Sunday, March 15, 2009


This morning I woke up when Mike, one of my roommates, fell on me. His bed folded back into the wall with him in it, and he fell through the crack onto my bed - where I sprang out causing him to fall through the crack yet again. No one was hurt, so it ended up just being a pretty hilarious and confusing way to wake up.

Roskilde was far, far closer than I had imagined. I guess Denmark is just simply a smaller country that I'm used to. I walked a pretty decent distance to the Viking Museum, which was really informative, but a bit smallish/disappointing. It's clearly intended for the summer crowd. Wandered through neighborhoods and marveled at how Danish homes are so similar to ours (minus the lack of garages, or detached car ports). I know that's a bit silly, but there it is. Climbed the gigantic hill back into the center of town.

Town center is really cute. Roskilde was the medieval capital of Denmark, and you can tell. At the top of the hill is Roskilde Cathedral. It was started as a wooden church by Harald Bluetooth (who the technology is named after) and has been expanded upon ever since. Now, it's really really impressive.

Ever since the reformation, all Danish kings, and most queens, have been buried there, which is pretty neat. Their tombs are amazing! They are works of art, and they're surrounded by works of art. Even Mr. Bluetooth is buried in the cathedral - in a pillar. The church has several medieval tombs as well - the creepy kind interred in the floor that you walk over. Those always make me feel so disrespectful, but I suppose it can't be helped.

I walked around downtown a bit longer, and then headed in search of a cafe where I could get a cup of coffee. Ended up at a falafel stand watching Denmark's top youtube videos on a TV show. Several were 13 year old boys who reminded me of Clayton's Jackbutt crew. Caught the train back to Copenhagen. Double-decker! - it's the little things. Hung out at a cafe and checked out the Køpenhaven cathedral and the university on my way to the S Tog.

Tonight I had dinner with Maria and Thorbjørn, some students I met who study civil engineering. They made me "traditional" Danish food for dinner - "traditional" because I know they had to go through a lot more trouble than they admitted to make it vegetarian for me. We started with 3 kinds of smorbrød (penultimate danish), all on rye bread squares. one had smoked cheese with radish, another had egg salad and the third cabbage and potato. Then for the main course we had green beens with cheese and garlic, small baked potatos, red cabbage salad/slaw and apple and green cabbage salad. They made meatballs (ultimate danish), but they somehow made the gravy vegetarian so I could eat it. For dessert we had layers of applesauce and crumbled ginger cookie topped with whipped cream.

I learned a ton of stuff just from our random conversation. We compared holidays. Seems the Danes are adopting a bunch of U.S. holidays, including Halloween (even though they have their own version of Halloween in February) and even Thanksgiving! I guess in Danish Halloween you traditionally dress up and trick or treat for money, and then hit a barrel like piñata, and while today you fill the barrel with candy, traditionally they put a cat in it! Another silly Danish holiday they taught me about is the day you eat a duck (I forget the name). I guess there was once a man that everyone wanted to become a bishop, but he wasn't really feeling it so he hid in a goose coop. Unfortunately, the geese made a huge fuss and ratted him out. So from then on he declared that everyone must commemorate that day by eating a goose - although it has since evolved into a more easily available duck - in order to punish the loud geese.

We compared schooling systems - all universities in Denmark are free and they're in a consortium with all the Nordic schools, so Swedes, Norwegians and Danes can all attend each other's schools. They take "exotic" courses in primary school, including baseball. They have a big problem with grade translation (teachers can only give out one A a year) so it's hard for them to study abroad, or even go to the other Nordic schools. They also talked about how there's a huge trend of Swedes coming to Danish med school (because it's better) but there are only so many spots. Then they go back to Sweden and Denmark has no doctors. But, the Swedes are always accepted and the Danes can't go to Sweden because of the grade translation problem - Swedes always appear super smart, and Danes relatively stupid.

We talked about a bunch of random stuff, not sure what else I can remember. Nice, nice people. They even made sure to play only Danish music in the background. Oh! I asked about the bikes, which I thought weren't being locked. Turns out they are - with those sneaky back wheel locks that are built in. You can't get bike insurance (which is required by law) unless you have a lock. They were shocked taht we have to buy our own bike locks, and that we can't get bike insurance. Theft is still a problem though - Maria said she has had her bike stolen 4 times. Apparently there is a big issue with people from Eastern European countries coming to train stations with big trucks at night and taking anything unlocked.

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