Saturday, August 29, 2009


So, I made it. I'm too jet lagged to write anything coherent, so I will stick to a couple stray observations. It's freakishly clean here. I'm getting stared at quite a bit. Prepared food is really cheap but grocery store food is not. It is ungodly hot here and I nearly thought I was going to die of dehydration on a 20 minute walk this morning. I am very obviously confused and foreign looking, and everyone is very nice to me as a result.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Official Fulbright Disclaimer

Fulbright says I have to say this:

This is not an official Department of State website or blog, and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program of the U.S. Department of State.

So now you know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

US Travels

I spent the past week-ish traveling around the US. First stop: Salt Lake City to visit two of my favorite people, Chris and Max.

A super exciting part of the visit that we had been planning for awhile was a trip down to Southern Utah. Bright and early on Friday morning, we left Salt Lake and drove for about four hours to the area around Goblin Valley state park. We hiked in a canyon that contained what is called the "Great Gallery", which is a rock panel with lots of incredible petroglyphs that were drawn by various civilizations over the years. The whole hike was really amazing, and it was fascinating seeing all the different form and varieties of rock, and to think about the geological processes that went into shaping what we were seeing. Here are some really cool rocks:
Our lunch spot was especially cool - the rock face curved in over us and created a sheltered sandy beach. It was incredible to stare upward and feel like the rocks were going to come crashing down upon me. Here are some of the petroglyphs that were our reward at the end of the hike:
There was a log book where visitors could write their thoughts and impressions about their journey to see the petroglyphs. It was really interested to read what different people took away from their visit - a lot wondered about the people who had drawn the images, some thought about the passage of time and geology, and one man named Cecil from San Francisco wrote that he thought the image of the dark man with the dog was attractive and wished that he could meet him. It was getting late, so we hiked out of the canyon to go make camp. Here is Chris, surveying the territory that we conquered.
The next morning, we hiked in another canyon. This one was a "slot canyon", with very narrow walls. See how narrow they are!
Around lunchtime, we started the drive back to Salt Lake. When we arrived back at the guys' apartment, we were so exhausted that three hour naps were in order. The rest of that night was spent eating ice cream (made by midgets!) and drinking beer on the porch. On Sunday, we ate some delicious breakfast at a really cool and hip old-timey themed diner. Normally, I strongly dislike old-timey themed diners. Case in point: that stupid 1950s themed diner in Claremont Village. That place was terrible and I hated it: cliched decor, icky food, etc. However, this place had really neat and eccentric decor and atmosphere in general. I had some banana pancakes that were delicious. I also like banana pancakes because it is a really fun phrase to say, especially if you say it with gusto. Seriously, get all excited and say "banana pancakes" and I guarantee you will be having fun. Next, we went to the botanic gardens for a nice walk. The most exciting part of this was when I got to ride a giant lizard!
It was a really nice day (quite cool for Salt Lake), so we played some frisbee golf in the afternoon. I enjoy playing frisbee golf. However, I am also truly horrible at it. We created a new course, so Max and Chris would set the pars for the holes and end up with a score at par or maybe one above for each hole. I, on other hand, would end up with a score at least twice par each time. My finest moment was when I was about to hit the hole, tossed my frisbee too hard, and it rolled down an enormous hill all the way back to the starting point. I took a 10 on this hole and called it good. We concluded my visit on Sunday night with a visit to a really delicious local brew pub called Squatters. The selection of beers was quite overwhelming but I always like hearing about all the different kinds and the crazy things that people do to try to differentiate their beer from the pack.

Monday morning I headed back to Seattle, where I met my parents and we headed over to the Olympic Peninsula for a week of camping. We were camping near a town called La Push. This is near the town of Forks. Not being retarded 13 year old girls, my family and I were initially very confused with all the references to vampires when we stopped in the town for some food. We the realized that Forks is where that dumb book series Twilight is set (here I am assuming that the union of the set of people who read my blog and the set of people who read Twilight would be zero). So, the town was overrun with vampire obsessed 13 year olds. A much cooler town than Forks was the town of Beaver, WA.
Camping was fun, we mostly hiked and walked on the beach. The Olympic Peninsula is very beautiful and contains a lot of mostly undisturbed beaches because they are on reservation land. The other great part about being on reservations: huge firework stands! In Washington, fireworks are mostly only legal on the Indian reservations, so they are a great place to stock up. On the way home, we stopped in the small town of Pouslbo to do some sea kayaking. The neat thing about Poulsbo is that it has a strong Norwegian influence, so they have a lot of Scandanavian products in the stores there. We went to a mini-mart featuring imports and I bought some rye bread and curry pickled herring (my favorite flavor). Mmmm mmm!

Since I have been home I have been doing some freaking out about moving to Singapore, followed by a bout of extreme laziness this weekend. I finally got in list-making mode and have my plan all set out and will get to work on it bright and early tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Last Two Weeks

So, backing up about two weeks...

I went to a bicycle race with my friend Jens. It was called Danmark Rundt, and was basically like the Tour de France, except only in Denmark. One of the legs ended in Aarhus, right by the beach, so we went down there to watch it. What I learned: bicycle races look pretty much the same in person as they do on TV. The riders whiz past and it's kind of blurry and people wave stupid things around in the air. But, kind of fun anyways.

That weekend I went to the Occupation Museum in downtown Aarhus. This museum basically looked like a bunch of old people in the town cleaned out their garages, pooled the stuff they found, wrote a couple captions, and opened a museum. Personally, I tend to like these kinds of museums, especially when they include the original old people, which this one did. However, the old man who was on duty the day I visited was either senile or hard of hearing, because, after buying my ticket and chatting with him in my heavily accented Danish, he complained to me about all the noisy American tourists that had been visiting the museum that day. The museum had a lot of artifacts from the German occupation of Denmark during WWII. The Danish government was allowed to remain power during the first two years of the occupation, making Denmark a bit different than most German occupied countires. However, the situation later deteriorated, and the Germans took power, leading to the rise of the Danish resistance in the last few years of the war. Here is a picture of some of the illegal magazines they distributed to counteract the German propaganda:
My favorite piece of propaganda from the Germans was an anti-Russian article in a Danish newspaper, with a headline that read "The Russians Eat Each Other and Burn Women and Children". Here is another really cool artifact from the Danish Resistance:
There are four pigs on the top sheet. If you fold it up correctly, you get a picture of Hitler's face, with text that says "The Fifth Pig!". There was also a big display on the bombing of my dorm, which was used as the Nazi headquarters in Aarhus. When the Nazis moved into the dorm, the local resistance realized that they had files on a lot of the resistance members, which the Nazis planned to use to arrest them. The resistance decided that the files needed to be destroyed, so they told the British to bomb the dorm. This mission was very successful and the Nazis were not able to arrest any of the resistance members. Another interesting aspect of Denmark during WWII was that the Danish people saved almost all of the Danish Jews - they saved over 99% of the country's 8000 Jews by smuggling them to Sweden. The channel between Denmark and Sweden is very narrow, only about a 45 minute journey by boat. Since Sweden was neutral during WWII, they pledged to accept any Jews who found their way there. When the Danish government got word that the Germans were planning to round up the Danish Jews and send them to concentration camps, they alerted the Jewish community and the Danes who lived along the coast close to Sweden. Danish fishermen, merchants, and even people who just owned a personal boat helped to smuggle the Jews across to Sweden every night. I've actually visited a couple places on the coast where the Jews met up with the boat owners; this occured mostly in churches.

The next couple days were pretty busy with finished up work and packing all my stuff up. My data from all my research turned out to be not quite as bad as I thought, so I was at least able to identify some data trends and write up lengthy reports. This made me feel slightly better, as the entire summer of research had not been a total fail. Then I went to the Natural History Museum on the Aarhus University campus. They mainly had exhibits about animals that live in Denmark. Here are some hedgehogs, or "pindsvin" as they as called in Denmark.
Aww, they are so cute. If you go outside at night during the summer in Denmark, you can sometimes find them in hedges (haha, how apt) or fields. They are quite docile and stupid, so you can actually pick them up! Now, for something less cute. THIS MONKEY WILL KILL YOU WHILE YOU SLEEP.

Last Thursday, I packed up my room and moved out of my dorm in Aarhus. I took the train over to Copenhagen and stayed the night with my host parents, Peter and Mona. It was so great to get to see them again this summer and it was really sad to leave because I don't know when I will make it back to Denmark to see them again. On Friday, I headed up to Roskilde (another town on the island of Sjaelland, about 45 minutes from Copenhagen). Roskilde is located on the water, in a fjord. In the 1960s, 5 sunken viking ships were found in the waters of the fjord. Researchs temperarily dammed the fjord, drained the water, and excavated the ships. Over the course of the next 20 years, they reconstructed the ships and preserved the wood. Then, they built a great museum to show them off! What is even cooler is that the museum includes a big boat building workshop, where the researchers have built exact replicas of all five ships. Last summer, the largest ship was finally finished, and the researched sailed it from Roskilde to Dublin and back to recreate a viking voyage. Here are some of the reconstructed boat ruins:
And here is the reconstructed boat that sailed to Ireland and back last summer:
That afternoon, I headed back to Copenhagen to meet up with my other host family from when I was an exchange student (I lived with two families throughout the year - this is completely normal and is just the way the exchange program worked). I was worried about this being awkward, because I was not quite as fond of them and haven't kept in touch very well over the past four years. But, it turned out fine and it was nice to chat with the for a few hours. They drove me to the airport and I flew off to Amsterdam.

When I arrived in Amsterdam, I was pretty touristed out and didn't feel like doing a lot. I wandered around a big flea market, ate ice cream, and people watched. There were tons of tourists there but not a whole lot of Americans. Apparently, I look incredibly Dutch, because many Dutch people approached me and spoke to me in Dutch, and then acted very confused when I did not understand.

Sunday I headed home to Yakima. Since then, I have been hanging out with my family and my cats, and doing all the random little things that I have to do when I go home, but which pile up because I'm home so rarely, like going to the dentist (OK, I actually love going to the dentist - they just get my teeth so clean). My head is still slightly confused about languages - this was not helped by a visit to my Danish friend in Yakima yesterday. There are couple Danish words/phrases that I find really useful but without English conversational equivalents, so I keep almost using the Danish ones. I am also having the ridiculous dreams in which people speak in Danish and then I get angry with them for tricking me because they do not, in fact, speak Danish in real life. Also, an exciting new haircut! This brings me to new heights of hair laziness - instead of spending 2 minutes to fix my hair in the morning, I now spend 1 minute. It's great.

On the schedule for next week: a visit to Salt Lake City to visit my good friends Max and Chris, and a trip to Vancouver Island, Canada, to go camping with my family.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Exciting Post...on the Way

So, I was going to write up a super exciting post about all the things I did last week, but I got caught up in packing and everything and didn't get a chance to do it before I left Aarhus. Unfortunately, travelling cheaply sometimes means travelling very slowly. Case in point: I left Aarhus today for Copenhagen, I fly to Amsterdam tomorrow night, and then finally fly home on Sunday morning. But what that means for all of you completely awesome people who read my blog is that I will promise to post a super long entry when I get home.