Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Helene Berr

Tomorrow I am going on a field study with my Criminology class. We are going to Cafe Exit, which is a cafe designed to help prisoners re-enter society. We are going to walk through the Red Light district of Copenhagen to get there. It should be an interesting experience... I really like my Criminology class and professor. I am glad that I am a class representative for that class. (Every class has 2 class reps that meet with the professor and with the academic office to discuss the course) I am also a class rep for Human Trafficking in Europe. That class is really interesting, but SUPER depressing. And now I am seeing trafficked people and traffickers everywhere I go! 

These 2 classes are really helping me decide what I want to do with my life. I'm not trying toot my own horn, but I know that I am an intelligent person. And I think that it would be horrible to waste my intelligence on getting people to buy stuff. I still love reading about consumer behavior and I will always be fascinated by it, but I think I want to do something more meaningful with my life. I am reading Helene Berr's diary (she lived in France during the Holocost and is basically the French Anne Frank) right now for a class, and something she wrote in it really spoke to me. Actually, the entire diary is a little hard for me to read, because I associate so strongly with some of the things she wrote. But what specifically stuck out to me was this. On Wednesday, October 27, 1943 she wrote:
Will there ever have been many people who, at the age of twenty-two, were aware that they could suddenly lose all their potential - I feel unembarrased saying that I feel I have immense potential, since I think of it as a gift, not as something I own - that it could all be taken away from them, and not rise up in revolt?
I really feel the same way.  Though she is talking about fighting the Nazis, I feel as if I could also fight a similar battle against all of the evil going on in the world right now. Horrible things take place everyday, right under our noses. Many people either are ignorant to the situation or choose to not care. Well, I am deciding right now that I want to do something about it. Though I am not sure how I will fight this unknown enemy in the future, I have decided recently that I will join in on the fight. I want to help the people out there who are incapable of helping themselves. I know that it will be a stressful job, but I honestly feel called to take it on.

New Host Family

Last Monday I was told by housing that I would be moving out of my host family's apartment. My host mom is having some personal issues, so it is best that I am not living there. I felt bad, because I had no idea. But I am glad that she is receiving help now. On Thursday I met with Mia, the host family coordinator, so go over my options. I decided to live with another host family, since that was one of the reasons I came abroad. We went over all of the 30 reserve host families and I picked my 3 favorite. Mia contacted my first choice, the Klaris family, and asked if they would be willing to have a student move in. Of course, they loved me (haha kidding) and wanted me to move in right away. :) I was supposed to have dinner with them on Monday--that didn't happen because I was trapped in Sweden. But I moved in today. My new host dad, Neils, came and picked me up this afternoon. My room is adorable! My host family is awesome! I love their house. They have a dog! (When I was reviewing the reserve host families, I only looked at the ones that had dogs. Haha) His name is Basso and he is so adorable! I have a new friend now because I always pet him! Their house is nice and they live in the suburbs. It is further from Copenhagen, but totally worth it. They have a pretty big backyard and I can tell it is beautiful in the spring/summer. It is pretty now, with snow everywhere. There are bike trails everywhere which will be nice to run on. Its weird running here, you have to watch out for ice on the path. And I don't sweat because it is so cold. Stuff like that doesn't happen in Texas! Haha. 

Stockholm and back

This past weekend I was in Stockholm with Beth and Ana. Stockholm the city was really fun! I would love to go back. The trip there wasn't bad. Ana and I took a night bus. We arrived at a little after 7 in the morning because we had to stop and pick up people from a bus that had broken down on the side of the highway. But we hadn't slept very well, and it was snowing really hard, really windy and extremely cold!! We eventually found where Beth was staying (she doesn't have class on Friday, so she came on Thursday night and met up with a sorority sister from home who is studying in London) and dropped our bags off. Then we went to get some groceries (instead of eating out for every meal) and went to a coffee shop. Then we did some touristy things. IT WAS SO COLD! We saw the changing of the guard, Ana bought some souvenirs, (I bought a hat) and then we found an awesome cafe that had unlimited coffee for 25 Swedish Kroner (that's about $3.50). It wasn't the greatest coffee, but it was hot and unlimited! We stayed there for a while, and then met up with everyone else. By this time, Ana and I were exhausted. We all took a nap in our room and then we went to have dinner. After dinner, I just took a shower and went to sleep. I didn't sleep that well on the bus, and I knew that Sunday was going to be a long day. HOWEVER I did not realize how crappy it was going to be. 

On Sunday, we woke up and had breakfast. We wandered around Stockholm a bit and then we found the Dance Museum, which had an exhibit (for free!!) about Russian Ballet in Paris. Which is exactly what we are talking about in History of European Ballet, so Ana and I wanted to go. (Ana is in that class with me) It was really cool going to a museum and knowing a lot of what the exhibits were talking about. (I talked to my Ballet prof today after class and he said that he knows the man who owns the museum. I wish we had talked to him before, maybe we could've had a private tour or something!) Then we wandered around some more, by this point, it was 1500 and everyone had left except Ana and I. So we went looking for a Scandinavian sweater (Ana wanted one) for a couple hours. We eventually found some, but they were almost $200. So, she didn't buy one. Haha. But then we had about 7 hours to kill before our train left. So we went to a cafe and we were literally there for over 3 hours. Then they were closing, so we went to the McDonald's across from Central Station. But then they were closing too, so we went to the station. But it's a huge building, in Sweden, so it was FREEZING COLD. We managed to amuse ourselves for a couple more hours, and it was almost time for our train to arrive. Then the worst thing possible happened- they delayed our train til 0115. Then it was 0200, then 0220. FINALLY, it was time to go outside and get on the train, but when we got to the track, we had to wait over 15 minutes for the train to come. I looked it up, it was -6F outside that night, without the wind chill. SO COLD. I honestly think that is the coldest weather I have ever experienced. 

We got on the train, and it started slowly moving down the track, stopping along the way a couple times. We only made it about 15 minutes from Central Station before we stopped again. We were there for over an hour until someone came by and told everyone (in Swedish, a person near me translated) that the train had fallen off the tracks. And that it would be at least 4 hours before another train came to get us back on. It was crazy, but I was so tired, I didn't even worry about it. I sent an email to my professors whose classes I had today, explaining the situation and went to sleep. When I woke up at 6, we still hadn't moved. But now we had a new problem: the brakes were frozen. Around 0800 we finally started moving back to Central Station (another train came and dragged us back). They loaded up more food, because they had run out by now, and we started back up. We didn't actually get moving on our way to Malmo (in Sweden, about 20 minutes from Copenhagen) until after 1100. We arrived in Malmo after 1800, and I didn't get back to Copenhagen til 1930. 

So, yeah. That's how Stockholm was. Haha. All in all, the train wasn't bad. The seats were comfortable, they gave us free food (because we had been on the train since 2:00 that morning) and the scenery was beautiful. I think it would be fun to take the train if it wasn't snowing, and didn't have any real time constraints. I am glad I wasn't traveling alone though. And I got to know Ana pretty well! She is really cool! 

Moral of the story: Don't go further north in Scandinavia for a vacation during the winter unless you are skiing. We should have gone somewhere warmer...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Adventures in Jutland

Well, I was going to post something about my weekend trip before, but it never happened!

We first went to a folk high school and spent the day there. It's a Danish school designed for people who want to learn for the sake of learning. They have different studies, like art, music, outdoor living, and 2 others that I forgot. But they choose one of those, and study it for a semester. I ended up working in the kitchen, helping make dinner. I was supposed to be in a workshop with everyone else in DIS that was there, but they asked for volunteers to help cook. I guess every Thursday they make their own food, and the kitchen staff gets a break. And I met a girl who was abroad in San Antonio at UTSA for a year!! It was pretty random. It's a small world...

On Friday, we went to an open prison. It was definitely an experience...I don't think anything like that would work in the US. I'm not sure if you've heard of the open prison system before, but it's definitely strange. There are no walls, just an imaginary boundary that the prisoners are not supposed to cross. They are given a job to do, unless it is a special case, then they can leave the prison to go to their normal job. And after about 3, they have free time. They make their own meals, and have access to a full kitchen (including knives!). Their "cells" are really nice. It's a room with a bed, desk, mini fridge, closet and flat screen TV. They are all the same. They are allowed to bring things from home like pictures, etc. We were given a tour by a prisoner who transfered from a closed prison 6 months ago. He had been at a closed prison for 6 years. And he has 2 more years to serve in the open prison. And he killed someone. 8 years for murder!

After that, we went to Jelling, which is one of the oldest cities in Denmark. The oldest Christian church in Denmark is there, and the oldest King is burried there. He was a Viking King- Grom the Old, or something like that. It was pretty cool. And the Jelling stones are there. They are these really old runic stones. Then we went to a hostel for Friday night. IT WAS SO NICE. They were these cabins, right by a lake, in the middle of a forrest. Apparently the place was built by Nazi's back in the day, but still.

On Saturday we went to Ã…rhus, another super old city in Jutland. We went to a modern art museum and did a scavenger hunt in the city. It was cool, but so cold!! Then we left to go back to Copenhagen. It was a fun trip! I met a bunch of the people in my program. I think our trip to France at the end of the month is going to be awesome!!

Right now, I am eating an amazingly delicious cinnamon roll, covered with chocolate. Completely decadent and totally worth it!! I think it tastes even better because it was only 12 kroner. Hello new favorite bakery! Probably the cheapest food item I've bought so far. I haven't spent that much money on food so far, but if I move out of my host family's apartment and into another type of housing, I'll get to experience more of the Danish cuisine. I'm a tad bit tired of hotdogs cooked in stewed tomatoes. Not as appetizing as it might sound...

I'll post some pictures later when I get back to my room. I'm going back to Beth's house for dinner and maybe a movie! And I might be going out with a girl from my study tour, I'm not sure what's going on with that though. I have class tomorrow at 8:15. But you only live once, right? Along the same lines, I'm going with a friend to Stockholm next Friday night. We're taking a night bus and getting in at 6 am on Saturday. Then we're not leaving til almost midnight on Sunday night and getting back at 6:30 am on Monday. Should be an interesting experience!! Whoo Europe!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Red Wine, Fondue and African Masks

I had a really good day yesterday. The kind that only a plaid shirt can bring about!!! :) (Alex- I meant to call you yesterday and tell you that I wore my plaid, but alas, I did not.)

I went a registered for my CPR number, which grants me the same health care as a Danish citizen. Then I went into the city and met up with a friend. We decided it was time to try out a Danish McDonalds. I mean, it was typical McD's. Nothing too special, I don't know why people freak out about it...plus a meal cost like $12. So not worth it. But we did wander around in the city a bit. We found the British/South African store. And guess what I found.....DR. PEPPER!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited!!! It's Dr. Pepper Zero, which we don't have in the states, but I am going back to purchase some of it ASAP!!

Then we went to our friend Beth's house for dinner. Her host family is so nice! And their house is amazing!!!! 4 stories, including a basement, with a home theater!! They also had two Britney Spaniels. It was nice being around a dog again, I miss Gus!!

Dinner was awesome- we had fondue and lovely wine! I found a red wine that I actually like. I don't remember the name of it, but it's Spanish.

It was a good day. And I'm all packed now, and about to leave for my short study tour to Jutland (the part of Denmark that is attached to Germany). We are coming back on Saturday- so I'll be out of contract til Saturday night. We are going to visit an open prison. It should be an interesting experience! We are also going to visit a Folk High School- it's this weird stage of high school that is after normal school. I'm not going to lie, I don't fully understand how it works... BUT I am making an African mask whilst I'm there, or so I'm told.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


So it's snowing again. And according to everyone, this is supposed to be the worst snow storm in Denmark in a really long time. Whoo.

Also, here is the mailing address that I'm supposed to have things mailed to me at:

Sarah Bennett
c/o DIS, Danish Institute for Study Abroad
Vestergade 7
DK-1456 Copenhagen K

I got a letter yesterday from my awesome Dad!! :) It was a nice ending to a very very long day. I had class at 8:30, and then I had to stay extra late to watch a movie for Human Trafficking in Europe, which was super depressing and didn't end until after 8. They are doing construction on my train line, so I had to take 3 different trains to get back to my room. I didn't get back til about 10.

I'm almost done watching the 2nd season of Damages! This season was so intense!!