Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Long time coming

Well this has certainly been a long time coming (as the title would lead you to believe.) I have now had almost two full weeks of classes and I am now getting ready to go on our first study tour (where we will be going to western Denmark also known as Jutland) for the next three days. Where we are going I couldnt tell you other than Arhus [Are-hoos] (the 2nd largest city in Denmark (and yes I do realize I am typing an unnecessary amount of sue me)) but it should be fun. 

So far class has been good. Since my last real entry I have had two sessions of my two lecture courses. On thursdays starting at 8:30 am I have Sustainability by Design which is a course about sustainability and how it is done in Denmark and how many of those strategies can be used throughout the world. So far it has been a bit boring but you know what? not every class is a winner. And honestly I dont know what else would be more interesting. It feels a lot like review so far because we did a lot of this stuff last year in my environmental control systems class but that class got all kinds of screwed up over the course of the semester what with a new professor ever week in the beginning and then a mechanical engineer who didnt even really believe in the necessity of sustainable design for the 2nd semester. So hopefully i will learn stuff. 

after that class I have a three hour lunch break basically and then my next class which is European Urban Design Theories which so far has been awesome. Lots of reading but lots of it is stuff I learned in my previous history or theory courses so so far it has been review as well. BUT every time we meet we get to go on a two hour field trip to different parts of the city and see what they have done that is working and not working from an urban design and city planning standpoint. very fun and interesting so far. This last week we went to a place called Orsted [Er-stead] which is on Amagar [Ah-mar] that is a new city that is being built in phases. So far it is not working. All the buildings are spread apart really far and the central metro (subway though out there it is raised above the street for some odd reason) track makes the street like 100 feet across so it all but kills all the street life. Also there is a GIANT mall out there and there was a regulation that while it was being built no other stores could open in the neighborhood. So they are JUST now getting a Netto (grocery store) but it, like all the stores in this city / country closes at 6 or 7 pm so if you need anything like groceries or even just toilet paper you have to get on the metro and ride into town (15 minutes) go to the store and the go back home. That area has a lot of problems. Sadly this is where all the beautiful new architecture is going up.  So that is that class though. Very fun. 

For studio this last week we had a small (though in my case not so small) project where we had to research a building we are going to see on our spring study tours (to Sweden and Finland) and then build a large scale model and give a presentation on it. We had the Jyvaskyla [You-veh-skay-lah] university auditorium which was kind of cool. We worked in groups and while I didn't love my group we did work pretty well together and got it done on time. The building itself is kind of boring (at least from pictures) but has some cool elements. It will be fun to actually see it in real life versus just reading about it and looking at small black and white photos. yesterday we got our next studio assignment which will last until we go to Sweden and Finland in March. We are doing a small urban infill community center building. The site is pretty small (32' x 29') so that will be challenging but it should be a lot of fun. I need to either embrace this as a normal semester (kind of hard since i only have four classes and only have to go to school 4 days a week) and put my heart and soul into school OR I need to remember that I just have to pass these classes because they wont effect my GPA and as long as I pass them I will be fine and I should just enjoy my time here and my last semester as an undergraduate. That being said...I hope studio isnt too stressful. I hate feeling like I am not putting enough time into a project when I dont stay in studio all night all the time. It is not good for my health and isnt realistic for the real world either. oh well. 

my fourth class (and this is a new one because I was on a waitlist for it before i left and only just got in on friday) is an architectural watercolor painting class. This one should be fun (hopefully) but so far has been hard. Water color painting is WAY different than painting with acrylic which is what I am used to and liked a lot. I hope I am able to get the hang of it and come to enjoy it. I have only had one class period so far so I am not really able to judge it yet. But it was fun and we are supposed to do a couple more paintings while in Jutland this coming weekend. 

I am sorry there are not many photos in the blog itself but it takes FOREVER to upload a single picture to the thing and so I find it better and less frustrating to add them one at a time after it has been written. I will also be posting pictures to Picasa again soon and try to organize the ones i have posted before so that they are a bit easier to go through. Finally...i promise to try and update this more often. It is hard for me to write in here because i really dont like to just sumarize what i do because it is weird to write what i did after i have done it (if that makes any sense) but it is a good way to inform all of you back home what i am doing here so i will try to keep this up. Alright. have a good day.

andy out

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pictures Posted.

Sorry there is not more to this post but I have been very lazy lately. i will write another one soon. Maybe i will even put pictures with the last one (because EVERYONE has said i need to do this.) In the meantime, here is a link to my Picasa website with all my pictures. I will continue to post there and will also put pictures from my trip to Nicaragua this last summer. So i hope you all enjoy them.

Andy Out

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Velkomen til Kobenhaven

Hello all! I know I know…it has been a long time since I left for Denmark and I am JUST NOW getting around to starting this blog. I am sorry for that. The truth of the matter is I am quite lazy. SO I will try to get to this more often so you all know what I am doing over here.

Just a little background since I have been gone for so long. Mom, Katie, and I came over to Denmark for Christmas and New Years because they wanted to see where I would be living and studying for the semester. We had a wonderful time seeing the sites and sounds of the city. For a better and more complete depiction of those times I would direct you to Katie’s blog ( She is better at keeping up to date on her comings and goings than I am and she did a marvelous job of telling about what we did. There is also a link to her Flickr which has many of my pictures as well as hers. I am in the process of making my own flickr account so I too can post pictures. But overall we saw a lot of things and went to a lot of places. Just a quick rundown of events:

Mom and I arrived in Copenhagen after a LONG 9 hour flight and were very tired. We took a taxi from the central train station to what we (and our taxi driver) thought was our hostel but quickly found out that it was the main branch but was being remodeled and we were staying in another part of town. So we had to get back into the taxi and go over to the other location. Very confusing because the one we went to was called “Danhostel City” while the one were actually staying at is called “Danhostel Downtown.” Here we met Katie who had arrived the night before.

After resting for the night we went on a bit of a walk through the city and went on a canal boat tour of the city. Very pretty. Saw lots of the famous things you hear about when you hear about Copenhagen. That same night we went to Tivoli gardens (inspiration for Disneyland supposedly!) and walked around and saw the sights. Also went on a few rides and played some of the games. Had an awesome time in general!

The next day (23rd of December) we moved to our flat which was in an awesome section of town. Our block was kind of in a no-mans land of 7-11’s, Schwarma restaurants, and middle-eastern hair stylists BUT a few short blocks from us were many clubs and cool shops. Reminded me a lot of capitol hill in Seattle. The apartment was awesome. Very cute and small but beautifully designed. Not a whole lot of room to do stuff but it was very nice to have a place to call our own (if only for 1.5 weeks.) We were faced with many challenges in that Copenhagen and Denmark shut down on the 23rd until the 26th. So we had to buy our food we would be eating that night, Christmas Eve, AND Christmas day. We ended up buying a duck for Christmas dinner and pork chops for Christmas Eve. BOTH WERE EXCELLENT! I am very lucky to have a wonderful mother and girlfriend who can cook very well.

Christmas eve was an adventure trying to find a church service to attend. Turns out that the Danes spend Christmas Eve as their Christmas day. They go to church around 3 and then go home and make dinner and open their presents or have big parties for the rest of the night and then take Christmas day off to rest and feast. So yeah, we went out 3 times to find a dang church that was open for services and eventually went to a midnight Lutheran mass led by a very inept priest. Many times he looked like he just had no idea what was going on. He dropped his notes like 3 times during the sermon. Very funny overall. Favorite moment though was all of us trying to sing hymms that a) we had no idea what they were SUPPOSED to sound like and b) were in Danish. It was all very funny to me. Christmas day was mainly spent cooking the duck and watching Danish tv. Danish TV is awesome because it is mostly in English with subtitles. I would say maybe 4 channels of exclusively Danish language television. That night we saw Danish, Swedish, and German Christmas specials.

Day after Christmas we went to Roskilde (site of the 2nd largest rock festival in northern Europe!) to the Viking ship museum and the royal cathedral there where all the royal people are entombed. Very cool on both counts. It was freezing though. Freezing fog and so it wasn’t very fun walking through the city on our way to the museum or the cathedral. But we survived.

The next day (Dec. 27) we went up to HelsingØr, the site of KronbØborg slot, as made famous by Hamlet! It was very cool to see a real castle and go around in it. There we saw many giant rooms and beautiful things and a statue of helgor danske who is the great warrior who will come back from the dead if the Danes ever need help in battle. It was pretty cool. The statue is down in the old dungons and storerooms. It was really dark and cold down there. There were almost no artificial lights and there was a little vending machine that had flashlights for sale BUT I had my own little one with me which was helpful. We saw a little squeaking bat that scared us (when I first heard it I thought it was a leaking gas main that was about to explode but it was just a little bat.)

That night Katie and I went dancing at a club called RUST. It was super fancy inside and they sold $300 bottles of Champagne and it was far too small for the number of people were in it. We danced a bit but were very tired so we went home.

The next day we went on a cruise to Olso, Norway! So exciting. It is an overnight cruise that takes about 14.5 hours. We got on the boat at 5:30 and then reached Norway the next day at about 9 in the morning. The boat was very funny to me. Lots of little bars and they were trying to have something for everyone including a dance club called “Force 7 discotech” but Katie and I were pretty much the only ones who danced. The main bar had a live band playing “international music” which translates to American music from the 60’s and 70’s.

In Oslo we took a tour bus for the first 4 hours of our visit and then went to a few destinations ourselves before getting back on the boat for the trip home. We saw a giant sculpture garden and the ski jump at the top of the hill in Olso and finally the town hall which was giant and beautiful. Sadly we did not make it to their new opera house but I suspect that I will be going back to Norway with my classes but we will see. I hope I get a chance to see the building. It is supposed to be remarkable.

The next few days we spent in Copenhagen seeing stuff and going shopping. Katie left back for Portland in the morning of the 31st while mom and I stayed in town that night. The city sounded like it was trying to blow itself up with fireworks which started at about 5:30 in the afternoon. It was crazy. Especially when they started shooting them off right outside our window.

The time after Katie left was also the week I spent madly trying to finish grad school applications. It was a long and hard process but I finally finished them 2 days before the first deadline and emailed them to Ben back home so he could print them off and send them off for me. That was a huge relief to get that done.

Mom left on the 3rd of January in the morning and after I took her to the airport and then checked us out of the apartment. That night I took the train to Hamburg, Germany where I stayed for the next 2 weeks with a good friend of mine who was a foreign exchange student in Tumwater all the way back in 1999/2000. Matthias was very gracious and let me sleep on his floor for almost 2 weeks. I had a wonderful time in Germany though I didn’t see as much as I probably should have. For the first time in a while I was able to sleep and just hang out without anything on my mind for a few weeks and I took full advantage of it. We did go out and he showed me the main sights of Hamburg. We went out drinking 2 nights in the Reeperbahn (Hamburg’s redlight district though not as much as you would think. The streetwalkers were kept to a couple of streets and we stayed away from them.) The first night was a Wednesday so there wasn’t too much action so we had a few beers at a small bar and played foosball. I am terrible at that game so Matthias wiped the floor with me but we had fun. We also went to a couple of movies in English which was very fun. We went to a sort of sneak preview but not a normal one. Basically you buy a ticket for the show which happens once a week and you don’t know what it will be other than it is not one that is out in Germany yet. So the first time we went it was Nick and Norah’s infinite playlist and the 2nd time we went it was Changeling. Both were good but I had already seen Nick and Norah. Changeling was good but probably not a good choice for an experience like that. It was very long and kind of boring at times. But oh well…it was pretty fun.

So I stayed in Germany from the 3rd until the 17th when I took the train back to Copenhagen and met my host family! They live in a small suburb of Copenhagen called Charlottenlund. They have 3 children: Caroline 18, Christian 16, and Julie 13. My host mother, Dorte, is researching malaria at the University of Copenhagen while Jens, my host father, is a CFO for the 2nd largest bank in Denmark. They also have a cute little westie named Jonathan. They are a very cute family and they have a wonderful house near a large natural reserve and the ocean! The house is beautiful and I have my own little room right off the kitchen. It is very nice and they have so far been wonderful to me. Today was the day I was supposed to meet them but they were kind enough to let me stay with them a night earlier than I was supposed to.

Today I had my arrival orientation but that was little more than getting my cell phone, buying my bus pass, and getting my class schedule / id card. Tomorrow is the opening ceremony and welcoming party as well as the main orientation for us students. It should be very fun. I am also excited because my friend Dan is going to be in my orientation group so I will at least have one friend in my group.

Ok well this has gone on for long enough. I figured though that I should start this thing while I have the time to write without having school in the back of my mind. I will try to keep this thing up to date and add pictures when I get the chance.