Saturday, 19 November 2011

Surviving Copenhagen: Food

Social welfare system, high standard of living and technologically advanced notwithstanding, Copenhagen can be a tough place to live. Because let's face it, unless you come from Sweden, Norway the UK or Japan, this place is expensive. But this is old news. Plus there's the whole friend making and friend keeping exercise and after hermitting behind a laptop in bed for a few years, simple greetings and social conventions may seem harder than pronouncing words in Danish sometimes.And so with that preamble, I bring you part one of the Surviving Copenhagen mini blog series. Part one: food.

So you really need to know how to cook. This will also come in handy when it comes to making friends. Desserts is okay but you only need at least one savoury dish. A tip: sandwiches are easy, pesto tastes good in almost anything and you can cook potatoes in a million different ways.

But sometimes you have to treat yourself as well. You haven't been using abrasive single ply toilet paper for the last two months for nothing right? The good thing about eating out in Copenhagen is that while they generally have a steep starting price, the top price isn't so comparatively bad, all things considered. Pickled herring smørrebrød (open sandwich on rye bread) and frikadelle (Danish meatballs) are a must and eating by the canals makes you feel like you have more money than you actually do. 

And then there's the pastries. Luckily the Danes are crazy about them so there's usually at least one in each neighbourhood offering the fresh smell of bread and tastiness to tempt you while you're on the way to your 8am class.

Of course you can always bake your own. And then slowly but surely gain a reputation for being the harbinger of dessert. Which is handy if the only Real Food dish you can ever contribute is sandwiches and pasta.

I honestly thought that at the end of the exchange experience I would go home emancipated because my money would be spent on travelling and shopping but as it turns out my priorities just aren't  skewered in that way. What's a girl to do? 

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Paying For Exam Fees

Last week while I was in Helsinki I spontaneously booked a trip to Prague. I arrived a couple of hours ago and despite the delayed flight it all seemed to be going well. I had taken out money, I had found the way to my hostel; I was feeling pretty good. My tram was coming and I boarded only for the person in front of me to stop in the middle of the door way so that I couldn't get through. Frustration and puzzlement at douchbaggery is a big distraction. When I finally get through the lady next to me asks me to check my belongings and sure enough my wallet was gone.

At this stage the pickpockters had left the tram, I've missed my stop and I could feel myself shaking. I think about what was in that wallet. Cash, about the equivalent of $AUD300, debit card, travel card and all of my methods of identification minus my passport thankfully (but how will I get student discounts now?). The cash I know I'm never going to get back so I forget about that. The time is now for damage control. I run to my hostel and turn up to the reception crying, a little bit pathetic yes but it was a bit overwhelming. The owner was the sweetest man, without asking anything (I didn't even tell him I was a guest there) he sat me in front of a computer to help me sort my shit out.

My advice for pretty much everything is to push yourself but to know your limit. My limit is trying to call home without phone credit. There was no way I could do this without help. By this stage I'm on facebook talking to one friend back in Copenhagen and another friend in Melbourne, asking the former to buy me phone credit and the latter to call my parents to ask them to call me. Two hours and a sigh of relief after I remember that I have a spare travel card later, I'm sorted. Cards are frozen and a new one is coming.

My uncle, whom I hadn't spoken to for five years calls me. He lives in Budapest so it's not that strange. He left the nest to roam the world when he was a little bit older than me. He asks me why I'm out in Eastern Europe by myself. And I tell him because I wanted to test myself and see if I can make it. To which he responds, if you want to be tested then you know you have to pay the exam fee first. Three hundred, he says, isn't so bad, but then again I'm a student so that's pretty much three weeks worth of food. The cost of education is expensive in Prague but at least it's effective.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Masterchef-in-training (or not)

I may possibly be the youngest slash only asian in the world who can cook rice sans a rice cooker. It's really not that difficult. You put the rice in a pot, you put it on the stove until it boils with the lid on, you take the lid off, let it simmer until the water is gone, put the lid back on and turn the heater super low (turn off if you have an electric thing like they do here). Then you take the lid off, scoop the rice from the pot onto your plate, and you eat it. See, not difficult.

My mother is very silly. She is so paranoid that I'm starving here, and so she sends me a rice cooker. From australia. For $14. Not including shipping. (she also sent me a can opener and a can of goose. what does one do with goose?) Fyi, you can buy rice cookers here for $15. And there's no need for shipping. Anyways, now that I have this rice cooker I should use it, and catch up to the rest of the world in rice cookerness.

I stuck the instructions on the wall. USING RICE COOKERS IS HARD FOR ME MMKAY?

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Go Babo!

Money pays. Private colleges get their own police force. Yeah we have our own police force at Babson. And one of their jobs is take transport people to places they need to go. They're basically like a free taxi service. Convenient, right?

WRONG ! Yeah they're convenient, yeah they're free. But being in the back of a police car is scary. And weird. And creepy. And just weird. You have to sit in the back like a criminal, there's a plastic screen separating the front from the back, there's plastic over the window so you can't escape. It's like, a real police car. One thing disturbing me is that there are no door handles inside, so if there's an accident or something YOU CAN'T GET OUT.

Anyways this post needs a photo right? I don't have a photo of the Babo, so here's a photo of our dean, Dean Hammo, and our mascot, Biz.E the Beaver. Beaveromance.


Monday, 19 September 2011


Space is so important. Your own private space. I think everyone should have a space that is just for them. A place where they can just lie down and let their mind wander. Which I guess in a sense is a bit of a paradox because the space is created by yourself to be pleasing to the eye or the soul depending on how zen you want to get, and yet its purpose is to allow the subject to escape. We all need spaces.

So after a month of living in lovely Copenhagen, I've finally created my space. I think it's pretty sweet. What do you think?

Friday, 19 August 2011

The story of David Blue-Shirt

On one of my last days in Florence I decided to revisit the Piazzale di Michelangelo with my friend Lillian at sunset. We had seen it every day because it's on the way to the main city but only once at sunset. I wanted to see it again because I didn't have my camera last time and we only caught the end of it because we over slept our siesta. Oh, life is hard!

The view, like any other part of Florence, was as beautiful as it was romantic. We sat on the steps for a while and watched a street performer sing love songs. Feeling a little bit out of place amongst the couples and having a need to put our feet up, Lillian and I retreated to the benches and people watched. One boy in particular, David we called him, stood out to us. He was wearing a bright blue shirt and stood over the balcony by himself. We made a story for him.

David arrived in the hostel in the afternoon. It was humid in Florence and he was sweaty but he was determined to wear pants. He didn't understand shorts. He couldn't grasp what sort of shorts to wear or what length it should be worn at or what to wear it with. Pants were better. He understood pants. Still, it was hot so he waited until the absolute last minute before he changed. He picked out his blue shirt. Amelie once commented that it brought out his eyes. He didn't know if she was joking or not but he decided to wear it so it would, at the very least, be a talking point. "Hey, remember this shirt? It's blue, haha!" Stupid. Whatever, he was wearing it.

The piazzale was a little crowded by the time he arrived. Mostly tourists. David wondered why tourists repulsed him so much. After all he himself was a tourist but for some seeing large congregations descending from air conditioned buses instantly made the destination less attractive for him. Amelie once accused him of being a snob. She was probably right but like any snob, he refused to accept it. "It's not snobbery", he had said, "it's taste." She rolled her eyes and laughed.

David looked over the city and tried to name buildings. There was the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, obviously, but what is that green domed one? He would have to look that up later. It was his first day in Florence so he forgave himself. The sun hit the horizon and the sky is tinged with pink. Pink. Amelie had told him once that on a perfectly clear sky, there is a moment just before the sun completely sets that the light will reflect against, against... something or rather, and the sun will emit a flash of pink light.

Or was it green light? Actually green light sounds better. Green light. Yes, it was green light.

The sun had set and the lights were turning on and somewhere in the distance someone was singing The Scientist. David was suddenly wary of how alone he must seem. I'm not alone, he wanted to tell people. I'm waiting for someone. Almost instinctively he pulled out his phone, only to realise that he had no use for it. He didn't know why he assumed that Amelie would come tonight, he just had a feeling. After all it was she who had always wanted to see Florence at sunset and there seemed no better day than today to see it- today would have been their one year anniversary. Would have being the operative term. Would have if it wasn't for that fight in the garden just before semester was about to start. She was seeing someone else now actually but David knew it couldn't be serious. He was sure she would turn up. Maybe tomorrow he thinks, maybe with all the confusion of time conversion she mistook the dates and will turn up tomorrow. I'll come back tomorrow. 

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011


a great desire to travel and rove about