Tuesday, 10 December 2013

How to survive a long-distance relationship

A blog and a vlog in the same day?! Who am I?!

We all have moments in our love lives and relationships where it will be put to the test. For me, the test is a 900 mile distance. Not the easiest situation but one i'm willing to work hard at. So these are some of my tips for anyone who sees themselves facing a similar situation the future.

Vi ses!

J-dag and Julebryg

It’s been almost 2 months since my last post – how neglectful of me! It’s been a pretty busy period work wise but no excuses. I’ve actually had this blog post lined up in my mind for some time but actually getting around to writing it was avoided.

At least Tivoli dressed up for Halloween
So typically around the end of October, the pumpkins appear in full force and I start to get excited for Halloween. I’m a sucker for fancy dress, especially the ghoulish kind. I know Halloween is seen as ‘Americanised’ but I’ve always enjoyed it and wish I was still at an age for trick or treating to be acceptable. Here in Denmark however, the fever of Halloween isn’t quite as strong. Decorations popped up here and there, along with some seasonal gifts in the shops and bakeries but it pretty much ends there. Back at home, we would be finding or organising a Halloween party. so on October 31st, my neighbour (also a fellow Brit) and I were left a little home-halloween sick, and resorted to pumpkin carving and watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (a must watch every year), so it turned out a good night.

Pumpkin time!

November 1st however is a much bigger date in the Danish calendar, and something I’ve never experienced before. ‘J-dag’ (or J-day) in the day that Carlsberg, the most prominent beer producer in Denmark, release their Julebryg (Chistmas beer) for the season. I first heard of it when one of the Danes from my course sent us a video, stating ‘the snow would be falling at 8pm’:

Feeling a bit baffled, I went to do some research. The video is an advert that was first released about 30 years ago? (I may be a bit wrong with the timings) but seems to have stuck as a tradition to the Danish like the Coca-cola Christmas advert in my memories. What is meant by the snow falling at 8 would be that the beer would officially go on sale in bars, clubs and shops at this time. So I thought – lets go see what the hype is all about!

The beer has arrived!

We arrived around 7.30pm and ordered a pre-‘j-dag’ beer as we waited. Then just before 8, we spotted a blue and white spotted van pass the window and we followed it with a large crowd. It stopped at a bar just around the corner from us, where this happened:

This supposedly was happening at different bars are certain times in the night. Trucks were driving around and stopping at particular bars on a route, so we were very lucky to have been at one just by chance!  Into the bar they went, handing out some free julebryg’s and Santa hats. Numbers were limited, and it was first come first serve – but with numbers quadrupling the typical size of this bars clientele, you had to fight. I succeeded in a beer (not a hat) but we celebrated our gains. We returned to the first bar for a little while, before deciding to move elsewhere when suddenly the Blue Santa’s entered the bar we were in. Here, I gained a hat and another beer, along with a flashing stick thing (a useful prop for sword-fights as we discovered later).

Free beer!
I dressed for the occasion...

The beer itself is nice, darker and slightly stronger in percentage to typcal Tuborg/Carlsberg – but also tastes sweeter than the former. Being a brand, it’s not the cheapest drink, but there are plenty of ‘knock-off’ versions in supermarkets that don’t taste too dissimilar.

All in all, a fun night. I’ve heard they also release an Easter beer too but its not celebrated in quite the same way. Since that night, blue and white decorations have been popping up (even in the airport) and I still have my Santa hat to get me feeling festive. So see you next year, J-dag!

 Byeee for now!/Vi ses!


Monday, 14 October 2013

Take a peek around my neighbourhood: Østerbro

Hello again!

Just a quickie to say i've started a new 'series' on my YouTube channel. I want to post some videos about the different areas of Copenhagen, what they are like and what you can find there (in brief). I thought I would start with my own neighbourhood Østerbro. I hope you enjoy :)

Byeee for now!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Throwback Thursday: Change

So it’s Thursday night, I’m home alone and I’ve just finished watching the Dexter finale (as disappointed with the ending as I am?). So pretty much a perfect time to write again. A combination of 2 things inspired today's post: the first was an instagram photo entitled ‘Throwback Thursday’, a new concept to me and the second was an old photo I stumbled across in a stack of photos of my mum, sister and a 14 year old me. Just a few moments while I cringe…

Learning to laugh at yourself: Christmas 2006
If you haven’t figured it out, I’m the chubby blonde on the right. I’m only half joking with that comment too, as some people have genuinely asked me which one is me. It had to make me wonder… have I really changed that much? Yes my hair is a different colour, I’ve lost some weight and my fashion sense have significantly improved (hopefully), but it’s something I assume everyone experiences and because I am still the same person to me, I don’t really see the change that much.

Another golden find courtesy of my sister (2008) 

I remember telling someone who meant a lot to me at the time that no matter what, I would never change as a person. I genuinely meant it. When I uttered the words at 17, I didn’t want my life to change because I felt it was perfect (I guess that shows my naivety at that age), but in the 7 years from when the top photo was taken to present day me, I was always going to change even if I didn’t want to. It’s like that moment on pokemon when you’ve built up a repport, mastered it’s moves and then suddenly evolves – WHY?! (Ok, apologies for the geeky reference).

In the last six years I’ve left school, completed 2 years at college and 3 years of university. I’ve made friends and lost them, been in love, then heartbroken and somehow found love again. I’ve moved counties and even countries. I’ve experienced a lot of new and exciting things but also the loss of others and at times a loss of myself (perhaps a bit too deep for this blog?). Basically my point is – how could I have not changed?!

A sort of evolution through photos
It’s weird, the evolution of a person. It seems slow but it’s actually quite quick. I’m approaching the age of 22 and I still don’t see myself as a true adult. Perhaps it will come with time, or perhaps I will never fully accept it. However what I will accept is that I will change again in the future. Some of my core principles have become concrete with time:

1.       Shit happens – sometimes you can control it, sometimes you can’t but the fact is you have to accept it, deal with it and get over it.
2.       Try and be as positive as possible and brush of the negatives as quickly as possible
3.       I will become a crazy cat lady

I have learnt these through my experiences. My life will change and so parts of me will change too.  But as with core principle one: I have to accept and deal with it. My message to others is embrace change - it's going to happen so make it a positive thing. Sorry about the serious post, I have a more light-hearted, Denmark based one to follow soon ;)

Byeee for now!

P.S. since on the change topic – I’m attempting to return to my natural hair colour very soon. Results will appear soon (probably ginger though..).

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Homesickness vlog

Hello again!

My next vlog about homesickness is up. I have been sick this week with what I believe is that flu - bed bound for most of it. I am finally recovered though (although feeling sick today - but that was self inflicted from too much alcohol...).

New blog up in a few days :)

Byeee for now!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Foreign thoughts on cycling in Copenhagen

This was going to be a topic to talk about in my blog, but I pretty much lost my voice this week and I’ve spent a good part of the weekend in bed for similar reasons – so vlogging kind of went out the window. The next best thing? Blogging again! As the only requirement for this is hands to type with… perhaps part of my brain too but we shall see how far we get…

I have mentioned the biking situation in parts in previous posts so I thought after a month of being here, I would expand my thoughts on cycling culture so far.

My new other half needs a name.

So a statistic told me that now over 52% of Copenhageners commute to work by bike. It’s quite crazy for me to get my head around when UK bike commuters, although have been on the increase, seem so few in comparison. At first I thought the motivation behind this was eco-friendly and ‘being green’ (if you weren't aware, Copenhagen are aiming to become the first carbon neutral city in the world), however from some quick background reading it appears the most common reason is because it is just the way they do it here, everyone cycles! So when your city is geared up for it, with purpose built cycle paths separate from the road and pavement, why wouldn't you? So I decided to join the bandwagon!

Bikes and bike lanes

What is so useful about cycling? Although I had a couple of hiccups in the beginning (falling off, nearly being hit by a car) I’m growing to enjoy cycling like I did when I was a kid. The city is extremely flat in comparison to home which makes for easy travelling. You do feel safer not having to travel in such close proximity to cars and although bike lanes aren't on every street, it seems to almost be law that cyclists have right of way over pretty much everyone. On top of that is the cost factor – it’s much cheaper than running my car and public transport costs a bomb if you are having to use it more than once a day. Walking of course is doable, but in a capital it is time consuming (and I’m not exactly known for being the most patient of person..).

Bikes and bikes and bikes...
I do still have a bit of a love-hate relationship though. I’m terrible with knowing what to do with bikes so when anything goes wrong, I feel a bit stuck. I managed to deal with my flat tyre averagely well after a moment of weakness feeling stranded without transport in a foreign city. Also the parking situation can be a bit of a nightmare. When I say bikes are everywhere, I mean.. everywhere! Propped up outside houses and shops, along roadsides and in bike designed parking bays. Some never seem to move and I swear they are just ghost bikes, left for years gone by but you never know. On top of that, don’t aggravate a Danish cyclist – they take it very seriously if you get in there way or if you don’t signal properly, their bike bell aggressively ringing in your ear. Talk about a different type of road rage!

Just your typical bike parking in Copenhagen centre

I found the process of finding a bike not the best either. I messaged countless of people on a selling website with little results and with new bikes costing the equivalent of a second hand car in the UK – it was my only choice. I grabbed the first bike I could get my hands on. It’s not perfect, a few cracks here and there, mismatched pedals and no bike stand (yet) – but I’m learning to love it. It’s almost becoming a part of me now that I rely on it so much – like I did with my little green bug at home (my car). I feel I need a nickname for it – so any suggestions?

My little green bug - currently tucked up in hibernation until my return.
To sum up – it’s a culture shock I find interesting and enjoyable. I’m feeling nervous about the winter commutes but it’s something I need to get used to if I wish to become a temporary Copenhagener. Also drunken cycling on a night out is interesting (still not sure if its legal though...)So if you find yourself in this city – invest in a bike ASAP.

Byeee for now!

Floor art is the new wall art.

P.S. an update on my floor situation – supposedly I have leak. It’s looking good, no? It’s my own modern art feature for my room, don’tcha know.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Vlogging again

I've finally gotten round to making a second vlog, so please head over to my youtube channel if you are interested! 

I'm still new to this vlogging idea - there are a few things I still can't get right (like why the video isn't full screen) but I hope you enjoy :)

Byeee for now!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Home sweet home!

Hi there!

No no, I haven’t been kidnapped or accidentally died – I have just had two of the most manic weeks to date (surprisingly). HOWEVER I realise that this is not a valid excuse completely ignoring my blog like I have. So where on earth have I been since I last posted?!

Well.. I’ve finally moved into my own place! Last weekend, my dad took the almost 1000 mile drive from Derby to Copenhagen to bring some of my things for the next two years (which I am extremely grateful for) and on Sunday we moved myself out the hostel (hurray!!) into my new room at Tåsingegade Kollegiet. 

Welcome to my home for the next year-ish!
My building (and room)
I love finally having my own space and stuff rather than living out of a suitcase. I feel relaxed now and can finally start learning the city and my surroundings, rather than playing the waiting game of settling in – I can unpack, buy groceries, do washing etc… As you can see, the walls are still a little bare but I plan on decorating it over the coming weeks and making my 17m² feel like a proper home!! The building is pretty big and not the most sociable i've been to but i've met some nice people so far. The room is not perfect as there are a couple of hiccups, like the lethal floor.. but all issues are solvable and I think I’m going to enjoy it here for the next 10 months. The area I live in, Østerbro, is quite residential which makes it feel like a safe place to live, but I’m also not far from shops (supermarkets on every corner) and just a short distance by bike to campus and the city centre. 

Pretty sure that isn't normal, or safe..
Speaking of bikes – I have acquired one myself!  I feel like I’m slowly becoming a Dane, despite not being able to speak any Danish, not having the blonde hair/blue eyed Scandinavian look and not eating pickled herring (just appealing to the stereotypes here…). Having not ridden a bike in god knows how many years, I have felt a bit shakey at times, especially when I fell off on my first day (typical). I’ve sustained a few injuries, dinting my ego more than anything but as they say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and I still find myself alive and feeling more confident everyday. I love the ‘damecykler’ style of bike over here but not such of a fan of back pedalling to break. Also I’ve been told that cycling slightly under the influence on a night out is somthing you have to get used to. I personally found it a bit terrifying..

Please enjoy the lovely result of my clumsiness

Also this last week has been filled with 9-4 days of introduction lectures which have been both interesting but exhausting. It’s been great to meet people off my course and I really like the informal relationships between lecturers and students. So far we have been on a hike around a Copenhagen park, been out for dinner/drinks and had pizza & beers over discussions – it’s so unlike the UK style of University but so far, so good! I fall into my proper routine next week so posts hopefully will be more frequent. I also start Danish lessons very soon, so hopefully I’ll know more than just ‘Hej’ and ‘Tak’ (hello and thank you, just in case you weren’t aware..).

Enjoying the last of the summer sun, mentally preparing for the oncoming cold!

I’ve also got a few vlogs planned for this week, so keep an eye on my youtube channel for that. It feels pretty empty right now so I promise I’ll be better committed. Well, as long as i'm not too engrossed in 'Dexter' (new obsession)....

Typical night in, skyping my cat...

 Byeee for now!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

First week on the Danish diet

I love food, it is something that I’m hugely interested in. At times I have had a love hate relationship with it, but I love discovering and eating new foods and trying new recipes for cooking and baking. So the idea of trying new foods in different country and culture to the UK got me a little excited (sorry if that makes me sound a little weird..).

My eating situation during my first few days has been different to what it will be once I am settled in to my own place, so for now I’m having to rustle up my 3 meals without the use of a kitchen (as stated in previous blogs) – which mainly involves eating out. Copenhagen is not known for bargains and in 2012 was ranked the 21st most expensive city to live in. Considering all the cities in the world, it’s pretty high so scouting cheap deals has been a bit of a challenge.

My budget breakfast isn't too shabby

As I can’t afford the breakfast at the hostel, I have been living off eating muesli from the Aldi located at the end of the street and eating out of a (clean) takeaway box from my first meal here. I feel this has been a pretty savvy technique that I thought of and it has saved me a bunch of money every morning. Hooooowever, I did make one mistake. Milk. WHY IS IT SO HARD TO BUY MILK IN DENMARK?!? I had even tried to be clever and read up beforehand what was the right stuff to buy as supposedly it is the common thing for foreigners to buy yoghurt instead of milk. I saw a carton, and the word mælk so I thought I was safe >.<… turns out I bought buttermilk instead. Why on earth they sell buttermilk in litre cartoons and in different fat content is beyond me. Perhaps theres a Danish food thing I don’t yet understand…I have since resolved this issue but I am ashamed to admit I now fall under the naïve traveller category.

This is not milk...
...THIS is milk.

From the lunch situations I have come to 2 conclusions:

1) Danish people like bread and particularly sandwiches. Now I know bread is quite a continental Europe thing but I don’t tend to eat much of it at home as I don’t get very hungry at lunchtimes. I have been grateful of sandwiches (sometimes free thanks to uni providing them for us) as I’m not eating much at breakfast. I also know the Danes are known for Smørrebrød (open sandwiches), something I am yet to try. I also like their Rye bread as it tastes different to the boring bread back at home. Sandwiches are probably the cheapest food we have found so for now they will do the job.

2) Danish people like mayo.. and when I say 'like' mayo, I mean obsessed with it. It creeps up in everything. I ordered a salad on my visit in March and was basically given a pot of mayo with some fruit in it. I can manage eating it for now but for these two weeks only. For one I just don’t like the taste and  also the fact that it is basically 80% oil and the rest egg just makes my stomach churn…

My cheapest meal and the only sandwich I could find without mayo, but salad cream >.<

'Sunset Boulevard' - the Danish equivalent to Subway!

Dinner has been an accidental success. On our 2nd night, Liis and I were looking for somewhere quick and cheap to eat when a helpful Danish lady told us about this little café that provide lots of different salad options and also a hot dish (curry, chilli con carne etc.) and soup if they haven’t run out. She also told us that if you go just before closing, everything is discounted 50% - such a bonus. The food is really tasty and a much nicer option than pizza every night (Thanks Chilimili!) Unfortunately it is closed on a Sunday so we will have to extend our search for dinner tomorrow further.

A selection of hot an cold meals.. so tasty!

Regarding drinks, I’ve mostly been drinking water (it’s free and tastes much better than the tap water at home). I’ve had some coke, my shameful addiction, but it is quite expensive here. I have also found ONE type of cider in the shops which is Somersby.  However, it doesn’t taste like the UK Somersby… it is much sweeter making me think they add something to the taste because it’s so much like concentrated apple juice. I will manage for now and have to ask for cider donations from my friends when they come to visit ;)


I haven’t had much experience in supermarkets other than to buy a couple of bits but I’m looking forward to trying all the foreign chocolate and sweets that look so tempting. I do know however to avoid the 7/11 corner shops because they are a massive rip off. And according to them, small bags of crisps don’t exist…

Sorry about the massively long post. Also if you are interested, I have started my first vlog (located on my about me page at the top ^^ or at http://www.youtube.com/user/alexxx373/videos).

Byeee for now!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Generator hostel Copenhagen.. my first experience

Since the internet in my hostel is failing me this evening, I thought I use the time to blog again… about my hostel! As I have stated before, this is my first hostel experience and (touch wood) it’s turning out ok given the circumstances. Believe me when I say I am desperate to get into my apartment and get settled, but since I still have a 1 ½ weeks left here, it seems to be doing the job quite nicely. Overall it is clean, tidy and comfy, so I can chill out in the evenings.

My 6 bed female dorm

I was a bit worried about the room sharing situation as it is not something I am accustomed to, particularly with strangers. However, it is quite spacious and the beds are really quite comfy. So far, the people I have shared with have been fine. Actually, one of my roommates turned out to be the first person I met on my uni induction day on Monday so it has been nice being with someone in the same boat as me. The others tend to keep themselves to themselves and only stay for a couple of nights as they are passing through on travels. I was worried about noise as I’m a light sleeper but it’s been ok. Although the first night one woman snored SO LOUD – glad I packed my earplugs! Another bonus is having storage under my bed that I can lock away my things safely and it fits all of my 2 weeks of stuff.

Bed 2 - my new home for the first weeks of my travels

On the first floor is the bar/common room area. It’s very modern in design, with colourful décor and big comfy sofas to lie on. Filled with travellers most of the day, I’ve met a couple of nice people when just chilling. In the evenings is does get loud as people start there nights out (which I unfortunately can’t join in with until the weekend due to lectures), but as i'm sleeping on the 5th floor, it isn’t disruptive to me.

The common room in the day
There have been a couple of downsides though. As I mentioned before, the internet is awful. To be honest, I am pretty grateful that they provide free access but it’s just not strong enough for everyone who wants to use it. Skyping is pretty impossible but I can still access the basics. The other is the eating situation. The do not provide a kitchen, which I find surprising for a hostel so most meals have to be bought out (lunch is provided at the uni somedays). To cut down on costs, I have brought cereal for breakfast and find a cheap takeaway for dinner. However, the get very funny about you eating it in the common room and will tell you to go out to the street if you want to keep eating. I find this unfair when facilities are not provided. I assume it is a money making scheme for you to buy their food, but I am not willing to spend the equivalent of £10(?!?!) for a breakfast that consists of some cereal, bread and juice. Dinner they provide is even more costly but when I can find much cheaper alternatives, I will go somewhere else. I’ll just have to become a discrete eater so not to get caught or eat in my room… (I plan on doing a food blog next).

The bar at night

So to sum up.. I’m surviving here! Hopefully I’ll make it the 2 weeks without going a little crazy, particularly from the deafening evening music. A guy called Stu who I met here said that this was more like a hotel in comparison to other hostels he has stayed at on his travels so I think I’ve picked the best of the options.

Byeee for now!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Welcome to Copenhagen, Demark!

Well I’m finally here, sat in the bar area of the Generator Hostel in Copenhagen. My blogging hit an all time low in my final few days as i’ve been so busy with packing, planning and spending time with family and friends. It’s been a pretty emotional weekend, but it didn’t really hit me that I was leaving until my last goodbye at the airport. I had been so concerned that I would miss my flight and couldn’t check my baggage in because I was late that when it was time to say goodbye to my mum, the emotion that had been building over that weekend burst. I had become so fogged by making sure I had all I needed and would be in the right place at the right time, when she put her arms around me, it final dawned on me that it would be the last time I would see everyone for a long time.

My life boxed up for shipping

Delayed for departure...

This then made for an strange flight, taking a plane independently for my first time. I’m a nervous flyer as it is but I just sat in a daze for most of it. The flight was quick and comfortable but I don’t really remember much of it. Arriving at Copenhagen airport was easy, having made the journey only a few months ago. The train station is situated directly below the airport entrance and although a slight delay, I reached my stop perfectly fine. I’m pretty good in orientation situations and found my hostel with ease (although I looked like a such a tourist with my giant pull out map, wheeling around oversized luggage).

Copenhagen airport from arrivals

I have to admit that my first night was a lonely one. Because I was already feeling sad and it was my first night in a hostel, I found it difficult talking to anyone and having to find some dinner alone..
Perhaps this post has taken a slightly more depressing tone than I originally set out for it to be but I think I’d rather be honest than mask it with false feelings and pretend I had the best time ever.

BUT as they say in the Book Of Mormon (which by the way is the best musical ever!!).. ‘it’s time to man up!’… So I did! I woke up for my first induction day and have had an excellent day so far. I met lots of people in the same situation as me so it made introductions and conversation easy. I even met a girl who eventually checked into my dorm in the hostel so it’s nice to have someone to chat with.

It’s going to be a tough few weeks and a bit of a culture shock but I’m feeling more positive after today about what I have in store. I also know that it won’t be long before I see people again and that Skype is my saviour!!

Byeee for now!

Last picture with the girls 

Monday, 29 July 2013

Departure: T-minus 20 days

So it’s finally done, my flights and temporary 2 week accommodation is booked. Officially less than 3 weeks to go. The confirmation emails pinged through and.. I panicked. I can’t lie, the realisation of just 3 weeks left in the UK is a sad one. Although I enjoy change and doing new things, I've enjoyed my home comforts since graduating and have so far had one of the best summers to date – family holidays, visits to London, going to Harry Potter World (UK) for my belated birthday present, seeing Mumford & Sons/Vampire Weekend/Ben Howard live, graduation day etc.

To sum up, it’s been a good one, especially since the UK managed to locate some sunshine this year. I've gained a slight tan and haven’t even left the country? Preposterous! However, I won’t view these last few days negatively. I think a slight panic is a good thing, as it makes me plan my time as efficiently as possible. I still have things to look forward to: another London trip, my mums birthday celebrations and a leaving party to organise.

So what’s next? When I finally pack away my life for the 900 mile move East in 20 days, I’ll be moving into a hostel for 2 weeks so I can attend an induction programme. ‘A hostel?’ I hear you question? A bit contradictory to my previous post, I realise. Do you remember me saying that the university had a reputation of being pretty terrible at handling accommodation? Well, they decided to hold the induction 2 weeks prior to term without allowing me early access to my room or providing/helping with other short term lodgings. So a hostel has been booked, the Generator Hostel in fact, sharing a 6 bedroom female dorm. It looks clean and modern so i'm looking forward to it (although the lack of a kitchen may mean a lack of food for a few days..). Being a hostel virgin, I’m pretty nervous, but also excited to meet some new people and the adventure ahead :) Until next time…

Byeee for now!
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