Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Stilted, Pretending Day

You know if the title makes reference to The National, it couldn't have been a good day. Think about it. Try to find one lyric out of a song by The National that would make for an upbeat blog entry title. Impossible. I know because I just tried.

Up to this morning, I was feeling optimistic and ecstatic about a potential job this summer. Specifically being a baker in a pancake house in Holland. Specifically Amsterdam. Unfortunately, apparently one of their employees wants to move to the kitchen, and just like that, my hopes and dreams of having this opportunity were taken from me.

Nota Bene: If you have ANY summer opportunities or ideas, contact me. I have a resume, and maybe even a CV, if you play your cards right.

Also, my jar of honey fell from my shelf into my sink and shattered my second to last bowl. The third to last was shattered a week ago. I can't continue this habit because you can't eat cereal off of a plate. You can however eat cereal out of a glass. You can't however eat cereal out a glass AND maintain all of your dignity AND enjoy cereal in a free-flowing spoony kind of way, if you know what I mean.

Also, I forgot to bring my ipod and headphones to the laundromat cafe, where I am currently in. Yes, part cafe. The other part is for laundry.

Also, a crick, in my neck.

Well, this entry sufficed in showing how dour I feel. Usually I would have stuck another adjective in there after dour (such as "dour and gloomy" or "dour and down and out") but dour is too accurate. I'm looking at Tiffany right now, across the table, and thinking about how much she's going to appreciate this paragraph.

To make this entry less of a downer. I'm throwing in a sneak peak (the entirety) of my Letter From Abroad, which will (most likely) be in this week's Bi-Co. I think it's funny to read. Enjoy:

Hey Fool, It’s Not Copenhagen, Denmark.

It’s København, Danmark.

By Andrew Ian Lipstein

The first thing I learned about Denmark that I didn’t know: it’s Danmark, actually. Also, it’s København, and not Copenhagen. However, that is the only new thing I have learned since arriving. Everything else I knew or suspected would be true.

Upon arriving in København (pronounced Queue-Ben-How-N), I stepped off the plane and noticed the airport was in fact in an Ikea, which is unexpected because Ikea is Swedish. The airport was somewhere between the Countertop Department and Sinks & Faucets.

I was greeted by Rasmus, my assigned Dane. All travelers to Danmark have an assigned Dane who follows them on a Segway gargling incomprehensible Danish phrases and occasionally singing a prayer for either the queen or Hans Christian Andersen. This service is provided by the Danish government, which might help to explain their income tax, falling somewhere in between 103 and 107 percent. If you work for an hour and make 100 Danish Kroner (the exchange rate is usually around 1,000 American dollars to one crumpled up piece of Danish currency, but also depends on how sheepish you appear at the Currency Exchange), you must pay 103 to 107 Kroner back to the government. Just from an outsider’s perspective, it seems their system is quite broken. But hey, Universal Healthcare, right?

All Danish men are 6’5’’ (children are somewhere in between infant height and 6’5’’) and all Danish women are 6’2’’. Once, there was a Danish man who was 6’4’’ (or 6’6’’, I forget), but the government took him away for research. Every Dane is blonde and they all get a rosy glow when they smile or think about cold things.

In upholding tradition, all Danes wear wooden shoes. Combined with the cobblestone streets, the Danes are introduced to pain and broken phalanges at a very early age. I’ve caught many of them gawking at my Sketchers, wishing they could go a day without filling their clogs with pure Danish blood.

But while I have it easy walking, I have traveler’s stomach. This is when coddled and privileged Americans travel to less fortunate countries and experience a lesser quality of food. Danes are brought up to solely eat pastries and drink Carlsberg. They derive all nutrition from icing and carbonation; it’s how they are built. I am not quite used to this and I’m pretty sure I have scurvy and maybe dysentery. I’m seeing my free (!) doctor about this tomorrow. All I have to do is blow my “boo-boo” whistle. Then Rasmus Segways me to the nearest hospital (in Berlin). Sometimes I give Rasmus a slap on the back when he’s not going fast enough, but he understands. We have that sort of relationship. Actually right now he’s whipping me up some fresh pastries and Carlsberg. It hurts when I chew because all of the pastry sugar has caused my teeth to decay irreparably, but being abroad is about stepping out of your comfort level, right? Right? Mom, if you are reading this, please send toothpaste. And some sort of vegetable. Or anything green.

Before coming to København, the Study Abroad Office introduced something called The W-Theory to all students planning to study abroad. This empirically-backed and irrefutable theory states that when arriving, you will feel euphoria something similar to crack cocaine. Soon after going through customs, your mood will plummet into a feeling of loneliness and deep depression, similar to, well, I guess the after-effects of crack cocaine. But soon after, you will once again reach that high that you’d sell a sibling for. But, wait, it’s not over. You will become manically depressed, doing anything to feel love or at least some sort of human connection. And once you do, you will skyrocket up to a new feeling of adrenaline pumping through your veins, reminding you of that craving to feel what you felt when you arrived. And so on.

Well, let me tell you: it’s all true. I just got back from dinner with some friends and I am riding an incredible high of cultural integration. I’m just so afraid of what happens when I hit the wall again…

Anyway. København is breathtaking. Go abroad. Lose some teeth. Gain some scurvy. Meet your own Rasmus. After all, it’s about the experience, right?

1 comment:

  1. you should note that while the Danes have universal healthcare, they do not have universal dental coverage. Children recieve free dental until the age of 18, and dentists are often stationed in schools (giving new legitimacy to the excuse, "the dentist ate my homework"). however, upon entering adulthood, danes must pay for dental care out of pocket. This has serious implications for their pastry-based diets. Or I suppose it would if they werent danes and thus chronically healthy.