Haunts & Halloween in Copenhagen

Happy Halloween everybody!

Although I’m incredibly sad to be missing my yearly dose of pumpkin stew and watching Snoopy prowl around as the Red Baron in It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, it has been interesting to see how Halloween is handled in Denmark. Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

Danes aren’t very scary…

You may be asking yourself: what am I looking at and what does this have to do with Halloween? That, my friend, is a Danish cemetery and it’s about the least scary place I could possibly imagine. Each person gets their own little plot that is usually very landscaped and personalized. It’s so cute and kitchy–and a terrible setting for anything Halloween related.

…but they think Halloween has to be.

Last Friday my friend and I went to a Halloween party hosted by DIS (my study abroad program). She dressed up as a leek (porrer in Danish), because she always dresses up as food. While everybody loved her costume (she made a two-foot tall leek hat for goodness sake), all the Danes we encountered were confused how it was a Halloween costume. “What’s scary about porrer?” they asked us. “Are you an evil porrer?”

Try as they might, Danes can’t quite get Halloween right.

The one place in Copenhagen that did go all out for Halloween was Tivoli. I didn’t get to go myself, but according to a friend who went there were thousands of pumpkins all over the park, pumpkin lights strung in the trees, and renditions of “This is Halloweentown” from The Nightmare Before Christmas played.

Sounds pretty Halloween-y, but unfortunately Tivoli closed until the Christmas season on October 24–a week before Halloween. It was so strange to walk by that day and see them already taking down the decorations.




Their tricks may be lacking, but they’ve got the treats down.

Beyond the delicious pastries that I enjoy far too often (or not often enough?), Danes know how to enjoy their sweets. Keep an eye out for my next post, where I’ll tell you about my favorite Danish treat!


On Going Away and Coming Back

Welcome to chapter 5 in a series of posts about my week-long trip through Germany and the Netherlands! If you missed the first posts, check them out by clicking on the links below. Otherwise, read on!

1. Remembering Why I Came Here

2. Spiritual Spaces

3. Design-gasm

4. The Day of Inspiring People

5. On Going Away and Coming Back

As much as I love traveling, I also love coming home. I think the return is almost as important to the whole experience of travel as every other part. Spending some time in your usual environment really enhances the excitement of going somewhere else. Plus, as fun as travel is, it’s also exhausting and I always hit a point where nothing sounds better than being somewhere where I can just run on auto-pilot for a day or two. You all know how good the feeling of crawling into your bed after a long period of traveling is.

When you’re returning to somewhere relatively new, the equation becomes complicated. Sure, the place you are coming back to may be more familiar than the place you were traveling to, but if it also might not feel like home yet. This has been my experience with Copenhagen over the past few months. When returning from the first study tour only three weeks in, I was still really getting my feet on the ground in Copenhagen. The only reason it felt comforting to return was that we hadn’t had a moment to breathe on that whirlwind of a trip.

The long study tour was a little different. I knew basically how to get around from place to place, had survived my first urban design project, had gotten used to my new Danish diet, and was finally getting in a groove with my host family and new friends. Coming back from a week away, I was able to see all these things. And while returning from a trip was eye opening to how familiar Copenhagen had become, it was also a reminder of how much unfamiliarity remained.

Oh my way back from the airport after the long study tour I hit several, shall we say, snags in the plan: the fare machine not working, a fight on the metro, the train not running from my station, and then my computer not turning on when I finally made it home at 2 in the morning. Now, I’m not here to complain, but this strange series of events made me realize that what would have been mere annoyance back in DC is a major event here in Copenhagen simply because of the amount of effort it takes to figure out how to handle it. Luckily I’m a pretty resourceful person—and Danes are very friendly and helpful—so I was able to figure everything out, but I definitely missed coming back from vacation to a place where I don’t have to “figure things out.”

Three weeks later, as I prepare to leave tomorrow for a two-week journey through Spain, I can’t help but wonder what Copenhagen will feel like upon my return. I’ve felt much more like a local lately—people will start speaking in Danish to me rather than automatically assuming English and recently I’ve even helped a few Danes navigate their way around the city. While I’m dreading the arrival of winter when I get back, it brings with it the arrival of the Danish Christmas season which I am incredibly excited about. Even just going through my everyday routine today I noticed a several things that made me think, “Wow, I’m gonna miss that.”

Maybe I’m finally feeling settled in Denmark. Maybe Copenhagen is working its way closer to joining the ranks of places that are familiar and comfortable to me.

Maybe, when I return on November 12, I will not just be coming back—I will be coming home.


I may be going on vacation but my blog is not! I’ve got some fun posts lined up to keep you guys entertained while I’m gone, so keep reading. And I can’t wait to come back from España and share all my adventures! Hasta luego!

Gallery Guide: Nathalie Djurberg’s Snakes Knows It’s Yoga

Last week I got to visit a bizarre claymation video and sculpture exhibit by Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg as part of my contemporary art class. Our assignment for the visit was to create a gallery guide, so in honor of the upcoming National Novel Writing Month (yes, November is about more than mustaches and turkeys), I’ve decided to compile…

The Creative Writer’s Guide to Nathalie Djurberg’s Snakes Knows It’s Yoga

If you’re in Copenhagen and love art and writing, feel free to print out the guide and head down to GL Strand to check out the exhibit. Unfortunately, this particular exhibit closes on November 13, but you’ve still got a couple weeks!

If you’re not in Copenhagen but still love writing, I’ve taken pictures of some (though unfortunately not all) of the works featured in the guide, so you can still somewhat use it!

And no matter where you are, you should sign up for NaNoWriMo. Seriously, it’s gonna be fun.

Happy Monday!

Virtual Worlds: Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Today, the news has changed. Gone are the days of newsies and delivery routes; computers, tablets, and smart phones have replaced them. Gone are the days of several big newspapers holding a monopoly on information; thousands of independent papers, bloggers, and even tweeters can now publish news information online. It’s so easy for us to bypass traditional media (and bypass paying for information), that even I, the girl who sold her kindle back because she missed having a physical book, am surprised the paper as we knew it still exists.

While traditional media obviously faces many challenges in it’s continued survival, I think the two biggest are:

Staying Positive

This week my class got to talk to Pernille Tranberg who works for Berlingske Media, one of Copenhagen’s biggest publishing groups. We discussed the future of the newspaper and how they are handling the changes in the market due to technology. Honestly, the conversation was pretty bleak. Pernille suggested that 50-60% of journalists today should just get another job and that most news companies are going to be downsizing in the next 5-10 years. Certainly not so inspiring for a girl interested in working in publishing and media.

I think it’s so important for people working in the media to remain positive and hopeful. A defeatist attitude will lead to defeat, and despite decline in use and revenue, it’s important to remember that the newspaper is still kicking. Though only 38% of American adults rely solely on offline sources for their news, only 2% rely solely on internet sources, according to a recent PEW study. The majority (59%) use a combination of the two types in a typical day. If people look at these stats in a positive light, they will be open to facing the next challenge…

Not Getting Stuck in Old Ways

The golden days of print media may be over, but that doesn’t mean traditional media has to die. It just may need to be willing to completely change its model. Many newspapers are already trying to do this. Some are putting their entire paper online in the print format. Others are doing this but charging for it.

Personally, I think this may be too similar to the traditional model to succeed in the long run. Pernille was telling us how her paper is looking into ways to use citizens and social media to help create basic content. That’s closer to the kind of thinking that media publishers need to be doing, but I think the ultimate saving grace is going to be even further out of the box.

Media publishers need to get some fresh thinking. They need to be willing to go back to the drawing board (or the pitch room, as it were) without any preconceived notions or boundaries. I don’t know what sort of solutions would come out of that sort of brainstorming session, but I would certainly be interested in participating!

How do you get your news? What do you think about the future of traditional media? Join the conversation!

Photo credit: Library of Congress

The Day of Inspiring People: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Welcome to chapter 4 in a series of posts about my week-long trip through Germany and the Netherlands! If you missed the first posts, check them out by clicking on the links below. Otherwise, read on!

1. Remembering Why I Came Here

2. Spiritual Spaces

3. Design-gasm

4. The Day of Inspiring People

The rest of our journey was spend in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Amsterdam was certainly a character-filled city. With canals running every which way, bikers doing the same, and “coffee shops” on every corner making no effort to hide what they’re actually selling, Amsterdam had an air of chaos that I hadn’t yet experienced in my European travels (For those of you who don’t know, coffee shops are where it it legal to sell and consume marijuana in Amsterdam. If you actually want to sit down for a cup of coffee, go to a cafe. And if you want coffee to-go good luck–remember, you’re in Europe now.)

To me, Amsterdam felt a little like Copenhagen cut loose. For example, they’re both extremely bike-focused cities, but Amsterdam seemed to do this at the expense of pedestrian friendliness. I’ve gotten used to the bikes in Copenhagen, but here it felt like learning how to ride again (pardon the pun). I definitely almost got hit on multiple occasions. And while jaywalking is somewhat frowned upon in Copenhagen (many people will wait for that little green man until the day they die), the streets in Amsterdam almost forced you to jay. Every time I crossed the street it felt like playing Frogger: get across the bike lane, then one car lane, then the above-ground tram lane, then do it all again on the other side of the street. I honestly don’t know how people enjoying Amsterdam’s, shall we say, cultural freedoms survive.

One thing Amsterdam may be less well known for are its museums. It is full of them, with over 50, and they range in subject from art to Anne Frank to bags and purses (?). As I’ve mentioned before, I have a slight obsession with museums (if I could, I’d go to a museum of museums), so one free afternoon a couple friends and I made stops at several.

Inspiring enough for you, Rembrandt?

First, we went to the Rembrandt House. As it sounds like, this museum guides you through the artist Rembrandt’s old house, and then ends with a gallery displaying a rare collection of his etchings. My favorite room was the one that housed his collection of “objects d’art” aka objects that inspired him. This was an odd menagerie of busts of random people, shells, preserved animals or animal parts, etc. With so many different things it was definitely my kind of room.

Making canary yellow paint!

Throughout the museum we also got to see demonstrations of some of Rembrandt’s art processes, such as how he made his pigments or did his etchings. These demonstrations definitely made the museum that much better, so if you are visiting I would highly recommend sticking around for them.

After a quick pancake dinner, we found ourselves at a very different hosue: Anne Frank’s. Even though this visit could have easily been depressing–and don’t get me wrong, it had it’s very sad moments–for me it was surprisingly more inspiring than the house of a master artist. Like Rembrandt, Anne Frank too had her collection of inspiring things: postcards and magazines showing her dreams, inspirations, and aspirations pasted on the wall of her tiny room. Anne wanted so much for her life and, despite her bleak situation, dreamed huge and worked furiously towards her dreams. Seeing her attitude towards life was both a sobering reminder and an inspiration for me to get absolutely everything I can out of life because I have so much freedom and opportunity. Although I hadn’t thought about Anne Frank since middle school, I’m so glad we went and am now itching to read the diary again. Another highly recommended museum.

Finally, we ended our day by going to a Brazilian Jazz concert at the big concert venue in Amsterdam, Concertgebouw. The concert featured a famous Belgian harmonica player (who knew?!) along with some of his Brazilian friends. Toots was hilarious–this guy couldn’t even walk on stage on his own he was so old, but as soon as he put that harmonica to his mouth he was jammin’. It was a great concert, and I only wish I could have gotten up and danced!

Our remaining days in Amsterdam were largely spent doing academic things and dealing with very sudden downpours (the weather was even more schizophrenic than in Copenhagen), but I did manage to hit up one more museum before I left: Van Gough.  No photos were allowed inside, but if you’re into art it’s another great stop in Amsterdam!

Finally, we were headed back to Copenhagen where an interesting “welcome home” was awaiting me…

5. On Going Away and Coming Back

Help! Tips for a Trip to Spain

Hello all! In only two short weeks I’m headed south for a nice long vacation in Spain with the oh-so-fabuloso Christobal Consroe and the-only-guy-I-know-who-has-jumped-off-a-camel Eric Fleddermann! I’m really gearing up and getting excited, and finally getting around to making plans…which leads to my question:

Do any of my fellow adventurers have tips for a trip to Spain?

Off to Spain! (curious sign in Parque Guell, Barcelona)

We’ll be spending time in Granada, Madrid and Barcelona, and would be open to visiting places near any of those. So, if you’ve ever been to any of these places, known somebody who talked your ear off about their time in one of them, or already planned a future dream vacation there, please share what you know! Things I have to see, food I have to eat, places to avoid, hidden gems, safety concerns… I’ll take it all.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts! And of course, I can’t wait to tell you all about the trip upon my return.

Photo credit: (rinse)