Your regularly scheduled Scotland posts will resume tomorrow.
Today was likely the last “get out and explore” day for me in Denmark. I’ll obviously do things in the 3 full days I still have left here, but today was the day I officially marked the last things off my “to do” list I created way back in week 1. It turned out to be a good day to explore, at least later on, as it started out grey and rainy. Today was also the day where we had to go out into the city for Positive Psychology and interview Danes, take pictures, observe, etc. for the upcoming group project (25% of our final grade) that is due on Thursday. That really wasn’t too bad, the four of us split up into two groups of two, then my group split up into two individuals, to be honest I preferred that. I had been wanting to see the “Black Diamond” which is part of the Royal Libraries for awhile and I thought that I could head there to interview people and be a tourist at the same time, killing two birds with one stone. On my way there I found what probably has to be the most disheveled bicycle I have seen in my almost six weeks abroad. I couldn’t help but take a picture of the poor fellow. Donations are accepted.
Shortly after the bicycle I came to the Børsen, which is the old Copenhagen Stock Exchange. I had been by this building many times, but I’m not sure if I ever actually got any decent pictures of it. So I rectified that possible mishap by snapping a few shots. The reason this building is famous isn’t really because of its history as a stock exchange, but rather because of the Dragon Spiral on top of the exchange. There are also a ton of little tiny doors lining each side of the building, this where brokers and merchants used to line up in their assigned stalls and do the days work.
Just about a 5 minute walk past Børsen is one of the major canals in Copenhagen, the Black Diamond sits along this canal. Much like Børsen I knew exactly where the Black Diamond was because I had been right in front of it more than once, I had just never taken the time to actually go inside and check it out. The outside of the structure is actually pretty simple, and it becomes immediately obviously how it got the nickname of Black Diamond.
Its actually a much larger structure than the above photo really conveys, its sort of one of those things you have to see in person (much like almost everything else I’ve photographed much to my dismay). The inside was more interesting than the outside in my opinion, especially because it was the first time I had ever encountered “flat” escalators. Maybe these are especially common in certain places, but I haven’t seen any others thus far in Europe and I’ve never seen one in the States.
The rest of the interior was actually a fairly typical library, granted, it was a very nice library, but after you crossed over one of three sky-bridges to the adjacent building you were in a much more traditional type of structure. They had a lot of books, and I mean a lot of books. Take however many books you are imagining and make it more, still more, ok that’s probably about right. I didn’t really take many pictures of the books, but I took a few of the common areas, the picture below kind of gives you the idea of what the place looked like, and subsequently sets the contrast against the more modern Black Diamond portion of the library.
After gathering my backpack from the deposit locker (they are everywhere here), started administering surveys and asking questions to the people who were casually milling about the main lobby and the benches outside. This went surprisingly smoothy, and with one exception there was pretty much the following flow chart.
Hello! My name is Taco, can you speak English?
If the Answer was Yes: Great, may I take a moment of your time to ask you a few questions for a course I am taking as an exchange student? (Ok so that part is a lie but its why easier to explain than a “study abroad” student). >Then proceed from there.
If the Answer was No: Tak > Move on
Almost everyone who spoke English was willing to help, since I had massive streamlined the survey to 3 questions. Only one person was actually rude, he said yes he would help, then crumpled the survey and threw it on the ground then walked away. Thankfully I was able to salvage the survey, printing is not free here. After finishing up at the Diamond by successfully filling out all my surveys, I started to head back to DIS. On the way back I noticed this somewhat enticing looking gate.
I decided to head through it (The big thing in the background is Parliament, so I wasn’t drawn by that). It turns out it was one of the better detours I randomly took so far because it took me to a gorgeous little garden behind the library complete with a pond, a fountain, some statues, flowers, AND THE BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD
The Ducks were nearby getting fed by people, made my day, for real.
After watching the Ducks for awhile, I headed back to DIS. Luckily for me the rain only turned from a drizzle to real rain once I was about 2-3 minutes away. I met one of my other group members wondering around some stores, and came to found out they finished like 30 minutes ago. Oh well, I got to see the Duck House. I went ahead and went back to the classroom, even though we had 15 minutes before we had to reconvene. What was really cool about today, is that since we had a “field trip” (i.e. Americans stumbling around the city hoping people spoke English so we could probe their minds), the professor provided us with lunch.
There were a bunch of sodas and sandwiches to chose from, I chose a something Salmon sandwich and a something soda drink. No idea beyond that, but they were good. We then watched a surprisingly interesting movie called “Happy” then got out five minutes early. I was shocked beyond belief, this is the woman who normally runs over by 10-15 minutes even when she has four hours. Once I got outside the sun had decided to come out and things had seriously warmed up to a glass-melting 70 degrees. I decided to walk around for a bit more, despite the huge amount of work I still have to do for the group project (in fact this post is procrastination). I’m glad I did, first off, I was able to find one of the “Pancake Carts” I had heard people talking about. Now, they have pancake stores here, I haven’t been to them, and I can provide no real good reason as to why I haven’t, come to think of it. But anyways, they also have mobile pancake carts, which make both pancakes and crepes, and they give you the option of adding about 14 pounds of Nutella to anything you order. (Remember, Nutella is easy to find here, but you’ll find El Dorado before you find Peanut Butter).
I really wanted to buy one, but I was still so full from the sandwich and soda that it would have just been a waste. So I kept on walking, I decided to walk up by the Round Tower again, just because, turns out the church it is connected to was actually open! I had practically given up on this church as it was never open to the public anytime I was around it. I went inside and it was actually much larger than I was anticipating, as from the outside the church is kind of lost within the cityscape of Copenhagen, it doesn’t stand out like some of the others. The church was the Trinitatis Church, which is part of the Trinitatis Complex, associated with the University of Copenhagen. The church was originally built in 1731 so that scholars at the University could have access to their own chapel for smurt’ peoples. They must have been pretty special, or pretty rich, probably the latter.
After chilling in the church for a little bit (I have spent more time in churches here than I have in the past 15 years of my life), I headed outside and was swarmed by the bottle collectors. I’ll talk about them in a second, as I believe they deserve their own tidbit. I survived their onslaught, made it to the bus, and now I’m back home. Tonight I need to focus pretty intensively on my group project, as we are having our last meeting for it tomorrow after class. I’d also like to possibly start on the editing work for the paper worth 50% of my grade (which I cranked out last night in about a 3.5 hour writing session). Since its my first APA paper, and I found out I did some things wrong today, quite a bit of editing it going to be required. I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t get to it until tomorrow evening. Things are definitely coming down to the line academic wise here in Denmark!
Tidbit of the Day: The Bottle Collectors
Ok, before I go into detail on the creatures known as Bottle Collectors, I need to explain what it is they feed on. Simply put, they survive on bottles. They also consume cans, but bottles are their pride and joy. In Denmark, the government and the society as a whole is much more green and progressive than the United States. As such, you can actually get paid for just about every single recyclable container you can imagine. In fact, they so badly want you to recycle that they actually put a deposit on every single bottle (sort of like what they used to do in America, back before the stupid came). Now, for many Danes, they will gather bottles and cans for awhile, then take them to the store. Similar to what people in states like Michigan do. Other Danes don’t care about the deposit and just bulk recycle their containers (or just trash them) without worrying about reclaiming the deposit (these people keep the system alive ironically). Then there are Danes who recycle everything they buy, making back 100% of their deposits and paying surprisingly little for things such as beer.
But there is another kind of creature, the Bottle Collector. These “things” swarm in herds around the city consuming all bottles and cans in sight. They will dig through garbage, go onto trains, and even pick through drains to find containers. Most interesting about them, is that they will also all but attack you for your bottles. They will literally come up to you and ask you for your bottle, if it isn’t even open. If you say no, they will continue to ask you for at least five minutes, often coming to the point of insulting you continuously by the time they give up. They will even sneak up behind people in parks and steal their half consumed drinks. They’ll leave your purse and picnic basket untouched, but so help you God if you have a half-consumed Diet Coke visible.
Ok, so they aren’t things, they are people. And interestingly enough, they aren’t all poor people, in fact I’d say 50% of them are even in respectable work clothes. The fact is that you can make a really decent amount of money by collecting containers here. They are in open warfare against the city employees who clean up trash and empty bins, its kind of funny actually. While they are harmless, they are very, very annoying. Whats weird is that they have come to view containers as their preciouses and will almost always turn down loose change. They just want your bottles.
So if you ever visit Denmark and find that someone has bypassed your cash, your keys, your credit card, your passport, and your family photo, but your crumpled can of Coke is gone, know that you’re just the most recent victim of the Bottle Snatchers. (Fun fact, you can’t get paid for crushed cans but the Bottle People use pliers to meticulously reform them so the machine takes them, no lie).
I have no good picture of Bottle Collectors, so here is a street performer, but rest assured the Bottle People are nearby, waiting in the shadows for the sound of a can being opened.