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Pirates, birthday, a really old man, and rainbows: my short study tour in review

Forget those 6-page philosophy papers where you spend 2 hours just thinking about how to write the first sentence.  Or all of those organic chemistry exams that my roommates always complained about last year.  Or pouring through chapters of Plato’s Republic.  Think that’s hard?

Try writing a journal about the past few days in Denmark, when I visited 3 different cities, met 20-some new students and 2 professors, sampled new plates of Danish food, listened to “happy birthday” at 7:15 on Thursday morning, cooked Danish meatballs with curry sauce from Morocco, applied for a Russian visa, almost pummeled my head on the iron ceiling of a German bunker, and heard my professor’s personal account of waterboarding, which he tried just to see what it was like.

My biggest worry – and what makes it so hard – is that I’ll forget to write something down and share it with you.  But I guess its impossible to not do that.  Why don’t you book a flight to Copenhagen so I don’t have to worry so much?

It’s a lot easier doing this with pictures, so here’s a montage of some highlights from my short study tour to Western Denmark.

Forget the swords, these pirates are going heavy-duty

Forget the swords, these pirates are going heavy-duty

At the Danish military police HQ, looking at a Somali pirate boat with weapons/supplies inside

At the Danish military police HQ, looking at a Somali pirate boat with weapons/supplies inside

"Boy" with some boys

“Boy” with some boys

In the Rainbow tunnel overlooking Arhus

In the Rainbow tunnel overlooking Arhus

Celebrating the big 21 - Arhus style!

Celebrating the big 21 – Arhus style!

At the highest point in Denmark - which means I'm officially the highest human being in Denmark

At the highest point in Denmark – which means I’m officially the highest human being in Denmark

This guy was buried in a bog over 2000 years ago - now that's what I call a senior citizen.

This guy was buried in a bog over 2000 years ago – now that’s what I call a senior citizen.

our tour guide at the "Western Wall" - German fortifications during WWII

our tour guide at the “Western Wall” – German fortifications during WWII

Jelling Stone

Depiction of Jesus

Jelling Stone

A lion – to symbolize the strength of the Danish kingdom

Harold Bluetooth, the second King of Denmark, erected the Jelling Stone in the mid-900s.  It says that 1)he is honoring his deceased parents 2)Denmark is united 3)Denmark has converted to Christianity

Harold Bluetooth, the second King of Denmark, erected the Jelling Stone in the mid-900s. It says that 1)he is honoring his deceased parents 2)Denmark is united 3)Denmark has converted to Christianity

The short study tour is one of the things I love most about DIS.  Professor and students don’t just show up to class a few times per week and read through books and powerpoint slides.  They get on a bus with you and will go on an adventure.  They’ll take you to bunkers, naval frigates, mosques, embassies, and breweries.  They’ll know its your birthday and bring you a croissant and a few Danish flags on the bus to celebrate.  At the same time, you get to know your classmates a whole lot better.  Can’t wait for the week-long trip to Bosnia!

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In other news, I found a Ukrainian Catholic church this afternoon and met some of the nicest people at Mass.  They invited me to their parish reception afterwards, and all of us gathered to have some lunch.  They were so curious about my experiences in America and Ukrainian background, and were impressed by my Ukrainian speaking!  I was put on the spot – they asked about my family heritage, why I valued my Ukrainian background, how my parents and grandparents adjusted after immigrating to the States (some of them were recent immigrants to Denmark and wanted advice!).  I’m happy to find this little Ukrainian community in Copenhagen, and I will most definitely be back to the parish!

Time to eat, go to the gym and dive into some homework!  I’ve got 2 presentations and an awesome essay about the legality of the US Navy Seals’ raid on bin Laden’s compound due this week.  Yep, it’s actually called “study” abroad, don’t you know?  Time to focus on the “study” part.  Wish me luck!

Moves like Jagger?

As I’m sitting here at my desk enjoying some home-made pancakes (thanks to my roommate for the extra batter!), I would be remiss to not mention something that every cultural enthusiast wants to talk about: entertainment.  Yes, there is such a thing as good Danish entertainment!  Sure, Copenhagen has been somewhat “Americanized,” just like any major city.  At bus stops there are movie posters for Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty; bright signs for McDonalds and Burger King seem to clash with the dark, medieval-looking buildings that surround them; John Mayer and Taylor Swift can definitely be heard inside coffee shops and bars; and it seems like there’s a 7-Eleven on every major corner.

But against this backdrop, the Danes have held their own.  Here’s two examples from the past week:

1) As part of a day trip for my Danish Language & Culture class, we were required to watch a movie about the Danish Resistance during WWII.  Sounds cool, except is was also at the ungodly hour of 8:30am on Wednesday morning (we usually have no classes on Wednesdays!).  Charlotte, our wonderful teacher (we call everyone by their first names here – it still feels weird), bought us some freshly baked cinnamon buns (the bakeries in Copenhagen are unbelievable) to keep us enthused.  So while many of our fellow students were sleeping in back at the kollegium, we watched Flame and Citron, a gripping Danish movie that told the story of two soldiers in the Danish underground.  Check out the trailer here:

This film was incredible!  Masterfully shot, a gripping narrative, and superb acting that could probably win a few awards at the Oscars.  After a while, you forget you’re even reading subtitles, or that it’s only 8:30 in the morning.  A highly recommended movie for anyone who likes great movies (I think that means you).

2) Professor Charlotte (I’ll drop the “professor” part eventually) also showed our class example number 2: the “Danish Mick Jagger.”  This guy won an award for the best Danish song of the past few decades.  It’s called “Kvinde min”:

Maybe not exactly the Rolling Stones, but you can sort of see the resemblance, right?  Notice how the words come out of his mouth: in Danish, every syllable is from the back of the throat, so the words sounds a bit thicker in my ears.

These are just two of my favorite examples, and of course there’s been plenty more, like that beating Danish techno-pop that makes your head go nuts.  That’s usually on the weekend menu.

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