Time is flying! Where did last week go? This weekend? Winter? Although the weather still thinks it’s winter, it is officially spring. Which means I am finishing my degree sooner that I like to think about (especially all those deadline that are squashed in between now and graduation), will hopefully have something to start job-wise during the summer, and probably another flat-move. Although it’s all very hectic, theres nothing in my future that is not very exiting. And I can’t wait to figure out what’s gonna happen! But, the present is also awesome, and this is a little bit of what has happened recently:
I went for my first run of the year (during those 2-3 hours where it actually felt like spring!). Had lovely evenings at home with a boyfriend who sometimes looked like a smurf in my hats. Went to Scandinavian Kitchen and admired their very cool posters with Lina (If you are in London and haven’t been there, go!). Also bought strong, salty liquorish which is the best in the world, but also something that English people don’t understand. And I went to my first unified communications expo at Olympia to meet the nice people from Shoretel.
I went to a goodbye party (buuh) where they had the best sangria ever (yay!), went to another after party in a house in Walthamstow with many floors and a great view over London once you conquered the stairs (Not easy while carrying a drink I might ad). Went to the Nags head in Walthamstow Village (on a few occasions) and wondered why Tetley The Famous Cat is so famous. And that its a bit much to pay £8 for a book abut a cat named after tea. I have been very tired of always beeing cold and worn big svarved, jumpers, boots and jackets, and dreamt about spring. Have also seen the biggest spider ever (Even bigger that the spiders that used to chase me out of the basement in my childhood home in Denmark) and I screamed so loud that the neighbours probably thought that it was at least at bear. But he was GIANT! No pictures, would not be able to deal with that size spider even in picture form. (Am sitting on the couch he was under right now, and I’m not happy about it. What if he has friends?).
Sunday evening. I’m watching Back to the Future 2, and trying to figure out which person in the whole world I would like to be for a week for a graduate scheme application. Turns out it’s a very tough question. Therefore, while thinking about it, I though I would round up my 2013 so far.
I have in a moment of insanity impulse shopped a skateboard for Joel. He liked it though, so good things comes out of insanity sometimes. Our living room is taking shape, and we got ourself an (almost) free, brand new futon – Gumtree can be a good invention sometimes. I took a sleepy picture of myself in an elevator (as you do) on way to a lecture, and we spend a bit of quality time a Saturday afternoon at our local pub.
I bought £2 flowers, we got a load of snow here in Walthamstow (which fed the Twitter hashtag “Awesomesnow”), a bunch of lovely friends from Denmark came to visit and sleep in our living room, and we got some more snow.
I made red velvet cookies with a butter/cream-cheese/vanilla filling (recommendable!) Joel made a lemon tart/raspberry creation as a lovely surprise, which I couldn’t eat (I know, I’m just as outraged myself – I can ALWAYS eat cake). Had lovely fresh mint tea and panini at the local cafe in the Village and went out early to buy pastries, cokes and orange juice for 2 hungover brothers.
Library, library and library. It’s all about studying, and sometimes that can drive certain swedes a little crazy. I have watched Denmark do very well in the World Cup in Handball, for then to loose miserably to Spain in the final. It was so painful to watch, that I had to stop watching halfway through the second half. The Tangtastics saved the day though.
Ah! I’m having a day. Yup, one of those days. A day where everything breaks, and nothing works, and it’s all just incredibly difficult.
Woke up. For the first 30 seconds every thing was great, until I turned the light on in the bathroom and the bulb burst. No problem, a few candles here and there, and it was all quite nice again. Although pretty dark. 30 minutes later when I come back to brush my teeth, half of my toothbrush has melted, because of the candle underneath.
Went to uni, was extremely unproductive. Word kept crashing, and Chrome kept saying the internet pages I wanted didn’t respond. Wen’t home again. Decided to unscrew burst lightbulb in the bathroom and go buy a new one. Had to stand on the edge of the bathtub, using one arm to keep my balance and the other to unscrew the bulb. Obviously (Obviously!) I drop the bulb, and it scatters all over the bathroom floor. Lots of not very nice words were said to myself at this point in time, but I carried on, wrapped the remaining piece of bulb and took it with me to find a matching new one.
So i went shopping, bought dinner etc., and probably overfilled the two tiny plastic bags just a slight bit. Both handles on both bags, as a response, decided to break when i was 1/3 of the way home. Managed to get home, squeezed in the front door with groceries everywhere.
And I obviously forgot to buy the lightbulb.
I shall touch nothing for the rest of the day. Hope the rest of you out there are having a less challenging Wednesday than I am.
In just a weeks time, Joel and I will be grabbing all our stuff, leaving our current homes behind, and moving in to a one bedroom flat in Walthamstow. Another new neighborhood to be discovered. Looking for places in London, it seems a bit random where you actually end up. This time around we have seen places in Tuffnell Park, Camden, Muswell Hill (of which all were either in a bad state, very small, no windows in the bathroom, or a weird little green sink in the corner of the living room). But we ended up with the smelliest flat we viewed. Smelly, because when we viewed it, the lady that was living there showed us around. And as the agent has warned us she had a ‘puppy’ in there, which was why she was moving. When he told us that I think we both pictured a tiny little, innocent, cute dog of some kind. But when she opened the door to the flat we were met by a 1 metre tall, drooling and extremely excited 9 months old mastiff (or something similar), who was obviously overly excited to have visitors. As we tried to view the flat he was jumping all around, and although the flat was the spaciest of the ones we had seen, it definitely wasn’t spacious enough for a dog that size. The smelly part came from all the dog breath, and the fact that I don’t think the place had been aired ever since she got the dog. He would probably take any chance to jump out of a window if she opened one to be fair.
So needless to say the flat needed a big overhaul. We were gutted after viewing it though, as the basics of the flat were exactly what we were looking for. Big rooms, bright, separate living room, etc. We told the agent about our experience, and he asked us to email over a list of improvements they would have to do, in order for us to be interested. So we did. A long list. And then we tried to forget about it, as we thought we were too demanding. But as it turned out the management company were happy to do all that we asked, and we ended up with a flat. Fingers crossed the ‘puppy’ doesn’t come with it!
I grew up in Denmark, but have lived in London since April 2007. Although I by now feel very much at home here, and very used to the English way of life, there are still differences that spring to mind. Obviously there are the major differences, such as politics etc., but I have for long been wanting to make a list over the more everyday differences I have noticed since I came here. Get ready for stereotyping (with a smile).
This one is probably pretty obvious. The national English fry up is still a struggle for me. I mean, sausages, baked beans, eggs and -horror of horrors- mushrooms, at the crack of dawn. Yikes. If I’ve been up for a few hours I can perhaps deal with it, but on a much smaller scale than any proper Englishman. I don’t think I will ever learn it. The reason for this might be that I pretty much grew up on cold porridge with sugar and raisins. In Denmark kids are told that it will make them grow “big and strong”, just as rye-bread will. A typical cafe-brunch in Denmark would probably consist of yoghurt with muesli, scrambled eggs, bacon and fresh fruit. Slightly English inspired after all, but not quite as hardcore. I do know that most English won’t have a fry-up every morning, but I have a feeling that eggs are a must for many English. A traditionally Danish breakfast will involve a shot of sticky brown alcohol called ‘Gammel Dansk’ (Old Danish). Cheers!
If you counted all the words a mediocre Dane say in a day, and compare them to how many words an English (or possibly any other given european country to be honest) say in a day, I reckon the dane will only speak about half the amount of the English. Danes generally don’t say anything unless they actually have something important to say. We are good at talking about the weather though, just like the English, but that is about as far as small-talk will go. After that we just stand there and wait for the next important thing we want to say. The Danish philosophy seems to be that if you don’t have anything to say, why talk? If we do find ourselves being caught in awkward silence (Mostly only around people we have just met), a small ‘Mmmmm’ as conversation filler will be sufficient.
3. ‘Please’ and ‘Excuse me’
-Is not really existing in the Danish language. Since I’ve come to England I find myself feeling extremely rude whenever I go to Denmark, as there is no Danish word for please. So, if a Dane go to a shop and wants to buy a bottle of wine, the sentence would be “Can I have a bottle of wine?” and not “Can I have a bottle of wine, please?”. I realise this might make us seem rude, but we’re not really. We are just missing a word. ‘Excuse me’ is used slightly more, but it is not one of our preferred phrases, as it seems to be for the English (at least Londoners).
4. Going out
In England, as far as I know, going out mostly mean going to the pub or a bar. sometimes straight after work, or perhaps after dinner. Quite early, meaning that the English can also leave quite early and be home and to bed at a reasonable time (preferably catching the last tube around midnight). In Denmark, the night will often start with a ‘warm-up’ party. Meaning ‘get as drunk as possible, to save money once you go out’. Considering that a pint of beer can reach £6 in Denmark in some nightclubs, this seems reasonable. If you can find a pub in Denmark, it will often be used by locals and regulars only, and the regular dane won’t go there. If they want a drink earlier in the evening the choice is often a cafe-bar sorta place. Nightclubs (of which some are branded ‘pubs’ normally don’t open until 11pm, and they won’t be busy until 1am. On the other hand they probably won’t close until 7am, when the hardcore party goers will go to ‘morning-bars’ where you can get a drink while having breakfast before going home to bed while the sun is coming up.
Okay, this one is random, but it must be mentioned. An English hotdog normally consists of bread, a sausage and soft fried onions. The end. A Danish hotdog consists of bread, sausage, ketchup mustard, remoulade, fresh onions, crispy fried onions and pickles in a neat line on the top. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed when I had my first english hotdog. The place they are sold varies too. English hotdogs are mostly (In London anyway) sold at small street stalls. Danish hotdogs are sold on the street too, but from a so-called ‘sausage-wagon’. Yup. It’s like a small trailer that can be moved around, and where the ‘sausage-man’ (that’s what we call them in Danish, freely translated) can stand inside and serve his customers.
One thing English and Danes do have in common though, is the belief that if our respective countries didn’t exist…. the world would probably collapse.
I have lost count of the amount of times I have cursed myself for not having a photogenic memory in the last 2 weeks. Or the times that I have wondered if there is any other way than hard work to remember all the facts, processes and definitions that marketing and PR exams contain.
The answer I’ve come up with is no. Sadly. There is no easy way around exams. I guess the best bet is to keep up with the reading throughout the year, but even if you do so, if you are anything like me, you’ll spend the days before the exam going through the possible subjects in slight panic and repeating process steps over, and over, and over to yourself, wondering why you just can’t seem to remember anymore information.
And sometimes, when you have reached the point where anything you are reading or citing to yourself is just not attaching inside your brain, it’s better to take a break and get some fresh air and a sunburn, and throw some balls around. Which is what I have been doing on a few occasions during this exam period. The sunburn was actually obtained during a last minute revision (I know you shouldn’t do that, but it makes me feel better) before a Market Research exam, which probably explains why I didn’t pay attention to the fluorescent red colour appearing on my skin.
And now, with only one exam to go, although my brain feels really tired, I am extremely motivated. Only one more opportunity to put in an extra effort. It would be stupid not to, really. At least summer is just around the corner. Friends, travel, work, interning and adventures, which is probably the biggest motivation of them all.
From top left: Sunburn before Marketing Research exam, candles making revision nicer, handing in coursework and the good/terrified feeling that comes with it, procrastination-muffins, hardcore revision at the library on a sunny day with Therese and Lina, a ‘time out’ day in Kennington with petanque and mandatory moustaches (middle), another coursework farewell, revision material, aka things I had to remember for my Consumer Psychology exam.
Saturday night at the Birdcage. It is a typical small London bar, completely packed with a mix of East End hipsters, middle aged men, and your typical London crowd. All there for one reason; Karaoke. At a first glance, it’s all fun and games. The middle aged men are the only ones brave enough to climb the stage and sing a cheesy tune to the audience. And they sure love it. Joel and I watch with a hint of disbelief, a hidden laugh and some admiration. It quite quickly become clear to us that to the group of 10-20 middle aged men, this is no joke. They take to the stage one after the other, and give it all they have. Most of them dress the part too, in shiny suits and unbuttoned shirts.
And then there is Cliff. Cliff is one of the group. As he patiently awaits his turn in the bar, he tells us that he comes here almost every Saturday to sing Karaoke. On most nights his wife will accompany him and make videos of him, which he will then go home and watch afterwards, and see where he can improve. He watches the other performers, and applauds them. But despite the friendly atmosphere, it is clear that all Cliff really wants to do is get up there and show them all how it’s done. Just like the rest of the middle age men (and one or two ladies).
He tells us that he is managing a YouTube channel of his own, and is more than happy to write it down on a napkin for us, along with his twitter account and Facebook fan page. It is clear that Cliff takes this very seriously. For him, Karaoke is not just a late night drunken activity, it is a hobby, and a very serious one too. Finally it is Cliff’s turn, and he takes to the stage with a not often seen confidence, and sings Coldplay’s ‘Paradise‘ to an exstatic audience. He never once glances at the screen, oh no, he knows the lyrics by heart as the true performer he is.
As the night progresses, and the young hipsters reach a certain drunken level, the karaoke takes a turn towards what one would expect karaoke to be; Bad, laughable and silly. As two young men are trying their best to perform Aqua‘s ‘Barbie girl‘ on stage, Cliff turns to us with a smile and says “Karaoke can be such a drag sometimes”. And there I was, thinking that drunken people making a fool out of themselves was the very essence of karaoke. Apparently I was wrong. Karaoke is a very serious and competitive business, even spreading into the world of social media. Who would have known?
A few snaps from the last few weeks. 1. ate a lot of Tangtastics, absolute favorite candy, 2. Vincent’s first attempt at making hot-cross buns, very succesful! 3. Spend quite a bit of time wondering whether or not the banana contained a million little spiders, 4. did a presentation at work, and rewarded myself at the buffet afterwards :p 5. Shared a beer with a lovely person in front of an open fire, and 6. like everybody else, admired the new roof at King’s Cross station.
The next month or two are going to be quite intense in terms of uni work. Finish assignments, preparing and taking exams, and trying to figure out how my degree is gonna change next year. All I really want is sunshine and good times.
Despite having lived in England for 5 years, I had a very new experience on Friday. Afternoon tea. I realise that this event has got deep roots in the English culture, and to be honest, any event that involves loads of cake sounds good to me.
On top of that it was a celebration of Norwegian Elisabeth turning 23, and instead of doing the classic ‘It’s my birthday! Let’s get drunk’ event on facebook, she decided to invite the ladies only for a bit of sophistication on a Friday afternoon (We did go to the pub for a drink afterwards though. There’s only so much sophistication one can take).
The tea was had at Bea’s of Bloomsbury in St. Pauls, and it was very good indeed. There were baguette sandwiches, cupcakes, marshmallows, white and dark chocolate brownies and a teeny teapot for each of us. Needless to say we were pretty damn full after that!
As good as it was, it was still £17 per head. If you’re not especially interested in the experience of it, then I would suggest to visit Lola’s (no one makes cupcakes like Lola if you ask me), bring them home, invite a few friends, and make your own favorite tea.