Vi ses København. The Final Chapter.

Alright guys, this is it. Flight at 7 AM in the morning. The last post from Denmark.

No More Dance Parties…
No More Dance Parties 😦

What I am going to miss:

Walking down Strøget sipping Varm Chokolade or Gløgg, eating some deliriously delightful (and overpriced) hot sugar coated burnt almonds, and marveling at how crowded it is no matter how miserable the weather.

Walking off the main streets and finding cool and weird places in random alleyways. I have never known a city even close to how well I know København, and I am already nostalgic for this place.

My host family. This is sad. I made them a sweet photo album (which I have not given them yet so don’t tell them or I will hunt you down) that  has a ton of blank spaces for when they visit America, and for whenever I am back in Denmark.  They have been the reason this trip has been so amazing, and I am forever appreciative. Going to be a hard goodbye.

Hygge. If you don’t know what this is, read the blog from the start. This is hard to put into words, but the vibe is just incredible.

My friends here. Being here is weird, you become good friends with a bunch of people you will most likely never see again. Then some who you know you will see again, because a gut feeling tells you that it is written (or maybe just Facebook haha).

Danish people. Funny, gorgeous, food loving, and descendants of Vikings, what’s not to love?

Biking and Trains. Not having to ever drive is awesome. Getting stuck in biking traffic is hilarious.

Europe being my playground.  I have explored waterfalls in underground caves in Portugal, toured my man Shakespeare’s theater in London, visited a crazy Tea house in Budapest, snuck in tents at Oktoberfest, hiked the Eiffel Tower with a bottle of wine and my econ class, eaten mussels in Brussels, seen my favorite concert ever in Sweden,  just completely owned Copenhagen, and done a gazillion other incredible things.

The food.

Writing. As you can tell by my nearly 50 blog posts, I have taken my blogging duties quite seriously, and will miss this blog and all of you wonderful people who brought us over 5000 views! Thanks so much for all of your emails and comments, it made it worth writing. I have never had any confidence in my ability to write anything, but Denmark has changed that.

Thanks to everyone who made this journey one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Vi ses Danmark. Until we meet again.

Skål

@Kyle David Weiss

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Gleaming Lights of the Souls.

(written like three days ago)

Ok so today we went to the best museum in the Copenhagen area. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is not just an awesome museum, but a weirdly cool place. The whole museum is a grouping of attached houses on a slope overlooking the sea. Just walking around was awesome.

I saw the sun! #ThingsThatNeverHappenHere
I saw the sun! #ThingsThatNeverHappenHere

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The exhibits were also surprisingly  entertaining (art museums take note).

 

One was all based on the Arctic.

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I don't know what this was but I was a fan..
I don’t know what this was but I was a fan..

One was a comparison of Danish artist Asger Jorn, and American Jackson Pollock, who developed remarkely similar styles of painting despite never knowing each other. Surrealist art is actually fun to look at, so this  was also awesome.

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However, the best exhibit award unquestionably goes to Japanese wonder women Yayoi Kusama’s Gleaming Lights of the Souls. Kusama, who has lived the last 43 years in mental hospitals in Japan, uses her OCD and other various mental disorders to make art that the rest of us couldn’t even begin to imagine. I couldn’t decide if it made me think of how the universe would look if the creator was on some crazy drugs, or  if it was akin to to having your spaceship go warp speed in Star Trek. It uses a bunch of color-changing light bulbs, and some mirrors to give a small room the impression of infinity. Also, part of the floor is covered in water for the perfect reflection. I learned this when I stepped in the water.. True Story.

memememe
Hi!!!!!!!

IMG_5163 IMG_5162 IMG_5166

 

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Also, went to Grød, a porridge place that is delicious. Num Nums.

Nordic Cooking
Nordic Cooking

Final post coming soon!

I Went to the Future. A Serious Post.

   Originally Written as a reflection paper for my Danish Class. Apologies for the lack of wisecracks and such.   

An itty bitty kingdom..
An itty bitty kingdom..

One of the by-products of studying abroad somewhere is that you will constantly be questioned on why you decided to go to that particular place. “Why on earth are going to Denmark?” Both before, and during this semester abroad, Americans and Danes alike asked me this question. In all honesty, I really did not have a good answer. Sure, a bunch of things really “worked” about coming to Denmark, but nothing was the ultimate selling point for me. I would say that I wanted to go somewhere with people who spoke English, or that I wanted a rigorous academic program, or that I liked the integrated travel, or that I heard the city was incredible, or that I wanted to go somewhere with a real winter, or even that I just needed to get away from it all. All these things were true, but there was definitely no decisive reason for me to end up in Scandinavia. It was more that a bunch of small factors combined to make Denmark the logical place to spend a semester. Realistically, I was not expecting too much, it just seemed idiotic that given a relatively solid academic program, I would not take the opportunity to experience a completely different culture for a semester. When else in life would I ever get that chance?

Now, with the clock winding down on my adventures in Copenhagen, I am shocked that I even considered going anywhere else. The traveling, the new amigos, the gløgg, the weirdness, the biking, the wild nights, the classes, the castles, were all amazing, but really I expected all of that. What has completely enthralled me about Denmark has been the feeling that, if we don’t screw things up, I am looking at the future of the world.

As most of you know, I have spent a fair amount of time in some of the most underdeveloped regions on earth. While I truly love some of these places (along with the people who inhabit them), seeing the overwhelming scope of poverty can give a person a grim outlook on the future. Sometimes it seems like the mechanisms that are supposed to be helping develop the poorest nations have broken down. Like some sort of process was in place to change things, and it was just quietly abandoned one day. Now, I know there are tons of people improving things on a grassroots level, but you often get a feeling that the major macro institutions just sort of go through the motions these days.

What is even more depressing is that sometimes I think that we are not doing too much good by developing places anyway. I look around the US, and I am not at all convinced that we are doing much better. Sure, we obviously are doing better in a ton of ways, but we have our sets of problems that seem unsolvable and backwards. I am not all comparing the quality of life in America to that of a developing country, but from a pure happiness perspective, I can’t say our lead is too large. We perpetuate a political system where extreme partisan viewpoints on both sides are encouraged, and where shutting down the government and putting thousands of people out of work is preferable to trying to compromise. We can hardly turn on the news without learning of another violent shooting, yet we refuse to focus on improving mental health, or trying to keep guns out of the wrong hands. We ignore the fact that people are so unhappy that recreational prescription drug use has become an epidemic. Some areas, like the one I was fortunate enough to grow up, in are doing ok, yet this sense of well-being has rendered many of the inhabitants almost completely delusional.  The only goal is “more” yet there is no thought given to why more is necessary, or whether the pursuit of more might be hurting others. We believe that because we worked hard to be successful, anyone should be able to do the same, while ignoring the mountain of evidence on the contrary. [i] It seemed like developing countries was just a process of removing one set of problems and replacing them with another (albeit better) set of even more complicated issues.

So now that you are sufficiently depressed at the future of humanity, the good news! If I learned anything in Denmark, it’s that there is something to strive for. Despite my love for the American way, it has become painfully obvious that we are nowhere near the top of the development scale.  However, Denmark is if not the top, then at least one of the top five countries in terms of development. It is more than a numbers thing though, you spend time in Denmark(and all of Scandinavia), and you get the sense that things are going the right direction. Now Norway aside, this was not a forgone conclusion, Scandinavia has a relatively inconvenient location, no large abundance of natural resources, horrible weather, and the ridiculous tax code makes doing business extremely difficult. Yet, Denmark and its neighbors are thriving. While there is a clear division of wealth, the idea of poverty that we know in America is almost completely non-existent. People pay less of their taxes to healthcare than we do in the US, and yet they have completely free care (I did as well and it was awesome), for their whole lives. Workweeks are much shorter than at home, workers take at least six paid weeks off per year, and still they are much more productive. Government is willing to try new things and willing to admit when they messed up. Instead of a subset of super liberal hippies trying to convince everyone to turn their lights off and drive small cars, the laws are set up to make a sustainable lifestyle the most affordable and convenient. Over half the commuters bike to Copenhagen everyday because the biking infrastructure is safer, faster, and cheaper than the driving one. Finally, people focus much more of their time on enjoying themselves. The weather is horrendous right now, and we hardly get any sunlight, yet the constant onslaught of festivals, wonderful Christmas parties, and the general hyggeligt atmosphere makes things seem warmer than ever.

I know that in many ways it is not fair to compare Denmark to the US, and that Denmark still has its own problems that need to be solved. They might not be “there” yet, and maybe never will be, but I no longer doubt that “there” does exist. I guess the point I am trying to make is that Denmark has made me realize that there really is a utopia to strive for, and that there are some nations creating the blueprints to get the rest of us there. In a more literal sense, development experts call the goal of their work, “getting to Denmark.” So while I still honestly have no clue how I ended up getting to Denmark, I am pretty happy I did.

I’ll miss this place.


KDW

In Denmark, Christmas won the war on Christmas.

As you hopefully know, one of the best parts about going skiing or snowboarding, is that feeling after leaving the slopes when you change into sweats, and sip hot chocolate by a warm fireplace. Now take that feeling, and multiply it by like a thousand, and you basically have December in Denmark.

While Denmark might be completely devoid of mountains or even hills, we have enough cold and darkness to make up for it tenfold. You basically eat lunch while the sun is going down which can be slightly disorienting. So anyway, to compensate for this, the Danes had a group meeting (this is how I imagine decision making happens in this country) and decided that they would make December the most fun, cozy, and tradition filled time of the year.
Exhibit A: My house. In addition to putting out a bunch of decorations this weekend, we made candleholders out of nature. Apparently the whole country does it. See my artwork below. I consider myself a candleholder-making prodigy, and am perfectly willing to sell to the highest bidder (minimum bid of 100,000,000 Kr).

I call it, "Sneaky Little Man In Red Hat."
I call it, “Sneaky Little Man In Red Hat.”
Supplies..
Supplies..

Exhibit B: Not only did we make art, but we built something in the basement that is the envy of men everywhere. We had to move the ping pong table in order to accommodate this giant electric car racing track!

Yep… Real Life.
Yep… Real Life.

Note the bridges, the propped up curves, and the awesome straight away that makes my car always fly off the track. Actually just too much fun.

Exhibit C: I got a calendar that gives me a surprise Toms Chocolate (remember the chocolate factory we visited for class?) every day of the month. So…… Ha!

Exhibit D: Town looks like this everywhere:

I have no sassy comments to make.
I have no sassy comments to make.

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Exhibit E: Christmas lunches. We had a host family version, but basically you eat herring, bread and a bunch of other foods, drink schnapps, and dance to traditional Danish Christmas songs. A good way to spend four hours.

I am bummed that I will be missing Christmas because apparently it is next-level awesome here(#GoodJewishBoyProblems), but it is interesting to see how the whole month feels much more festive than America. They also eat more delicious foods then I have the willpower to list here.

Also… I bought this…

Combining fashion, function, and a nice beard.
Combining fashion, function, and a nice beard.

Also… My hero David Beckham’s movie came out this week. It looks awesome. Class of 92

Here is the Beckham Family just slaying their family photos.. (mom we needa step it up)

Like seriously…
Like seriously…

That’s without their secret weapon… Harper Beckham

"Get on my level dad."
“Get on my level dad.”

Back to finals studying!

Kyle

Thanksgiving, Sigur Røs blowing my mind, beer bread making, etc…

Hello World.

So it is finals time now, so I am on the study grind today but in honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to give you guys an update about all the good schtuff going on around here.

First and most importantly, we are cooking Thanksgiving dinner here! Operation Secretly-Americanize-The-World is  a go.

Classic host brothers turkey shot.
Classic host brothers turkey shot.

But ya excited about that.

Second, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREGORY WEISS. 32 is supposed to  be a great year!

He, like Tim Duncan and Beyonce, has found the fountain of youth..
He, like Tim Duncan and Beyonce, has found the fountain of youth..

Third, learned to cook Øllebrød yesterday! So basically that translates to beer bread, but is actually porridge consumed back in the day.  Basically, the Danes did not want to waste their two national points of pride, beer and rye-bread, so they just made a porridge out of the leftover scraps.

Yes I did hand whip the cream. Chef of the Year time.
Yes I did hand whip the cream. Chef of the Year time. Cinnamon Sugar goodness.

My Danish class and I made a bunch of different types of this incredible porridge. One was made with cinnamon vanilla and sugar, and the other (“The Zesty One”), with lemon and orange peels. We then were given another lesson in beer brewing, and so we obviously ate our beer bread soup with a nice cold beer. Denmark…

If that wasn’t enough blog material, we also did a lesson on the incredible food culture here. Last years chef of the year is and American who is part of the mass migration of top chefs to Denmark. His new place just opened and it looks bomb:

http://www.amassrestaurant.com/index.php?id=71

Matt Orlando worked at NOMA before opening his own much more “urban and gritty” restaurant, which I would do unforgivable things to eat at. Fun fact, over a third of tourists visiting Copenhagen are visiting with the intention of eating at a specific restaurant.  Wealthy foodies, this is the place to be.

Fourth, music update. Went to Sweden last night to see Sigur Røs. Consider me obsessed.  They are probably the best live show I have ever seen, and I am still in shock. Sigur Røs are a sort of ethereal rock band that seems like the sound track for a movie about a Gold Eagle flying through a Planet Earth documentary. Don’t know if that paints a picture or not..

Everybody plays a bunch of instruments, but the lead singer plays an electric guitar with a violin bow. He also has the ability to sing as both in a  male and female voice.  He sings in Icelandic as well as Hopelandic, a language that the band made up to compliment their sound.

I know I am not doing them justice, but do yourself a favor and check them out. Use your best headphones or speakers, and be patient. It is all about the slow builds up to epic peaks.  That’s why they have an extra like 15 people on stage at all times. They headlined Coachella, and I missed them for Phoenix, but this was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.

Listen to more than just this song though, they are all over the map:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbPWi1gshzI

Less dramatic then the full show with lights and all, but still cool.

Turkey Time!

Thanks for all of you who read this thing. Appreciate reading it, and all the positive and negative (gasp) feedback.

Have a good day,

Kyle Weiss

P.S. To everyone at home, I miss you guys. See y’all soonish. .

DIS By The Numbers!

Studying  in Copenhagen:

By the Numbers

 47: Number of pastries I Have eaten thus far. Denmark wins, but Portugal comes in a close second place in the baked goods game.

Try and saying no to this. Pause…. Not!
Try and saying no to this. Pause…. Not!

9:Number of countries I will have visited in my time Abroad

  • Denmark, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Portugal and Holland(tentative depending on funds).

70/30: Girl to Guy  Gender Ratio on our program.

New Suits!
New Suits!

1.83 M (6 ft): Average height of Danish Guys.. Sad face. They have nearly two inches on us USA.. Step it up!

 500,000: Number of Danes who bike to work on an average day in the Greater Copenhagen Area. According to Wikipedia (ya I know….) this is more than the amount of Americans who bike to work in our whole country. Other cities becoming more Bicycle friendly is actually called Copenhagenization. I will write a whole blog about how the bikes relate to fashion and all that before I leave!

This is normal….
This is normal….

 7: Average hours of sunlight in December in this town. It gets dark like right when lunch ends. Super big struggle for California boy.

 26: Minutes my S-Tog train takes to get from Virum where I reside to the middle of the city.

$5.37: Price of a Big Mac in Denmark. $2.00 more than the US average but over $4.00 less than our way-too-wealthy neighbors in Norway.

 170 M: Highest hill in Denmark. There are no mountains, hence the bikes.

12,500 BC: When Denmark was first inhabited.

 60.2%: Top personal income tax rate in Denmark. This kicked in at over 55k per year. Whereas in California the top tax bracket is at over 400k per year.

6: Weeks of vacation guaranteed by law for full time Danish employees. Combine this with a 37.5 hour work week, and up to 120 days of paid sick time, and you understand why Danes are so darn happy all the time despite the previous stat.

1583: The year Dyrehavsbakken, the oldest operating theme park in the world opened. Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest park and the oldest in a city opened in 1843. If you know me, you know how happy this makes me.

$19.50: How much I would have to pay to see whatever horror movie this poster is for in Copenhagen.

Really inspiring guys..
Really inspiring guys..

Kidding! It is actually a super creepy brand new portrait of the Royal Family. Have fun not sleeping tonight!

30: Minutes to Malmö, Sweden by train. I will be there Wednesday night for Sigur Ros!

9: Hours of class I have on Tuesdays. Aka I need to quit blogging and hit the books!

Peace Out Girl Scouts

Kyle

When Vikings Attack

One thing I never understood about old myths, legends, and fairy tales, was the obsession with the forest. Why did everything strange or evil have to happen in the forest? Hansel and Gretel meet a cannibalistic witch, Oberon and Titania run their fairy kingdom in the trees, and all arachnophobes know that the Forbidden Forest is not to be trifled with. I had been living next to a forest in Denmark for two weeks, and it was amazing. Mountain biking, running and all sorts of other shenanigans were commonplace in there, but all these were pretty standard activities. My European Lit teacher explained that the forest represented mystery and magic, but I was skeptic. All this would change rather quickly.
Cue Creepy Music
Cue Creepy Music
——

It was two weeks into my semester abroad and I was doing my usual, get-lost-running-in-the-forest thing, when I heard the drumbeats.  I assumed they were a part of whatever Madonna jam I happened to be listening to at that point, but they persisted and so I naturally ran towards them to investigate. What I saw was absolutely terrifying, a group of giant men, wearing animal pelts, carrying weapons, and chanting over an open fire. This was undoubtedly my greatest, “get me the hell out of this country” moment in Denmark. It was two weeks into my journey, and I was about to be skewered by a bunch of neo-Vikings living in the forest. Natrually I hit the floor and prayed to the Nordic gods to spare me a while longer. I laid as silently as I could in the dirt for about five minutes before I heard a rustling noise behind me.   Turns out it was a zombie (cue heart attack number two) who explained to me that this forest was used for role-playing games (Danes are weird), and that I was in no danger of becoming Viking supper.  Apparently Vikings, Zombies, Swedes, and all sorts of other bloodthirsty creatures routinely do fake battle in the forest next to my house, and my host family had decided this was not important intel for me to know.  So while “technically” I wasn’t attacked by Vikings, this basically counts.

It was only when I returned home from my emotional roller coaster of a run to take a much-needed shower, that I realized I finally was starting to understand the forest. There are no Google maps for the woodlands, nothing has an address, everything is constantly changing, and anything can be anywhere. We fear what we don’t understand, and the forest is the great unknown.  The forest represents a place outside of society, without rules, customs, or traditions. Anything can happen in the forest, so naturally protagonists meet their greatest foes and challenges in the trees. The forest gives writers a blank slate where the world and its inhabitants, are only limited by the writer’s own creative ability, a sort of tabula rasa for one’s imagination.

People assume that being here is all about experiencing the big differences from home, new language, socialist country, actual winter, city life, and so on. These things are huge, but more often, it’s the little things that hit me the hardest. Denmark has challenged my assumptions about things like the social etiquette of trains, the best way to hold utensils, eggs being breakfast only, and of course, the role of forests in literature.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that sometimes we forget that our homeland viewpoint is not the only way to look at the world. I love the American mindset, but I cannot even begin to explain how cool it is to learn the little things from a different perspective. It really does take living in another culture to understand the nuances and trivial things that make people unique.  For example, I could learn all about things like Danish design in books, but understanding the obsession and significance of chairs in Denmark has to be experienced to really be understood.  At the risk of sounding preachy and cliché to everyone at home, I say just pick a place and go. Whether it is Amman, Paris, Lima, or even New Orleans, go experience the little things. Take a moment and explore the unknown – it’s as easy as getting lost in the forest.

NOTE: This was written for my home university CMC (best place ever) school paper. They haven’t exactly published it yet, so I said screw it and put it here.

@KyleDavidWeiss

Why I Can’t Sleep.

By all standard measures I should be fast asleep. 6 AM wake up, casual exhaustion, and a lack of desserts in the fridge usually knock a man out pretty quickly. However, I am absolutely amped up right now, and I decided that the blogosphere needed to know why.

First, the Cliché Travel Blog has gone worldwide baby!!! The last few days have seen hits from Viet Nam, Finland, Canada, Senegal, Italy, and a bunch ‘o’ other places. Very cool. This is a big step in my not-at-all-secret effort to rule over you all in blissful worldwide hegemony. Seriously though, thanks to everyone who is actually reading the words that my computer spits out on the reg.

Second, I made host grandma happy today. I managed to tell min Farmor (far= father, mor=mother)  that I was sorry I was traveling and could not attend her 85th birthday party. Also, that her apple cake was delicious. ALL IN DANISH!! Self  high-five. She only speaks Danish, so being able to have a semi-conversation was super gratifying. She told me I was basically a Viking now. I’m still blushing.

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So much good food at the host grandparents house.. Homemade hot chocolate.. BIg Flippin Deal.

Third, I am officially back on the grind. Ten lbs of almost pure pastry later, my foot is back in running condition. Perfect timing because we had our first indoor soccer game tonight! My host dad runs an indoor soccer session every Monday at a gym nearby, and he invited me to join. Indoor soccer is basically my crack, so this was the absolute best. I forgot how much I loved the game. My host brothers and I lost, and I was super pissed off. I miss that feeling. Moral of the story, being in a host family is cool. Do it kids.

Fourth, there appears to be some sort of hurricane going on. Trees all knocked down. Kyle knocked down off his bike. Trains cancelled. Danes actually wearing helmets. Buildings losing roofs. Class cancelled! Now, I know this is not exactly cause for celebration, and to all the homies stuck in school for the night, I apologize. However, it is different, and weirdly cozy (my host sister loves this weather), and having a class cancelled is delightful. Too everyone in the city tonight, be careful por favor.

Finally and by far most importantly, I am seeing Chvrches tomorrow night! Chvrches is the band I am currently obsessing over. I love their music, and am planning on marrying Lauren Mayberry, their lead singer. This show has been sold out for over a month, and people have been offering bills on bills for  my tickets for weeks. Chvrches are sort of a synthy pop band that sounds like a combination of disco fever, a horror movie, and the blissful feeling you get when you pop bubble wrap.

Check them out, but put on your best headphones. Of course, I will be writing a full review in the coming days.

Ever before releasing their first album a month ago, Chvrches are the fastest rising, and most blog-adored act in music. No idea how I will survive my non-cancelled classes tomorrow.

Ok now I should actually sleep…..

Goodnight World (I can say that now)

Kyle

This place is insanely big
This place is insanely big

Culture Night: Copenhagen On Steroids

Ahoy Maties!!

I never thought I would say it, but I am actually really enjoying the cold weather and rain that has consumed the city as of late. When the weather is good, I take advantage of it more, and rainy Copenhagen has a weirdly appealing feel to it. So much color against the gray sky is actually pretty cool.

The other night (night one of finally being back on two feet) was Culture Night 2013. This was actually one of the best nights I have had since arriving in Europa. The whole city opens up starting at 6:30, and for 90 Kroner ($16) you have access to everything. OVER 650 PLACES WERE OPEN!! I could actually spend a month going to cool places, but we only had a night to do as much as possible. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing this whole night. Until we left at 3AM, you could barely move it was so crowded everywhere. Performances were happening all over the place, and the music festival like vibe meant fun fun fun fun times. More fun than FUN? Maybe…

So much culture it hurts!
So much culture it hurts!

Being Americans, our main goal for the evening was of course to get as much free food as humanly possible. To my readers in the homeland, you must understand that Denmark don’t do free. Everything here costs something (usually a lot of somethings), so we were sub-consciously drawn to the free schtuffs. Our Danish friends were completely disgusted with us.

So our journey started at the DIS haunted house, which was decently scary, but mostly in a “You just violated my personal bubble sort of way.”  DIS then had pumpkin carving, free s’mores, cookies, and things of that nature.

S'Mores: Danish Culture Right?
S’Mores: Danish Culture Right?

We then walked through town, saw some bands, tribal looking dances, and had deliciously free, vegetable soup and bread. We ended up getting this soup twice since it was so bomb.

City hall was next. This was pretty cool. They kill it with the nationalism.

To my absolute childish delight, we then made the trek to the brand new Planetarium!  Super cool to go for free. Think like the biggest imax screen you have seen, double it, and then let it curve over your heads (which are resting nicely on velvet seats). The dialogue was in Danish, but cool stars are cool stars. We want to go watch a full movie in English soon, but this was awesome.

plane

Bliss
Bliss

Everyone said we had to do it, so we hit up parliament next. After heavy security, we got to walk through the actual parliament chamber. Unreal. Then we went to the top floors and talked to the different political parties based on how much food they gave us. The social liberals (Dark Chocolate) earned my vote, which was absolutely for sale to the highest bidder.

In the US this would have been shutdown....
In the US this would have been shutdown….

We went to a few more places and ended at the Danish Architecture Center. They had a cool light show outside, along with a fake campsite with trees and campfires. Inside they had a bunch of Lego stations where you could build to your hearts content.

Note the glass cafe on the side. Casually Awesome.
Note the glass cafe on the side. Casually Awesome.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Good times had by all.

Also planned my third travel break!   London for the Kairos Conference, and then Lisbon! Two buddies and I are renting an apartment in Lisbon for most of the week and exploring the city. Needless to say, I am pumped for this. When I get back, Momma and Poppa Weiss will be in town and I will be turning the big 21(not big here at all, since kids are treated as people and not criminals).

Also we got our Paris/Brussels itinerary today! Will post about that tomorrow or Saturday? Ok deal.

Hej Hej,

@KyleDavidWeiss

School Talk 2013: Nobody told me I would actually have to study whilst studying abroad.

Hej!

Hvordan har du det?

I am sorry about my slacking off on the blog in the last week. I have been on the injured reserve list with the foot so my explorations have been limited.  Also, by some incredible flaw in the system, I have had a ton of actual work. I am talking Claremont level homework. Total rip… I know. Work is interesting here, you generally have less per class, but I am taking 5 classes, have family obligations, and spend too much time on trains and bikes and what not so I end up feeling as busy or more busy at some points than at CMC.

Since I have been nerding out the last few days, I decided I might as well embrace it and post a bit about what is happening in each class. Help give an idea what going to school in the Copenhagens is all about and all that.

Without further adieu, I present:

School Talk 2013: Nobody told me I would actually have to study whilst studying abroad.

Globalization and European Economies: This is my core class and we are going on a little class trip to Paris and Brussels next week. NBD. More than a little excited for that. We are studying European integration right now, which is a really cool topic that (surprisingly) I am actually interested in. So like Denmark refused to join the Euro even though it not joining can mostly only hurt the country economically. The stubborn Danes liked having the Queens face all over the currency, so they decided not to join despite having pegged their currency to the Euro.  Very weird and slightly concerning nationalistic decision.  The eurozone is a strange economic model and is cool to look at and think how this could apply to an eventual world integration. More on all the awesome stuff we do on our study tour to come.

Religion in Crisis: 19th Century European Thought: My one philosophy class more the Phil part of my Phil/Econ majors. This class is tough. The whole class is on Hegel, one of the hardest philosophers to read and understand. Basically Hegel gave a series of lectures to students in the early 19th century in which he tried to defend religion from enlightenment attacks. He tries to demonstrate using science (just weird BS philosophy) that Christianity not only makes sense, but is the one true religion. It is actually a cool class but really tough. We go through a bunch of major religions and Hegel explains how they are all leading to Christianity. We have a test this week on Magic and Tribal Religions, Ancient Chinese Religions, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Egyptian Religions. Learning the basics of all of these is pretty important so I am glad I took this class at the Copenhagen University.

This is a quote from our study guide to give you an idea what we are dealing with here:

“Therefore, to thinking reason, God is not emptiness, but Spirit; and this characteristic of Spirit does not remain for it a word only, or a superficial characteristic; on the contrary, the nature of Spirit unfolds itself for rational thought, inasmuch as it apprehends God as essentially the Triune God. Thus God is conceived of as making Himself an object to Himself an object, and further, the object remains in this distinction in identity with God; in it God loves Himself. Without this characteristic of Trinity, God would not be Spirit, and Spirit would be an empty word.”  Chew on that!

Behavioral Economics: European Case Studies: This is a pretty standard Behavioral Econ class we look at how people act in irrational ways despite economics saying they should be rational. I am also going in to town to work on a project today about people’s willingness to cooperate in a second task after being given a prize for the first task versus after volunteering in the first task. Interesting stuff. Working on how people have no idea of what something should cost, so they will often base their decision on the prices already listed and just pick a product priced slightly lower than the average. Silly humans.

European Storytelling: From Homer to Harry Potter: I have been completely taken by surprise at how much I have enjoyed this class. We started out with fairy tale origins and are now working on Nordic (Thor!) and Greek Myths.  We are studying the patterns that different types of theories almost always take, and how cultures all over the world have different versions of the same tales. Trying to look at whether these tales express common internal themes of the human psyche, or just always evolve into familiar patterns. I spent all day yesterday writing nine pages on why my favorite book, Ender’s Game, redefined the Hero’s Journey as set out by Joseph Campbell. I argue that Ender’s Game along with increased moral ambiguity in the modern world brought the slew of dark heroes (Dark Knight, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Man of Steel, etc..) that we see in movies these days. Other cool takeaway from this class is learning about the gruesome origins of most modern fairy tales.

Danish Language and Culture: Danish is the hardest language ever. Nothing sounds like it is written, and Americans can not pronounce like half of the sounds that Danes have. That said, this class is a blast, our teacher is an awesome older guy who really cares about us and we have fun every class. We go on awesome culture trips and do a ton of fun stuff in class. Even though the overlords at CMC required this class, I am glad I am taking it. It is cool to be able to have basic conversations with Danes, and Danish culture is incredibly strange and interesting, and knowing the language helps to understand it.

Summary: For the most part I really like my classes here. The teaching styles are different, and the classes are much less theoretical. Good and bad of both styles. Too be honest, CMC is extremely stingy and I had a pretty limited selection of courses I could get credit for. If I was just studying what I wanted instead of getting college credits, my classes would be a little bit less dull. They have awesome choices here.

These include:

Football in Catalonia: Study soccer’s impact on Barcelona culture and take a trip to Barca

Danish Urban Design

Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism

Economics of Crime

Mergers and Acquisitions

Al-Qaida and Intelligence Analysis

History of Polar Discovery

Islam, Discovery, and Gender

Neuroscience of Fear

Neuroscience of Human Consciousness: The Feeling of Being

Nordic Culinary Culture

Public Health Ethics

From Religious Mythos to Philosophical Logos

A million other trips you can go on with classes like Literary London. These are just the ones that look cool to me but there are a ton of others.

Time to do a group project.

Hej Hej (Bye)

Kyle

cpn

Berlin and Back in Town

Hi Guys,

No fancy pictures (edit.. now one) or long-winded explanations this time. Just an update. So I hurt my foot last week in Budapest. This was a bummer because it basically immobilized me during my time in Berlin. Good news was I was staying with Grandpa and Margit at their place, so I got to chill and catch up.

My grandpa took me to dinner at an amazing Armenian place called The Big Window, which he has been going to for forty years. Grandpa and the owner were quick to insult each other in a friendly banter that had clearly developed over many long nights in the place.   The Big Window is a favorite among the “elite” in Berlin, and you will rarely be sat without a reservation. Ivan the owner just asks you if you want something, and you say yes or no. There is only one menu in the place and Margit and Grandpa had never seen it until Thursday.  One of the best meals I have ever had. Think Mecca for people that eat meat. Ribs, veal and some of the appetizers were mind-blowing. Definitely want to go back next time I am in Berlin.

I also accidently got a skinhead haircut. I look a little scary.  German language barrier problems.

Now on the school grind. Two papers and three projects that I need to start grinding out.  School here is easier than Claremont, but living with a family, exploring, and all the other good things make getting the surprisingly large workload done, quite challenging. European integration is a cool topic, and I am starting to feel less nervous about writing a thesis senior year. Goodness I am getting old.

Paris and Brussels in 2 weeks with my econ class! That trip is going to be incredible.  Of course the cliché Eiffel Tower picture will be here for your viewing pleasure.

Miss y’all and love all the snapchats/emails/messages.  See You Soon.

The Traveler

 

This guy was just there....
This guy was just there….

 

 

“To Be Or Not To Be!” We made it to Kronborg!

Hi Friends,

Well, today I just  knocked another one off the bucket list. Ever since taking Ms. Leadingham’s Shakespeare class senior year, I have wanted to visit “The Hamlet Castle.” Today I did!

I know that I have done a lot of “look how cool this castle is,” posts, but this one takes the cake. Kronberg is huge, surrounded my moats, creepy underground chambers, and has the biggest great hall in all of Northern Europe.

I can see why Hamlet was such a downer!
I can see why Hamlet was such a downer!
All it needs is some Gators in that moat.
All it needs is some Gators in that moat.

Originally built as a fortress to protect from the nearby Swedes in the 1420’s, this place was built up one hundred years later into one of the most famous renaissance castles in Europe. It was used to collect taxes from ships that sailed through the sound, to the Baltic Sea.  Christian IV who later built a large majority of the grand/famous places in Denmark, also rebuilt Kronborg after it was destroyed in 1629.

Krongborg was known by all of Europe as the scene of the wildest parties in the world. These affairs could last days and occasionally weeks, and were held in the Great Hall I mentioned earlier:

Imagine the Bar-Mitzvah possibilities.
Imagine the Bar-Mitzvah possibilities.

These parties are where two of Shakespeare’s actor colleagues worked for a few years and they told Will all about life in Kronberg. At these bashes, tt was considered rude to turn down food from The Monarchs, so people would eat 8-10 kilos of food per day. Sounds like heaven!   One person also had a pot and a feather and if you were full, you would tickle your throat so you could throw up and keep going. Beer was imported from Germany (soldiers got 8 liters of Danish brew per day as a paycheck), and white wine was popular. The Queen still occasionally has parties here, but they are not nearly as “Project X esque” as the 17th century throw-downs.

Scholars are 50/50 on whether Will actually visited Kronberg or not, but it is undoubtedly Prince Hamlet’s Elsinore Castle. Every August they put on the play in the main courtyard, which would be really cool to see.

Other cool fact was that the Queen and King had a person whose job was to sleep in their beds all day to keep them warm. I would thrive in this role.  Also, they still have a ton of nice stuff inside, but due to a Swedish occupation in 1658, many of the treasures are  stuck across the water.

Creepy Passageways Below. 4000 Soldiers could live down here. They were put below horses because they were worth less:

Hobbits live here.
Hobbits live here.

Holger the Dane is a legendary Danish warrior who will wake up if Denmark is in trouble. I consider him a friend.

IMG_4638

Twins!
Twins!

We also went outside Fredensborg Palace:

The Royal "Summer House"
The Royal “Summer House”

Very Cool. Will have to tour at some point. Like I said, I have done a lot of kingdom posts, but look what I am dealing with here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_castles_and_palaces_in_Denmark

Got to run. First really big test tomorrow.

Cheers,

Kyle David Weiss: Professional Tourist

Hamlet Wisdom

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
For loan oft loses both itself and friend.”

“This above all — to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

An Open Letter to the Queen of the Danish Kingdom

To Margrethe Alexandrine Þorhildur Ingrid, Her Majesty, The Queen of Denmark, Terror of Sweden, Speaker of Many Tongues, and Likely Jedi Master.

Greetings your majesty, welcome to my blog.  In the spirit of my personal hero Machiavelli (not really at all.. AP Euro made me suffer through The Prince though), I have decided to write you a letter outlining the path forward for the Great Kingdom of Denmark. It is no secret that you have some pressure to keep the ship steady, after all, the fate of the worlds oldest monarchy lies with your family. My original correspondence was chock full of warfare tactics and sage political wisdom, however, The Googles informed me that you have exactly zero political power, and you mostly act as a “Cultural Figurehead.”

Therefore:

The Queen: A List of Cultural Improvements to Secure the Future of the Realm, written by an irrelevant American kid with a blog and half a college degree.”

I propose:

  1. A ban on all black licorice products. Let it be known that Danish people have convinced themselves that black licorice is good, and that it does not taste like a combination of black tar, and dish soap. Let us revitalize the great Nordic cuisine of Red Licorice, “Sweet of the Gods.”
  2. A ban on everyone being so  good looking. Economists estimate that Denmark loses about 20% of economic output per day due to, “the act of staring at their fellow citizens and thinking how hot they all look all the time.” In all honesty your goodness, it is degrading and would seriously increase tourism revenues if everyone could just take it down a notch or two.
  3. A ban on nice cops. I thought I was finally going to get a stern talking to after j-walking last week, and the guy just handed me my dropped headphones and proceeded to tell me all about his trip to The Bay Area! Low to non-existent crime rates aside, I can say for a fact that this is a bad idea. The cops must be hated and feared, not respected and loved, haven’t you ever seen 21 Jump Street!?
  4. A ban on bad weather.
  5. A ban on happy cemeteries. How is Hans Christian Anderson supposed to rest in peace when newlyweds are having picnics on his gravesite? My humble recommendation would be to have some actual skeletons dug up, some scary noisemakers installed, and a fog machine or two. Remind people that this isn’t Tivoli, and that Søren Kierkegaard would be completely offended by the outfits worn at the Yoga class three tombs over.
  6. A ban on 7-11, McDonalds and other American Chains. Trust me, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Walmart and Fried Twinkie stands. Stick to the staples of meat and potatoes (and the occasional pastry). It has done you well since the Viking Days, so don’t fix what ain’t broken.
  7. A ban on Danish. Unfortunately, the stereotype that Danish sounds like German with a potato in ones mouth is too generous to your people. Words sound nothing like how they are spelled, and a series of ever more complicated grunts is not sustainable for another thousand years.
  8. A ban on Shawarma places on every block.  I joke, I joke! These places are great!
  9. A ban on your teachers. They are way too nice. They refuse to say a mean thing to anyone, so (without naming names) the students who just talk a lot but don’t really say anything (their wheels are spinning but the hamsters are dead) are having a field day while the rest of us resist the urge to strangle them! I think a good yardstick knuckle beat down should do the trick!
  10. 10. A ban on the Kroner.  Between the whole “socialism” thing, and the absurdly high costs for things, it’s a wonder you people can buy anything. I just paid 30 Kroner ($5.50)for a sweet and salted tropical trail mix bag. Granted it was delicious, but I am all for some Chinese style currency deflation!

Mange Tak your majesty. Follow me on twitter!

Med venlig hilsen / Best regards,

Kyle Weiss