Daily Archives: November 5, 2008

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.

Halloween. . . or something like it.

Halloween in Copenhagen was sponsored by Thomas and Susan Sawyer this year.  My kind and saintly parents sent a box full of costumes (including my 7th grade costume) and homemade pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies.  When I went to pick the package up from the post office the gentleman who retrieved it read the side of the sizeable box.  “Content:  Cookies and Costumes.  Well I’ve never received cookies or costumes in the mail, much less in the same box.  Who do I have to talk to get cookies and costumes in the mail?”  I said my parents.  He said he’d write them in 2009 around this time of year.  

Anyway, my foreign friends, who have yet to experience Halloween, gleefully went through the box of goodies and picked out their very first Halloween costumes.  We had two monsters, a dracula, a witch, and a playing card (oh 7th grade).  A few of us went to a thrift shop to find some other costumes.  One of my roommates who bares a similar hairstyle to Sarah Palin (minus the poof) found a nice suit and glasses to go as our republican running mate.  She wore a sash that said ‘Ms. Hockey Mom 2008’.  My roommate T and I went as world-class ping pong players.  Yeah that’s a made up costume – but we found ping pong paddles and stellar 80’s clothes so we went with it.  Helena had borrowed a friend’s nun costume.  And our Italian roommate, Giulia, was hands down the best.  Her Aunt and Uncle were visiting from Italy that same day and really got into the idea.  Her relatives came to the dorm with a costume they bought at home in Italy and helped her get ready.  They dressed her as Jack Sparrow.  It was hilarious.

On Halloween I taught my roommate Helena how to carve a pumpkin.  She made a beautiful jackolantern and we roasted pumpkin seeds.  Everyone got dressed up and we hung out at our apartment playing cards and having a few drinks before heading out.  Copenhagen Business School had rented out a club near my house for the holiday so we headed there after a few card games in costume.  The club was fun, but not many people were very creative with costumes.  I’m thinking it’s due to the limited resources here and probably the fact that not many of the Danes and exchange students had celebrated before.  The best costume I saw was a set of 8 tiny reindeer with antlers. . . I’m guessing they went to the year-round Christmas shop.  Genius!  It was no Adams Morgan or Fells Point, but I give my fellow exchange students alot of credit for trying!  

In other Danish Halloween news, my danish family was telling about how their son celebrated Halloween.  Jacob is 12 and he and some friends dressed as monsters.  One of the parents drove the monster-ous friends to each of their houses where they would collect treats.  Irena told me that the children sang between houses and had a great time.  Whereas this isn’t going door to door in a neighborhood to collect obsurd amounts of candy and no “tricks” were played, I like that Halloween is catching on.  I also like the singing from door to door.  They could be onto something here!!!

Halloween 2008 – Danish, a bit different, but good!  Pictures to come. . .

Small World

I was sitting in a local cafe around the corner from my house a week ago.  I like to go there to do reading for my classes.  The cafe is small and has the cheapest coffee in town.  Coffee is expensive here. . . there are no Starbucks. . . but you still pay $5 for a coffee!?!?  If you order a cafe late or espresso or regular coffee the grand total always comes to 25 – 35 kroner.  Sometimes the coffee shop will give you a nice cup and saucer with a little piece of biscotti on the side.  I’m beginning to wonder if I could have them hold the bite sized biscotti and knock off 5 kroner.  

Anyway, I was sitting in the cafe reading and enjoying my $1.50 coffee when a three people sat down at the table next to me.  I overheard one of the women say, I almost missed my flight out of Washington DC yesterday because of the Marathon.  I immediately turned to her and apologized for eavesdropping, but was wondering if she was from DC.  She said yes.  I told her and her the people she was with that I just moved to Copenhagen in August from DC and that I used to live on Capitol Hill.  She responded, “I live on Capitol Hill”.  We determined that we used to live 4 blocks from each other.  She was in Copenhagen to follow a whale watching expedition and report on it for one of Smithsonian’s magazines.  So fascinating.  I told her I was here to research the price of coffee.  Small World.