there are those songs that you hear and you are immediately hit with nostalgia and longing for a certain place. so, here is my playlist for my semester here in copenhagen.
flaws - bastille // skinny love - bon iver // never gonna change - broods // bridges - broods // our lives - the calling // quelqu’un m’a dit - carla bruni // the mother we share - chvrches // we sink - chvrches // night sky - chvrches // dust clears - clean bandit // rather be (feat. jess glynne) - clean bandit // youth - daughter // shot me down (feat. skylar grey) - david guetta // lego house - ed sheeran // give me love - ed sheeran // deeper - ella eyre // out of it - fallulah // out of my league - fitz and the tantrums // helena beat - foster the people // ways to go - grouplove // you make my dreams come true - hall&oates // all night - icona pop // amsterdam - imagine dragons // hear me - imagine dragons // cha-ching (till we grow older) - imagine dragons // thunder - jessie j // m.a.a.d city - kendrick lamar // jubel - klingande // all i want - kodaline // look away - lo-fang // when we’re fire - lo-fang // i follow rivers - lykke li // she will be loved - maroon 5 // jalousi - medina // hurricane - ms mr // young blood - the naked and famous // la la la (feat. sam smith) - naughty boy // sweater weather - the neighbourhood // carried away - passion pit // little secrets - passion pit // fall in love - phantogram // let go (feat. kele) - rac // feel the love (feat. john newman) - rudimental // waiting all night (feat. ella eyre) - rudimental // money on my mind - sam smith // simple song - the shins // harbour lights - a silent film // sweet disposition - the temper trap // another love (zwette remix) - tom odell // step - vampire weekend // everlasting arms - vampire weekend // next in line - walk the moon // anna sun - walk the moon // heart skipped a beat - the xx
Our travel break officially started yesterday, but as I’ve been dying to see Barcelona (specifically La Sagrada Familia), since sixth grade Spanish, when my friend asked if I was willing to skip two days of class to go visit the city with her, I jumped at the chance.
After a quick plane ride that stopped in Zurich, I finally arrived in the beautiful Catalan city. We stayed in an apartment through AirBnB and met four amazing flatmates, all of who were willing to show us around the city and cook traditional Spanish dishes with us.
Here’s a snapshot of part of the room we stayed in:
Although we were all ridiculously tired by our early morning flights, we rallied and decided to go see La Sagrada Familia. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1883, but he unfortunately died in a tragic tram accident before it was completed. It has been under construction ever since, and is completely breathtaking. The entire building is built off of the simple concept of nature, and to say that it is a masterpiece is an understatement.
The next day, we got up rather early because there was so much to see! We ventured to the center of the city and visiteda local market, lots of plazas and cathedrals, but most importantly, the Picasso Museum. The museum was absolutely fascinating as we got to see the progression of Picasso’s work from his start in impressionism all the way to him perfecting the art of cubism.
There was a really interesting section in which Picasso reinterpreted Velazquez’s Las Meninas, and he focused on specific characters within the painting and reinterpreted them in a variety of ways.
Another exhibit inside the museum that was particularly interesting was the entire section dedicated to modern artists reinterpreting Picasso’s La Guernica and Las Mademoiselles de Avignon.
Photos were strictly forbidden inside the museum, but here are some photos from our second day in Barcelona!
The best part of the entire day was making our way down to the beach, and sticking our toes in the cold Mediterranean Sea!
Our second day came to a close, but the third day was filled with even more adventures as we visited Park Guell. It was originally designed to be a high end residential area, but when the funding dried up, the government simply opened it as a park open to the public:
Overall, it was a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to visit Barcelona again!
Today is March 19th, which means I have officially been in Denmark for the past two months. I was sitting at a coffee shop today, talking with some friends, when we all had the sudden realization that we were happy. It seems like such a simple concept, and the fact that we all stopped and had a collective “I’m happy” moment might seem ridiculous to some, like why do they need to stop and think about it, did they not learn the concept of happiness as kids, but to us, it was special.
After I returned to my kollegium, I was working on (and now procrastinating) an essay while eating a pomegranate, when all of a sudden, I had the same “I’m happy” moment again.
I think I finally understand why Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world.
It’s the idea of living life to the fullest while simultaneously enjoying the simple things in life. Both of these phrases sound so cliche, like something pre-teens would quote and use as Facebook statuses, but I understand them.
It’s the idea that you should live while you work, instead of waiting until you retire to actually go out and have a life, travel, and explore the multitude of cultures around you. The Danish welfare system is so complete that many Danes actually take a year off in between gymnasium (their version of high school) and college to work and travel. Whether it’s a trip to a neighboring European country, or a worldwide adventure to Asia, North America, or South America, these rewards seem so much more to them because they go out and work and save up money beforehand just to splurge it all on these trips. And they don’t just do the stereotypical, touristy things, they actually go out and explore and try to integrate into whatever culture they’re visiting.
It’s the idea of hygge, or coziness. My favorite definition of hygge is a complete absence of anything annoying, taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things. In America, we usually don’t light candles unless there’s a power outage. However, here in Denmark, candles are always lit at cafes, in homes, pretty much anywhere you go. They create a cozier and much more intimate atmosphere. Hygge doesn’t have to be something that’s extremely extravagant, it can just be a night in, with your closest friends and a glass of wine. It’s that simple.
It’s the idea of simplicity. In America, we’re always striving to make more to buy more. Here, simplicity is above all. My visiting family’s house is tiny; there’s a kitchen, a sitting room, a bathroom, and a bedroom. But it’s all they need. There is no clutter anywhere, the entire apartment is designed simply in black and white, with minimalistic decorations. Floating bookshelves are arranged deliberately on the walls to act as stands for a trio of statues. The only break in color is an extremely warm and comfy orange blanket that lies on the couch. But it’s refreshing.
They always say studying abroad is a life changing experience, but I’m viewing it as a life revealing experience. I’ve been encouraged to look at so many topics and ideas from a multitude of perspectives, and it is, for a lack of a better phrase, an eye-opening experience.
I’m happy, and clearly, so are the Danes.
Last Friday marked the end of Core Course Week, or the short study tour and a few other lectures at DIS. As part of the European Politics Program, we traveled to visit the Royal Life Guard, which was about a hour north of Copenhagen. Although it was really early in the morning, and I had only gotten three hours of sleep due to staying up to watch the Super Bowl with my kollegium the night before, the lecture itself was really interesting.
We learned about the Danish army, and where they were situated throughout the world. There are obviously a few forces spread throughout all of Denmark, and others in places such as the Middle East and Africa, what was most surprising to me was the fact that they had also situated troops within the Arctic Circle. Although it does make sense, as Denmark owns Greenland, which is located within the Arctic Circle, it was still a bit of a shock.
After the Royal Life Guard, we traveled about three hours to a restaurant in South Denmark where we stopped for lunch, and I had my first traditional Danish meal composed of roast pork with gravy, baked potatoes, and red cabbage, which was absolutely delicious.
Finally, on the last excursion of the day, we arrived at Dybbøl Banke in Sønderborg in the Schleswig Holstein region, which is a region that has been disputed for between Denmark and Germany for the past hundred years. It’s also where the Battle of 1864 took place, and is comparable to the Battle of Gettysburg from the American Civil War.
Although the Danes lost the battle for the control of Schleswig and Holstein to the Prussians, it is still symbolic and extremely relevant to current day issues such as the relationship between the Danes and the Germans, and the minorities of either ethnicity that live in the other country, which was expanded upon the following days of our short study tour.
The patterns of the clouds were a bit distracting:
The next day, we left to go to Germany, but on the way, we made a quick stop at the University of Southern Denmark where we got a lecture on the impact of living in the border region between Denmark and Germany. At the University of Southern Denmark, there is an exchange program between it and the University of Flensburg, which is located in northern Germany.
At the university, we learned about cross country buying, namely, a lot of Danes like to cross borders into Germany in order to buy alcohol, candy, and soda, as it’s a lot cheaper there. Along the same idea, a lot of Germans would like to immigrate to Denmark because of the complete welfare system, but there are stringent requirements that they must follow. Those who are able to make it over to Denmark also must get used to the higher prices and much higher taxes. An example that was given was the idea of buying cars in Germany.
As expected, as a lot of cars are produced in Germany, it is much cheaper to buy German cars in Germany. However, as Germans move into Denmark, they have to pay anywhere from a 100% to 200% tax on their car, which is like paying for their car again. Some people may try to avoid it, but if they do, neighbors are quick to let the local authorities know, which creates certain tensions in the Schleswig Holstein region.
After the lecture, we were finally on our way to Germany. We stopped at Senator Kroog for lunch, which is located in the Schleswig portion of Germany. The entire town is adorable, and it looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel.
Here are also some pictures from a lovely church in the town:
We also went to the A.P Møller Skolen in Schleswig, which is a high school donated by the Merck shipping company specifically for the Danish minority that lives in northern Germany.
Finally, we arrived at our last destination on the short study tour: Lübeck, Germany. After unpacking at the hostel, a few of us set out to find dinner and a bar to unwind at. We ended up at the Jazz House, where we were served (multiple) half liter cocktails for 8.90 euro, or about $11.40.
The next morning, we got a tour of Lübeck from the most interesting man with the best mustache I have ever seen.
The story behind the statue of the Devil is that he discovered that they were building a church in Lübeck and became enraged, and danced on the concrete before it had fully settled. Then, the builders promised to balance out the purity of church by building a pub right across the entrance of the church, so the Devil would sit on the steps of the church, waiting for the sinners to come out of the pub.
Finally, cake from the most famous marzipan store in Europe:
I promise I’ll blog about Core Course Week, which was last week, today after class, but for now, here’s an interesting article about Switzerland, a country that is not a member of the European Union but is surrounded on all sides by EU countries!
They recently passed a referendum limiting the amount of immigrants that can come into Switzerland, including those who are citizens of the European Union. This is an enormous controversy, as per the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and the more recent Schengen Agreement of 1995, people are included in the “common market” that is the cornerstone of the entire structure of the European Union.
Although Switzerland is and has always been considered a neutral third party, as they haven’t joined the EU, people still considered them to be as open to the rest of Europe as any other member state.
This past week has been an anomaly in Danish weather; at least 5cm (around 2 inches) of snow every day, with harsher winds, and the temperature dipping down to record levels. Although it has become increasingly difficult to commute to and from DIS, the city has just become a beautiful winter wonderland.
Also, there’s just something about snow and black and white photographs that just make me really happy.
Luckily, I’ve discovered my new favorite (and thankfully cheap for Copenhagen standards!) coffee shop where I can sit in between classes and just catch up on some reading.
The name of the shop is actually ironic as there is no direct translation in Danish for the word please. Because of this, sometimes the Danes can come off as rude, but they’re honestly just a lot more straightforward than us when they want something, and it’s refreshing.
The only word you need to know in Danish. (It means cheers!)