Messy hair, don’t care

Random thought by Becca Rubin:

One (of the many) things I love about being an honorary Dane: I am allowed to have messy hair. Whether it’s a messy bun or rocking the “I just rolled out of bed look”, all are socially acceptable here.

Maybe they don’t care so much about hair here because the city wind and random rainstorms. Or maybe Danes superior Viking blood makes them immune to depending on their hair to be beautiful. Either way…somehow it works and I am definitely not complaining.

I was so nervous coming to Copenhagen without a hair dryer or straightener. I was told all American hair tools would be ruined by European outlets and that I would have to wait to drop a ridiculous amount of money on overpriced Danish hair tools. Luckily I’ve avoided this problem, and have been graciously accepted into the Danish fashion community by letting my natural messy hair flag fly.

Disclaimer: Do not be fooled. This messy hair does not rub off on outfit choices. In Denmark, you must always look put together. No leggings and sweatshirts to class allowed. Even where we live, we Americans get confused looks from the Danes when we come to brunch in our pjs. My Icelandic friend asked me if I was hung-over when doing homework at night in sweatpants and a big t-shirt.

Really? At least I get to slack off in the hair department.

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Becca takes Bornholm

My friends at home would laugh if they heard me say I biked 70 kilometers (around 44 miles) this weekend. Well believe it because it totally happened…and to everyone’s amazement I’m still alive.

It all started off with wanting to sign up for a nice weekend biking trip to beautiful Bornholm, the supposed “flat” island off the coast of Sweden. Bornholm has been known to be Denmark’s most prized possessions, featuring sea cliffs, adorable towns, castles, famous glass handcrafts, and beaches with some of the finest sand in the world (used for hourglasses)…which are all available for enjoyment on just the seat of your bicycle. These bike paths have been praised as Northern Europe’s best and most beautiful.

Albecpeta (refer to last post) was in for a big surprise. First problem: Bornholm is not flat. My idea of effortlessly pedaling around a beautiful European island with an ice cream in one hand and taking pictures in the other was quickly forgotten.

Second problem: Although very beautiful, the weather did not always cooperate. A few rainstorms got in the way of our biking adventure. Not to mention wind, which of course blew against us. With the help of Albecpeta’s positive attitude, and my handy-dandy clunky helmet, we didn’t let the random rainstorms get in the way.

On Saturday, after doing a little shopping at Baltic Sea Glass, we headed north to explore the island. Our first trip was to Helligdomsklipperne, “The Sacred Cliffs”. Beautiful scenery, and the perfect place for we lazy Americans to rest on the rocks from an already tiring bike ride.

Afterwards, since Albecpeta is always hungry, we decided to venture further north to a popular town for some lunch. Some of us wanted to try ‘finger eating’ a warm smoked herring, one of Bornholm’s delicacies. After the long trek (mostly uphill), we figured out Bornholm was very similar to a place like Cape Cod. Beautiful all year round, but dead during off-season. We finally found the only restaurant in town that was open. To our luck it was the perfect hyggely (cozy) environment for exhausted bikers wet from the rain. We shared hot chocolate in cute little teacups and had one of the most delicious warm meals I’ve had so far out in Denmark (big servings too for a change!).

To be honest, by this time Albecpeta was pretty fed up with biking. We even considered changing the trip from “biking in Bornholm” to “busing in Bornholm”. In the end we sucked it up and biked all the way back to our hostel. Never thought I would get to the point where I considered a downhill before an uphill as rewarding as something equivalent to winning a $100 gift certificate to J-Crew.

Once we arrived my body was in shock…and pretty confused from the athletic stunt I had pulled. Did Albecpeta join the rest of the group at bars around Bornholm? No…we actually feel asleep at 8:30. Crazy night right?

Lets just say I woke up in the morning with not so friendly feelings towards my bicycle. Once Albecpeta discovered the southern town Svaneke was known for it’s microbreweries and homemade ice cream…we just knew it was the right place for us to be. So…we headed south. After the biking trek there we figured we deserved a “beer brunch”, sampling all of the different flavors the brewery had to offer. Definitely a treat from the cheap beer we’ve grown accustomed to back at home. Homemade ice cream afterwards played the perfect role for some emotional eating after an exhausting weekend that wasn’t over quite yet.

After our trip to the city, I decided to depart from my Albecpeta comrades and go solo on a bike path along the coast for my way home. Before this trip, I would have never wanted to take a long bike ride in a foreign country (or anywhere for that matter) by myself. I can tell how independent I’ve already become from just one month of studying abroad. My hour and a half ride back to the hostel was the most enjoyable time I had on my bike during the weekend. I was able to take my time and stop to explore the coastline and take pictures (including many great solo shots of me, myself, and I). It was also nice not to have to compare myself to the more athletic members in Albecpeta….aka everyone but myself.

I encountered some major “shuffle shame” while listening to my iPod, and was revisited by some old friends including, but not limited to, the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Shaggy….the list goes on. Definitely played “Space Cowboy” about four times on repeat, and found it to be a real source of biking inspiration.

The countryside and coastline of Bornholm is absolutely beautiful, and my time biking alone was a great time for some self and life reflections. It turned out to be the perfect end to a weekend with a major case of ups and downs. And luckily, my bike and I ended the weekend with a respectful friendship.

Ya’ll, I think my un-athletic self deserves a round of applause.

Albecpeta

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I’ve become a part of a gang while studying abroad in Copenhagen. A tribe if you will. It’s called “Albecpeta”, which is an acronym for it’s members who are as follows: Alana, Becca, Pete, and Aleah. Albecpeta and the rest of the Grundtvig gang have been on many adventures during this last month in Denmark. The most recent including visiting castles, going to spontaneous movie on the lawn showings with Copenhagen University of Business School students, checking out the Of Monsters and Men Concert, and designing our own beer olympics competition…where Alana and I even recruited some new Sigma Kappas!

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Albecpeta has become quite the support system during the ups and downs of studying abroad. We’ve even been known for having a good four way bedtime cuddle for an “Albecpeta” in need. I can even count on exploring “Danish Mexican Cuisine” with them and some of the Grundtvig crew after a long day. For those of you who know me, nothing makes me feel better quite as much as Mexican food does. Although it wasn’t the same as Burlington’s La Fiesta…and definitely a lot more expensive…it still hit the spot. Our Hillerød neighborhood castle view from the restaurant window didn’t hurt either. One question…why do Danes put lemons instead of limes in their Margaritas? They even chase tequila shots with lemon. This will be something I’ll never quite understand.

Albecpeta’s favorite spot in all of Copenhagen is the Nørreport fresh food market. Yes we enjoy the display of European cheeses, breads, Danish open face sandwiches and pastries, but the free samples are what keep calling us back. Nothing helps out a poor college student trying to survive in Europe more than grazing the market about two or three times in a row to fill up on some samples. I think people have started to catch on. When we do break down and buy something small, we usually get offered a treat on the house. Yesterday Alana and I split a fresh fish cake with some free amazing sauce.

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Our “starving college student act” was even obvious when Aleah and I tried to have a nice dinner before the Of Monsters and Men Concert (shout of to Max, Aleah’s boyfriend who is obsessed with me and my blog for getting the tickets). After stumbling into a nice Italian restaurant in Vesterbro (a hip up and coming area in Copenhagen), that I found in my handy dandy Lonely Planet travel book, we found out their set menu included a three course meal that cost about $60. We embarrassingly begged them to let us just have their homemade pasta dish instead. They luckily agreed, and even nicer they brought us a free appetizer out of pity for our pathetic attempt to get some food. Danes have been so nice and accommodating to “Albecpeta”. Hey, we aren’t complaining!

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Western Denmark

One thing I love about the DIS program is that we travel with our classes to get hands on experience in everything we learn in the classroom. And even better…we get to explore all of Denmark, and the rest of Europe. I’m not complaining!

My European Trends in Communications class embarked on our short study tour last week throughout Western Denmark. The bus ride was beautiful…and I got to see even more of the Danish country side….full of green rolling hills and adorable farm animals. While visiting different TV stations, we really focused on comparing American and Danish television. Here in Denmark, they put a huge focus on public service television that is financed by taxes, while American television is centered around viewer numbers and making money off ads. Definitely makes for some interesting differences and conversation.

Visiting “Design it”, a successful international Strategic Design Consultancy was definitely more up my alley. I love the Danish work environment. The company doesn’t believe in cubicles so they can increase info sharing and a more team oriented environment. Their user-centered innovation projects only have project “owners”, not “managers”. There was only one office in the whole consultancy for Skype chats, meaning even the very top boss sat along with the rest of the workers. I’ve learned its very Danish to be straight forward with your boss without them getting offended. Lastly, there isn’t a receptionist. Everyone just answers the phone or speaks to visitors whenever they are available. I could definitely see myself working in a place like this!

While visiting Århus, a city in Denmark that was recently voted the “cultural capital”, I visited the most interesting museum I’ve ever been to. The ARoS art museum is built in line with Dante’s tale of the 9 circles of Inferno. Meaning…the top of the museum is this beautiful rainbow glass circle representing “heaven”, while the bottom floor is pitch black with light and mirror art representing “hell”. Probably some of the most disturbing art I’ve ever seen but so cool and interesting. The middle floors had some amazing and beautiful modern art. I loved it.

Some of my other favorite parts of the trip were kayak polo (yes I wore a wet suit), sitting around a night campfire with my class and teacher sharing multiple bottles of wine, and having the MOST amazing lunch of my life at Aarstiderne Organic Farm. It is so much cheaper here in Denmark to shop organic than in America. So jealous! No wonder all the Danes look so good. All of the Americans feasted like it was Thanksgiving.

After a fun trip making new friends in my class and getting to know my teacher better….I was still homesick to return to my life in Copenhagen and Hillerød. Guess it’s a good sign that it already feels like home and I’ve only been here for three weeks!

Not quite the North Carolina State Fair…

I have a feeling everyday here in Denmark is going to be filled with adventures. Alana and I had our first European shopping trip before class and found some amazingly good deals, including a going out dress for only $8. We were pretty proud of ourselves. We also made sure to ask some people working in the stores to help us pick out the up and coming “Danish styles”. Lets just say I ended up with a turquoise leather jacket.

After class I met with my fellow “Grundtvigs” for some afternoon drinks and games (which believe it or not is actually a part of Danish culture). We met at a student hangout that is always filled with a mix of DIS and University of Copenhagen students, which is really cool. This was definitely a fun alternative from hiding from the sudden rain!

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Afterwards some of us headed to Tivoli, a beautiful amusement park right in the middle of downtown Copenhagen. We met up with my visiting family, who showed us to our first Danish ballet. Afterwards we rode the swings, which are famous for being about 150 feet tall. It was actually pretty scary! We got to see the sun set over all of Copenhagen so it was totally worth it. So beautiful! Definitely a lot different from the North Carolina state fair (obviously). One weird but major difference….so hard to find public bathrooms. I guess it’s not even fair to compare Tivoli to the NC state fair; it’s more like a miniature version of Disney World. I did miss fried cookie-dough and cheesecake on a stick though. The park gets even more beautiful at night with all of the lights. I can’t wait to see the Christmas market decorations later this year!

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First concert in Copenhagen!

I’m officially a DIS blogger! I hope all of my Denmark/Europe adventures will be cool enough to be featured on our study abroad website.

This weekend has been a lot of fun. Friday some of us went into the city to see Bassnectar perform. Our trip into Copenhagen was obviously filled with adventures…which seems to be a pretty common theme for us now. The city streets were filled with people, and everyone stays out till about 5 in the morning. Danish people are so incredibly friendly. We were a little lost trying to find the concert, and every time we asked for help we met a new friend. Hopefully we are getting sushi with one of them this week! At the concert we were front row the whole time…and it was pretty insane. A huge dance party. Copenhagen was one of his first European stops for his current tour, and I’m pretty positive we made it into the very center of his annual concert picture of the crowd. We’ve been trying to find it but no luck yet. The music scene here in Denmark is amazing. There are a bunch of concerts that we are hopefully planning on going to in the future.

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Thanks to Jenna and Jill us “country-side” students had a free floor to stay on. It was nice to not have to worry about the train system since we were getting our Visas early that morning! Also just had my first bagel here in Copenhagen…which was a nice “taste” of home. (For anyone who doesn’t know… I’m obsessed with bagels.)

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After getting our Visas we got our first idea of a Copenhagen rainy day, so Aleah and I decided to go home and have an indoor picnic with all of our goodies from the flea market (wine, bread, cheese, nutella, olive spread). I could definitely get use to this!

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The rest of our weekend has been spent resting and bonding with everyone here. Each time we hang out…whether it’s playing Kings or sitting on the roof in the middle of the night…everyone I live with just becomes more hilarious. It’s crazy how close we have become in less than a week. We’ve started to discuss our plans for traveling around Europe. I might even go sky diving in Switzerland! Craziness. The Danes arrived today and we are really excited to get to know them! Right now its move in so there are a lot of parents and it’s a little overwhelming.

Dinner here is really nice and cozy. We all meet up and sit together…it’s a very cool community feel. Already met a few Danish friends at dinner. Found out Americans are known for our “red solo cups”. We are all playing in a dodge ball tournament on Wednesday…that should be really interesting.

Tomorrow I’m having dinner with my visiting family. Can’t wait to tell you guys all about them!

Study Abroad Inspiring Quote

Found a really great quote while reading “The Happiness Project” the other day. It really connected and eased a lot of my anxiousness towards spending a whole semester on the other side of the world. And hey, what better way to start off a travel blog than with some inspiration?

“We seek to control our lives, but the unfamiliar and unexpected are important sources of happiness.”  

Can’t wait to discover what unexpected adventurous Denmark has in store for me in exactly three weeks. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. But I bought some snow boots today…so this southern girl is getting prepared!