow!  Right now all of Copenhagen is covered with Christmas decorations so it seemed like something out of a Burl Ives or Bing Crosby Christmas movie.  

Around 8 pm that evening I ventured out into the snow to meet up with some Canadians.  The Canadians were planning on checking out Tivoli this evening, but decided to enjoy the snow from the inside looking out.  I met them at Student Huset, a small student pub for the Copenhagen University students.  We had a cozy little corner looking out onto the main walking street while drinking some Christmas Beer (Julbryg).  We sat talking until a Danish band took the small stage.  This band was so funny because they were all dressed in black suits with white shirts and skinny black ties. . . very Quentin Tarantino.  Their first song even sounded a little like something from Pulp Fiction.  The band was especially funny because three of the band members were tall, blond, and strikingly similar looking.  The fourth band member was a tall black man with a huge afro.  The three native danes seemed to rely on him to bring the soul to stage because they all were quite stiff when playing.  It was a fun band to see until we realized that all of their songs started to sound the same.  So we gathered our things and headed back into the snow to another favorite local. . . Byens Kro.  Here we filed in, found a cozy booth and had a good pint.  We talked with some older Danish men who were at their monthly dinner/drinks night.  They were school friends and had kept this appointment for years.  These men were quite funny and really loved to share their experiences from ‘the good ole days’ with us!  After our pint we headed home around 12:30.

Upon returning home I heard some people in the kitchen of my apartment.  It was my Dutch roommate, Will, and her friends who were visiting.  They were sitting around talking and having martinis.  I sat with them for a bit to dry off from being out in the snow.  After about an hour or so they convinced me to come back out with them for a bit of dancing.  I knew this probably wasn’t the smartest idea since it was almost 2:00 am and I’d already come home once and my whole family would be arriving tomorrow!!!  But when else do you get to go out dancing with a bunch of dutch people at 2:00 am?  We headed to cut little club near Nyhavn and danced to some funny American 80’s music.  The second song that came on when we were there was Whitney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody”.  I was so excited about the song that I started dancing and singing in the middle of the dance floor like I was the only one in the room.  As it would turn out this song is not as much of a crowd pleaser among danes and the dutch as it is with my friends from home.  I really wished Julie, Melanie, Missy, and Christopher had been there since this song has a pavlovian response over us.  The song would come on . . . we would go crazy dancing and singing into our imaginary microphones.  Apparently this hasn’t caught on in DK.

After a few more good songs I realize it is 5:00 am.  I run home because it is way past the time when my stage coach turns back into a pumpkin.  I climb into bed thankful for the snow, the Canadians, the Dutch, Whitney Houston, and that my family will be jet lagged so I won’t have to stay up late the next day!

An American 21st Birthday

Since I live with graduate and undergraduate students, some of my roommates are quite young.  Some of my roommates are just turning 21.  I remember my 21st birthday.  The pride I felt showing the bouncer at Santa Fe my real license stating I was legal.  (Um, not that I ever had a fake one. . . hmm)  For my friend Julie’s 21st birthday we all went to celebrate in Atlantic City.  She was the youngest of our friends and we felt we needed to celebrate this day to the fullest.  Finally, we could all go out to the same places.  No one would be left behind or turned away at the door anymore.  No more having to get the bar early with the dinner crowd and then hide in the bathroom when they checked ids.  The days when we had to learn the astrological sign and street address of some sorority girl who had passed on her license were over. We were all legal and turning 21 was a big deal.  

My roommate, Sara turned 21 last night.  Everyone on our floor wanted to do something for her birthday, but did not realize the significance of turning 21. The rest of Europe either has no drinking age or you pass it when you turn 15.  Being American, I knew this was a big day for her so we took her to the most American place in Copenhagen we could find. . . The Australia Bar.  (go figure)  The Australia Bar is a dodgy little bar in a basement.  The beers are cheap and the music blasting is Justin Timberlake and Madonna.  It smells a little like puke and your feet stick to the floor because of all the beer carelessly spilt there.  Poorly dressed Frat-guys play beer pong.  Barely dressed girls dance and sing loudly.  Yup, this is the exact replica of an American college bar.  I’ve come home. . . well at least a home I knew about 6 years ago.

We arrive and buy Sara a beer and work on pushing our way onto the beer pong table.  (In case you don’t know what beer pong is – its a game involving plastic cups, a ping pong ball, beer, and a lot of trash talking.  If you want further explanation you can ask my dad, he’s played before with his coworkers!)  It’s cut throat here.  Dozens of American exchange students bully each other over who will play on the table next.  I really don’t miss those meat head guys that I used to attend undergrad with.  It’s quite shocking to see a collection of them in one room . . . in Copenhagen.  In order to get a spot we play up the fact that it is Sara’s birthday. . . and not just any birthday. . . to work our way onto the table.  Sara and I are finally up to play.  We ask our opponents the rules they are playing by since not everyone plays the same.  They explain and we start the game.  Sara and I hit the first two cups and get the balls back.  We are remarkably good.  Everyone is shocked at our ability to aim, shoot, and sink shot after shot. . . myself included.  (I’ve never been good at this game.)  We are winning by about 6 cups when our opponents make two ping pong balls in the same cup.  They start cheering and tell us good game. . . which confuses me because apparently they believe they just won the game.  These ‘dudes’ tell Sara and I that since they made two balls in one cup they win the game.  I calmly reply that this was not one of the rules explained to me at the start of the game.  I have never seen two people get more angry these guys at this moment.  My inner competitive nature comes out and I tell them they didn’t win and that we will keep playing.  My friends back me up.  We keep playing and Sara and I eventually win.  Our opponents stomp away from the table like an angry toddlers realizing they lost the temper tantrum they just threw.  It was a great victory for our newly turned 21 year old.  

We played a second game and lost.  No worries though, because this became the portion of the evening to dance.  After this we skipped off to Sam’s Bar on the way home.  Sam’s is a touristy place on the main walking street.  At any time of the day you can hear a tourist singing karaoke in this seedy little place.  So naturally we had to stop in and let Sara sing “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”  Helena and I served as her backup dancers while Sara sang.  Too funny.  Once we officially made asses of ourselves we made our way home.  It was a great 21st birthday and the closest thing to an American birthday my foreign friends could possibly experience.  I was fondly reminded of my college days.  The evening really brought back memories of going out in College Park with my roommates.  Had the evening ended with my current roommates singing “Lean on Me” it would have been a complete reenactment.  It was nice to revisit undergraduate memory lane for a night. . . but I think today I’ll go back to visiting the more sophisticated side of Denmark.  Happy Birthday Sara, welcome to world of being legally allowed to do stuff in America.

Things I’ve Learned From Foreigners

Over the past few months living with the model UN I’ve picked up a thing or two.  The following is a brief list of what I’ve learned from my roommates.

1.  In Italian, French, and Swedish there is no word for ‘spooning’.  (Sort of cuddling sleeping position for those unfamiliar.)  However, in Dutch there is a phrase for spooning, but it involves saying ‘little spoon’ twice.  In order to remedy this problem for the Italians, French and Swedish I’ve learned how to say “I like to spoon” in each language and say it as often as possible.  I hope it catches on.  

2.  I’ve learned some curse words in Italian, complete with hand gestures.  My Swedish curse word lessons begin next week after the Italian has sunk in and I get the hand gesture right.

3.  Montreal is an island.  Seriously, did other people know this???  I heard this from my French Canadian roommate and did not believe him.  I went straight to google maps and found out that Montreal is in fact an island.

4.  The Dutch sing a lot.  My roommate from Holland has had two different groups of friends visit on separate occasions and they are always singing.  They aren’t singing along to music or the words to any known song, they are singing about what they’re doing.  I kept trying to think if my friends sing this much together.  I think mostly we sing in the back of taxi’s when a good song comes on.  

5.  Danishes in Denmark are called wienerbrød.  That would be just silly to call them a danish.

6.  Italian mothers don’t send cookies.  They send jars of pasta sauce and blocks of cheese.  I believe my Italian roommate, Giulia, is working her way through 6 jars of pesto at the moment.

7.  Since there is no Thanksgiving in Denmark, Christmas starts the first of November.  The entire city is decorated and Christmas markets opened November 14th.  

8.  Christmas beverages are big in Europe.  Did you know there are special Christmas colas?  They don’t just slap a santa claus on the packaging, the whole product is different.  There is also Christmas beer and a warm Christmas wine like drink.  I’m skeptical of the warm wine, but my Swedish roommate’s mom sent her some so I will have to try it.  In return everyone here is going to try the eggnog I make.  (I found Martha Stewart’s recipe online. . . more than half is bourbon and rum. . . Martha’s a little boozehound. . . probably developed the habit in the slammer.)

9.  If they don’t understand you say it louder and slower.  We’ve had a few miscommunications.  Sometimes it’s hard to find the right english word when translating from a person’s original language.  Sometimes the english equivalent doesn’t exist.  My Italian roommate was asking about the english word for a barley drink that is warm.  I didn’t of one, but she continued to repeat “B-A-R-L-E-Y” slower and louder until I said “T-H-A-T’S not H-E-L-P-I-N-G.  I don’t think we have that product in the US.”  

10.  One of the dutch visitors was talking about the red light district in Amsterdam.  She was looking for the right word to describe the problem that still exists with human-trafficking.  She used “They bring the women here to play hooker”.  I was pretty sure she wasn’t talking about a board game.

11.  Things are just smaller in Europe.  Stores, cars, streets, food quantities, ovens. . . My Danish family ordered a turkey for when my American family is here for Thanksgiving.  We normally get a bird that is at least 20 pounds. . . so about 10 kg.  My Danish family didn’t think a bird that size would fit in their over.  I agreed.  Ovens are totally tiny here.  If you tried to stick your head in the oven I don’t think you’d have much luck.  This year we will have to eat a svelte bird of only 14 kg.  

I am sure there will be more – I’ll keep adding to the list.  But so far I’m feeling good about learning curse words, hand gestures, and how to decipher cryptic language.  You know . . . the really important stuff.

Ida Davidson’s

Ida Davidsen’s is very famous Danish restaurant serving traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød.  This fifth generation restaurant has become very famous for their wide selection of smørrebrød.  Actually, they offer over 250 types to be more accurate.  So after hearing so many spectacular things about Ida Davidsen’s I made reservations for my friends Cyndy and Laurie and I.  

We arrived to the restaurant on Monday around 2 pm.  It’s a cozy little place and everyone who works there is just delightful.  We put or coats down and head to the glass case displaying about 50 sandwiches that are being served today.  One of them women who works there kindly explains all of the smørrebrød we can choose from.  She first describes the fish counter with such detail I believe my mouth began to water.  Laurie and I ordered the seared tuna served over brown bread with spinach and parmesan cheese and a poached egg on top.  Cyndy tried the eel – I think – I was soooo obsessed with my own that I can’t remember what she had.  To accompany our meal we each had a Carl’s Special beer and a glass of traditional Danish liquor, Aalborg Akvavit.  The liquor and beer are supposed to pair perfectly with the meals.  The three of us went for a second course and ordered out of the meat case.  I ordered roast beef with egg, tomato, and fried onions, served over brown bread.  Amazing.  Again, I believe Cyndy had prosciutto with pickles and something else. . . I was paying more attention to my own plate.  

We had a lovely meal.  If you find youself in Copenhagen you really must go to Ida Davidsen’s for lunch and experience a traditional Danish meal!

Lunch in Sweden?

Sunday we started our day walking to my favorite bakery in Christianhavn.  After that we strolled through the Glypotek to see some art.  Finally, we decided it was time to hop a train to Malmo in Sweden.  The train ride was only about 35 minutes long.  When we found ourselves in Malmo the weather was rainy and cold.  We quickly found a few shops to duck into and avoid the rain.  (One of them being H&M – which I am ashamed to say I bought a shirt -but it’s soooooooo much cheaper in Sweden!)  After the itch to shop passed we ducked into a restaurant to enjoy some Swedish food!  We then set out to explore more of Malmo since the rain had stopped.  We were walking through a lovely park when the rain began again, only now it was pouring.  The three of us took cover under some bushes until the storm passed.  

Sweden was great, but if you ask what we did in Malmo we would have to say, “Well we went to Sweden for lunch and then we stood in some bushes.”  Oh well at least we can say we’ve been to Sweden!!!

Wake Up – The Sun’s Out!

Saturday morning (after my out-till-3 a.m. evening) I woke up at 8:00 a.m.  I looked out my window and saw the sun. . . my god the SUN.  Recently in Copenhagen the weather has been grey. . . not necessarily cold and rainy all of the time, just grey.  To see the sun was a wonderful treat especially with friends in town!!!  I knew they were tired and jet-lagged, but I decided to call them at 9:00 and wake them up.  To see this city in the sun was more important than sleep.  

Cyndy and Laurie pulled themselves out of bed and met me at Nyhavn.  We picked one of the restaurants along the canal and ate a good Danish breakfast outside.  After breakfast we walked to see the Little Mermaid statue. . . which for all its hype. . . she really is just a small statue along the canal. . . nothing too impressive. We walked along Kastellet, a nice park heading toward Østerbro.  We met up with a few of my roommates at a cafe along the way and walked to Østerbro.  We stopped at a shop called Norman.  Norman is a Danish home furnishing and clothing shop that occupies what used to be a 1700 square meter theater.  Now it is a beautiful large store with the most interesting items and displays.  We then headed toward another street in this neighborhood which is supposed to be known for its second hand stores.  I failed to check, however, the times that the second hand stores would be open.  We arrived at the first on our list and it had closed at 2 pm.  Bummer.  

Cyndy, Laurie, and I ended up walking back to city center.  We walked along the lakes and through the Kings Garden.  We did a bit of shopping on the main shopping street and then headed to Riz Raz for dinner!  We sat and enjoyed the Mediterranean buffet with fresh salads and vegetarian dishes.  So good.  After dinner we sought out cake and find a nice little cafe to share a few deserts and a glass of wine.  All in all it was a lovely day.  Just wonderful to walk around, shop, and enjoy the SUN!

Christmas in Denmark

Last Friday I was lucky enough to have two friends from the motherland fly into Copenhagen to visit!  After checking into their hotel we spent the day wandering around city center so they could get a sneak peak of all that Copenhagen has to offer.  We ate outside at Hoppe’s on a little street off of Strøget, even though it was raining and about 50 degrees we decided to eat outside.  (Granted, under umbrellas with blankets and heat lamps at our disposal)  We started to wander about the city after lunch and noticed so many restaurants and pubs with blue banners and flags displayed in their windows.  The festive signs were there to advertise J-Day, an age old Danish tradition dating back to 1990.  Since Copenhagen is such and old city and even Tuborg has been around for ages, I thought it was a little funny to be celebrating a tradition that had only been happening for 18 years.  I guess I shouldn’t complain because this holiday (18 years in the making) was awesome.  

J-Day represents the unveiling of Tuborg’s Christmas beer (Juleøl) or Julebryg.  On the first Friday of November each year all of the pubs, cafes, and restaurants begin to sell Tuborg’s Julebryg at 8:59 pm.  If an establishment sells the brew a moment before 8:59 pm on this day they could be penalized with a fine. . . or worse. . . no more rights to sell the Christmas beer.  (Those were the rumors, not sure if they are true – but nonetheless the establishments we went to that day/evening wouldn’t budge on the 8:59.)  Adding to the celebration there are a set of Tuborg trucks with little elves and faries to distribute the beer and goodies all across the city!  The trucks even look like they are covered in snow.  (The fire department sprayed each one with foam.)  

Everywhere we turned, Cyndy, Laurie, and I saw advertisements for J-Day.  Our anticipation began to build.  We could hardly begin to think of waiting until 8:59 for the introduction of this holiday beer into our lives!!!  For Cyndy and Laurie, it was because they were jet lagged and wished to climb into bed way before 8:59 pm.  For me it was just pure excitement.  The three of us went to eat at Stella’s and then wandered down to Nyhavn’s Barock to try the beer.  The countdown began and then at 8:59 on the dot a bartender with a blue and white santa hat served us each a Julebryg.  It was delightful.  

After sampling the Juleøl, Laurie decided to call it a night so Cyndy and I walked her back to the hotel.  After that, Cyndy and I set out to see all of the excitement going on around the city over the Christmas beer.  We walked back to Strøget where we ran into about a dozen Santa Clauses.  Upon closer inspection these Santas were about 16.  They began chatting with us and asking where we were going, what we were doing, etc.  As we conversed with three of the pubescent Santas another one approached Cyndy and I, stroking his fake beard and said “vhat brings you to Danaaarrrkkk?”  The image of teenage Santa stroking his beard and asking the Americans why we are in Denmark will be forever burned into my mind. . . so funny.  Eventually four of the Santas piled into the back of a rickshaw and were peddled off to another bar.  

Cyndy and I continued to wander, hoping to catch up with my friends.  However, my phone had run out of money and I could not call anyone!  So Cyndy and I wandered about, in hopes of getting a free Julebryg hat, but mostly in search of more beer.  We came across a Tuborg truck and a woman dressed in a giant blue heart costume for the event.  Unfortunately she didn’t have any hats for us.  So we wandered to Charlie’s Bar.  Charlie’s Bar is a great little English pub that serves an assortment of really really good beers.  We found two spots at the bar and bellied up.  First we each had a cask beer.  That was good, but our second beers were amazing.  Cyndy ordered a porter and I ordered a different kind of Christmas beer.  Both were amazing!  We sat and talked for ages, just enjoying the atmosphere and buzz of the people around us.  Cyndy began to notice all of the cool coasters on the walls and bar, advertising the beers on tap.  She politely asked the bartender for a few coasters.  The bartender dissapeared to the back and returned with about 200 coasters.  He handed them over to Cyndy and said Merry Christmas!  

After leaving Charlie’s Bar we wandered toward Nyhavn.  Still determined to get a hat, we went back to Barock where we had sampled our first Juleøl of the evening.  The bar was closing but Cyndy pleaded with the staff for a hat.  Finally, one nice girl handed me her blue Santa hat with the little ball on the end that lights up.  I’ve never been so happy.  I walk Cyndy back toward her hotel and notice that it is 3 a.m.  I guess we got a little carried away with the holiday. . . but we were just doing our party to make this 18 year old tradition the best year ever!!!

New Year’s Eve in Denmark . . . Oh Wait I Mean Election

Tuesday, November 4th in Denmark, you may have thought it was New Year’s Eve.  People set off to parties.  Champagne bottles were on hand and ready.  Televisions were tuned to the same channel.  Everyone tuned in, only instead of seeing Dick Clark and the ball drop in time square, everyone here was waiting to see who would become the next President of the United States.  I had no idea that the presidential election would hold so many people’s interest in Denmark, in Europe, well I guess in the world.  But it did.  The University of Copenhagen held a 24 viewing party.  The American Embassy held a gala for everyone in Copenhagen to come and celebrate.  Students and adults waited up all night watching the election coverage.  It was quite impressive.

I spent the evening at Bjørn, Irena, and Jacob’s house.  Bjørn and Irena had tickets to the theater so I came to their house for dinner and to watch Jacob while they enjoyed a night out on the town.  Unfortunately, the play wasn’t very good, so they returned home early.  We watched CNN together for a bit to see the election coverage.  Although at the time there wasn’t much to cover other than the long lines people waited in to vote.  (It was only 3pm on the east coast.)  CNN in Europe went from coverage in London to Paris to Rome.  All of these places were waiting and hoping to to celebrate a new president of the United States, hopefully one with the name Barack Obama.  I returned home and settled into bed in hopes of finding something wonderful under the tree the next morning. . . I mean a democrat in the white house the next morning.  

When I awoke I went to the kitchen and sat to eat breakfast.  My roommate, Giulia asked me who my president would be.  I looked at her in astonishment and said “oh my god I forgot to check”.  I ran to my room and left my toast to burn.  I sat down at my computer and was relieved to see that despite my absence, American had gone the distance and elected Barack Obama.  Relieved of the news I returned to breakfast, went to the gym, and then headed off to my Global Perspectives on Leadership course.  

It was in this classroom that the reality and magnitude of this day finally set in.  My instructor wanted to discuss communications styles so he showed a bit of McCain’s concession speech and then Barack Obama’s entire speech from Chicago.  Sitting in this dark classroom in Denmark, surrounded by students from all over the world, I watch Barack Obama address America and the world.  I know I’m a bit home sick from time to time, but this can’t explain my full reaction to listening to this speech.  I was so moved that my eyes began to tear up.  I tried hard not to go into a full blown sob.  Nobody wants to be the American girl who cried in Leadership class.  I reigned in my emotions and the lights went back on at the end of the speech.  We began a conversation dissecting the speech and analyzing the different theories of Leadership that could be found in the video we watched.  The conversation was pretty one sided and positive until one student (non-american) raised his hand and likened the emotions of the audience to that of watching a football game.  We route for our team and then go back to our lives as if nothing happened.  He also made reference to politics, especially American, not being authentic.  That those of us moved by this speech had “fallen for it.”  

As a person who had “fallen for it” I found myself immediately angry at this person’s comments.  Had I not been in an academic setting with 70 other students in the room I would have shook my angry old man fist at him.  I had the urge to throw something at him.  I wanted to ask him how could he not find that speech moving?  I wanted to say that when a nation is looking for hope, how can you criticize that speech?  I wanted to say something profound to defend all of America. . . but I was worried I would get all sappy and teary eyed again and look like a nut job.  So I let the rest of the class take care of it.  Eventually I did get myself back into the conversation (without seeming like a lunatic) and made some good points from an American perspective (I was the only American in the class).  

I am sad that I missed the excitement at home.  However, I don’t think I would have ever realized the magnitude this particular election held in the rest of the world’s eyes.  It truly was amazing to see the amount of people who support our new president and the number of people who are truly proud of us as a nation.  Obama made me act like a girl and get all teary eyed in a classroom. . . I think he’s going to be a fine president.