Sunday, July 12, 2009

The New Vista Point

Ah, America - land of the free, home of the brave - where roads are paved with gold and dreams come true. So far, I have been back for just 13 days and in a way it seems more like 13 months and in others it seems like just 13 hours. As of yet, I can't quite say that I've experienced this so called reverse culture shock - well maybe not in the same way that those hours upon hours of group sessions with AFS made a difference (you AFSers know what I'm talking about). So far, I can just honestly say that I see things differently.

Let's take motorized vehicles for example. In America it is a commonality for a family to have two or more vehicles. It is common for said family to drive said vehicles daily to just about anywhere besides their next-door neighbors house. It is also common that said vehicles are large and usually quite fuel consuming. In Denmark, it is a commonality for a family to have one car, maybe even two per family. It is common for said family to drive their car if they are in need of transport to long distances or if they need to move the whole family. It is common for said vehicles to be on the smaller scale and to be quite used (meaning they don't exchange them every two or three years). It is also common for said vehicles to do okay to pretty good when it comes to using their fair share of petroleum.

With this established, we shall examine my pre-Denmark point of view on the ever debated motorized vehicle front. First and foremost, how would a family survive off of only one vehicle? It is common these days for both spouses in a family to work, so if there was only one vehicle how would both make it to their jobs on time? What about if they had kids or family close by? It really only makes sense to have more than one vehicle. In all reality, a good economical car and a large truck is most ideal - the car for day to day use to work, the grocery store, and to pick up the kids and the truck for moving and hulling big stuff around for the weekend project and backyard intervention.

Now let's look at my post-Denmark point of view of these metal boxes on wheels. Initial reaction: geez, why do we need such large vehicles? It seems pointless to have all of these SUVs and Jeep looking things because I bet you 100 kroner that they aren't using them to move things. This is just plain ridiculous. In fact, I think it might even just be our culture to have large and new vehicles. It's like a frenzy - the newer and the larger and the more enhanced the vehicle the better. American culture is the epitome of consumerism and materialism. We show our social status and financial success through the things we own and what better way to show the world how great we are then through our cars which we drive everywhere we go, no matter how close they are to our place of dwelling.

This is just one example of my year's doing. It is like, everything I use to know and use to think I know has gotten turned around and landed upside down in this whirlwind of cultural exchanges. And to think that this is just the beginning of the changes to be noticed. It takes time to notice them too because it's hard to see the change when you experience the evolution.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello America

If Newark (or any international airport) is a foreigner's first impression of America I'd be looking for the next flight home - no joke. Being in lovely Denmark has made me completely gloss over the 'real' America. I've forgotten how rude Americans are and how big and uneccessary things are here in the US of A.

My day began at 05.30 Danmark time and ended at 03.30 Danmark time with sketchy hours of sleep on plans. I'm thorough convinced that no child under the age of ten should ever be allowed on an airplane. The flight from Cophenhagen to Newark went fairly smooth. The road got bumby after customs and pass check (which to my extreme surprise was cake). We were all scattered about trying to say goodbye and completely lost as to if AFS was suppose to meet us or not.

Nine became six past the exit point of Newark. Two were going to terminal C and the rest where to terminal A. One to terminal A was actually suppose to go to terminal B and another missed their flight. Over all it was a numbing experience. I don't think the fact that you may never see these people again really sinks in until you are home, sleeping in a familar bed. It is the next morning when you kind of come to the realization and to be frank, it sucks.

I can honestly say that all the while I waited at CPH (about five and a half hours) that all I wanted to do was go home and then that home wasn't America anymore. Hopefully America will grow on me more.

Friday, June 26, 2009


(my life as of 26. juni 2009 kl. 18.32)

Let me start of with saying that packing was and will always be the ultimate bitch of an exchange year. It was not so hard to pack to come because I could leave things behind. Not so much the other way around. One aquires so many things through their year that it is virtually impossible to come back with as much stuff as you came with (having not sent anything home via post).
After weeks of dealing with the mostrosity that was my room and probably around ten hours of packing (spread across two days - no joke) I was able to sufficiently reduce my life to two suitcases (near 23 kg), one duffle bag (about 6,5 kg), one bookbag (about 4 kg), and one box (13 kgs of books and papers). I am not exagerating when I say I probably packed everything about nine times, weighted each individual parcel no less than twenty times each, and ditched at least a fourth of my things. The real kicker in all of this is that I came with one suitcase at 22,7 kg and one bookbag at around 9 kg. Don't ask, because I don't have an answer.


Bittersweet Goodbye

(some of my classmates and I got together for a brunch like meal at a local café)

Saying goodbye to all of my friends here in Denmark has been the hardest thing I have had to do all year. Saying goodbye to my Danish friends is hard, but nothing is hard than saying goodbye to your exchange friends. Never will you get the year back, never again will you have what you have now. Sure, I can visit some of my exchange friends at their homelands, but never again will we all be together again, living in the harmony that was 2008/2009.

Not only am I saying goodbye to the people who I have come to know, but also the life I have created here. Going home means loosing my independence and freedom that I have gained here. I enjoy the lifestyle Denmark allows me to live. Sadly it is not a lifestyle that America supports.

Before you think I'm ready to never come home again, think again, because I am excited to come home. My exchange year has taught me more than amount of schooling could hope to learn me. I feel now, that though I am living, I'm still in a state of limpo. I'm ready to get home to apply everything that I know now. In a way, this has been a practical year long learning holiday. I feel like I have learned all I can learn and now it is time for me to get back and put all that hard earned knowledge to work. Plus, I miss the food. Oh, and my friends and family :P

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Wall - Revisited

Name: The Wall
Birthdate: 29. january 2009
Deathdate: 13. june 2009
Statistics: 5 pictures, 13 cards, 93 postcards

RIP min skat

Thank you to everyone who contributed to Project Wall!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Farewell Fest

My chapter held its farewell party today. We had the honor of making a powerpoint presentation for our year along with writing an essay on it. If you know me well, you know that I procrastinate. This was no different. I woke up at half eleven today in order to put the presentation together and write the essay.

In all it took me four hours to get it done. I had to sort through over 5.500 pictures, drank three cups of coffee, downed about 2 L water, took five bathroom breaks, and have a conversation concerning drama galore in order to complete it. Let's just say that it is not my best work by far.

My essay can be read here. It is in Danish so I know that the majority of my readers couldn't give a flying flip, but before you totally disregard it, take a look at it for the fact that it is Danish and you haven't a clue what it says.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Connies

Okay kiddies, I've got a new blog going for y'all to follow. It is called A Day Laced in My Connies and you can find it here and along the link side of this blog. It is a tribute to my senior year and will act the same as this blog has by way of informing you of my ways of doing things.

This blog will terminate probably within the few days of my return and will perminately switch to My Connies page. So this is a heads up for y'all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Perpetual Lightness

Living far from the equator has its ups and downs.

In the winter the sun hides itself until about 08.30 and decides it has had enough only to leave the poor Scandinavian people to see that it has hidden itself again by 16.00. This leads to a very dark and cold winter.

The summer on the other hand is quite opposite from winter: perpetual darkness turns to perpetual lightness. It never actually gets dark. Sitting in a dark room looking to the wil' blue yonder means being able to see the outline of the trees set against a dark blue atmosphere. Looking in the direction of Sun's last light reveal a lightened glow. By 03.00 it noticeably gets light, by 04.00 one has no problem seeing and by 05.00 if my shade isn't down I get the sun (I get the morning sun directly through my window and to my sleeping figure). It gets noticeably dark by 22.30.

This picture was taken at exactly 22.56 from my desk looking out to the sky. It is still noticeably light at 23.00!!

This one was taken at 02.42. Toward the far left of the tree line is a bit of a dip, the sun comes up right about here (obviously you can see that it is lighter there) and to the right you can see the moon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Law & Order

There are now just 19 days left before I cross the pond back to the big bad reality of life. I think it is only fair to establish what law and order would appear in my life should it have been as common as it should have been.

As of now I've begun to sort through my things into six main piles: Keep, Chuck, Donate, Use Until the Bloody End, Box Up, and Think of a Way to Creatively Get It Home Even Though You Know It Won't Fit and You Can't Afford to Post It. Basically, my room is in shambles and we can all thank distractive and putting-off tendencies. Instead of reading a biography on HC Andersen, 8 Fairtales by HC Andersen and an abridged version of Oliver Twist (all books in Danish) I've created tropical depression Jennifer. Meterologist predict the storm to progress to a category 4 or 5 before decipating in the Atlantic.

I'll shock the nation with that evidence in a few days. For now law and order. (Note: I've been in a B&W swing....)

Early Morning Walks

There is actually a ''forest'' just outside of my house. It's more like a patch of trees covering a triangular shaped plot of land laying a stream and some trains hidden. I discovered them probably a month ago out of boredom. It wasn't until this morning that I took my camera with me to try to capture the essence of a fogging summer morning in pixels. Because it gets so light so early (noticeably lighter around 03.00/03.30) I left the house at 04.00 and took about 2 hours to meander to the fjord and back again. Sadly it was quite difficult to take pictures. Under the protective coverage of the foliage light was not so plentiful. This required me to slow the shutter seed to 5 and 8 seconds. Any slight movement during those seconds makes the image blurry. I did manage to get a few decent ones though.

These things were crazy! I have never seen so many slugs of such variety in size and colour in my life. They came in traditional black and the shocking orange. I'm sad to report that there were casualties by the soles of my connies to the brown and darker burgundy lot as they were hard to see. I think I looked at the ground more than I did the scenery because of these buggers.

The beautiful Vejle Fjord with a view of the bridge which connects the gab.

I'm actually pretty happy with some of the fjord pictures I was able to get. It was hard to capture the right colours of the the sunrise because it was masked with clouds and fog.

The upper stream close to my house. I wasn't about to get a good picture of this in the beginning of the trip, so tried to get something visible on the way back when more light was available to work with.