About Last Week

Hej guys!

All is dandy in the Land of the Danes. We just finished up Core Course Week, which (for me) was a whole week devoted to my architecture studio. The first half of the week was spent in Copenhagen, sketching cool facades and listening to lectures and exploring the city. The second half of the week (Thursday – Saturday) was spent traveling around Western Denmark on one of those embarrassingly large, yellow, sleep-even-if-your-neck-breaks tour buses and attempting to draw absolutely everything.

We stayed in hostels, ran through rainbow mist, canoed, and looked at buildings until we couldn’t possibly look or think about buildings any more. It was GREAT.

PS. Today is a super special day because it’s littleA’s birthday! My sister is the bomb and she catches the spelling mistakes on my blog. I’m very lucky. Happy Birthday, chica.

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Week 4: Core Course Week

We looked at this building.

We looked at this building.

And this one!

And this wall!

And we sketched allllllllll of them. That's Tya on the balcony, sketching the castle!

And we sketched allllllllll of them. That’s Tya on the balcony, sketching the castle!

Milliken, anyone? Great Acorn Café?

Milliken, anyone? Great Acorn Café?

Isn't this dome just the coolest?

Isn’t this dome just the coolest?

View from inside one of the churches we visited.

View from inside one of the churches we visited.

One of the hostels we stayed at was on a lake!

One of the hostels we stayed at was on a lake! Tya’s sketching again.

And we got to go canoeing!

And we got to go canoeing!

We also had a bonfire where we roasted bread on a stick! It was the Danish equivalent of a s'more.

We also had a bonfire where we roasted bread on a stick! It was the Danish equivalent of a s’more.

Installation at a museum in Arhus - rainbow mist!

Installation at a museum in Arhus – rainbow mist

Also at the museum in Arhus: the Rainbow Panorama.

Also at the museum in Arhus: the Rainbow Panorama.

All of our view of the city were in color, which was super cool!

All of our view of the city were in color

looking down, AHHHHH!

looking down, AHHHHH!

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Not A Wikipedia Article About Copenhagen

I didn’t know that much about Denmark before I arrived here. I still don’t know that much, but as a belated intro to my life here in Copenhagen, I’ll share what little knowledge I do have.

Firstly and most importantly: recent studies have rated Denmark as the happiest country in the world. Maybe everybody’s so happy because they all know each other – this country has the general size and population of Maryland. And it has a queen. Which is pretty cool. Some DIS students went to the Royal Ballet last week and she was there, so the dancers bowed twice – first to the queen and then to the audience.

Happiness doesn’t necessarily translate to friendliness though, because (unlike Wofford) people don’t greet each other on the street or even say “excuse me” when they bustle by and knock your shoulder. The word for ‘please’ doesn’t exist in the Danish language. There are polite ways to order food and ask for favors, but the Danes simply don’t use one of the two magic words. Not to say that Danes aren’t nice – I’ve found that, overall, they’re a rather welcoming and fun group.

I’ve heard that these behaviors stem from the Protestant, socialist core of Danish society – which, above all, favors equality and rejects any form of hierarchy. Including calling bosses/professors/the queen/the janitor by anything else but their first name. (*don’t say ma’am don’t say ma’am don’t say ma’am don’t say ma’am*)

I’ve also been told that it’s hard to become Danish citizen, mostly because the benefits are so great (or not, I guess, depending on how you look at it). Citizens pay 60%ish of their income to the government. That chunck of change is counterbalanced by some serious government programs – including “free” health care and a fully funded education, even at the university level. I don’t know enough about the system yet to comment on its worth/success/efficiency, but I do think it’s more complex than it sounds. As a quick example: abortions are legal and therefore funded by taxpayer money. Food for thought.

In Denmark, there exists such a thing as “The Extremely Intense Hour Of The Copenhagen Bike Lane During Which No American Should Attempt to Bike”, commonly referred to as rush hour. The streets of this city are positively brimming with bikes. There might be more bikes than people. In fact, there might be more bikes than people and dogs and pigeons combined.

(^^No, that’s probably not true, but still.)

Denmark, called the Hat of Europe by its friends, is exclusively populated by blonde, blue-eyed people. That’s not racist. That’s an actual scientific fact. The Danes are planners, by nature, and are rumored to be born with an agenda book in one hand and a clock in the other. (Unlike the Spaniards, who just get me and the whole 15-minute-grace-window thing.)

Very Danish foods include meatballs, open-faced fancy sandwiches, hot dogs, and elder blossom juice. The aforementioned food is most expensive where I live: in Center City, the very heart of Denmark’s capital. Interestingly, Copenhagen was planned using a “finger method”. If you flip your right hand over, and hold it palm up, you’ve got the city [in the palm of your hand!!]. I live at the base of the palm – where the thumb bone meets the wrist bone (ahhhh haven’t taken anatomy).

SO. Anyway. I hope that was helpful description of Copenhagen. It’s very different from Granada, and I’m still learning the ins and outs of life in the city. I get a little less lost now that I’ve been here for a month (AHHHHHHH how has it been a month?!). But there’s still work to do – I’m drumming up the courage to order food in Danish, and I’m on the prowl for a run-in with the queen. I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Little Differences

1. The stoplights in Copenhagen turn yellow before they turn green. It kinda feels like Mario Kart’s “Get Ready…. GO!” signals.

2. Opening doors often requires two hands – a top latch has to be turned as the door handle is turned. Really rough if you’re holding architecture models in your hands. Sometimes we tag-team, and two people open the door together.

3. Toilet buttons are back.

4. There aren’t sheets? I guess it’s common to have just a fitted mattress cover and a duvet.

5. Danes wear a lot of dark colors. Black on black on black.

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Visiting Some Copenhagen Classics

copenhagen1

We found the Little Mermaid!

This stretch of buildings is called Nyhavn (pronounced "new-houn" - like "hound" but without the D).

This stretch of buildings is called Nyhavn (pronounced “new-houn” – like ‘hound’ but without the ‘D’).

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cow-lee-ner

That’s how you say my name in Danish! Or that’s what it sounds like, at least. moooooooo

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Week 2 in Copenhagen

Took the train to get to Egebakken - it was my first time using a Danish train.

Took the train to get to Egebakken – it was my first time using a Danish train!

The trains have a spot for your bike!

The trains have a spot for your bike!

My final presentation/paper for my 20th & 21st Century Danish Architecture class is on Egebakken, a co-housing project located an hour or so outside of Copenhagen. My project partner Jamie and I did our site visit on Wednesday.

My final presentation/paper for my 20th & 21st Century Danish Architecture class is on Egebakken, a co-housing project located an hour or so outside of Copenhagen. My project partner Jamie and I did our site visit on Wednesday.

Another site visit for my 20th & 21st Century Danish Architecture class was Brumleby - a state housing development. There's a 45 year waiting list to get into this one.

Another site visit for my 20th & 21st Century Danish Architecture class. Brumleby – a state housing development. There’s a 45 year waiting list to live here.

Part of our LLC bonding day was playing soccer with these goggles on. Such a mess, so much fun.

Our LLC (the “house” I’m living in this semester) had a bonding day on Saturday. Our social resident advisors (SRAs) refused to tell us where we were going. We ended up in a field with face paint on. We had eating contests, we played capture the flag, and had a generally wonderful time. We even attempted soccer with these goggles on. Such a mess, so much fun.

Part of our LLC bonding day was jumping into the Copenhagen harbor. It was cold and rainy but very, very fun.

My favorite part of our LLC bonding day was jumping into the Copenhagen harbor. It was cold and rainy but worth it.

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Starting Studio

Last week was a jumble of tacky glue, Exacto knives, and late nights with leftover pizza. It was my first week in studio, and it felt like a TV show.

We, the AD (Architecture & Design) students, were given our first assignment – a presentation and a model, due in one week. We were split up into groups of 4-5 and assigned buildings by the AD faculty. These buildings will be our site visits during our core course week. Remember how I said I chose to go to Austria & Switzerland? My group’s building was the Beyeler Foundation in Riehen, Switzerland (near Basel). It’s a museum, notable in design not only for its roof – which uses novel panel technology to filter natural light – but also for its superb relation to its surroundings. The architect, Renzo Piano, fit the building into the topography of the land and blurred the line between interior and exterior space through a conservatory, large floor-to-ceiling windows, and a classic reflecting pool.

I made a Scribd account just so I could show you our presentation. We presented Friday, after several sleepless nights. Did you know that the Beyeler Foundation has 216 of those little roof panels? Which we supported with 432 little 1cm sticks and 72 cross beams made of cardboard.

Thank God that Dad taught me how to score and cut a straight line when I was little. I was the only student in our studio of 11 who had never modeled before. I had weird flashbacks to my senior year physics project and I asked more questions than a kindergartner, but it was okay – mostly because my team was wonderful. We rocked the group dynamic. We worked in shifts and shared rulers and made 7/11 runs for coffee when the lines started to look like curves.

Plus I live in the Arts & Culture LLC with a bunch of architecture students – we suffered and celebrated together, giving knowing nods and little quips of support when necessary.

I couldn’t help but feel it was the first project in the rest of my life. (You know that song by MXPX? It’s from a Hilary Duff movie or something, and every time I start something big & exciting & new I think of it. It’s involuntary.) ANYWAY. I came to Denmark to do academics, to live and breathe and hopefully love studio. And that week, as my LLC friends so aptly put it, was my initiation. My plunge into architecture.

So far, so good, team. We have yet to get our grade (review?) back, so maybe the Beyeler project didn’t go as well as I think it did, but for right now – I’m loving architecture and architecture loves me.

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Build a Windowwwww, Build a Walllll

I've grown rather fond of the studio and its beautiful exposed beams.

I’ve grown rather fond of the studio and its beautiful exposed beams.

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Tya is adding little people to our model to demonstrate the scale (1:100).

Our model, pre-roof

Our model, before we completed the roof panels

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Tya, Thomas, & I built the model – this is the two of them carrying it back to the studio after our presentation.

Moving the models to the presentation rooms across the street. Dangerous business. Will it fit through the door? Can we safety take it down these stairs? Will it remain standing?

Moving the models to the presentation rooms across the street. It’s a dangerous business. Will it fit through the door? Can we safety take it down these stairs? Will it remain standing?

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Danish Conversations

Before I forget: this article was posted to the DIS Facebook page.

Although I don’t think I’ve been here long enough to comment on the linguistic differences between Americans and Danes, I think it’s an interesting article and a good explanation of how cultural differences can impact daily life and social interactions.

I’ve found that studying abroad requires a bit of social flexibility. There are a lot of little things (like the conversation patterns mentioned in the article) that influence the abroad experience – sometimes they can be incredibly frustrating and sometimes they just create a “gap”. Dean Lancaster tells a story during pre-departure orientation that has the bottom line of: “Going out to eat in a big group is very American and usually won’t help you learn about another culture”. It’s true, and her story is just another example of how social conventions shift when abroad.

I’ll try to pay attention to Danish conversation patterns so I can comment on the article personally. Since I’m not in a home stay, I signed up for a “Visiting Family” through DIS – I get paired with a Danish family for the semester, who hopefully likes me enough to invite me to dinner and teach me a bit about Denmark.

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