Sunday, January 29, 2012

My First Weekend in Odense

My last post ended with me getting home after 5 am on Friday morning. I was then able to sleep in until 2pm when I was woken up by an annoying phone call to my room (oh, btw, i have a phone in my room I guess?) my surprise, my luggage was FINALLY here!! I grabbed it an unpacked and instantly set up my laptop and started charging my tablet. But then tragedy struck. About 30 minutes after setting up my laptop the charger chord/brick for my laptop burnt out. Totally bogus because the power brick is supposed to handle 100-240v and the power supply here is 230v so I don't know what happened, but the reality is it broke.

I was sad so I took a nap for 4 hours...then I spent the rest of the night talking with people from my floor in the kitchen and later texting on my tablet and reading A Game of Thrones. I also found a radio station app on my tablet which includes Iowa Radio Stations. It doesn't have our major country stations or Kiss, but it does have 102.5 and 104.1 so I have been listening to them at night while I sleep.

Saturday morning Mads, Cecilie, and I went with Morten in his car to the Fyn Bazar (one A in danish) to look around. It is a middle eastern and asian bazaar with a lot of interesting ethnic clothing stores. I was able to buy a wallet to fit my danish money in, but it is only a LITTLE bigger than my normal wallet (which is BARELY too short to hold the danish money) so I can use it when I get back to America to replace my aging wallet. They also have a lot of fresh produce, one of Denmarks only food courts, and a butcher shop. From there we went back across town to go the post office. At the post office you walk in and press one of two buttons. Button 1 is to pick up a package, button 2 is to pick up tickets. If you order concert tickets or something like that, you can pick them up at the post office. After you press your button, a number gets spit out and when your number is called it is your turn. I actually prefer that to having to stand stationary in line. We then went to El Giganten (electronics giant), pretty much a Danish Best Buy, to buy a universal power adapter to replace my broken laptop one. Then we went to Bilke, the closest thing to a Walmart in Denmark, where I was able to buy Toilet Paper and groceries. I bought eggs, milk, cheese, meat, a darker bread (the Danes are all about their black rye bread here, but I am still to chicken to buy it so i went with a medium dark bread. Haven't tried it yet though!), nutella, butter spread, fruit, and cereal. There was a sale on cereal 6 boxes for 100kr (just under 20 dollars) so I got some. I was super stoked.

After getting back to the dorm I bought a bike from a Spanish exchange student who is going back home. Then I set up my computer and basically spent the rest of the day playing video games and texting Miranda. Needless to say, it was an amazing day! haha

Then today is Sunday. The day started with an early (for me) breakfast of cereal with a banana in it and nutell on toast, followed by a bike ride to the train station for a walking tour of Odense. My groups tour guide was a Ukrainian exchange student so he didn't really know much about the city either, but he did know more than us. The best part was just being able to talk to other international students. The surprising thing is that there are basically no other students from America that I have met, they are all european. Probably because most Americans like the english speaking countries in the UK or Australia/New Zealand, or the warmer southern European countries :P My group consisted of an italian girl Frederica (sp?), a German named Helen, a slovenian named Tina, a polish guy and girl, some other girl that I didn't ever talk to, and then Danni and Nikki from ISU. It was really neat how our group organically mixed up throughout the tour so we were always talking to new people. I look forward to seeing them again! At the end we stopped at a market that was open on Sundays (most danish shops are closed on sunday) where I found frozen pizzas, 2 pack for 30 kr. I bought two of them, making it 4 pizzas for around 10 dollars :D What a deal! That was my American move of the day...

After coming back home I fried up a few eggs on the stove top and then melted some cheese on them and placed it on toast. I finished the meal off with a banana and retreated to my room to eat some "MCENNEDY: AMERICAN WAY" brand chips-ahoy style cookies.

Now I am just chatting online and will play some more video games to round out the day, relaxing before orientation and classes begin this week. Thanks for reading!

Cecilie outside the post office, about to pick up her package!
Morten (don't even try to pronounce it. Hint, it's NOT pronounced Morten)
A breakfast of champions!

My First Days in Denmark

Much like the trip to get here, my first few days in Denmark have been a bit of a rollercoaster. My last post ended with me arriving by train in Odense around 11:30. I was then in a train station with no idea where to go or who I was supposed to meet. I realized that I hadn't arranged a meeting location with my buddy, Malu Jamil, nor did I have any way of contacting here. I walked around confused for about 10 minutes until I saw a couple girls walk into the station with signs that said "Welcome to Denmark". They were my welcoming committee!

From there Malu and her friend Anila took me by bus to Ikea to buy bedding for my room and to a small market to buy some groceries. I wasn't feeling too adventurous so I bought some bread, cheese, and some small packages of meat. We went back to Malu's apartment to start cooking a chicken to eat for supper. Then they brought me to my dormitory to drop off my stuff and to see my room. We also met Malu's other buddy, a spanish exchange student named Sandra that lives two doors down, and Sandra's friend Maria. We then went back to Malu's apartment where I promptly passed out. Keep in mind that I had only had 2 hours of sleep since waking up Tuesday (after a short night of sleep in a hotel). I woke up in time for a delicious chicken, rice, potato, and interesting reddish-orange sauce meal. Definitely a great way to start my trip here :-) They then brought me home so that I could continue sleeping my night away.

10 hours later I woke up and spent a couple hours in the kitchen on my floor. My living situation is this: I have my own bedroom and bathroom (pictures will be posted some day...after I clean) and I share a kitchen with 14 other people, it is actually a really nice arrangement. I met people and had a good time talking to them. They gave me their wifi passwords so I could use the internet from my tablet as my luggage was not here for me to use my laptop. I then passed out again for a 4 hour siesta. After waking up I chatted with Nikki, one of the twins from Iowa State that are studying here in Odense as well, and made plans to meet up with them downtown to meet their buddies and go out for the night. I was told to ask the bus driver where the "city hall" is, which I did. He was extremely unhelpful and did NOT tell me where my stop was, so I got off late and was unable to find the town hall. After walking around for about 45 minutes and getting lost, asking a couple people for directions and still receiving no help, I had completely missed the time that I was supposed to meet the girls. I decided to walk back to my dorm. do I get back? I then spent the next 60 or 90 minutes weaving through town trying to find my way back in the cold. It was miserable, but I made it.

At this point I was content to sit in my room and read all night, but Nikki messaged me and tried to get me to come out again. I told her they would have to come get me, but then my tablet died leaving me completely off the grid, no way to talk to the world. So there I was, laying in bed in my boxers reading "A Game of Thrones" at 10pm when I hear a knock at my door. I open it a crack and peek out to find that Nikki and Danni had sent somebody to get me and that I was being escorted to a party. I got dressed and rode on the back of a bike across town to an apartment where I met some new friends. I declined offers of beer, but was treated to a Danish drink called Fisk, which is a liquor flavored after fisherman's candy. The flavoring is licorice (black licorice, the only kind they have) and menthol. Yes, you read that right. Menthol. It basically tasted like cough syrup flavored mouthwash, but it was actually surprisingly pleasant. After chatting with the people and saying "skål" (danish for 'cheers') with every drink, it was midnight. By this point in america, if you haven't gone out, you're probably settling down. Not so, in Denmark. That's when the party starts. We then left for a bar downtown that has 2 for 1 beers on Thursday. It was an interesting experience in a dungeon-like setting. The bathrooms did have dyson blade hand dryers though, which I think should be standard in ALL bathrooms, public and private. After a couple beers, and a few more fisk shots at the bar, I was extremely surprised to hear a song from The Lion King and Spice girls played. The bar also had two stripper poles in it which actually had GUYS dancing most of the night. Not stripping, but goofing around. Funny to note: they were friends of the people we were there with...Also, at one point, a couple of those guys randomly undid their pants and danced with them at their ankles for a couple minutes and everybody acted as if that was normal. Eventually things started to die down, the crowd thinned out. There were two girls over in the smoking area of the bar making out for a while, so that was interesting. And then we cleared out at 5 am. In America the bars close at 2 or 3am, right? Well, in Denmark, 5 am is typical for a Thursday, and 6 or 7am or later is typical for the weekend. Nobody wanted to bike me home and I had no idea how to get back (remember, I was wisked away from my room earlier in the night) so I had to take a cab. I have never ridden in a cab before, but it was a 20 dollar cab fare. More motivation to get a bike!

That is enough for now, but stay tuned for more!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Departure Disaster

The last time I posted I had just left the airport after a cancelled flight. Well, as most of you know, the next couple days didn't go very smoothly either. My Mom, younger brothers, and Dad bid me farewell at the airport on Monday. Then my 6:58 flight out of Des Moines didn't actually leave until after 9 and didn't arrive in Chicago until after my connecting flight had left. United was kind enough to place me in the Hyatt Regency hotel for the night and gave me a couple meal vouchers. The flight itself was ok, but I don't really like the small planes. Takeoff/landing's are more frightening and the turbulence was worse.

Then on Wednesday I left the hotel (after enjoying a DELICIOUS Salmon sandwich, courtesy of United) and waited for my 2:22 flight to Frankfurt. The in-flight meal was an orange-chicken sort of dish with fried rice. Small, but altogether not bad. I watched Friends with Benefits for the first time. Justin Timberlake kind of has a weird voice, but DAMN does he and Mila Kunis make a hott couple. It was a fun movie. I also watched the 3D Glee Concert movie on the plane. Very disappointed with some of their song choices :-/ but it helped pass the time. It was an 8 hour flight, or so, but I was only able to sleep for 2 hours. I just couldn't get comfortable in the seats. But the first class/premier passenger seats. OMG I want to sit there some day. They pretty much get bed. I was jealous. After landing in Frankfurt I had a short layover before flying to Copenhagen. That flight was very short but included a breakfast with interesting cereal. It had fruit chunks and seeds and grains. I am pretty sure it had SUNFLOWER SEEDS in the cereal, but it was a very sweet tasting cereal, even compared to sugary American cereal but I am pretty sure it was WAY healthier.

After arriving in Copenhagen I went to baggage claim. I was actually not surprised when I found out that my luggage had not made it, just another inconvenience to deal with. Then I had to board a train to Odense, Denmark, the City I am studying in. I bought a ticket and made it to the platform, but from there I didn't really know what to do. A train pulled up and I got on, but then I thought it was the wrong one, so I got off. But some French business men were also trying to go to Odense and asked a staff person if this was the right train and she said yes so we hurriedly got back on right before it closed. They went into a different train compartment than me. I needed to borrow a phone to text my assigned "buddy" that was to pick me up at the train station, so I asked the people in my car and nobody would let then I walked across the train to find the French men again and they kindly let me use their phone. After that, though, somebody came up and informed me that I was in their seat (i don't know how to read train tickets...i've never been on a train before!) so I excused myself and went somewhere else. Luckily nobody made me move again, but I was nervous at every train stop. A 2 hour train ride later and I was finally in Odense!

That's all for this post, my next post will talk about my first few days in Denmark.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Departure Delayed

I am taking off a day later than planned after a couple flight cancellations today. I will now be taking off tomorrow at 6:58 in Des Moines, then leaving just after 10 from Chicago to Copenhagen.

The last couple days have been good, though! I got some late night McDonalds and watched Supernatural with Jenna and Miranda Wednesday, then I took Miranda out to Red Lobster for a "see you later" date Friday night. I was amazed by how much food she got for $15 dollars in their 4 course feast! I was feeling adventurous so I splurged on a meal that had lobster tail, mussels, scallops, and shrimp in pasta. It was delicious. After that we played some Mario Kart with my youngest brother and he beat us ALMOST every time. After that we watched "One Day", a pretty terrible movie based on what I imagine is a MUCH better book. The ending was sad and very well done, I just wish the rest of the movie had that same quality. Then Saturday morning we went to Panera for some Cinnamon Crunch bagels. Altogether a very delicious and enjoyable time!

Saturday I napped, finished Miranda's V-Day gift and I also had a cajun chicken pasta dinner with my grandparents. It was great to see them one last time before I jump the pond. I then stayed up super late playing video games with my broski Gilbert. I had some internet problems but still kicked ass. In case anybody cared :P

Today was the "fun" day...I woke up 4 hours before my anticipated "leave for the airport" time with nothing packed. Then I found out that the flight was cancelled and had to get it rescheduled. I got that figured out and had an extra 30 minutes to pack. I used every second! I finally got everything packed spent the last 10 minutes deciding which coat to take: Heavy winter oakley snowboarding coat OR lighter but more stylish, better fitting, peacoat? I went with the peacoat :-)

After arriving at the airport I was informed that my flight was once again cancelled and given a few choices for next day departures. I picked the same flight, 6:56, tomorrow. So hopefully that goes well for me! And the bonus is that it gives me one more chance at getting my Cell Phone in the mail before I leave. Otherwise I have to have it shipped to me :P I am now sitting with Miranda and Jenna while they do homework, relaxed and enjoying another night in the states. I really lived up to my mantra today, which is to just roll with the punches. If stressing about things made them better the world would be a different place, but it doesn't. So I didn't. And that is why today's quote is...

I also think stress is related to control. When you're in charge of your life, you tend to not care about losing control of things that don't really matter like traffic jams. -Marilu Henner

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Final Countdown

Howdy! My flight is just 5 short days away. This time Sunday I will be saying my goodbyes to a few friends and family members as I head off to face my first adventure: Airport Security. But before then I have plenty of loose ends to tie up.

Today I went to the bank to take care of my financial situation. The easy part was getting my mom added to my account so she can add money, wire me stuff, etc. while I am gone or do anything else that needs done. Just in case. But then we encountered problems...I put in an order for $500 worth of Danish currency (DKK) and then was going to order foreign currency travelers checks. This branch has nearly 0 experience dealing with foreign currency conversions and transactions, and 20 minutes later I found out that the travelers checks were only available in Euro's. From my understanding a Euro is about as useful in Denmark as a dollar, so I scratched that idea and instead asked if I could get a few thousand dollars in US Dollar Traveler checks to take with me. None of the banks had enough and it was more expensive to do that than it was just to wire money over to myself after I get there, so i had to scratch that idea. So finally we decided to just increase my order of cash DKK and pay to have my rent and deposit wired over to that bank. This was a 2 hour ordeal, but tomorrow I will have pretty danish money waiting for me.

What else is on my "to-do" list before I leave?

  • Applications (Freddy Court CA Application, SUV CA Application, Engineering Scholarship Application)
  • Printing my Plane Tickets
  • Making a V-Day gift for Miranda
  • Packing and making sure I have everything I need
  • Interview for Residence Hall CA Position on Thursday
  • Some final Goodbyes (including a trip to Iowa City, I hope)
  • Probably a dozen other things I am forgetting
I am still waiting on my phone in the mail. I accidentally had it shipped to Minneapolis to my old address and after a few days of badgering people on the phone I finally got it forwarded it. It should be here this week.

Lastly, I got in touch with my assigned "buddy" from Denmark. Her name is Malu Jamil and she seems very friendly. Her job is to meet me at the train station and show me my new apartment and help me get registered for everything the next day. She is also supposed to get me acquainted with the university and be my first friend there. A little bit of facebook stalking revealed some superficial details such as: she is an artist and appears to be Muslim (headwear, paintings with arabic script, etc.). Other than that, all I know is that she is friendly and is also the assigned buddy for a Spanish girl.

5 days away and it still doesn't feel real. I don't really now what to expect, and I would be hard pressed to describe myself as feeling "excited", but I can definitely feel the anxiety starting to build. But I know I am going to have a great trip and I can't wait to share pictures and stories with you all! I will leave you with a quote that feels fitting for this stage of my trip:

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” -Susan Heller