Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Life in Denmark

This isn't about writing, because I haven't done any of that for ten days (*cough*twoweeks*cough*).

A lot fewer people smoke in Denmark. This is so nice. It means I can walk down the street and not have a coughing fit. It also means that leaving and entering public buildings is mostly safe. It's nice. Why are other countries like this? Namely England, where I can't walk more than a minute anywhere without smelling cigarette smoke.

McDonald's here tastes exactly the same as in Canada, by which I mean the salt is almost at unpalatable levels. Also, you can get mayo with your fries here, but the mayo is different from anywhere else's mayo. It has herbs in it. It's sort of awesome. Except for the salt. On the hamburgers too, not just the fries.

That make a chocolate treat over here that supposed to be for kids, except it has rum in it, so maybe not? It's Toms chocolate turtles and they are like Creme Eggs a bit, except with rum and carmel instead of…whatever that actually is in the centre of a Creme Egg. Also, it's shaped like a turtle, rather than an egg, but it's the same size (though the chocolate is like 50% cocoa, which is awesome).

They have so many grocery stores here. I mean so many different chains, and they are all small, except for Bilka, which is huge like Morrisons or the Sainsburys or Tescos superstores. I haven't been in it yet, but I'm sure I'll go eventually. All the others are small ones, but larger than express stores (that's what 7-elevens are for). Also, there are 7-elevens everywhere, which is weird. In Copenhagen you couldn't drive a golf ball without hitting a 7-eleven.

The pastries aren't as awesome as I was lead to believe. However, the bread is delicious and healthy and yummy!

Food is super expensive. Nearly twice what it is from Morrisons, which is where I usually shop. It's a lot closer in price (but still more expensive) than in Canada, except for milk which is still cheaper. It's more expensive than I thought, so I've stopped trying to do the depressing conversion in my head and hoping that the money the university owes me comes in before next month (seriously, what is taking so long? I've not been paid since the end of November!!!)

I've been basically living off pasta and sauce (homemade though!), stir fries and sandwiches. The meat variety here is awesome though and I'm going to eat so much because when I go back to England I pretty much have to be vegetarian because of my living situation.

Houses here can be old. In fact, the apartment block I am in was built in 1909 and others in this neighbourhood are a decade older than that. But they actually put insulation in them so the walls feel warm when you touch them and the windows have been long since upgraded (before 1999, when my landlady moved in) to double pane. Hallelujah! They also have this weird way that they open, but it works really well and you can feel it when you open them, feel the seal break. Which is comforting.

There is a lot of American telly over here. A LOT. Also, UK telly, but less of it, and it's things like medical dramas and Downton Abbey. They seem to love American sitcoms, which all date back at least a decade. And American cop dramas. Every version of CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, etc, etc, etc. is shown in reruns here. And action movies. Action movies every night.

They also love IKEA, which is understandable, considering, and every city has an IKEA in it (or used to at least). The largest one is here in Odense and I've been reliably told it's the biggest in all of Europe, so I'll have to go and see. IKEA and Bilka together, as they are right beside each other.

They have malls here too. Proper indoor malls (like Highcross in Leicester) and about the same size. It's very American, because it's way out on the edge of the city and surrounded by parking lots (unlike Highcross, but very like Mapleview in Canada). The bus passes by it on the way to and from campus so I shall have to stop one day.

I've costed it out and it makes the most sense to get a bus pass, which gets you discounted travel, rather than rent a bike. A bike is going to be about 100k a week and the bus is only about 50k a week, or less if I don't use it (I only pay no the pass for what I use, whereas with the bike I pay whether I use it or not). So considering the weather is basically freezing and wet, I've opted for the bus pass, at least for the next while. If spring arrives I may reconsider.

I've also decided to stay in Odense for the duration. There is the opportunity to move to Roskilde, near Copenhagen, but then I'll have to go through moving all over again, and that took a week out of my schedule. I really don't have time for that, and also there is an issue with office/work space in Roskilde that would be problematic. I wouldn't have a desk in my room, so could only use the office on campus, which means only working in restricted hours, not when I feel like it. That doesn't really work for me. Also, I don't like sitting on my bed with my computer, even when I'm just surfing the internet. I find it awkward. It seems such a little thing, but it's important to how I work so I can't ignore that. It's just easier to stay here. There's a conference in March anyways that I'll go to so I'll get to meet the Roskilde people then.

My landlady is really nice. She's very direct, which is a nice change, and we've had some great conversations. She let me gone on for an hour about the Camino a few nights ago, which I thought was really nice of her. I found it quite cathartic to reminisce and be honest too and to tell it to someone who knows what it is and knows people who have walked, but isn't clear on the details (she is now!). She also seemed genuinely interested, and it's nice to have a captive audience. I have to say that no one else has really asked me about it much since I got back, beyond the simplistic 'so, how was it?' It was great to talk it out, anyways. I should get back to finishing that book. It's nearly done. Gulla works away from the house, so she's gone sometimes as much as five days a week and other times only one day a week, depending on her schedule. Last week was 5, this week is 2, next week is none, but then it's 5 again the week after. It's really quiet when she's not here, but that's kind of nice too. I can come and go as I please either way, but I've gotten used to having someone else in the house in the last couple of years.

Once the weather improves I will do the tourist thing in Odense. There's several museums here worth visiting, and a really nice looking cathedral, and also a lot of park and trail to walk when it's not -6C outside. I've been told spring usually comes in around mid-February so only a few weeks left to wait before I can go explore. It's nice to have those to look forward to. There's two great outdoor museums here too, but they don't open until May, unfortunately. Still, I might rent a bike for a few days in March if the weather is really good and go out for a ride in the country. I can probably ride *around* Odense in a day, and everywhere here is flat. Flat flat flat.

I need to edit Chapter 2 of my thesis (okay, a bit about writing) and add a couple thousand more words (I know what they need to be, it's just…well, adding them). I hope to get that done by early February so I can edit Chapters 1 and 3 properly before the end of the month and also get some more reading done for Chapter 4, which I can then write in March. That's my deadline for the first half of the thesis, is the end of March. Then the end of July for the second half, and the conclusion to draft in August. And then three months to solely edit (mostly the second half). I think that's doable. Hopefully. That might depend on my editor's schedule, but I can hope she's as available as she said she would be. She is only allowed to do spelling/grammar editing anyways, so that shouldn't (ha!) take too long. My advisors are doing the content editing, as they should. Hopefully they don't disagree! I think I'll send Dave only parts to edit, the parts I'm really not sure on, rather than the whole thing because that's a lot for him to work through. Ross, after all, has already gotten a quarter of it by now!

I think this is long enough, yes?

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