Monthly Archives: August 2008

Call me Kobenhavn Kory!

I spent last week in Copenhagen, or as the Danes spell it, Kobenhavn. The Danes sure love words that start with “Ko.” (picture me smirking). I had a couple of stories to write, and a video to shoot. I’m pretty pleased with my text stories, but my video is crap, because I don’t have the face or voice for TV I guess.

Here are a few highlights.

This is the hostel I stayed at. I’ve never been in a hostel before, but always pictured them as one of those big dark warehouses with a thousand dirty beds like in French films. This place was not too shabby, but it did smell, and I felt kind of icky being where a thousand other bodies have been before, especially when they gave us ratty old linens from the floor of their closet (which we paid extra for).

Here is the “Wall Street” of Copenhagen:

This is the canal right near our hostel on our first day. There are many canals in Denmark and this is one of the most beautiful I think.

Notice how this poor swan’s leg was tagged. Wasn’t the only one.


Here is me on top of the world:

Later that night on our first day, a small group of us went to the big famous park in Copenhagen for an outdoor movie at night. We watched “No Country For Old Men” which was very disturbing and its plot offered no justification for anything. It was just like a drive-in, except we were sitting on the grass.

Here are some pictures of us on the ferry from Arhus to Copenhagen. Denmark is made up of several islands so boating or airplaning is required.

These are pictures of the city at night. Unlike Arhus, Copenhagen was absolutely made for tourists. That’s Jerram and Marcus featured in the pics.

Here’s a cool tower:

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A day in the life of a Kunstner (in Denmark!)

8 a.m.
Wakes up. Dammit, it’s already 8:00? Hits snooze button. I’ll take the bus again today, I can get the exercise to school some other time.

8:25 a.m.
Okay, have to get up for real now. Brushes my teeth and gets dressed in yesterday’s clothes. Looks like crap. Clothes match body.

8:45 a.m.

Boards bus. Loves how bus is so much nicer than SF Muni, and is actually on time. And no drunk, homeless person asking me to sniff his or her batteries. 

9:00 a.m.
Arrives at school just in time. Very gracefully trips over curb.

10 a.m.
Stories and video produced by Morten and me are generally well received by group and teacher. We kick ass, you know, metaphorically.

12 p.m.
Goes for lunch with Lotte and a bunch of other girls from class. First day of semester for many Danes so cafeteria is packed wall to wall. Seriously, never seen so many blondes packed into one place. Truly Hitler’s paradise.

12:30 p.m.
Goes back to class and officially starts freaking out internally about what news to cover in Copenhagen. Like my friend Lisanne said, what kind of teacher takes a group of students into a foreign place and then forces them to produce two text stories and a video in 3 days? A pretty sick teacher, that’s who.

1:00 p.m.
Walks to the office of Anna, who is the nice lady in charge of exchange students. Has to pay her the rest of my deposit money. Considers knocking her out and telling her later that I really did pay the deposit. Decides against that.

1:15 p.m.
Working on story pitches for this week’s reporting. Considers shooting my brains out. Decides against that, especially due to a lack of firearm. Turns in crappy pitches for stories.

3:00 p.m.
Leaves school, decides to finally get exercise by walking home. And not maybe because stupid bus arrives seconds before I reach the bus stop and then leaves me in its dust and breathing its fumes.

3:35 p.m.
Finally arrives home. Tired of world.

4:00 p.m.
Goes on Facebook and plays Scramble. Then watches 80’s cartoons on YouTube. Too embarassed to reveal title.

7:04 p.m.
Boards bus to go downtown to eat at Burger King with Lisanne. Has Burger King always tasted this good? For the equivalent of 11 U.S. dollars for a small meal, it better have been.

8:30 p.m.
Boards bus to go home. Pretty much what it sounds like.

9:00 p.m.
Watches another episode of old 80’s cartoon. Okay, it’s “Jem”, okay? Outrageous. Truly, truly outrageous. 

10:00 p.m.
Should start gathering sources for stories this week, especially because I won’t have my laptop with me. Right after I type an entry about my day.

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Friday night dinner and drinking games (pictures)

Despite the crazy assignment schedules, we still find time to have get togethers and play drinking games. Here are some pics. Jerram baked a brownie cake that was the best thing I ever tasted and was a hit with everyone. He also taught us a bunch of fun drinking games (which we played with beer). Is there anything that guy can’t do? 

I’m hugely fat right now, gained a bunch of weight these 2 past weeks because of, um, I’m a pig who didn’t exercise at all and got invited to a bunch of dinner parties.

 

 

Some drinking games:

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Postal service in Denmark

This coming week will be my real test, the first time I’ll be doing everything by myself, including producing a video. I’m nervous as heck, especially since this will all be happening in a different city (Copenhagen) than we’ve been living in.

As for living in Arhus, I have to say it’s been pretty awesome. I had a rough first week, but I really love living here. The bus system is very similar to San Francisco, except over here it actually runs on time and the buses are nice and aren’t vandalized by assholes. The Danes are very nice, and very outgoing, except for the cashiers at Fakta. I’ve been getting a lot of walking exercise. Everywhere I need to go is at least 3 km from my place. Funny thing happened yesterday. Yesterday I walked close to 3 km to get to the post office to pick up my care package that my family had sent me. Well I got there at 1:00 p.m. and by the time I got through the line it was 1:15. The lady stamped all my stuff and made sign and all that, and then she asked for the money. What money? She pointed out on my paper that I needed to pay them. She told me she could hold it so I could run home and get the money and then come back. She also said the place was closing at 2:00 p.m. So, despite being out of shape, I ran like hell from the post office back to my dorm room, and then back to the post office, a total of about 6 km in 45 minutes. When I got back to the office it was about 2:05 and the place had closed, but I begged the guy at the door to let me in because I just needed to pay for package and he was kind enough to let me. And I was so grateful for the package. My family sent me shoes and extra clothes, exactly what I needed.

Aside from that, the only thing I’m still really struggling with is the laundry situation. The washing machines and dryers have so many different options and it’s all really complicated, especially in Danish. I can work the washing machines now because you can program it in English which I figured out because “sprog” means language. Speaking of laundry, somebody stole my laundry bag tonight and I didn’t want to walk all the way back to my room to get another one. So being the resourceful person I think I am, I took off my sweatshirt, tied up the sleeves and the neck, and turned it into a bag. Worked out pretty well.

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Crazy, scary and amazing days in Denmark

My class right now is going crazy. In this international semester, it’s not like the typical semester where you have five classes at once that last through the whole semester. In this program, I have five classes and each one lasts three weeks and then you move onto the next. My current teacher is crazy and pretty mean. He shouts at us all the time like we’re in the military. I wouldn’t be surprised if a piece of schrapnel is still lodged in his brain. And our assignments are so outrageous. I’ve had to skip lunch the past 3 days because I didn’t have time. For example, yesterday, he told us to pair up and then gave us 48 hours to go out and report two text stories and produce a news video. I was seriously freaking out. I mean, who assigns that much under such a strict deadline? Luckily I got paired with a Dane named Morten and we banged out a lot of work.  He is a fantastic partner. And though we sometimes disagree on stuff, it’s very easy for us to compromise. He’s even more of a perfectionist than I am. And the fact that he speaks Danish, well that’s the icing on the cake. It’s kinda creepy sometimes how eerily we work alike. Like this past week we were discussing what we found wrong and right with other groups’ articles and videos, and we matched each other exactly thought for thought. The only journalistic differences we have I think come from our different education and media rules.

Our main story and video are about this new waste system in the city that is stored underground, which is pretty cool. We did have a couple of disagreements, but I’m learning to just bite my tongue sometimes and compromise. And in some cases, he turned out to be right, so I can be kind of a stubborn idiot.

Here are some shots of us walking through the park this morning after leaving his place, and that is him with the bike. The park is so amazing:

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Journalism — maybe it’s not for me

I’m having a late-college crisis. I don’t think I like journalism anymore. I mean, I like so many aspects of it; I like the news, I like what the media does, I like seeing news happen. I just don’t think I like reporting anymore.

I’ve already done everything I’ve set out to accomplish. I’ve been published in several major newspapers, people from places I didn’t even know existed have contacted me about my articles, my stuff has been linked, hell one of my articles was even used as a source for another article.

But I can’t see myself doing this forever. Everything I’ve done in the name of journalism has sort of been a means to an end, either a passing grade or a matter of getting respect, or whatever, I’ve received all that. I can’t see myself in this world anymore, with deadlines getting increasingly impossible, the pay getting worse and worse as people in my field settle for less and less, job cuts everywhere you turn as workloads grow rapidly, like I’m running on a treadmill and any misstep could cause me to fall on my face and ruin it all. I don’t want to run on this treadmill anymore. Maybe I want to be in a secure job, where I don’t wonder each day how I’m going to find stories and sources, and where I can go a whole week just being calm.

The thing that’s sparking this? My International News Gathering class. Everyday I wonder how I’ll make it through the next day. It’s tough for me, but not so tough for others. So it’s making me wonder if I’m cut out for this. I’ve gone through bouts of this before, where I just hate journalism and want to shut the whole world away, and usually it follows with me creating an amazing product and being glad I stuck with it. But this time, I think I’ve really gotten sick of it.

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The Tennesee girls and Danish government

I’ve been hanging out with the Tennesse girls again. In fact, I’m becoming quite close with them. How did this happen, you might ask?

There are already cliques forming. There are three types of groups in our social group: those who don’t do anything for fun, those who have fun by partying and getting wasted often, and those who have fun by traveling and seeing the sights. I’m in the latter group and these two girls are too. Tonight we went to dinner and then had a wonderful walk downtown. Arhus has a wonderful canal that runs through the middle of downtown and has restaurants on both sides:

Andrea actually showed me the night-vision option that helped capture this shot:

Here are Katie and Andrea:

It’s kind of interesting how I haven’t hung out much with other San Franciscans.

Now that I’ve discovered how to travel around on the Arhus bus system, I’m having a blast. If I only knew the language, it would be perfect here. In many ways, Arhus reminds me of San Francisco: the weather, the bus system, the city’s ease to walk or bike, and the large shopping area downtown.

In our classes, we have also been learning a lot about Danish government and politics. It’s kind of amazing how the system works here. I mean, there are so many social programs, including free college and free health care, that are all paid by an income tax that is at least 50 percent. And people are willing to do that. And some people in Denmark even want to push the country further into socialism. I’m just really amazed that the system works here. In the U.S., a socialist society would never work, especially because Americans are typically a needy and greedy bunch. I mean, my main argument against socialism has always been that if everyone contributes all their money and the money in turn gets distributed evenly, what’s to stop people from working less and less while letting others work harder? As far as I can see, the only incentive the Danes have for implementing this kind of system is out of the goodness of their heart. Like I said, Americans could never adopt this kind of system and I’m not sure if it’s our greed that led us to be a capitalistic society, or if it’s our capitalistic society that has made us greedy.

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Denmark is now officially AWESOME!

Today was an awesome day. I am loving Denmark more and more each day.

We got to class today and our video teacher said we had an assignment. We had to form groups and received five hours to go out and shoot enough film to make a 2-minute documentary about something that we find strange in Denmark. My group included Marcos and Jerram and we decided to do it on how expensive things are in this country. So we went all over downtown and made a short film showing how far 300 Kroner really goes in this country. Jerram and Marcos were really good. Jerram did the voice-over and hosting, Marcos did the people-on-the-street interviewing, and I had the easy job of just going to shops and saying to the camera that 300 Kroner could buy you this and that. I’m kinda disappointed because I get extremely nervous when there’s a camera on me, so I kept screwing up my lines or making weird, stupid faces. So I really dragged my team down on that one. Jerram, on the other hand, could practically get a job on TV already with the kind of work he did today.

Then we had cultural night. Basically each country has to make up a presentation or skit about their country. We Americans were the largest group (we had 9 people) and we decided to put on a skit about a road trip through our country. Aaron played the traveler and the rest of us had to represent a state or city. It was hilarious. Katie was assigned Texas, and she came out with a football and baseball cap and a heavy Texan accent, screaming, “Go Bush! Y’all don’t mess with Texas!” Theresa represented San Francisco and she played a pot-smoking homeless hippie who was mad that Aaron wasn’t driving a hybrid. Lisanne represented Washington DC and was all, “Here in DC, we make laws and we break laws! I did not have sexual relations with that woman! Iraq has weapons of mass destruction!” Andrea represented Alabama and came out with a thick southern accent, and acted like the warm “Apple pie” kind of woman (we talked about representing a hick at one point). David represented Southern California by skateboarding around while we sang “Sk8er Boi” (ick, yes we know.) I was assigned Hawaii (for obvious reasons) even though I know almost nothing about Hawaii. I also pointed out that you can’t actually take a road trip to Hawaii, so we incorporated a sequence where Aaron crashes the car and dreams that he was in Hawaii. I came out doing the Hula and said “Aloha” and “Want some Mahi Mahi?” because that’s pretty much all I know about Hawaii. They liked my hula dance, but probably because it was so silly. Also, Aaron made a Hawaiian grass skirt for me out of toilet paper.

But there’s one thing about the school that is really funny to me and some Americans would be jealous. We are offered free beer constantly. In fact, I think our university is sponsored by Tuborg Beer because we keep getting them. (In my profile picture, that’s free Tuborg Beer I’m drinking.) Tonight, for our cultural night, the headmistress at our school brought a huge keg of Tuborg Beer for us. I don’t generally drink much, but I could get used to this. Tuborg tastes really, really good. Tonight actually I downed a bunch of beer just to do the hula. Oh and because the drinking age in this country is 16, no one ever gets carded.

But yeah, I am totally loving Denmark now.

 
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Second day of school (pics)

Wow, now that school has started, I’ve gone completely 180.

I’ve been having such a blast here now that I’ve made friends and figured out the whole public transportation situation.

Here are some pics I took yesterday, on the second day of school.

The downtown streets of Aarhus:

 

We went to the Green Corner buffet, which served Greek food I think (Yes, I came all the way to Denmark to eat Greek food): 

We had a tour of the City Hall:

Here are where the important politicians meet: 

A view from the top. How is this not on a postcard?!

The nine flights of stairs we had to climb to get to the roof:

Then we went to the Student House (Haus?), a bar run by college students:

Something really popular in Denmark, foosball:

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“You’re from America? Why are you not white?”

I finally got my Internet back. My real Internet, not the wireless signal I’ve been piggybacking. 

So I just completed my first two days of school. Everyone was pretty nice and outgoing. Some people took longer to warm up to, but in the end, I really am excited about this group of people. There are people in this program from all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Lithuania, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, and more.

One thing that I’m really annoyed at is that there are still some ignorant people out there. In the past 2 days, I’ve heard THREE comments about my nationality. Even though, I’ve been getting comments like that my whole life, they still hurt me. The comment I’m talking about is that the fact that some people still question whether I am an American. Like they would ask where I’m from. And I would say, “the U.S.” And then they would naturally assume that I’m not from the U.S. 

Them: Where are you from?

Me: The U.S., well, specifically San Francisco.

Them: Well, where were you before the U.S.?

And you know, it’s probably obvious what they’re getting at: “You’re from America? Why are you not white?!” Yes, because I don’t look white enough, they automatically assume I can’t really be American. And these comments are not coming from horrible people. They come from nice people with good intentions. But it still stings.

Besides that, I think I had a good time. I made a few good friends and we went exploring the city today, including this place right near the ocean called the StudentHouse (StudentHaus?) that is basically a club/bar for students to meet people and get wasted. It also holds activities and a few of the other students and I have already made plans to attend some of them. 

I have a lot more to write, but it’s getting late here and I need to sleep.

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Success!

I did something amazing today, well by my standards anyway. I took the bus to downtown and then back home, without getting lost. Success! I admit I had a little help. I went to the bus station that Mikkel had told me to, and well I knew it was the right bus stop, but I didn’t know how to read the time chart at the bus at all. Then a girl came by and I asked her for help. She was really friendly and explained how to read the times and showed me what everything on the chart meant.

When we got on the bus, she asked me where I was from and I said, the United States, well specifically San Francisco. She said that she had spent some time there before and really enjoyed it. Then we talked about all the places we’ve been and I told her I was surprised by how nice and helpful random strangers in Denmark are, and that people aren’t never this nice to strangers in the States. (In fact, the few times that random strangers, especially men, have been extra helpful and kind to me in SF were usually when they asked me for sex right afterwards but I didn’t tell her that.) She said that Los Angeles is so different from San Francisco, because people are so much more warm and friendly in San Francisco. That made me laugh inside. People from Los Angeles residents are not very nice and I should know, some of them are my relatives. I then introduced myself and we found out we practically live a few buildings away from each other, and so she asked me if I had Facebook and I gave her my contact information. That was a nice experience. You’d never find that kind of instant trust in the U.S., especially from a girl, that’s for sure.

After I got off the bus, I went to see my fellow SFSU buddy, Lisanne. We walked around downtown, but every shop except for the bars and eateries, were closed. Closed on a Sunday. Then we went home, and I figured out how to take the right bus home. The nice thing about Denmark is that they have a pretty extensive bus system, kind of similar to San Francisco, so you could practically get everywhere on a bus. That is, if you understand the map and language and all that.

I fixed my room up a little bit. I was so sick of the dark space where my closet is, and I found the solution. Since I don’t really use the desk lamp anyway, I ripped it out of the table (yes, ripped it, but it could be repaired) and using a toilet paper roll as sort of a vise, propped it up in my closet area. So now it’s a little better. And I admit, even though the dorm room is 2 miles from campus, it is a really, really nice room. I get everything in that room that I really need, and there is so much space. I also love that my room faces a large, sliding glass door that opens out onto the yard. It’s quite a beautiful room.

This is a picture of it by the way:

Doesn’t it look like right out of an art film? I mean, if you excuse the clutter of my luggage contents.

I’ve also been making lots of trips to the grocery store. I embarrassed myself a few times because I’m still not used to the money here yet. Plus, I get kind of confused about how much things cost, because some prices are not clearly labeled or the descriptions don’t match the price tags at all. But after a few trips, I discovered lots of really good bargains and if I don’t eat out, food prices won’t really be an issue.

So in a way, success!

Now, tomorrow is my first day of school. And, I’m really nervous about a couple of things. The first thing is all the reporting assignments, of course. I’m still unsure about how I’m going to accomplish everything. The second thing is fitting in. I haven’t worried about fitting in since high school. But for some reason, being in a large group that I spend all of my time with, I really hope I get along with everyone. They already seem too cool for me.

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Regretting my freakout

Okay, so after waking up this morning and realizing I typed out that whole entry last night, I am pretty ashamed. In the past, I’ve been able to handle changes and adapt well (excluding what happened last year with the apartment search, but hey at least I had the excuse that a dead body was found in my back yard), but somehow the whole being alone and not having someone that I could vent to face-to-face really pushed me over the edge.

I realize I haven’t exactly given this place a chance. Except for the part about my dorm being 2 miles from school, every other bad thing I’ve experienced could be fixed, eventually. I mean, I’m not the ideal person for this kind of situation. I’m not always outgoing and I get rather shy around people before I get to know them, but this semester may help me come out of my shell more.

I’m thinking of the positives that I have right now:

– My dorm room is pretty nice. If I get the light fixed, it will be perfect.

– I know how to get to the store that has everything I need, even if it’s a bit far.

– I have Internet access, even if it’s limited and slow.

– I have relatives in Denmark that I could call up for a favor.

– The 2 miles from campus thing could be my excuse to exercise.

So, it’ll be okay. And if not, well, in a few months it’ll be over.

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My major freakout

Warning: This is the freakout my foreign exchange adviser back at SFSU warned me about:

 

My uncle dropped me off back at my dorm yesterday. And I find that I’m just hating it more and more. There are so many things wrong.

First off, I don’t know why I’m the only exchange student who got stuck in this dorm building. All the other students either live 5 minutes from school or live together in this one big building that is next door to a shopping center. Instead, I get to live in this dorm building by myself where I know no one, and is 2 miles from campus and almost a mile from a grocery store. This morning I went grocery shopping and almost got lost because I didn’t think it’d be that far (also, I was pretty surprised when I had to pay for plastic bags). Then I decided to walk from my building to the school so that I could familiarize myself with the campus. I walked pretty far and thought I was pretty near. But when I pulled out my map, it turns out I was only halfway there. It took me forever to reach my campus, and on my way back, my still not-fully-healed ankle nearly gave out on me. 

Then I went to go online, but my Internet wasn’t working. It was working fine the first day I was here, but it’s been crapping out. I checked my ethernet cable and my computer said there was nothing wrong with the connection and in fact, the connection was 100 Mbps. But somehow the pages would not load for me. The only logical reason I could think of about why that happened was that it could be like how it was when I lived on campus at SFSU: each student was given an amount of bandwidth per week and if they exceeded that amount, the campus would cut off your Internet for the rest of the week. The only reason I’m able to type this all out here and hopefully post this is because I’m piggybacking off someone’s very slow wireless Internet. Thank goodness I bought that wireless card. I thought about contacting whoever’s in charge of the Internet here and asking for help, but when I opened the big dorm guide they gave me, it turns out every page is in Danish. “Fuck!” was my first thought. 

Then I decided to kill some time by cleaning my room and putting some stuff away but the light in the hallway where my closet is at doesn’t work, so unless I can see in the dark, I can’t put away my stuff. And of course, the number to call maintenance is in that book written completely in Danish. 

Argghh. I am totally getting the short end of the stick here. I wish I was living in that building with all the other American students so then I could just knock on their doors and see if they’re having the same problem and then we could help each other out. In my building I’m pretty much alone since most people haven’t moved in yet.

And the cell phone plans here are crazy. You get an average of about 120 to 260 minutes of talk time per month, and there are no free weekend or nighttime minutes, which means that’s basically all the time you get on the phone unless you cough up tons of bucks. Seriously, how am I supposed to do telephone interviews? And no, the school isn’t going to help me with that, it explicitly says that in our syllabus.

I know I should’ve been prepared for this. The adviser at the study abroad orientation I went showed us a big chart explaining that we would probably be depressed the first few months. Boy, was he right.

I’m also kicking myself for going to a country where I don’t know the language. I’m already getting lots of important-looking mail that I can’t read because it’s in Danish. I feel like a person with really bad eyesight who lost their glasses and now they have to struggle to make it through the haze. If only I knew the language, it would help so much. And that thing about most Danish people knowing English? It’s one big LIE.

And yes, I do know I’m bitching a lot, and it’s not the end of the world, but when I’m stuck somewhere where I have to spend all my time alone without much human contact to talk to, it can get pretty maddening.

 
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Lonely in a foreign country

This isn’t going to be a sarcastic, snarky commentary piece here.

I had a nice long, two-hour phone conversation with my friend, Benedicte today. She’s really awesome. She said that I was there for when she was a Frenchie studying in the U.S. So now she’s returning the favor. And, yes, I’m really glad she called me today. Over the course of the two hours I just poured it out. I’m trying to hold myself together and I haven’t told anyone else but, I’m miserable here. And it’s not because I don’t understand the culture or that I feel homesick. I just feel so lonely here. I don’t have any friends here. And I’m the kind of person that needs human interaction. Staying at my relatives’ place, I don’t have anyone my age that I could relate to. And unlike what I originally thought, not everyone here speaks English. I hope when school starts, I’ll be making more friends. I’ve been following up with my old friends on Facebook, and I feel bad that I’m missing all of their adventures back in the U.S. I’m wondering why the hell I chose to do this.

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Danish entry: metric conversion

Anyway, back to being in Denmark. My aunt has reluctantly gone back on her offer to buy me a cell phone for my time in Denmark. It’s because I told her that as a journalist, I’m on the phone constantly with people doing interviews. She thought I was only going to use the phone to call my friends once in a while. You see, the cell phone situation in Denmark is crazy. There’s no such thing as “anytime minutes” because every minute is an anytime minute. There are no free weekend, nighttime or mobile to mobile minutes. And each minute costs a lot. That’s why a lot of people here still rely on landlines. So I’m going out and gonna get myself a phone.

Oh and I wanted to explain the comment about why I said Germans were not so nice. Our first flight layover was in Frankfurt and we were stuck at the airport for a few hours. All the employees there seemed really rude, especially these two women at the check-in desk who completely ignored us for 6 minutes so that they could finish their gossip-fest. However, all the Danes at the Danish airports were so nice and really went out of their way to help us.

I kind of understand now why things are so expensive in Denmark. Unlike the U.S., they do not want tips because it is already included in their pay. Also, when you purchase anything, it includes a 25 percent tax. And to them, their goods and services don’t really seem expensive because the minimum wage there is the equivalent of over 20 dollars American. Hell, that’s over twice what I make. Speaking of money conversion, I’m getting better at conversion now. I’ve been thinking in metric terms nows, like how my dorm room is almost 5 kilometers (4 miles) from my university. But ironically, you wanna know what product doesn’t have such a price difference here than from the U.S? Gas.

P.S. I’m currently watching Hannah Montana dubbed in Danish. They even dubbed Billy Ray Cyrus’s singing. The voice actors do a pretty good job, especially on the Disney channel.

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My first few days in Denmark (AAAHHH!!)

I have been in Denmark for 3 days now I think. The time difference is so great that I feel completely lost with time and space. I remember being on a flight and getting less than one full hour of sleep being that it was around 4 a.m. in California and the next thing I knew, they told us the plane was going to land and that was already 3 p.m. the next day where we were landing. On our way to the University, my fellow American student, Lisanne and I nearly got lost so many times we almost cried.

I took lots of pictures, but being that I am currently on my uncle´s laptop right now, I can’t upload them yet. Being here is so jarring. It’s not like much as how I remembered it in my childhood. Even though most of the people here understand English, it’s still very scary to be off anywhere on my own because everything is in Denmark. Also, adjusting to the currency is really difficult. The American dollar buys you very little here, a result of a combination of the increasingly weak dollar and how Europeans generally charges almost double for products. Based on my calculations of the average currency exchange rate, each Danish kroner equals about 26 or 27 cents. However, everything here costs tons of kroners. For example, a simple Big Mac value meal here costs about 11 American dollars and a small pepsi costs 3 American dollars (but there are some Americans here who get confused by the exchange rate and think that things cost less here). I’ll never, ever complain about anything being expensive in the U.S. again.

A lot of other things are different here. Even the keyboard here is difficult to use because it’s in Danish. It’s taking me forever to type this entry because it takes so much time to find all the American characters and symbols. In fact, it takes me holding down three keys simultaneously just to make the @ symbol. Also, the one other big shocking thing about this country is that they don’t really believe in bathtubs. Almost every shower here has no separate floor for the shower. That means your bathroom floor is the same as your shower floor. I don’t know how they shower regularly, but I almost flood the floor every time I shower. To me, it’s so unsanitary but my aunt explains that’s easier to clean than American showers, because you can just mop the area.

And some things that an American might think is a given is the opposite here. For example, on buses, you enter through the back of the bus and you exit through the front. This makes it pretty easy to not pay the fare because the driver can’t check, but it’s amazing how many things here are based on the honor system. The Danes are a very honest people, and they are really nice (the Germans not so much).

Other than that, I’m getting really nicely acquainted with the place. The dorm room they gave me is pretty big and it’s really nice to have my own bathroom for the first time in my life. The shared kitchen is huge, and fully furnished. Yesterday, I introduced myself to two students living on my same floor. They were super nice and helpful. So I’m actually pretty happy about being here.

I’m not so sure about the other Americans though. I met this girl from Tennessee yesterday who is in my program. I thought she was really cool until I started talking about how California just legalized gay marriage. She then basically expressed that she hopes it will be overturned and that it will probably will. She said she’s from the Bible Belt, where they are really conservative and all that. Great, just what I needed. I later spoke to my Danish student mentor about conservatives and liberals, and it’s pretty funny how the Danes here refer to liberals as “progressives”. I really like that.

Currently I am staying at my aunt and uncle’s (aunt’s husband) house, which is almost a 2-hour drive from my university. I’m staying here for about 8 days because my grandma is on vacation and won’t be back until August 7th and she really wants to hang out with me. My relatives, at least this family, has been pretty wonderful to me. My cousin, Vivi, has been teaching me a lot of Danish phrases and words. I’m always scared I’m going to butcher their language, but not as much as I am scared to appear as an arrogant American who thinks English is everything. Their language requires a lot of movement from the front of the tongue. But I really want to learn. My cousin, Kelvin, only speaks Danish, so it’s really difficult to communicate with him.

Overall, I hope this semester will go well. I already know I’ll be extremely fit when I come back to the U.S. The people here are very fit and just walking down the streets, half of the people could be featured in Abercrombie ads. It’s because the price of food is so high and there is so much walking required to get anywhere. Also, their genes have a little something to do with it.

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