Folkehøjskole Feast

We Americans knew that being away from home wouldn’t be easy this Thanksgiving season. So, some of us decided to bring a little taste of home here to the Folkehøjskole by cooking a Thanksgiving feast for all the Danes. A full menu of traditional foods was brainstormed and presented to the main chief of the school. Everything was planned out perfectly and we were ready for the big meal.

The morning of the big day (we celebrated a day early since we don’t have class Wednesday) we found out some exciting yet daunting news. Jonas, the main chief who had planned to help us, wife had just gone into labor. After feeling excited for him, we suddenly felt a little overwhelmed as we realized that we would have to start all of our planning from scratch. Luckily we had some great guidance from the rest of the kitchen staff.

However, all of the cooking was up to us. Usually the first Thanksgiving meal you cook for people can be pretty daunting. So imagine the pressure we felt for cooking our first Thanksgiving meal for around 100 Danes and teachers.

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Michelle, Grace, Alana, Aleah, and I began the process of figuring out how to make this dinner happen. We planned for turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, 4 pumpkin pies, 4 pecan pies, 6 green bean casseroles, 6 pineapple casseroles, cornbread, gravy, brussels sprouts, and stuffing. Luckily we had some help from Pete’s mom later on in the afternoon.

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While rushing to get this all done in a time span of 6 hours, we ran into a few obstacles along the way. First, all of our ingredients were in Danish. Second, we needed to convert cups and Fahrenheit from our American (Paula Dean) recipes into grams and Celsius. Can’t remember the last time I did so much math. Not to mention multiplying our recipes for enough to feed 100 was a task in itself.

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As for ingredients, we usually had to improvise. For our pumpkin pies, Michelle and I were given a fresh pumpkin instead of pumpkin from a can. That was an interesting task to conquer. Also, we had to used polenta mix instead of cornbread mix. (But it was good!) Also for the pineapple casserole, we didn’t have any Ritz crackers so we made do with sweet dessert ones. It still tasted just as delicious! In order to make the dinner successful, it called for some last minute doctoring and guesstimating when it came to the recipes. Our moms would be so proud!

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While we were finishing up in the kitchen, others were decorating the eating area with a hygge Thanksgiving feel. Once all the food was out, it tied together perfectly! While the Danes waited for their food, we led an “arts and craft” project. Everyone made hand turkeys and wrote what they were thankful for. Then, all of us Americans presented the food and gave a little background on the meaning of Thanksgiving. It turned out to be a very educational, fun, and most importantly yummy experience.

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I was very proud with the popularity of Michelle and mine’s pineapple casserole from not only the Danes but also my northern friends who had never heard of the southern dish. Even the director of the school stood up and announced that he never thought pineapple and cheese would be good together, but he loved it!

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I can speak for everyone when saying that it was so great to be able to give many of our European friends their first ever Thanksgiving meal. It will definitely be a night I will never forget. I am so lucky for my life here in Denmark, and I’m thankful for it every day!

The Rubins are Taking Over Copenhagen

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A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be graced by the presence of my amazing parents, Melba and Steve. I wasn’t surprised that their coolness helped them become a big hit amongst my friends here in Denmark. We started off their visit right with a trip to Nørrebro microbrewery (kudos for the suggestion Tara). It was great to be able to openly enjoy a beer with them thanks to the rules of wonderful Denmark.

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Afterwards Alana, Pete, and some Elon visitors Beth and Julia crashed my parent’s hotel (with their permission of-course) for a delightful pre-game before heading out to the city. With Melba’s generous bar-tending skills, we all had a great time. So much of a good time that we later wished we stayed to hang out with the rents more instead of venturing to the bars. Either way, afterwards Melba and Steve were nice enough to let us all crash on their floor in the middle of the night. How college of them! I’m so proud.

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The next few days were filled with showing my parents around Copenhagen, “my town”. It was really fun to be able to share everything I’ve been doing in my new home here in Denmark. Besides just the touristy things, I have to say that I really enjoyed how spoiled I was in the food department. I finally could afford some sushi and dessert from the food market for once! It was a nice break from just free samples. Pete and I also had fun showing them around Christiana, a hippie commune in the middle of Copenhagen. We even tried out Christiana’s vegetarian and organic restaurant, which was a great local restaurant with delicious food and a warm cozy atmosphere!

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My parents were really fortunate that Tivoli, Copenhagen’s vintage amusement park, was open for Halloween. The light display was absolutely breathtaking! I’m sure that those out there who know my dad would assume that Steve was going crazy with the camera.

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Showing my parents around Hillerød, the small town I live in outside of Copenhagen, was probably the best part of the trip. They loved the local castle and small town feel. My mom even said she enjoyed it more than Copenhagen! We had a lot of fun strolling around the pedestrian street, touring the castle, and sharing ice cream while enjoying the views over the lake on a beautiful fall day. My parents were so lucky with the weather! I’m glad they could enjoy sunny Denmark during their stay.   

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Melba and Steve had a great time hanging out at the Folkehøjskole where I live. They were a big hit amongst both my American and European friends. (Maybe the free white Russians at dinner had something to do with it?) My parents were really impressed with my living situation, the quality of food during our group dinners, and just the general family atmosphere. Even though they miss me back at home, I could tell they were glad that I had made such great friends, as well as a comfortable second home here in Denmark. Favorite memory of that night would have to be my parents playing beer pong with everyone. Alana and Steve were the beer pong champs! To my surprise, they were actually really good! Better than me…but that’s not saying too much.

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My parents confirmed the fact that I have successfully turned into an honorary Dane, while especially commenting on my new European attire and biking skills. We all joked about how it was easy to pick my mom out of the busy crowds of dark dressed Danes with her bright green North Face rain jacket. You can take the girl out of America, but you can’t quite take the American out of my mom!

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We had a great last night together with dinner at my visiting family’s house. Mikala cooked us a delicious traditional Danish meal. My mom kept commenting on how it reminded her of something called “fat back” that she used to eat as a kid. Oh, you gotta love Melba. I was glad my dad got some shots of me with Kayla and Silas, so I can finally show off how cute they are to everyone! I love how more at home I feel at their house after each and every visit. Just this week Mikala made me Mexican food because she knew how much I loved it! It was too incredibly sweet, and really really delicious. Silas and Kayla enjoyed it too!

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After an eventful visit, my parents and I unfortunately said our goodbyes. It was hard to part ways after such a fun week since we had all really missed each other. I won’t see them again until I return mid-December, so I’ll have to spend some more weeks missing them. I feel so fortunate that I was able to have my parents visit while I was abroad! I love them so much and their trip to Copenhagen was just a friendly reminder of how lucky I am to have such loving (and totally awesome and fun) parents. Big shout out to Melba and Steve, Denmark misses you!

Folkehøjskole Family

Although exploring Europe is amazing, nothing beats coming home to my very own Folkehøjskole family. Theme parties, group dinners, and cozy homework sessions by the fire are just a few of the many things that make me feel like the Grundtvigs Folkehøjskole is my second home.

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Before our last travel break we had a “Harry Potter Weekend”. It all started off with taking personality tests to see which house the sorting hat would place us in. Once we all developed into our true Harry Potter selves (I was in Gryffindor…aka the best house), the fun wizardly activities began. Saturday was filled with Quidditch competitions in the gym, and at night the dinning hall was decked out in Hogwarts attire. Even the teachers from the Folkehøjskole dressed the part during our candlelight feast.

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Our “International Food Feast” was another favorite of mine. Even though the majority of the students at the school are Danish, there are a few from different parts of the world…including Poland, Iceland, and even Japan. To celebrate all of the various cultures in the “Grundtvig Melting Pot”, each group of students presented a type of food from their culture, as well as a fun game or activity. We started off with Sushi as an appetizer, which were followed by Polish potato dumplings. With much enjoyment from the DIS students, our main course was the traditional American BBQ ribs and cornbread. Lets just say we were stuffed. For the USA activity there was a competition to see which table could fill out the 50 states first. I was pretty impressed by how many states all the Danes knew. After a digestion break with some Polish dancing lessons, we ended the night over delicious traditional Icelandic cake.

Currently we are starting to plan out a Thanksgiving feast for all of the Danes! I can’t wait to give them a taste of some more American culture.

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Warning about living in a Folkehøjskole: never leave your room unlocked. It might get TPed!

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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How ’bout them apples?

Yesterday was the perfect day to celebrate the beginning of the Danish fall season here at the Folkehøjskole. Denmark soil is great for growing apples, and the Danes get to enjoy up to thirty different kinds of apples during the season. Lucky for us, there is an apple orchid right behind where we are living. All day yesterday we enjoyed the beautiful weather and celebrated the apple harvest together. The day began with heading to the apple orchid to pick out some apples. (Aka take pictures, goof off, and climb trees).

Once we got back everyone split into different groups. Half of us used some intense machinery to grind up the apples. Afterwards we used a juicer to press down and get out all of the natural juice for fresh apple juice. It was so refreshing! Some of us decided to warm ours up to make some yummy cider.

Another group was in the kitchen using the rest of the apples to bake. I had no idea you could do so much with apples! There were literally about ten or so various recipes being completed with ease back in the kitchen. Apple pies, stuffed baked apples, apple cake, traditional Danish apple pie, apple tarts, apple muffins and more.

We even had some people decorating our dinning room with fall decor in order to spice up our celebration. Once everything was baked we all came together and tried all of the different apple creations. Obviously meaning we totally over ate…which seems to be a pretty common theme here. I don’t know how Danes stay so skinny. My favorite recipes were probably the stuffed baked apples and the apple pie.

Once we entered into extreme food coma, some of us decided to set up a napping site outside in the grass. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Some of our Danish friends said it was very “hygge” of us. Hygge is something I’ll talk about more later, but its a Danish word that basically means “cozy”. (There is no direct English transition). Danes love to make things cozy…whether it’s napping outside or having a candle light dinner. There are many ways to experience “hygge” here in Denmark…and we Americans are definitely getting use t0 it!

Making Denmark a Second Home

I’ve been so fortunate for all of the opportunities I’ve been apart of here so far that have helped me really start to make Denmark a second home. Hey who knows…all I need are a few more weeks and then I’ll be a real Dane. (I did get my residence card today…)

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Living at the Folkehøjskole is like living at a summer camp…everyday. It’s a little overwhelming at times since there is always something to do but I’m definitely not complaining. We eat dinner with the Danes every night, play games, socialize, and we’ve even taken up playing some rounds of “knock out” in the gym for some much needed exercise after my new diet of bread and cheese. Oh and one night we tried out limbo. However, one of my favorite games we’ve played with the Danes is probably Taboo. You have to give them credit for being so good at it even though it is their second language. My favorite round was when someone described the word fog as, “ok guys this is a green animal that jumps”. Fog vs. frog….close enough. Another plus is that we even get free concerts here! Last night Rangleklods came. He is so good! Check him out on sound cloud at http://soundcloud.com/search?q[fulltext]=Rangleklods.

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Along with hanging out with Danes my age, I’ve gotten a taste of the Danish family experience. For people not living with a host family, you can sign up for a “visiting family” which is basically a Danish family you can hang out with whenever you want. For those of you who don’t know, my visiting family consist of an awesome mom and her two adorable young children (2 and 5). The daughter (Kayla) and I have formed a really cute relationship. This Sunday I met them at the park to hang out with them and some of their school friends. Not quite sure if Danish children have ever heard of a piggyback ride. After giving one I had a huge line of children behind me waiting for their turn. Lets just say I was pretty popular on the playground. Back at my visiting family’s house we made traditional Danish apple pie with fresh apples from a farm next to their house. While it was baking Kayla decided to tat me up with some Disney princess tattoos. That was fun to explain to everyone in my class the next day…

I was even lucky enough to have dinner at my friend Amelia’s host family’s house the other night. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in Denmark so far. Danish people know how to cook some amazing fish. It was so fun getting to know her host parents, and her host brother plays hockey so we are planning to go to one of his games soon!

I’ve started to plan some of my travel trips. Some friends and I are going biking in Sweden next weekend, and in two weeks we are going to Prague, Vienna, and Salzburg! (Salzburg aka where they filmed Sound of Music..cool I know.) Later on I plan to be visiting London, Amsterdam, Ireland, France, Italy, and Switzerland. Even with all the planning nothing beats my new home in Copenhagen 🙂

Skål!

As I continue to immerse myself in Danish culture, I’ve learned that one of the most important Danish words to add to my vocabulary is “skål”….meaning cheers in Danish. These last few weeks I’ve started the beginnings to many great friendships with friends from Denmark…and even Iceland! It is rumored that many Danes can be compared to a ketchup bottle, shy at first but once you shake them up a little everything comes out. This hasn’t really been the case here at the Folkehøjskole. Even though I can’t lie….the party the Folkehøjskole threw for us last Saturday did obviously bring us a lot closer. It’s crazy how the actual school we are living in throws us parties every weekend (even sometimes themed!). It started off with a sit down dinner, which included delicious steak and champagne. Singing is really big here, and the Folkehøjskole program believes it adds to the “community” feel. Hearing the Americans sing in Danish is pretty hilarious. After dinner the real festivities began. Teachers at the school even bar-tended…which is a lot different than what I’m use to. Danes are also obsessed with American classics including Whitney Houston and Bruce Springsteen…helping me fit in perfectly into the dance party.

Of course I’ve also had plenty of time to continue bonding with my fellow friends from the states. The next day we took a canal tour…which was perfect to relax after a crazy night. We even talked Pete into jumping into the canal in his boxers, making great entertainment for the locals walking by. Today since we were short one bike on our way home from class, I even had a chance to ride on the back of my own “personal Copenhagen vespa”. It was like I was living straight out of the Lizzie McGuire movie. It was totally terrifying driving through the streets right up against the buses and cars. Can’t say it wasn’t fun though. And it was totally worth it when Pete, Alana, and I arrived at our new favorite local pizza place for some yummy slices and wine. We always end up running into the most random adventures. These small memories are some I’ll never forget!

Danish dødge båll, bikes, and red thongs

Our first big activity with the Danes at the Folkehøjskole: dodge ball. Although the rules were a little different, it was basically the same as we play it here in the states. They only use one dodge ball here…and you can still hit people when your out. Us on “team America” had fun pretending that we had no idea what “dodge ball” was. A foreign film? Anyways…we Americans made it to the finale! Unfortunately we took second place at the end. Either way we had a lot of fun joking around with the Danes and it brought us all closer together. Our red face paint was also obviously extremely intimidating.

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Now on to my new mode of transportation. Biking in Denmark isn’t always as quaint and cute as it seems. When Aleah and I first picked up our bikes, we felt so European. We couldn’t wait to explore the city and coast of Denmark more with our new mode of transportation. This morning, however, almost ruined the whole “biking in Europe” experience for us. On our way to the train station, it started to pour down rain. My raincoat wouldn’t stay on my head…so I couldn’t see with all of the rain in my eyes. Mascara was running down my face. All these cars were honking at me and I wasn’t quite sure why until Aleah informed me that my red thong was hanging out for the whole town to see. Once we made it to the train we looked like we had literally just gotten out of the shower…and it took about all day for us to dry off. To top it all off…our butts were SO SORE. Still sore…ouch. This afternoon we got lost on our bikes…but thanks to getting lost we discovered this beautiful hidden part of town. We decided to then forgive our bikes…and give them another chance. However, we are still really, really, sore. Anyways, about to head to the bars with our bikes. This should be interesting!

Hej Denmark!

I had a weird reflection while people watching in the airport today. Airports are such an interesting place…filled with so many different emotions. I saw so many tears as people parted from their loved ones. Extreme happiness when people reunited. Airports are what brings you home to see old friends and family, and for me the airport today was my gateway towards an exciting new adventure that I can’t even begin to understand or explain. I only got a taste of it today, but I already know that Denmark will offer me something that will forever change my life.. and give me experiences that I’ll never forget.

Landing in London for my connecting flight was pretty surreal. It was my first time ever being in Europe. Luckily I met one of my new DIS (Danish Institute of Study) friends Deep while waiting for my Copenhagen flight. Even though it was about seven in the morning we decided to start off our European experience right and share some “breakfast beers”. I’ll always remember my first drink in Europe at the London Airport! (Carling logger…very delicious)

Once I arrived to Copenhagen…a Ms. Alana Romans attacked me. It was so nice to see a familiar face…but honestly I wasn’t as nervous or anxious as I thought I would be. Just really excited!

We finally made it to Hillerød, the small town suburb we are staying in right outside of Copenhagen. I’m excited to get the chance to experience both a big city and small town feel.

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We made it to where we are staying and I met my roommate Aleah who is great. Alana, Aleah, and I really hit it off! All three of us will be staying with around 10 other DIS students at “Grundtvigs Folkehøjskole”. It’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s basically designed like a greenhouse…so there is so much natural light. Perfect for those future cold days where we can still enjoy the sun without sitting outside.

A Folkehøjskole is basically a place where Danes can live and take all different classes without receiving any grades. This alows them to try different things and figure out what their interests are and what they want to major in. So basically, where I’m living has facilities for classes such as art, music, film, dance, photography, philosophy, and more. 60 Danes will be moving in with us in one week. We have our own personal chef, as well as a student bar and “discotech”. We will be able to eat meals and have celebrations with the Danes during our time here in Denmark. Many themed parties, get togethers, and cocktails/formals take place as well!

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and had dinner in the garden with Kim, a philosophy teacher at the Folkehøjskole. He warned us that Danes like to party hard, which is ok with us!

My favorite part of the night, and probably one of the most memorable things I’ll see here, is when we walked to Frederiksborg Slot Castle. I’ve always had a weird obsession with castles and royal history (probably because I obviously secretly want to be a princess). But this castle was probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. It’s the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. And the best part about it is that it’s basically our next-door neighbor. Just a short walk and we can enjoy the castle and it’s extravagant gardens whenever we want. We are planning to do a wine and cheese picnic there sometime this week!

Can’t wait to see what else Denmark has in store for me!

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!