Robyn and Joel's Blog: Chronicling our Copenhagen Adventures

Yes, we're that interesting.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lots and Lots of Lemonade!

Well, we all know the phrase... and we usually hear it when we least want to hear it... but that is what we are doing: making lemonade. First, a few updates:
Joel's calculator arrived (see picture)! We now have access to his account. We are still waiting for the pin numbers to use of Danish debit and credit cards, but we can at least now access Joel's account (I am still waiting for my calculator).

And, I thought I would include a few pictures of my office at the Copenhagen Business School, including the infamous stairwell and the deceptively simple keypad (do you see the laser that is supposed to read your security card?).
My office is quite nice with a large desk, a work table with two pink chairs, two huge bookshelves, a white board, and huge windows that let in a lot of light! The funny thing is that I look right into an apartment building and my secretaries warned me that every once in a while you will catch someone running around their apartment naked!

I've only met a few of my coworkers, but everyone is really nice and friendly. I am part of the research Center for Corporate Values and Responsibility, which has very high expectations for research and publications. That said, they work collaboratively and do a lot to help and encourage each other (paper workshops etc.). I already feel mentored and encouraged (if not a bit intimidated by the reputations of my colleagues!).

So, our other news is that we still do not have water in our apartment. A water leak somewhere in the building flooded the bar on the ground floor Monday of last week. They cut the hot water temporarily but then turned it back on after about 2 days. The flooding continued and destroyed the bar's fuse box. So, about half our electric outlets didn't work for about 2 days. Then, Thursday morning (without any warning) all the water went out and it is still out. After several hours with the plumber and the owner of the bar, we decided that the water leak is coming from the first floor flat (2nd floor by American standards). Unfortunately, the owner of the first floor flat won't grant the plumber access to the flat to fix the leak. Until they fix the leak, the water will remain off. This isn't good news. Both our landlord and the owner of the bar have contacted lawyers trying to force the first flat owner to grant access. I am not sure how this will turn out, but I think we are going to have to break down and get a hotel tomorrow if the water is not back on. We are doing our best with bottled water and "borrowing" bathrooms at various shops and restaurants. That said, showers are pretty important and we just may need to do something. Hopefully we will know more tomorrow. Actually, I hope we have water tomorrow!

So... our big news. We are moving! The noise in our current apartment is too much. Even after everything we've done to block out the noise, we often cannot sleep until after 5 am when the bars close. So, after lots of thinking and praying we decided to take another apartment. The challenge was locating another apartment. Flats in Copenhagen, like other large cities, are very hard to find. We had lots of help from our coworkers and we dedicated several days to looking. We finally located an apartment. It is much smaller -- MUCH SMALLER and there is no washer, dryer, nor dishwasher. But, it is in a much more residential area of the city. It is about DKK 1000 cheaper than our current apartment and very near a laundromat, grocery store, and other shopping. It is also close enough for me to walk or bike to work. It is also very near the Metro, which is good for Joel. The apartment is also furnished. Our landlord lives in Copenhagen and is really nice. In fact, he allowed us to sign a 6 month lease in case we decide the apartment is a bit too small. This is our new address:
Duevej 120a, 2
2000 Frederiksberg
Here are some pictures that our landlord took. And, yes, the bathroom is that small.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Today's blog is brought to you by the letter S...

...and, "S" stands for SECURITY. It occurred to me as I sat locked in the hallway of my building at work that "security" has created a lot of challenges this week. First example: our Danish bank account. Joel and I went to open a bank account. We planned to open the account with money wired from our American bank. Easy, right? Wrong. Opening the account was easy... show some id, sign a few papers, and we have an account! Yea! Using the account, apparently, is the tricky part. To no surprise everything is handled online. No problem. We were told that we could access our account and arrange for the money wire online as soon as we received our "calculators." To explain: instead of using just a password to access our bank account online, we use a password to access our account but then the website gives us a number that we type into our calculator. When we hit enter on our calculator it gives us another number that we have to type on the website. If all goes well, we then have access to our account. No problem... except we haven't received our calculators. They are "in the mail."

Another challenge... all credit cards in Denmark have pin numbers. This is similar to the American debit card, but all cards, even credit cards have pin numbers. The problem is that our American credit cards do not have pin numbers, which means we cannot use them at most stores in Denmark. The pin number is supposed to provide additional security and prevent the use of stolen credit cards. No problem. We just used our American debit card to access cash at ATMs and paid for groceries etc. with cash... until our debit card stopped working (on a Friday, of course). As it turns out, our bank, in an effort to protect us from fraudulent use of our debit card, deactivated our debit card when it noticed a number of withdraws in Copenhagen. It was for our security. By the way, I have a debit card for my Danish bank account (that still has no money in it because I don't have my calculator and can't transfer our funds) as well as two Danish credit cards that come with our account, but of course, I can't use them because I don't have a pin number. The pin, apparently, is in the mail.

I realized all this while sitting on the steps of a stairwell in my office building. It was a little after 5 when I decided to go down stairs to check my mail. I knew that I needed my passcard to enter the building after 5, but I didn't know I would need it to operate the elevator or unlock EVERY door in the building. So, I was in the stairwell with just my office key, feeling very secure, and wondering how on earth I was going to get back in my office. The good news is that it only took 35 minutes for a co-worker to hear my pounding and open the door. As it turns out he is very nice and loaned me a book I needed.

On another good note, the bar below us is closed for another night! There is a water leak in our building and they had to cut the water. Now, the bad news is that we didn't have hot water for 48 hours... but we did sleep! Now, we have hot water, but several of our electric outlets don't work (including the fridge) and we can't figure out why (the building hallway lights don't work either). So... a little good... a little not so good... but all is well and secure in Copenhagen.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Life at the Center for Subjectivity Research

Howdy! This is Joel. A number of folks have asked what it is that I do, exactly, at the Center for Subjectivity Research here in Copenhagen. I'll attempt to (briefly) answer that question and show a few pictures of the Center itself. First, here's a shot of Copenhagen's sparkling new Metro, which I ride to work each day.

I have about a five minute walk to the Metro station from our flat, an eight minute ride to my stop, and then another five minute walk to my office. Not a bad commute! And here's what I see when I get to campus:

It's a very sleek, clean and angular campus. It's quite different from Purdue and Southern Illinois University, aesthetically speaking. The facilities are very new and really top-notch. I certainly can't complain. I have a bright office and a brand-new computer.

My colleagues are exceedingly friendly and do very interesting research. The Center's secretary, Pia, has been helping me adjust. She's a funny and spirited woman who laughs easily. Dan Zahavi, the director of the Center, is a well-respected figure. I've been a fan of his philosophical writings for a number of years so it's really a treat to be working with him. There's more than just philosophy happening here, though. The Center has affiliations with the Faculties of Humanities, Theology, and Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, so that perhaps gives a sense of the rich interdisciplinary work that goes on. (In addition to Dan, the two other members of the "scientific board" behind the Center do work in theology and psychiatry, respectively). The Center itself is sequestered away at the top of a building on the edge of campus. It's very quiet. I get the impression that we occupy a pretty privileged position in the University hierarchy in that we're well-funded and essentially get to do what we want, with little outside interference. I quite like that arrangement.

So what sort of work goes on at the Danish National Research Foundation: Center for Subjectivity Research, exactly?

I don't have a neat definition of "subjectivity", I'm afraid. It's a term that shows up in all sorts of philosophical discussions but it's rarely defined with any precision. That said, here's a shot at some clarity: "Subjectivity", as I use the term, has to do with the various features of our experiential life as conscious, world-engaged subjects. In other words, it has to do with different aspects of our experience of "self". My own research deals primarily with the nature of consciousness--clearly a central feature of human subjectivity and selfhood. I'm inclined to think that any consideration of consciousness as such has to include questions about embodiment (how bodily structures shape different forms of consciousness), perception (how things in the world present themselves in our experience of them), agency (or how bodily action affects the content of conscious states), intersubjectivity (how we relate to and understand other conscious subjects), and lots of other things like reflection, emotion, affectivity, preconscious drives, instincts, forms of empathy, language-use, etc. In other words, "subjectivity" seems to encompass the entire range of different types of conscious experience that, individually and collectively, make up our sense of being a "self". But I don't confine myself to abstract philosophical discussion. I try to make things a bit more concrete by drawing upon empirical research taken from various cognitive sciences including neuroscience, cognitive and developmental psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, and things of that sort. Additionally, I tend to draw heavily upon theories of mind found in Eastern philosophy, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. To sum up: my research is an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural investigation into the relationship between mind and world. Not that complicated, really...

Since I'm starting to bore myself, I'll end on an egocentric note by posting a random shot of me standing on a bridge in a lovely park near our flat.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Our church in Copenhagen

We visited one of three (that I know of) English speaking churches in Copenhagen. The church is just a 20 minute walk from our house. The church is the International Church of Copenhagen -- the ICC ( The church is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, but they made it very clear through their service that they are there to minister to Christians from all denominations. And, while the service was rather traditional, they also attempted to incorporate worship traditions from other denominations and parts of the world. For example, while we sang a hymn in preparation for prayer we were invited to walk to the alter to light a candle. We also sang traditional hymns, songs that were new to us, and songs that I call "oldie, Sunday-night" hymns. They even had this sort of "participatory prayer" where a woman prayed aloud (in a beautiful British accent) following the model of the Lord's prayer and after each part the congregation sang the very familiar song "Lord, listen to your children praying..." As part of the prayer each week the congregation prays for three countries as well as individual members of the congregation. It felt deeply international and very personal at the same time. Another powerful moment occurred later in the service when we each said the Lord's prayer together in each of our native tongues. When I read that in the bulletin I thought it would be chaotic and distracting, but it wasn't. It was really moving to hear most of us praying the Lord's prayer (with a variety of accents) but then to hear some different languages too. It was almost comforting -- knowing that God is truly God of all the earth and its many languages!

The congregation meets at a beautiful church, Sct. Andreas Church -- it was truly moving to worship in such a grand sanctuary. The pastor is a rather young guy (we think about our age) with a very friendly wife and two very cute young sons. They are actually from North Carolina (he is a UNC grad -- we were there at the same time!) and he went to seminary at Gettysberg. His wife began her masters at Millersville University (where I did my undergraduate!). Small world!

I really enjoyed his message (you may be able to hear it on their website) and the music and prayers were beautiful. I really enjoyed the organ music (see it in the picture). At the end of the service the pastor invited visitors to stand and introduce themselves. There were probably 20 families or individuals visiting! Some are just visiting as tourists; some are here for the summer. Two gentlemen are here for the summer, teaching at the CBS! After the introduction we all walked upstairs for a coffee fellowship. There we met several of the "regulars" including several congregants who work at the embassy. Now we have some connections in case we run into trouble!

All in all I am really glad we found the church (thanks to Joel's father, Silas!) and look forward to going back.

People in Copenhagen

Well, its been one week and a day since we arrived in Copenhagen. We spent the day walking in Frederiksberg, a charming part of town full of gourmet food shops and tree-lined side streets. This also happens to be where I work. More on that later...

We walked for several hours and happened upon a wedding in what has to be one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. It was as charming as could be. I wanted to take a picture but because the wedding party was out in front of the church, I thought we should keep our voyeurism to a minimum :)

I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you about the people of Copenhagen. Granted, we have only been here a week, but we've encountered a number of people. And, to no one's surprise, just like other large cities, there are people of all types in Copenhagen: fat, short, tall, thin, pretty, less-pretty, and everything in between. But, most Danes are quite beautiful and very stylish. For example, take the gentleman "enjoying" the fountain near our house. We were on our way to take care of our cell phone contracts and we discovered this spectacle. Evidently, some young male Danes like to down a few beers, don their best pink skirt, and entertain tourists by frolicking gleefully in a fountain. Just another day in Copenhagen!
Danes, at first, may appear less friendly than we are used to in America. You don't smile at strangers you encounter in the streets and if you accidentally bump someone in the store, you don't apologize or say excuse me. But, if you talk with a Dane you will immediately encounter their friendliness and willingness to help you. I am very impressed with how well most Danes speak English. In fact, today was the first time we had any difficulty trying to purchase anything because the clerk did not speak English.
Joel's colleagues have been very friendly. I met a few when I visited his office and they were very generous with their time and conversation. Pia, the centre secretary was especially helpful when she translated the washing machine manual for me! I am still not sure how to use the washer (it is brand new and quite sophisticated!) but that is another story. Simon, the student worker, helped us sign up for our Internet (the website is in Danish -- most websites have English versions) and explained how to get to IKEA by bus.

So, I guess you can say that we are getting by with a little help from our new friends.
I thought I would end this blog with a picture that is the classic picture of Copenhagen. Joel and I walked down to the canals two nights ago and it was a beautiful sight. The sun was just beginning to set (it was about 9:30 at night!) and the light really highlighted the colors of the buildings. Copenhagen is an amazing city!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Our flat in Copenhagen

We arrived in Copenhagen exactly one week ago today! It was a rather cloudy and chilly Friday afternoon. We managed to fit all our luggage in a taxi and we headed to our new flat! Thankfully the taxi driver knew our street and we arrived in no time. As we drove through the city we noticed these large trucks with open backs full of kids wearing what looked like sailor hats. The kids were yelling, singing, and blowing whistles. The trucks were decorated with tissue paper and signs. It was quite the site! The taxi driver explained that these kids had just completed the Danish version of high school. It was the tradition to drive around in these trucks -- and they did, all weekend long!

Well, we found our apartment (the picture to the right is our front door!) but our landlord's parents (who were supposed to meet us with the keys to the apartment -- our landlords are in Ghana) were no where to be found. Luckily our downstairs neighbor walked into the building about the time we arrived and she let us into the building. We found our flat on the 3rd floor (2nd floor for Danes) and decided to go ahead and move our luggage upstairs and wait until our landlord's parents arrive.

Once into the apartment we were immediately pleased with the amount of space. It is very large, especially for two people in the heart of the city. The flat seems well cared for and there are several new appliances including a new dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine! That made me very happy. The flat is modestly furnished (we quickly discovered that we needed to add a few things), but in really good shape. Given our last house... this was a dream. The flat has an odd layout -- you have to walk through the master and small bedroom to get to the bathroom. And, the second bedroom is too small to hold a desk and bed so we had to put Joel's desk in the living room. But, there is lots of space for visitors, especially if you don't mind sharing a bathroom!
Our flat is in a building built in 1772 and it is truly in the middle of the city center (see the picture on the upper-left). In fact, whenever we explain where we live to native Danes they always respond with astonishment. Joel's secretary and boss both (and independently) described our area as posh. We laugh because it was the cheapest we could find on the internet (okay... not *the* cheapest, but one of the cheapest that didn't have "shared facilities" or showers over the toilet). Our street is a small side-street off two larger streets. There are three pubs on our tiny street -- and yes, it is very loud, especially on the weekend. But, that is just part of living in the city. We heard some very interesting "singing" the other night, and of course, the truckloads of graduates (although, I think they are about done with their celebrating!).

We spent the past week unpacking and settling in. We've walked all over the city and are beginning to learn our way around. Copenhagen is not huge, but it is not as easy to navigate as New York... none of the streets are straight and they often change their name every block! Joel started work this week. He goes in mid-morning and usually stays until dinner. More on that in another blog. I'll write more later...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Catching up!

Well, I am way behind in my blogging… it has been a very busy couple of weeks. I will give you the rundown:

In my last blog we were in Denver celebrating the wedding of my friends Jason and Amber. From Denver, Joel and I flew to Austin for two very busy days of packing, last minute errands, and late night/early morning phone calls to Denmark (because of the time difference we had to call after 2am). We were still waiting for our visas to arrive so every night we stayed up until about 4 or 5 trying to track down our paperwork. In the end, it worked out – they sent an email to the Danish Consulate in New York City and had them finish the paperwork. Fortuitously, we were stopping in New York City to say good-bye to my sister, brother, and cousin before we left the country. Our time in Austin was hurried, and we left, of course, with a few loose ends, but my parents have been nice enough to take care of them for us – including selling our car! It was very hard to say good-bye to my parents, and yes, our dogs. It was very sad and stressful – we had a few last minute “weight” issues with the luggage and an unexpected flight schedule change, but we made it to New York City.

We had a great time in New York City. We stayed with my brother and my sister drove in from New Jersey as well. It was great to be together – just the kids in the City! Several of my brother’s friends live in his building – including Ronnie’s girlfriend Lori -- and we had a great time meeting them. They are all actors/dancers/musicians and they are a riot! As a big sister it was really nice to see my brother and sister doing so well. My brother and Lori’s apartment is beautiful – they have done a lot of work and it shows. The apartment is very comfortable and feels like home. Ronnie is very busy auditioning and he has had numerous callbacks. He also built a recording studio in his bedroom and does recordings for others; his new Apple computer will allow him to do even more sophisticated recordings. Lori is busy performing in Hair Spray. I am sorry we didn’t get to see Rochelle’s apartment again – I know she’s added several new pieces of furniture and done a lot to decorate the place.

We arrived in New York City late Thursday night and we out running our errands early Friday morning. Our first errand: the Danish Consulate to pick up our visas. Everything went very smoothly (it was almost too easy!) and after a few more errands (to the bank etc.) we were able to enjoy Friday afternoon. We stopped by my cousin Michelle’s apartment and played with her dog Pip. She has a great place just off Times Square. Joel and I also got haircuts – FINALLY! I got one of the best haircuts in my life and Joel got one of the worst! Everyone agreed – it was pretty bad. Ronnie worked on it a bit later that night, which helped. Thankfully it has grown out a bit and actually now looks really nice. Joel looked great for his first day of work!

After a weekend of fun we left NYC for England. I was to present at the Gender, Work, and Organization Conference at Keele University. We arrived with very little hassle and even found a place to store our extra luggage at the Manchester Airport (no hauling all our heavy luggage on the trains!). Thankfully I packed everything we would need for England in one small carryon bag -- I didn’t want to take any chances with our luggage being lost. And, it was good I did – one of our bags went to Paris instead of England. It took them so long to find it they just kept it at the airport for us to pick up when we left for Copenhagen. It actually worked out quite well for us!
So, England was beautiful – wonderful countryside and very friendly people. We were tired and went to bed early the first night (in separate rooms for the first night – than ran out of double rooms!). The next morning I noticed that my stomach hurt a bit, but I figured I was just tired and nervous about my presentation coming up later that day. Well, long story short, the nervous stomach turned out to be the stomach flu. I didn’t even make it to my presentation. I missed the entire conference. Joel moved us into our double room and that was where I stayed until we left for Copenhagen. Joel was able to track down some sprite and oatmeal cookies for me to eat at the very small and limited campus shop. He also managed to get us both back to the airport and on to Copenhagen. It wasn’t a fun flight – I don’t recommend traveling internationally with the stomach flu, but what could we do?

We FINALLY arrived in Copenhagen on Friday, June 29th. It was a cloudy and chilly afternoon, but we were here and that was the important thing. Our Copenhagen experience will be in the next blog…