Sunday, May 30, 2010

A true European=watching Eurovision

I have discovered that I love Eurovision. I've heard about it for years, but this year I got to experience it. There are 39 countries that participate (a few of them can hardly be called Europe- i.e. Israel- really, Israel?  Who looked at a map and said, "Isreal thats in Europe?").  Each country has chosen a song that will represent the accumulated musical tastes and hopes of their nation. Then just like American Idol, you pull out your phone and vote for your faves. One catch - you can't vote for your country. This all happens quickly over 3 nights. Apparently, if you live in the UK, Eurovision is not cool.  I think this attitude is because they never win and never get close to a good showing. They finished in last place this year, but their song should of never left the country in the first place.

I was invited to no less than 4 Eurovision parties, but I settled for watching it at home.  We projected it onto a wall  and screamed and groaned with the song selections. Some songs were beautiful (i.e. Belgium) and some were so awful I refused to stay in the room (i.e. Armenia).  For all of the Americans or the Europeans who were too cool to watch themselves, this is my review of Eurovision 2010.
First my Favs:

Belgium - me and my guitar. This was my pick to win and it finished pretty high. 

Cyprus – I also loved this one. Absolutely loved it, but the background singers were off. They all made fun of me for my 2 picks, because neither is a typical Eurovision song, but I love my boys with guitars.

Lithuania – Tina, Betina, and I really wanted this one to make it to the final (where 20 songs compete, but it didn’t make it. So sad.) It's actually fairly lame and I think thats why we like it. Lame lyrics, lame dancing = not lame total performance.

The winner:
Germany won, not that I don’t understand, but still not my favorite song. I wanted one of my boys with guitars to win. [sigh]

Denmark – came in 4th and I think that is a very decent showing for this song.  Does this sound as much like Abba to you as it does to me?  Seriously, wasn't Abba a hit band 30 years ago?  Just sayin' Denmark.

Crazy yet fun: Apparently these are true Eurovision songs, which means catchy and danceable. 

Greece -

France –

Those are the highlights according to me.  Well, there is one more......  When they were killing time to count the votes, there was a long segment where they flashed to cities across Europe and showed large groups of people dancing.  They also show the contestants homes and those moments are priceless.  Of special note are how badly the Londoners do on the whole dancing thing, the lone guy in the North Sea, and all of the dogs. Ah, Eurovision, I may just be un-cool enough to watch again next year.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Fødelsdag = Birthday. I love birthdays. I think I love them because the day is all about you and, at least in my family, there are no set traditions; anything can happen. Which means that every year you get to be more creative about how you want to celebrate, well, you. Though there are traditions that I never realized, i.e. the song.  "Happy Birthday to You ..." is not what they sing in every country. Also, in Europe its not normal to go out to eat for some part of your birthday.  Happily though, getting presents and a day all about you seems universal. 
Danish birthdays involve lots of waving of Danish flags (absolutely not a joke) and there are several birthday songs that can be sung.  In my house we wake the person up and invade their bedroom singing loudly and waving Danish flags for all we're worth.  It all took some getting used to, but my birthday was lovely in every way.  I'm even beginning to learn the main birthday song, though I basically just sing the "Hoo-ah, hoo-ah" part.  Here is a video of Danes surprising a bus driver on his birthday and you'll smile with how sweet it is and understand my learning the hoo-ah's.  You may also make the jump that I have, that a hoo-ah song and waving Danish flags is a great way to celebrate a fødelsdag.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wonder Woman's boots

A good pair of boots can save the world.  They can not only save your toes from slowly falling off but can even prevent those suckers from beoming shriveled wet prunes after stepping in an optical illusion of a puddle. 

I have bought several boots this winter to try and deal with the amount of snow that we have had and the excessive amount of time that I have to spend in it.  Nothing, has proven to be a better friend to me than my red rainboots. 

Which is kind of embarrassing... ummmmm..... because they are red.  Not black, or really dark green, or gray, but RED.  And red sticks out here.  I walk on the street and people turn around to stare at my boots.  I don't think my boots would matter so much, if I didn't feel like everything I did lately was causing them to stare at me.  Its the 6 month culture shock, so I'm told, and I just feel a little out of step.  Its starting to become more clear what cultural things just don't make any sense to me and I'm starting to realize ways of thinking (both in me and in Danes in general) that are inherently cultural and not individual.  Some days its so frustrating that I want to walk out into the middle of a busy street and start yelling out a stream of questions.  "Why does every decision have to be a consensus?  Why does all food have to be freshly made?  Why aren't there over-the-counter-drugs?  Why is everything different?"

Which would be fantastic to get it all off of my chest for the few seconds before I died of embarassment.  But I found a less embarassing and less dramatic solution.  It came when I was walking home through the snow on the right.  I realized the only reason I was still dry and warm was my fantastically stand-outish red boots.  Blessed Boots.  They may cause people to turn their heads and think, "those didn't come from here" and then I got it.  Thats ok.  Stop trying to always learn the rules and always fit in, feel free to be the uniquely different you: full-on-red-rainbootingly- you. 

These boots do have powers and I love them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feeling Beautiful

What you are about to read is an actual conversation that is about things that actually matter.  Warning: men may want to not read this entry.

me: Today was a good day cuz
       I felt beautiful today

Unnamed friend: Oh I love feeling beautiful!

me: but then the wind came and messed with that
       Danish wind is unquestioned in its ability to ruin perfect hair

UF: uggh

me: I know. But its ok. b/c I was beautiful for awhile and thats enough

UF: I'm getting a hair appointment today. Then I'll feel beautiful too.

Feeling beautiful really matters, in fact, it may be a basic human right that at least all women should have the right to access.  I've spent hours lamenting what Danish water is doing to my hair.  How do I wash it?  What products work over here?  Who knew so much wind would require new facial moisturizers and new hair conditioners?  Europe doesn't feel the need to have the same hair colors as the US and I can't seem to find that exact shade that says ... "ahhh this is Jenny the way Jenny should be".

Its also curlier here, which forces new hair decisions.  How do I style this?  I think I want the hair of Shiri Appleby on the left.  I like the bangs and the slight curl.  But are bangs the way to go? 

Here are two options.  Jenny with and without bangs. 

Its a tough decision, but in the end, beauty is as much an attitude, a character descriptor, and a sense of being as it is a physical condition.  I can live with that. 

But deep down .... I want to be them all; beautiful outside and inside.  Or more accurately gorgeously me in all that I was created to be.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I cried because I didn't know what else to do

I could of been mad and I was, or I could of been confused and I was, but in the end I was too many emotions and I simply cried.  Life has been swirling around me in its varied complexities and its been hard to know what to think about any of the things that have happened in the past week.

Somedays the world becomes very small and you connect with people on a personal level that transcends any culture you are working out of.  In Haiti its not the politics that anyone is concerned about - its the children and the survivors.  In my program were no longer concerned about all of our cultural differences and instead are banding together to understand an ambigious and slightly unfair academic culture.  In my church it's not about all of the things that can annoy us about each other, but since we realize that we are not guaranteed visa stays or even unlimitless days together, we need to capitalize on the time we have.

I spent a day crying when life seemed to crash down on me, but I'm done now.  I cried for me and I cried for my friends, but today I'd rather go forward, hope in God for tomorrow, and diligently work towards what I see before me.  It's time to rechoose hope.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You would never see an American doing ...

My last blog outlined a few of the glaring cultural mis-steps that I've made in the last week, but there are some things that I still look at in wonder.  Serenity made the comment that, "There are very few things I can never imagine an American doing. There are so many different kinds of us..." Which made me start thinking, what are some of the quintessentially Danish things that Americans (at least the vast majority of us) would never do?

1) Think that salted black licorice is candy. This fact alone makes me question if Danes actually have taste buds.

2) Think that bread and cheese a breakfast make.  Just bread and cheese.  If you are truly adventurous ... put some jam on that cheese or have two breakfast rolls with different kinds of cheeses.  [Sigh] Our weekly brunches make me long for pancakes, biscuits and gravy, omelets, and hashbrowns.

3) Bike through the snow and ice in high heels.  I'm not really for sure what to say about this phenomenon, but I think it is commendable.

4) Keeping the time-code of Jente.  This one is a bit tricky but, Jente is a deeply held Danish belief that everyone is equal.  So equal that you would never show up late or early.  You show up on time.  This means if you arrive at someone's house too early you stand out on the doorstep until the exact time of your arrival.  Heaven forbid if you are late!  One of my professor's continually tells me that "It is your shame to be late."  I seem to be unable to hit the on your nose type of time and fail quite utterly here.

5) Refusing to go anywhere without looking fabulous.  In my first year of college, I went to my 7 am class in my pajamas for an entire semester. When I told this fact to the Danes they were astonished.  What was I thinking?  You must look good when you step outside your house.  Gone are the days that I could leave in sweatpants, pajama pants, hair in a bun, athletic shoes on, or without makeup.  Now I look good all of the time.  (Even to go next door to the Pakistani grocer for milk.) Its a sad development. 

6) Keep their wardrobe colors tightly constrained to black and nuetrals.  This entire country wears black and only black.  There are occassional bits of color, but I think they are from poor unsuspecting tourists that have yet to discover that black reigns supreme.  On rare occassions, I feel free to flaunt my love of color and people just stare at me, which is a bit weird, but I choose to think they love it so much that they can't stop looking. 

All in all, I love it here.  Its interesting that there is nothing like Wal-mart, you rarely eat out, and everything closes by 6pm.  You can change, you can adapt, you can learn the steps of the Danish dance.  It helps that despite the differences that people are people the world over and they can be just as crazy as any American I have ever met.  These pictures make my point better than I could express it in words. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"You would never see a Dane do that..."

I've heard that phrase more this week than any other time since arriving in Denmark.  It must have been a very un-Danish week for me.  In retrospect,  I also found out it was un-Swedish and un-British so I'm thinking I was Icelandic.  (Having never been to Iceland, means that I was probably simply American.)

So here are some things you would never do in Denmark: 
1) Use the oven to make something that is just for you.  (Guilty.)
2) Wear athletic shoes to keep the snow out.  (Guilty.)
3)Turn on too many lights. Instead use candles to make up the difference. (Candles when you can have electrical brightness?)  Guilty.
4) Use the Danish language incorrectly.  I thought I was saying that I was sore, but instead I told everyone that I had murdered myself.  (Jeg radbrækket mig.)  Fantastic.
5) Climb on counters to reach high shelves.  (Guilty.) In my defense I'm shorter than the entire rest of the population, but step stools are apparently available.

On another note:  In London, they don't use the phrase goofing off.  How sad, since it is a fantastically useful phrase.  They do have a phrase for wasting your time, but not for the having fun part of goofing off.  So they asked me what you would say if you were wasting time and I answered, "I was piddling around."  Apparently there, piddling means peeing.  So ya, I just told everyone there that I was peeing around in the kitchen.  Fabulous.

Life is funny and some of the mistakes need to just roll off your back.  I'll do better next week or I'll just have to laugh at myself again.  In the meantime, I'm imagining myself on a lake, like Joshie above, and the wind is in my hair and I'm screaming for all I'm worth with the pure joy of speed and wind.  That's not so Danish either, but I think that's ok.