Category: Studies

Bike Hawk Down

My friends with bikes, it would seem, are being taken down faster than Hueys in Vietnam.


On Saturday, I crashed a Danish girl’s bike and took a handlebar to the chest. I guess I had this one coming though, seems as I was giving her a lift on the bike – an act that, while chivalrous, will get you a fine from the police. A roommate of mine had just been hit by a car door a week earlier, leaving her with a mild concussion and another friend had a similar accident a few days later. He received three stitches as an unwanted bonus.


Two other girls I know have also been involved in accidents, one managing to rack up a staggering three crashes. Luckily none of my friends have been hurt badly. Except for the concussion girl – I suspect she won’t be with us for long.


Personally I will think twice the next time a damsel in distress asks me for a ride, the pain in my chest reminding me of what the rules are there for and why it’s especially perilous to ignore the rules with the current snowy conditions.


Still, cycling in Copenhagen, I feel, is not dangerous. All one has to do is follow the very reasonable safety guidelines. One – snowy bike lanes are no places for going Indy 500. Snow might slow you down a little but you’ll reach your destination with your head still on your shoulders. Secondly, while Danes generally respect the bike lanes, the rules alone will not protect you from a drunken pedestrian or a neglectful cabbie. Eyes should be on the road at all times, especially on a Friday night.


The resent mishaps aside, the last two weekends have been fun. Many people are leaving Copenhagen for good this weekend and we’ve been making sure that everybody leaves this city with only the best memories. Entertainment is all the more important if you consider that many students are still trying to wrap up the semester’s duties.


For me, today is the last day of studying as I hope to complete my essay on informal practices in postsocialist countries tonight. While I still have to work on my personal research project, at least I will not have to concern myself with deadlines anymore. Tomorrow I have to head to the CSS to print the paper, as well as to receive an exam form to be submitted with the said paper. It’s red tape as usual, but I think I will actually be enjoying the ride to the campus. I’ll be heading back to Tallinn on January 10th, and the good cycling times will be over then.


To make the most of my last three weeks here, I’ll be heading out to see the Little Mermaid on Thursday. I’ll hopefully be joined by a small force of brave cyclist undeterred by the cold and the snow.


I really need to come up with a name to this ragtag bunch of riders, as we clearly deserve one. And a flag. We also deserve a flag.





Epistemology Now

For the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to keep myself motivated for my courses, with “Anthropology of Sciences” being the main culprit in my gradually declining will to prepare myself in any way for my classes.


That particular course has everything to do with the “how to’s” in anthropology, while seemingly never getting to the actual “do’s” – a problem not entirely absent in contemporary anthropology [citation needed?]. The lecturers, a whopping two per thirty people, are top-notch and their charisma is almost enough to turn even the most menial of epistemological discussions into something interesting. But for the past two weeks the classes have been cancelled and I have been actively ignoring the formidable reading list because really, reading about the various and nuanced approaches that question whether, say, scientific expertise and lay knowledge should be viewed as equals is about as close as anthropology gets to being banned under the Geneva condition as a weapon of death by dullness and redundancy. As for today’s lecture, I didn’t even bother attending.


And yet, there is a ray of hope, seems as at the last minute a new course has been added to the Copenhagen Uni’s catalogue. It’s “Anthropology of Post-Socialist Countries” – a course that I might actually benefit from in the future. I’m even tempted to try and claim authority in that field by virtue of myself coming from one such country (har har).


In short, I’ve decided to drop the science course in favor of something more tangible. The timing couldn’t have been better because, thanks to the Copenhagen Uni’s new portfolio essay system, I would’ve had to write five 2-3 page essays by next Friday. And after my portfolio essays for the “Migration I” course, the last thing I want to do is busy myself with writing five more short, disjointed and superficial pieces of scrap-anthropology.


To be fair, the lecturers here share our skepticism of the new assessment system and perhaps the whole thing will be reviewed and improved before the next batch of Erasmus students arrives. For the time being, I have to retreat to the more comfortable field (and more comfortable conditions) of post-socialism studies.


So how am I gonna celebrate this godsend? By going on a road trip to Berlin, Poznan and Prague. Hopefully. Unless something goes horribly wrong.




Flooding Louisiana

On the weekend I managed to get a glimpse of the highest hill in Denmark. Unfortunately, it had been overrun by a vicious herd of militant llamas. Such is life.


On Sunday the Copenhagen University organized a trip to the Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art, located some 50 kilometers north of Copenhagen, for all students attending the Danish culture course. The course itself is rarely engaging and seems to have been put together so that the Erasmus students would at the very least get 7.5 points during their stay here, lest drinking forbade them from gaining more.


Normally it’s hard for me to get excited about field trips on early Sunday mornings but our arrival at the museum complex at a picturesque beach, shrouded in a thick mist set the tone for the rest of the excursion. After having sat through a surprisingly not-boring introductory speech they turned us loose on the place and we were free to roam around the many rooms and snaking tunnels and hallways of the place. We were warned beforehand of the possibility of getting lost and sure enough it wasn’t long before I became disorientated whilst the setting rapidly alternated between subterranean galleries and snaking glass corridors guiding visitors through the wilderness surrounding the complex. Think Black Mesa, but with less aliens.



What's behind the corner? Aliens? Nah, just more art.




Points of interests were many, but I will try to limit myself to just a few. The most interesting exhibition was by this girl whose boyfriend had apparently sent her a soft-worded yet slightly devious letter announcing their break up. The girl, unafraid of coming off as a complete psycho, took the letter and sent it out to around seventy women in different areas of life, asked them for their interpretation of it and put the end result on display at the biggest hall in the museum for everybody in Denmark to see. If that sounds a bit insane then that’s because it is.


Nevertheless, it was actually interesting to see how lawyers, psychologists, detectives, dancers and singers all worked differently with the text, resulting in a rich autopsy of a single A4 piece of paper.


Another thing that captured the imaginations of many was the short film “Flooded McDonald’s”, a seventeen minute clip of a fast food restaurant, completely deserted and apparently abandoned in a hurry, slowly taken over by rising water levels displaying the kind of relentless determination that only nature can. The deafening background drone of a restaurant spending it’s last minutes in the city’s power grid was gradually replaced by the thundering noise of a steady flux of murky water.


But perhaps the most interesting piece was the complex itself. I found that the large patio right before the drop down to the rocky beach and the solitary boathouse, offered the best vista I’ve experienced yet here. It was a shame we only had three hours to spare for a place that deserved much more.




The field trip put a nice finishing touch to a weekend filled with, well, celebrations. Ever since I moved into my new place in Norrebro, I have been busy with discovering the neighbourhood (if you can call becoming a regular in one pub “discovering”). The communal room of the apartment has also seen extensive action, not least because of me finally picking up the courage to once again turn to the good old trusty Vana Tallinn. The latter may also have been responsible for my first hangover in Copenhagen.



Eh, thanks?


I’ve also discovered an interesting, if somewhat sad pastime. On Tuesday, after a botched visit to the Kfax cheap food night, we spent the evening eating fake burgers and drinking beer at the canal, shouting “shoot shoot the runner!” at joggers passing by. I mean, this is what students do, right? Right?





Blowin’ In The Wind

You really learn to appreciate a heavy dose of coffee, a strong meal and anabolic steroids if you know you have a long bike ride ahead of you and raging outside your window is something that can only be categorized as a mild hurricane.

Copenhagen is windy as hell and over the past few days the weather has really turned from “pleasantly cool” to “frustratingly haily”.

The reason why I must take my green limousine out for a ride is that foolishly I failed to register for my courses in time. Usually at the Copenhagen Uni it suffices if you simply show up for the first lecture but in my case the registration deadline for anthropology courses was August 15th. This means that I must ride to the campus and see if there’s still any courses available.

Later tonight I’ll be meeting a few of my Erasmus friends for a free concert at the Copenhagen Tivoli. An Estonian girl, who actually has to travel from Malmö to Copenhagen just to take classes will also be joining us, seems as the solitary life in Sweden is starting to get to her.

As for the bike ride, I guess I must be off now. If there is any upside to taking such a trip on a day like this, then it must be the buns of steel I am sure to attain. Buns of steel, and a will to survive stronger than that of a wounded buffalo surrounded by baby alligators.