What GLOBE Taught Me #2

15 Feb

After having returned to my – somewhat – normal life in Denmark, I keep reflecting on my time abroad. Hence, I have chosen to continue my list of lessons learned from my year on exchange.

Appreciating chili sauce. I know: This is a really random thing. But after being exposed to the food served on campus at Chinese University of Hong Kong, which were famed for making exchange students switch to a diet consisting of cereal and being the cause of various mass texts that someone had found an eatable dish, I learned that the taste of chili really is quite a lot better than unidentifiable food from the sizzling counters of the canteens.

I can pack my life in a single suitcase. Being notorious for packing huge suitcase(s) for even a one-day trip, I never ever thought this possible. However, GLOBE has proved that I and my 44 fellow students were really able to pack everything we needed in a suitcase and live away from home for a year. I guess we really are very mobile at this stage of our lives.

Culture shock and homesickness. I never though that I would admit to this, but I really think it is true what all the culture books say about culture shocks. I went through all the textbook stages of culture shock while being abroad. Though it seemed almost unbearable at times, I managed it (well-aided by skype-conversations and long inboxes). Also, I learned that homesickness is worse when the weather is bad and the workload from school is big.

Accents. I always had a very (not so flattering) Danish accent when I speak English (knowing that Danish sounds like a strange version of German where you don’t open your mouth while speaking might help explaining this). When embarking upon my travels, I hoped to end up with a less Danish-sounding accent. However, now I just speak with a slightly Asian tone while using Southern American slang such as “ya’ll”.  Admitted, it is different, but I’m not sure it is really an improvement.

Cultural Stereotypes. There is no doubt that most stereotypes are very exaggerated and not extremely truthful. However, some of them do in fact have some accuracy to them. For example, Americans do talk a lot about and really hate silence. Moreover, the Chinese are generally really good with numbers (we had a student at GLOBE who could do math at the speed of a calculator!)

I Took This Picture Exactly a Year Ago: Flowers at the CUHK Campus

I Took This Picture Exactly a Year Ago: Flowers at the CUHK Campus

Oh, gosh, this really makes me miss traveling and being around my 44 friends, who are now scattered all over the globe.

What GLOBE Taught Me #1

1 Feb

After an entire year abroad, my time as an exchange student is now over. Consequently, I have reflected a bit on my experiences while being abroad to try and figure out how this experience has impacted me. Apart from the apparent clichés about becoming a more culturally aware, open-minded and truly global superior human being (yeah, right), I have tried to pick up on the little – less standard – ways in which I have changed.

The GLOBE Group

The GLOBE Group

Eating weird food. One thing that this blog has indeed spent quite some time on already is the thing about eating things that differ slightly from my normal dietary habits. Be it chicken feet, pig intestines, deep-fried cheese, crispy fish skin, cheese & grits or jelly fish – I assert that I have had my share of slightly non-standard foods. Admitted, I will probably not embark on any of these particular culinary adventures entirely out of free will anytime soon, but I have truly come to appreciate a much wider range of foods than before I left.

Danish people appear kind of hostile. This is one thing that had never really thought about before: But in Denmark people don’t really approach strangers on the street. Even if I saw someone who was obviously confused or trying to figure out directions, I would never initiate a conversation.

Drinking coffee. Before my year on exchange and the consequent seemingly endless amount of lectures and corporate presentations, I was not able to drink coffee at all. My best attempt was a mixture of 1/5 coffee and 4/5 hot chocolate and my average Starbucks order was clearly more chocolate than beverage. However, after having endured presentations of either complete lack of relevance, very bad execution or of a length that clearly exceeded my average attention span, my body now seems to have come to terms with the fact that I will need black coffee to not fall asleep.

Taking photos. Though I have blamed my extensive photo-taking on having been in Asia for too long (which might still be somewhat true), there is no hiding it anymore: Half a year after I left the region of cuteness-obsession, I am still taking way too many pictures – documenting anything from parties over random tourist attraction, almost every even slightly significant dinner I attend to my friends attempting to do the infamous Asian poses.

New Years in New York

13 Jan

To adequately finish off my American adventures, I spent my last ten days in New York City. Here, I met up with my friends from Hong Kong. The Big City is a truly amazing place to be around New Years. And despite a snow storm and the resulting constant search for indoor activities, we managed to experience a lot during our stay there.

We arrived in the middle of a two-day blizzard

We arrived in the middle of a two-day blizzard

The result was piles and piles of snow that the city's infrastructure was in no way prepared for

The result was piles and piles of snow that the city's infrastructure was in no way prepared for

Lena's version of the healthy American diet: French fries and chicken tenders

Lena's version of the healthy American diet: French fries and chicken tenders

The snow made the vast amount of pigeons even more miserable than usual

The snow made the vast amount of pigeons even more miserable than usual

I made it to Museum of Modern Art - a tourist must-see

I made it to Museum of Modern Art - a tourist must-see

Though the snow was inconvenient, it did for sure make Central Park look amazing

Though the snow was inconvenient, it did for sure make Central Park look amazing

In order to escape the freezing cold, we decided to build a house in the LEGO Store

In order to escape the freezing cold, we decided to build a house in the LEGO Store (and the people there almost didn't think we were weird)

Reunion with Japanese food and sake bombs

Reunion Asia-style with Japanese food and sake bombs

We went to see the famous full-size piano at the toy store FAO Schwarz

We went to see the famous full-size piano at the toy store FAO Schwarz

The view over Brooklyn Bridge was pretty - despite the grey sky

The view over Brooklyn Bridge was pretty - despite the grey sky and the fact that some of it was covered in plastic.

Finally, my friends and I went to a huge New Years party near Times Square

Finally, my friends and I went to a huge New Years party near Times Square. We wanted to see the ball drop, but since getting a spot at Times Square requires half a day of waiting outside in the cold, we decided to find a nearby party instead.

College Life: Gossip and Ambivalent Alcohol Policies

5 Jan

The curious way of life that takes place at the campus of UNC Chapel Hill has indeed been the topic of quite a number of my blog posts by now. And since I have now finally left the US, one might expect that I had now written my very last post on the topic. However, my experiences here gave me so much material that I found it necessary to write one last post about school in the US. Accordingly, I think it is time for my very last observations about the life of American college students:

I'm a SENIOR!

I'm a SENIOR!

The importance of being a senior: I cannot even begin to count the innumerable times I have been asked the question: “So, are you a senior?”. You see, when attending an American college, seniority is of great importance and once you have endured three years of studying there, you regard yourself as something special. Admittedly, I remember this quite hierarchical structure from when I was in high school – but in America, it seems, your age is still your main claim to fame all the way through college.

Collegeabc: Can you imagine an Internet site where you simply type the name of your school and then have unlimited anonymous access to a gossip board about everyone and everything at your specific campus? Where people can talk about your looks, whereabouts or merits? Such a place exists: Welcome to Collegeabc: The online, personal and less merciful version of gossip box. Want to see if someone anonymously posted your full name and then commented on your “assets”? This is the place to go! If you thought Facebook was privacy intruding and hard to control, you are in for a real treat here.

Living in a college town: Chapel Hill is a true city of students. Apart from the occasional professors or administrative personnel, college students are all you will ever meet here. Accordingly, whenever it is school holidays, the city becomes a ghost town – almost completely empty and lifeless. Also, the entire city seems to evolve around the college lifestyle: Lots of fast-food places and cheap bars that will even let people in who are below the legal drinking age (for an extra fee and after having given them huge crosses on their hands to indicate that they are not allowed to drink inside, that is).

Tailgating: The US has a quite strict alcohol policy and consuming alcoholic beverages in public is prohibited. However, when there is college football on campus, everything pretty much goes. Just because of a sports game, the police allow people to barbecue and drink beer openly on the streets. Sports – and maybe even more so – its fans are apparently very important to the community.

Kvetching: While on the topic of gossiping, Chapel Hill’s own newspaper has a weekly column where people can anonymously let a bit of steam off by submitting one or two sentences about something that really bothers them. The degree of personal indications and hints is quite overwhelming at first, but the column is quite usually a fun read, and I find it appropriate to end this post with a few quotes from there. I believe they will serve as a nice conclusion to my experiences at UNC:

“To the girl on Motown’s basketball courts: Thank you for proving there’s no correlation between the amount of skin you show and how good you are at basketball.”

“To the baseball player doing laundry in Parker: Being hot may excuse you from a lot of things, but pouring liquid detergent into the DRYER while attempting to wash your clothes in unacceptable.”

“To the guy I danced with at Players last weekend: I guess the saying is true. Beauty is only a light-switch away.”

(Source: http://www.dailytarheel.com/)

2010 in Review

2 Jan

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 9,200 times in 2010. That’s about 22 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 71 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 76 posts. There were 216 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 549mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 21st with 2,760 views. The most popular post that day was I Think I am Becoming Asian #1.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were wordpress.com, facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, WordPress Dashboard, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for vitasoy, messy kitchen, vitasoy management trainee, dress up cartoon people, and dress like cartoon characters.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

I Think I am Becoming Asian #1 July 2010
90 comments and 31 Likes on WordPress.com

2

About me November 2009
7 comments

3

Tokyo: Where Young People Dress Up as Cartoon Characters June 2010

4

I Think I am Becoming Asian #2 July 2010
7 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

5

Culture Shock #4: Am I supposed to live here? March 2010

My X-Mas in North Carolina

28 Dec

For Christmas this year, I was so fortunate to be invited to spend a couple of days together with my good friend Sora’s family – and it was a truly great experience.

We started off the weekend with delicious sushi

We started off the weekend with delicious sushi

We went for a walk in Charlotte, the capital of North Carolina

Sora, Nicklas and I went for a walk in Charlotte, the capital of North Carolina

A very "interesting" sculpture: Koala bear/parrot merger with glitter & gold. Purpose: No idea!

A very "interesting" sculpture: Koala/Parrot-merger with glitter & gold. Purpose: No idea!

We had Spanish food for Christmas Eve. It was a bit strange not celebrating X-mas before the 25th as we usually have the celebrations on the 24th in Denmark.

We had Spanish food for Christmas Eve. It was a bit strange not celebrating X-mas before the 25th as we usually have the celebrations on the 24th in Denmark.

We went to a candlelight ceremony in the local church (that can seat more than 3000 people at a time - that place is HUGE)

We went to a candlelight ceremony in the local church (that can seat more than 3000 people at a time - that place is HUGE)

The church even has an escalator

The church even has an escalator

My hosts (together with my friend Nicklas) in front of the main hall of the church

My hosts (together with my friend Nicklas) in front of the main hall of the church

Our tasty Christmas dinner

Our tasty Christmas dinner

Danish Christmas Traditions

21 Dec

I have realized that when studying abroad you start missing the little things about being home. Especially so around Christmas. Therefore, my fellow Danes and I initiated a few activities for our friends in Chapel Hill in order to feel a little closer to home.

Making Danish christmas hearts (used for decoration & hanging on the christmas tree) is no easy task

Making Danish christmas hearts (used for decoration & hanging on the christmas tree) is no easy task

Jasmine managed to get it right!

Jasmine managed to get it right!

Singing Danish X-mas carols

Singing Danish X-mas carols

My American friends also participated in the gingerbread-heart decoration competition

My American friends participated in the gingerbread-heart decoration competition

I baked "Pebernødder": A traditional Danish cookie.

I baked "Pebernødder": A traditional Danish cookie

I made coconut-reindeer

... and coconut-reindeer

Glogg: A mixture of warm red wine, spices, almonds and raisins. Normally we would buy the ready-made version, but since this tradition has not yet made it to Chapel Hill, we had to make it from scratch.

Glogg: A mixture of warm red wine, spices, almonds and raisins. Normally we would buy the ready-made version, but since this Scandinavian has not yet made it to Chapel Hill, we had to make it from scratch.

Søren proudly presenting the Danish Christmas dinner

Søren proudly presenting the Danish Christmas dinner

Skål = Cheers

Skål = Cheers

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