Sunday, September 28, 2008

Æbelø --> Abble Island

I've just realised that I never did a post on Æbelø!! So I guess I'll do one now.

Æbelø is an island north of Fyn (island between Juttland and Zealand). I'm really not entirely sure what the island's clame to fame is, but a big highlight for me was getting there. Being an island, I'd like to tell you we took an exciting boat ride there or hopped in a puddle jumper for all of 10 minutes, but I can't. Truth be told we walked there. Now how can you walk to an island? Being the smart*ss that I am, I'd say with your two legs... The water is quite short and if you plan it right you can go at low tide so the water only comes up to about mid calf or so. I was quite skeptical at first thinking that they were joking especially because I was sure the water would be really cold. Well they weren't and you bet your bottom that water was cold.

I went bare foot because Heidi said she was and I assumed that others would also. I also assumed that if people were going bare foot then the route there would be easy walking. Boy as I wrong. Once we were out of the water we walked a kilometer over a smaller island en route to Æbelø then we walked on the strip that connected the two. We were told that there were a few more rocks and what not. I didn't think too much of it because before it was all smooth sand with some seaweed and the occational shell. ... Let's just put it this way - had my trek across that 1½ kilometer strip been video taped everyother word out of my mouth would have been "Ouch!" and "Jesus!" and "God bless frigging America!". And I'm seriously not joking. I wouldn't be surprised if it took me an hour to walk that. The crazy thing is that I was the only one like that even though there were many other bare foot walkers. Conclusion; Danes have feet made of steel!

We then got a little tour after lunch. Unfortunately lunch needs some attention. That lunch, sitting on the ground on and island somewhere in Europe was the most American meal I had had in a month. We had triangle cut sandwitches made with white bread. There were some with salami and others with cheese. Now, back to the tour. For the most part it was really awesome. The times with the explanations got a little boring, but that was just because I couldn't understand it. We saw a tree that was hollow which I suppose inspired H.C. Anderson to write a story though I'm not sure which one. Also along the walks we enjoyed snatching blackbearies from their bushes. We even saw a heard of wild deer and sheep!

On the trip back I really stopped careing whether or not I got wet, so by the time I made it to the main land I was soaked - well from the waist down. The water was also much heigher up though I think it was warmer. Of course, that could have just been my numb legs. The world may never know.

My pittiful state walking across this crushed shell and rock infested 1½ kilometer strip

Mogens and I standing by the hollow tree with Camilla and the others in the tree

Camilla is in the tree and peaking through a hole for a picture

A nice view of the curve of the island from a vista point we stopped by

NOTE: I have ordered a new camera and hopefully will get it soon so I can post more pictures and have them up sooner!

Monday, September 22, 2008


I must give credit where credit is due. I have been informed that we do actually have an iron and an ironing board. I guess the fact that I never really asked wasn't the best. The odd thing is that if you never see anyone use it and it's not where you keep it at home assuming just becomes natural. Soo... I've made an ass out of myself assuming, but hey; life is life.

P.S. The hair staightner worked great!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You Know Your an Exchange Student When...

We exchange students love this phrase. It can be made into a game or make a super entertaining post. So here it goes...

  1. know cities by the places that offer the cheapest food
  2. can navigate the bus and train systems like the back of your hand
  3. don't think its odd that you and/or others take more than 2 modes of transportation to school (I take three)
  4. can count to at least ten in two other languages not spoken in you host country (my latest and greatest is Thai which I can count in up to 100)
  5. can buy a KitKat Crunch bar, two bags of M&Ms and two caramel filled chocolate bars for just 20 kr. or 4 USD (that's freaking awesome)
  6. ...your flat iron (for hair) doubles as an iron for you pants
  7. ...walking around with a camera attached to your wrist is no longer the touristy thing to do
  8. ...take out sounds funny because now you say take away
  9. ...your spelling, which was originally crappy, has completely gone down the drain becuase now you mix and match spellings and string unrelated words together
  10. ...your now horrible spelling and writing is completely readable to you and other exchange students (how this happens I'm not sure)
  11. enjoy 20km (12 mile) bike rides
  12. can shit, shower, and shave in 5 minutes flat (a seriously impressive feat when your a girl with long, thick hair)
  13. ...the only time you think your singing is good is after you've had a few beers with friends (especially true for exchange students to Denmark)
  14. can honestly say that you have friends in 7 or more countries around the world
  15. ...facebook becomes a way of life
  16. can talk to other exchange students for hours upon hours and have no idea what your talked about the next day
  17. ...drawing on your paper and taking cat naps is the best way to pass class time
  18. don't understand a think that is said in English class (serious, my teacher teaches in danish)
  19. no longer bothers you to hear your name in a conversation that you can't understand

That's all that I can think of for now. This is post number three all in one day. I'm on a roll! Or, it could just be the KitKat Crunch bar, two bags or M&Ms, and two caramel filled chocolate bars I had.... The world may never know.

Two Muffins for the Price of One

A few weeks ago I started language school (sprogskole på dansk). Usually I'll attend after school for three hours on mondays and tuesdays. We exchange students have a small tradition of getting chinese during our break or flood the vending machine with orders. You know it's pretty bad when you feel bad every time you pass the chinese take away stand and don't buy something because the servers stand up expectantly every time you pass. Or, lets take the vending machine for instance. It's pretty bad that you know how to order yourself in line so that you are the one to get the free muffin. There is some defect with the machine so that every third muffin given out will not come. So all you do is ask for you money back, put it again, hit number 43 and out comes not just one, but two.

We don't think of it as stealing, but more along the lines of taking advantage of an opprotunity to save money. I have mentioned before how truely expensive this country I have come to love is. In fact it seems to be its only major deal breakers. So, I've priced my winter coat at 800 kr. which is only 160 USD. It's actually a really good price as far as winter coats go here. When I'll actually get it is completely up in the air becuase I'm out of shampoo, I need another pen, my socks are holly, and I need another camera. Did I mention that I've already spent my monthly allowence plus some for this month??

Life isn't about finding true love or completeing what it is you are here for; it's made for cutting corners and making the best out of the crappy lemons you were given.

I will Survive

I think there comes a time in everyone's life where they realize that they truely will make it in life. When and where this moment happens can't really be determined. Only the person will know. For me I can honestly say that yesterday was my day.

We take so much for granted, especially in America, that our vision is a clouded one. You can't realize what you have until you reach for it and meet nothing. Lets take a breif flashback to Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes Sunday. The recipe called for melted butter. That's simple enough; just pop it in the microwave and nuke it for a few seconds. Oh, wait, there is no microwave. Now for the mashing part. I'll just toss the potatoes in the Kitchen Aid and let it do all the work. Now where did that Kitchen Aid go... Fast forward a bit. Something so typical that we don't think twice about - an iron and ironing board. Who doesn't have one?? The Bech's (my host-family), that's who. So how exactly am I to wear a pair of slacks?? Well, I suppose my hair straightner could double as an iron....

It's times like these when you are able to take a step back and realize that if I can use a hair straightner for an iron then I can survive in today's world. And then looking back it dawns on you that you have been surviving. Using the sleeping bag to block out the light and the extra umbrela to plug the skylight - these are all times when you managed to survive. And then you think of the time that you successfully tweezed your eyebrows in the reflections of your cell phone becuase your too cheap to buy a mirror for you room. I think we tend to doubt our abilities.

Being and exchange student is truely your first opprotunity to get a taste of the real world without having to stuff your mouth. There is still the security of some parental support, but not in the sense of what we are use to. Everything we think we need and everything we know we need, has to be decided by no one other than ourselves. Here you don't have mommy and daddy to run home to. It's just you, a pocket dictionary, and the big bad world.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Camp Kulsø

In the schools you are put in a class. In this class you will go to every subject with the same people, you will eat lunch with the same people, and you will most likely hang out with the same people. It makes sense that team-building is a big thing. There is nothing more important that getting to know your class on a social and acedemica level. During the first month we did lots of little team-building activites, but the last monday, tuesday, and wednesday of August was the real test.

For these days our school, Rødkilde (don't worry, I can't say it either), decided that all 1. g's (first grade) needed to go on a camping trip with our class. So that's just what we did. Monday started out a normal day. The only difference for me was that I was driven to school because in addition to my school books I had a duffel bag of clothes and rubber boots and my bike. We attended classes like nomrally, ate lunch like we always did, and complained about the homework. After school, instead of going home we all divided up into our groups within the class, got on our bikes and enbarked on a 30 km (18 mile) bike ride.

The ride itself wasn't too terribly bad. The worst part was actually getting started. The bike that I was using wasn't working right. We had only been on the bikes for 10 minutes and already the chain had come off 3 times. Luckily one of our group members, Chris, was able to put it on each time but by then a few other groups had passed us. It was going to be a long bike ride. We called the emergency number on the paper and asked to be picked up because a bike wasn't working. They said that it would probably be an hour or two. Good think none of us were hurt or something... Eventually we decided to split the group and I would take Hanne's (pronounced Henna) bike since she had already gone of the trip a few times. Her, Chris and Signe (don't say the g and the e is like an a) took my bike. They turned around and went to the bike shop we saw further back and pleaded to have it fixed. The owner saved the day and fixed my bike. By then the rest of us were ahead.

We stopped only two other times after that. Once on top of a huge hill and another at the half way point. Finally making it there we set up camp and ate bread on a stick - seriously.

Tuesday was filled with 4 different team building activities. The first one pretty much sucked. To start with it was raining, we were all still tired, and the activity itself left all of us blind folded. First we were put on a string and we had to, while blind folded, find the end. The string went through trees, up and down hills, and crossed more than once. The goal was to do it quickly. The second part of Activity One was an activity that tested our ability to communicate. Lined up in a row, blind folded, two ropes (one big and one small), and a stick was put out in a field. We had to find all tree iteams and set them up a certain way. The pole had to be in the center, the small rope in a circle around the pole, and the large rope in a square around the circle. The person who found the pole couldn't say they had founded it. Now image being blindfolded, searching in a feild for some things, and not being able to understand what anyone is saying. I just stood there for this activity.

Activity Two was a treasure hunt of sorts. On trees all around the camp were plastic page protectors with papers in it. On the papers were numbers. The first person there got the highest number and it went down from there. We had to copy from the master map and then go out and find all that we could in 20 minutes. We did a lot of running but we're first to almost every single one. The goal, as a class, was to get the most points.

Activity Three was very interesting. We took a walk to an area with a net strung between two trees. The net was homemade and had various sized squares. We had to get everyone through the net. Sounds pretty easy, where's the catch? Well the catch is that the person going through the net can't actually touch the net and the squares can only be used once. This activity helped to build trust. A few people, including myself, went through some of the lower squares to get to the other side. Then we actually handed people through the net. People on one side would pick a person, pick them up, and put them head first through the net. Then the rest of us on the other side would help guide them through and hold them up until they were completely through. It took a long time but it was kind of cool.

Activity Four was rather boring - canoeing. We were put in groups of three. So how can three people canoo in a boat with only two seats? Well one person gets to sit, doing nothing. I got to be the person to sit. The first half of the trip was nice because I was able to relax, but on the way back it was just plain out boring. Finally we ended day two by the fire playing cards and eating dinner.

Wednesday was the most fun. We only had one activity that day in addition to breaking camp and biking back. The activity was my favorite. We had to build a raft out of barrels, trees, and 25 pieces of meter long twine. Our group of six completed building the raft first. We dragged it down to the lake to make sure it floated. Then four people, me included, got on the life rafts and some oars. To past the floatablility test we had to paddle our little make shift raft around a pole in the middle of the lake. It was a lot of fun. The best part about being first is that we got to see everyone else with their rafts. Out of the other three rafts only one of them was successfull. Seeing the other rafters diving into the water to abondon ship was hillarious.

I kind of felt bad that they went swimming, but oh well. To conclude our fun time we broke down camp, ate lunch and loaded up the bikes. As soon as we were able to leave the skies opened up and let fall a terenchal rain. There was no way I was riding my bike 30 km in the porring rain. So I called Mogens (host father) and asked for a ride home. Luckily he had just gotten off work so he was able to come and get me along with another friend.

Whether or not Camp Kulsø actually brought us closer or not, it was a lot of fun.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Month Walking on Chuck Taylor

Looking back on the past month it is hard to believe that I really have been here for 31 days. So much as happened. Many times my feet have been wet and many times I'm sure they will be agian. It seems that Converse are popular but not realy practical. I've walked on dirt, grass, the road. My feet have peddled many a kilometers and it feels like they have done nothing. The thing with my Converse is that where ever they go, I go. So what is my obsecion with Chuck Taylo you may be asking? Well, I'll tell you. I've had the same pair of shoes for over three years. After a while you go places and do things and these shoes have seen every inch of it. It's hard to discribe.

In the past month I've experienced so much. My Converse and I have seen Manhatten from a Greyhound bus, sat on an 8 hour flight over the Atlantic, and have strode over the streets of Copenhagen. Together in the past month we have biked many kilometers and walked just as many. We have experienced first hand public transportation and the madness of the shopping street. Chuck and I have stopped at many ATMs and bought few things. We have stepped in mud and been dripping wet from the dewy grass.

With my Converse I'll experience all the ups and downs to this new life I have chosen. I've been told that there are 4 crises that you will have. The three week crisis, the one month crisis, the Christmas crisis, and the departure crisis. So far I have missed two of them. It's hard to say that I miss people and things when in reality I don't. Well, that's a little cold. Of course I miss people, but not to the point that it is a big deal. There is so much to do here and to look at that you don't have time to miss people and that's just the way it should be. When every bus ride offers new and exciting things to look at you really do forget all about what isn't there. Its just me, my bus pass, and a pair of beat-up Converse.

So here's to the month and the next 10 that I am to have. Skål! (Cheers på dansk)