Monday, August 29, 2005


Here I am, settled in on my second day in Copenhagen. My host family has had 25 or 26 host students before, so I figure nothing I do can be the worst thing they've ever seen. Last night my host sister Tina told me, "We've had some real nutcases. We had one guy from Japan who wanted to eat noodles for breakfast!" I decided not to mention to her that my normal breakfast is whatever I find in the fridge, which could be noodles or salad or cold pizza. When Jørgen asked me what I wanted for breakfast, I panicked but took a guess that oatmeal would sound sufficiently normal. We worked out what oatmeal was and affirmed that they did indeed have a box, and this morning Tina cooked me a huge pot of oatmeal. After the massive amounts of dinner Jørgen gave me to eat last night I really couldn't handle three bowls of oatmeal, so I waited until he left the room and threw out the rest.

If I passed breakfast, though, I failed at lunch. Jørgen brought out a loaf of white bread for me to make a sandwich with, but I decided to attempt a more traditional Danish sandwich of rye bread and layers of stuff that makes no sense to Americans. I did all right with a layer of butter and a layer of ham (I'm eating meat this semester because trying to be a vegetarian here is like trying to be a penguin in Bermuda) but ran into trouble when he brought out a cucumber and a tin of Italian spread that looked like it was made from mayonaise, carrots, and peas. I attempted to put cucumber slices on the ham and the spread on the other slice of bread, but this was very upsetting to Jørgen. "No, no! It all goes on one slice of bread. And you don't put that with cucumber - it doesn't go!" Since peas and carrots with ham made at least as much sense to me as cucumbers and ham, I'll have to learn the art of Danish sandwich-making as I go.

I think the drinking thing is also going to be more problematic than I had thought. Last night at dinner I was determined to drink the glass of red wine Jørgen gave me, but it tasted so awful I didn't finish it. Sandy's remark when I don't like the taste of whatever other people are drinking is usually, "Well, it's cheap champagne anyway - you should try the good stuff." Without her around I don't even know whether this was bad wine or whether I just have a lot more getting used to the taste than I thought I would.

The city is lovely. I was thinking a few weeks ago about how I would lay out a city if I could, and this is pretty darn close - good public transporatation, no skyscrapers, lots of parks and plazas, green everywhere (even sunflowers growing in front of government buildings,) and lots of bike lanes. Biking here isn't just for twenty-something liberals - you see businessmen, women in stilettos, little kids in baskets on their parents' bikes.

I'm at school now, but it's time to head for the train station and go home. Hopefully the walking will help stave off the 15 pounds Jørgen vows his food will put on me.

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