31 August 2009

it's gonna be a long cold winter

but until then, i'm making the most of what's left of summer. tomorrow it will already be september. can you believe that? i sure can't. i'm going to go to sweden for my last week of holidays. i'll visit my host family in the country and one of my best friends in the world in göteborg, and hopefully go kayaking with her. i can't wait. i need some nature, although i've had small tastes of it in the last few days: yesterday i went to a town a little north of copenhagen called klampenborg, which has the world's oldest theme park, bakken, and a huge park through which elk roam freely. so i went to bakken with some other exchange students (more stoked on the people-watching than the rides after a long saturday night) and then we wandered around the "woods." actually, i think it is fair to call the area woods, or a forest, because the park is so huge. and like i said, there are elk there. they're not fenced in or anything, so if you want to see them, you have to find them. which we did, tromping through nettles and all just for a glimpse of some impressive antlers. it was a nice afternoon, and a good way to end a great weekend. i spent my weekend with my flatmates - maybe, at this point, i should start using the word friends - on friday night just hanging out in our kitchen, then at a barbeque at someone's apartment on saturday. it was very hyggeligt, with candles, music, lots of beer and wine, grilled chicken, and even corn on the cob. yum!

that is a face on a wall. what?!

taking a carriage ride looks like a good thing to do on a sunday afternoon.

at bakken.

it sprinkled for like five minutes. typical.

the beech tree is proudly featured in denmark's national anthem


things you can eat

butter flower! if it reflects yellow on your chin, it supposedly means that you like butter. who doesn't?

the elk

i'm baking cookies, i'm drinking tea, i'm packing my things, and tomorrow, i'll get on a train.

29 August 2009

why i'm here

people are constantly asking me why i chose to come to denmark. a couple of days before i left, i was told by an old man in my hometown's library that "copenhagen is not denmark." it's true. copenhagen is very much a part of denmark, a watering hole, the place that all the country's roads lead to, but it is not, by any means, representative of the sum of all of denmark's parts. if it is, well, it's not exactly proportional representation.

what i mean is this: copenhagen plays host to the "new danes," the immigrants (usually not-so-favorably referred to as "foreigners"), copenhagen is where the fashion and design scenes are happening, copenhagen is where the overpriced designer stores - the same as you can find in any other metropolis - are, and copenhagen is where i live. i have to admit, i don't understand this lifestyle. i don't understand thousand-dollar bicycles, six-dollar cups of coffee, misunderstood workers, or suburban sprawl. but like a louis vuitton store, these phenomena can be found anywhere in the world. i guess what i mean to say is that i do not understand cities, at least not on a mainstream level.

so, really, i don't know what this "denmark" i am living in actually is. is it the farmers i see on t.v., or the pork i don't buy in the supermarket? the trains that efficiently slog from one end of the country to the other, two islands away? is it simply the danish flag, said to have descended on the danes in a battle against estonians in the 13th century? since i don't know what denmark is, it's hard for me to explain why i'm here. i chose to come here because i developed a crush on copenhagen from the moment i initially stepped out of the central train station on vesterbrogade over two years ago. so i came back. to what? to five-dollar ice cream, to eating cheese with every meal, and to the most gutteral language i've ever had the fortune to encounter.

26 August 2009


the days off from school have been nice, even though they're coming at a time when everyone else is just starting up with school again. i can see, now, how the university will be for the rest of the year: students, faculty, and staff coming and going by my dorm on their way from the metro station to the university or vice versa. many come on their bicycles, some of them in heels.

i spent my day today looking for a job in vesterbro, one of the neighborhoods of copenhagen that is not too far from where i live. i left a couple of resumes at places that seemed promising, but it is unlikely that they'll call me back. i don't know what to do next.

so far, august has flown by and i am already planning for september: a philosophy class, a danish class, a capoeira class just for fun. my hall is finally starting to cook common meals and eat together, which is really nice, and it will only be nicer with the onset of fall and then the creeping winter.

american grapefruit in denmark - globalization blows my mind. is the U.S. even a good place to get grapefruit from? i guess california definitely is.

rådhuset (city hall), quarter past noon

nice vines

so modern

i swear i am living in the future

24 August 2009

"slut" means "over" in danish

i am DONE with my summer danish course - and stoked, because not only did i actually end up learning some stuff, but i got a 12 (comparable to an A, the highest grade in the danish system) for the entire course. now i have two weeks to relax before my fall courses start! it's looking like i'll get some summer after all, even if it is belated.

i went to copenhagen's main library today. it's pretty awesome. not only do they have a café (i'm starting to think this is a standard feature in danish libraries - saying that danes love their coffee is not an understatement), but they also have check-in machines. no, seriously - what the hell? i understand self check-out, but these check-in machines - which are where you return your books - are too much. i guess they're cool; they save the librarians a lot of work. they even give you a receipt so you um, i don't know, have evidence that you returned your book. so after spending a good five minutes figuring out how to return the book i had previously borrowed, then scouring the stacks looking for something readable (it turns out that "english" and "american" are different languages here, and i was only looking in the british section at first, wondering why i couldn't find any hemingway or vonnegut), i was worn out by the time i had to figure out how to work these uniquely danish check out machines. see, they don't give you a library card here. instead, you scan your health insurance card. well, whatever. i'm now safely back in my dorm room with hemingway's "the sun also rises" and vonnegut's "timequake", as well as a novel by tama janowitz, whom i've never heard of before.

it pisses me off that in virtually every swedish or danish library i've been to (okay, only three, but still!) you can find tons of nick hornby and marian keyes books, but not dostoyevsky or cormac mccarthy. i guess nick hornby is easier to read than cormac mccarthy... but seriously, who is picking these books, and why don't they balance out the mush with stuff that actually has literary value?

anyway, here's my weekend in pictures.

how we roll - kelsey, dene, and danny in nørrebro

i love the "flea markets" here, even if they're more like neighborhood yard sales. at this one, i got a great vintage dress and a nice pair of flats.

danish design for sure - lots of copper and glass

maybe i don't need to miss santa cruz so much after all...

this, i guess, is an upside-down viking ship!

boats heading for a bridge. by the way, i love the smell of the harbor. ahh.

more of islands brygge/the harbor.

on sunday i went to malmö to see a sonic youth exhibition. it was sick.

cute street art in malmö

and you know you're back in copenhagen by the "bevar christiania" (save christiania) sticker ... and the millions of bikes.

21 August 2009

two months

as of today, i've been living in copenhagen for two months: long enough that i could stop keeping track now, but i won't. i think yesterday was our last proper day of summer - rain is predicted for this weekend and the coming week (as usual), and then "real" school starts up again. good thing i went to the harbor and did my reading, sunbathing and swimming the last two afternoons!

i've never read anything by bret easton ellis before. he is insane, but amazing. or maybe just scary.

i still haven't figured out what, exactly, i am taking this semester, which is making me nervous. i've never not had a schedule at least three months in advance before. i keep thinking, what if i don't get the classes i want? if the class is full? if i don't sign up in time? but the school system here is different from the good old u.c.: classes here, apparently, don't fill up; if there are too many students they just get a bigger room. also, apparently you have until halfway through the semester to sign up for the course exams, so i don't really need to worry about making that deadline. and yes, you sign up for the exams separately from the courses themselves. and i think i'm only going to be taking two courses (!) since they're 15 units each and a full semester load is 30 units. i'm excited - i'd always rather have fewer, more intensive classes than more, superficial classes.

(in danish there are two words for "more," "mere" and "flere." "mere" is used for stuff that is uncountable, while "flere" is used for countable items, e.g. classes. so the "more" i used in the last sentence would, in danish, be "flere." i really wish we had this in english - it eliminates a lot of ambiguity.)

international night at studenterhuset (the student house, a bar run for and by students downtown) - crowded and too stuffy

just some wednesday night copenhagen bike traffic.

on thursday, our last day of actual danish lessons, we had a potluck breakfast in class. it was so nice! someone even brought a homemade pear tart, and someone else brought some luxurious blueberry and rhubarb (there is a lot of rhubarb stuff here. i guess it grows really well in the north - they grow lots in iceland, who knew) muffins from a local bakery. there was also, of course, tons of bread, jam, cheese, etc. it was a great way to end the class on a high note. if only we could have done that every day... the three and a half hours would have passed so much faster.

today was the last day of my intensive eight-week danish course and the day of our final written exam. it went pretty well, i thought, and was a lot easier than i anticipated. however, i am still really nervous about the oral exam coming up on monday: we have to talk about a random topic in front of our teacher and a "neutral" examinator (is that the word i'm looking for? i have no idea what the back-up person is called) and then answer questions, hopefully in grammatically-correct and properly-inflected danish. i feel a little better about it than i did a week ago, because i've been speaking a lot more danish lately, now that some of my hallmates are home. we can actually have conversations now. basic ones, and i have to ask for a lot of clarification, but still! i'm just glad they speak danish for me... even if my responses are mostly, "oh, okay, cool" and a lot of nodding.

by the way, i am putting up more pictures here http://www.flickr.com/photos/mayaweeks/!

16 August 2009

i'm a cuckoo

i've been listening to belle & sebastian a lot lately: they always fit my mood. i had the song "i'm a cuckoo" stuck in my head for my last two days in reykjavik, and i had my ipod with me but i didn't have the song on it, so i was just singing to myself on the empty streets by the seaside: i'm glad to see you, i had a funny dream, and you were wearing funny shoes, you were going to a dance, you were dressed like a punk but you were too young to remember...

scavenging on amager
(photo stolen from genevieve)

hygge i københavn

it's a beautiful city

a green city

so i am here, and as much as i love it, i can't help thinking about where to go next. in october i want to take a surf trip to the basque country in the north of spain. too bad i don't know anyone there. there is this thing about us only children, i think: we do what we want. we think pretty highly of ourselves, but of you, too.

it's been a good weekend. i finished a painting. it had been too long since i'd messed around with acrylics. aside from that, i went to a d-themed costume party as a decade (the 1970s) and watched a zillion episodes of beverly hills 90210 and drank tea with my friend genevieve. i've been denying that summer is ending, but it really is a short-lived season here. like spring is in coastal california, if you even catch it. there is already a definite chill in the air, and i no longer dare to go anywhere without a sweater in my purse.

her står jeg (between an m and two a's)

my picture wall

and my bathroom for good measure

laundry day

by the way, does anyone read this? please say hello!

13 August 2009

nemt og hurtigt/quick and easy

you can tell how a person feels
by the way in which they inflect.
we do it in english: the phenomenon is
no more of a european attribute than
swimming naked under a full moon.
if you don’t know what you want
to say, it can be difficult to speak.

this is a wasp, or maybe a yellowjacket.

we spent like half an hour going over the two different words for "if" (hvis and om, in case anyone is interested) in danish today. it's really not that difficult: hvis is for conditionals, and om is interchangable with the english "whether" when you translate it. stuff like this makes me want to teach english.

i'm becoming a little nostalgic, listening to port o'brien and remembering being fifteen and stuck in a small town with all my friends, dancing in the dark in parking lots. the shit you deal with then is so different than when you have too many options, and too many choices to make. like, which bread should i buy, should i even decide to go to the bakery?

for real.

why have i never listened to bon iver before?

it's starting to feel like fall. not yet, please, not yet.


10 August 2009

grounded, not rooted

so much excitement in the last several days! i've gotten to spend time with old friends (in form of visits and packages from the other side of the world - i've already gotten three mix cds from the U.S., which are absolutely delightful) and new, and had some interesting interactions with strangers. my friend allie, who i go to university with, came here last weekend for the semester. i am stoked to have a real friend in this city, someone who i know from home.

allie og jeg på fest

one day when i was sick last week i went to amager strand to get some much-needed vitamin d

after danish ended for the week last friday afternoon, i went to islands brygge (i think i've explained islands brygge several times - it's one of those special places in the city where danes and the rest of us alike go to hang out, eat ice cream (or apples) and drink beer (or soymilk) and enjoy each others' company. lots of sommerhygge. sometimes people sunbathe there half-naked in the middle of the day. sometimes they skinny-dip. whatever.) with my friend genevieve and her friend gabrielle. they took lots of pictures. i forgot my camera and drank their soymilk. really nice. i spent that evening at their apartment; it was really cozy. genevieve lives in vesterbro, which is really different from amager. it's a established neighborhood, with its own character and history. the ups: a good flea market and an excellent bakery, as well as lots of interesting clothing stores. the downs: the roads constantly turn into little cobblestone walkways, and this guy tomcat has tagged the entire neighborhood, even covering up some really cool street art with his tags.

swimming area - islands brygge

have i mentioned that denmark is painfully cute?


a brilliant danish pålæg (topping): chocolate for your bread! why don't we have this in the U.S.? is it because we don't eat enough bread?

tea and sugar and good company

yes i want to eat that

in vesterbro

saturday was a day for flea markets (i got, among other things, a pair of navy blue doc martens for $8 - score), friends, and a little sightseeing. we walked across the entire city, finally doing the tourist thing and seeing the little mermaid (hans christian andersens little mermaid). funnily enough, there were also ugly ducklings/baby swans there. like in the ugly duckling, you know? we caught two fish in one net, seeing icons of two of the most famous stories by, probably, denmark's most famous author. the tourists at the little mermaid were definitely more entertaining than she was herself, and anyway, we were too tired to battle everyone to pose with her. so we got ice cream instead. ice cream is a recurring theme in my life.

den lille havfrue

this is a man pulling a hot-dog wagon

that evening, i went to a concert in christiania. i went with genevieve, gabrielle, and genevieve's friend from home, and patch showed up, too! two punk bands opened for the main act. it was my first punk show ever, although i'm twenty and from california. there is some irony there, no? the band that headlined, sort stue, is a danish hip-hop group, and they were incredible. i'll just say that they actually played their instruments, including four keyboards, a violin, and a stand-up bass, and had tons of energy. they also sang almost entirely in danish, and, as bizarre of a language as danish is, it lends itself incredibly well to rap. they drop half of their letters anyway, so the words mesh together really well.

danish punk rock

i didn't get any pictures of sort stue: i was too busy dancing.

in christiania we met this character from finland who told us about how he is a traveller and is all about being grounded, not rooted. we thought he was sleeping on the stage where we were sitting when he sat up and started talking to about finnish mysticism.

sunday - more ice cream and more walking. walking and talking and talking and walking.

i ran about four and a half miles both today and yesterday. my legs hurt. i went around all day today thinking it was tuesday.