Robyn and Joel's Blog: Chronicling our Copenhagen Adventures

Yes, we're that interesting.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Banned from Work

There is one thing that you will notice as soon as you land at the Copenhagen airport: Danes are beautiful. Men are handsome, women are stunning and even the children are cute. And, as if their genetic superiority isn't enough, the Danes are very stylish. This is apparent as soon as you leave your building and have to step aside for a woman flying by on her bicycle wearing Gucci "Jackie O" sunglasses, a silk scarf blowing behind her, and stiletto heels. Even the women who wear flats (no doubt because they are now fashionable and not because they are easier to walk in on cobble stoned streets!) wear them with fashionable skirts and coats that make them appear as if they just walked off a Milan runway. What is important to remember is that these women look like this on their way to work... on their way to shopping... in the rain... in the wind... it does not matter. And you will never see them wearing a rain hat. Looking good and stylish is a priority in Denmark. And, I, in my efforts to be comfortable, do not fit it. This brings me to the title of today's blog: Banned from Work.

I was pulled aside by an American colleague whose lived in Denmark for 8 years. He explained to me that the shoes I was wearing -- my Dansko leather clogs, were not stylish enough for a Danish workplace.

It was then confirmed by two other colleagues who confirmed that clogs were only for summer homes -- not work. They just aren't stylish enough.

I should add that this conversation took place just hours after a conversation about Danish shopping. I commented that I was still getting used to having to shop several times a week. I mentioned that I would like to get a cart so I can carry more things home with me. A colleague began to laugh and, after much prodding, finally admitted that only "old ladies" used those carts. And, he is right! No one uses the carts. They either use their bikes or load down their arms so they look like pack mules walking home with their daily pick. All this so they don't look out of fashion. Style at all costs.

So, when you come to visit... bring your most stylish wardrobe and some bandaids for the blisters!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trip to Sweden!

We left Copenhagen! Last Friday we took a brief trip to Lund, Sweden to visit two scholars whose work I've long admired. Lund is a VERY short train ride from Copenhagen, and we traveled over the Oeresund Bridge. This incredible structure bridges Copenhagen with the southern tip of Sweden. You no longer have to wait for a ferry to get to Sweden. Unfortunately, it was very rainy when we crossed the bridge -- the views were not as beautiful as they could be. But it was still a great experience.

So, why did we go to Lund? Well, when it became known that I was moving to CBS at the International Communication Association Conf. last May, a mentor of mine at the University of Colorado in Boulder arranged for an "email" introduction with two scholars at Lund University.

They invited me to Lund to meet them and take a tour of the University and town. Dan and Mats, the scholars at Lund University, were quite friendly and spent the afternoon meeting with me and Joel. Dan met us at the train station and treated us to lunch in the town square. He then walked us to the University campus, which included a stop at his new house. I say new house because it is new to him -- but the house itself is not new. It was build mid 19th C. The house was very quaint and beautifully designed in traditional Swedish style.

The campus is quite nice and the facilities are contemporary. Like many Danish Universities, their department also has a full kitchen and eating room. It is customary for colleagues to eat together for lunch. While it seems strange for us to take time to eat together -- and we don't always participate in the group lunches (Joel and I usually just eat at our desks) -- the lunch gatherings always prove fun and interesting. While we had coffee in the kitchen area with Mats and Dan, several colleagues stopped by and said hello. Clearly Danes and Swedes place a high priority on collegiality.

Dan and Mats were very nice to invite me back to Lund as they continue to work on several very interesting projects on identity, leadership, and work.

As for Lund, it was like stepping back into the 18th Century. The town could not be more quaint if Disney designed it. We are looking forward to going back and spending a bit more time wandering around the town's tiny cobble stoned streets and touring the rather large cathedral.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Much Sun

Well, our morning proved to be quite interesting...

Just as we were getting ready to leave for work, dressed for the sunny day that was predicted, we got a bit of a surprise: hail! It wasn't even that warm, just 15C (about 57 F). But, all of the sudden it got dark and then started to hail. But, never fear, by time we got over our shock the storm was over and we were able to continue to work :)

Here is a brief video from our balcony.

This brief storm provides evidence for why you ALWAYS carry an umbrella in Copenhagen!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Small Victories

Our life in Copenhagen has been filled with many "firsts" and frustrations. We've had to do a lot of adjusting and in doing so discovered many wonderful things about ourselves and our relationship as a couple. We discovered that our "salad" comes with roots (see picture)

and that Danish sweets are WONDERFUL! We learned that water is truly optional when it comes to an apartment living and that you can in fact move with just two suitcases and a Metro. We feel better knowing that even the Danes can't agree on how to pronounce their own language (our Danish is not coming as quickly as we hoped) and are grateful that most Danes know English. We discovered that Nutella makes almost everything taste better.

In light of many frustrations (bank account problems, noisy and "water-free" apartments) we take great joy in minor victories... like my recent trip to the dentist:

Before we left the States Joel and I had our teeth cleaned by our regular dentist. I told Dr. Garza to look very carefully for any possible problems -- I wanted to take care of everything before we left. He said I had a small cavity that should be filled. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we left. I figured I would have it filled when we arrived in Copenhagen. Well, my cavity was a low priority for the first two months (understandably), but I was becoming quite worried that the cavity was growing and possibly creating even greater problems. So, last week I took a day off from work and went to a dentist recommended by one of my American colleagues. I managed to locate the dentist office, figure out the public transportation and had my cavity filled with no Novocaine! That's right... nothing to dull the pain. Now, before you think that Denmark is some scary third world country that refuses pain relief to its patients, the dentist offered me Novocaine. But, because the cavity was so small (much to my relief... ) he didn't think I would need it. And, if fact he was right. I hardly noticed he was even doing anything at all... I nearly feel asleep in the chair (which was very comfy). I emerged from dentists office quite proud of myself. I even filled out the patient information form (which was in Danish) without too much help from the receptionist. It may seem like a small victory, but it was huge to me.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Christmas in August!

Well... the day finally arrived. We were beginning to doubt it would ever happen... but it finally did... OUR STUFF FROM THE STATES ARRIVED!!! We shipped over from the States our winter clothes, a few electronics, and our books (no, not all of them... Joel limited himself to 6 boxes and I shipped 2). The shipment was to arrive July 2nd. But, it didn't. We tracked our shipment down in Hamburg where it was held hostage until we wired a German company "release" money (our American company takes no responsibility for this). Once they received their money and we harassed them repeatedly on the phone they trucked our stuff to our flat in Frederiksberg. It arrived last Friday.

As you can see from the pictures, they condensed our 17 small boxes into two large boxes -- and that is how they left them on our door step!

We had to empty the two larger boxes outside because they were WAY too heavy to move on their own.
The problem was that we did not have anything that would cut through the larger boxes and we could not lift the smaller boxes out of the larger boxes... So, I got the largest kitchen knife we own and Joel sawed away at the boxes.

After numerous trips our three flights of stairs, our stuff was in our apartment! Joel took a taxi to work with his 6 boxes and I am slowly taking my books into my office (a backpack full each day). And, the best news, everything arrived with no damage! Joel's computer works beautifully (we did forget to pack a keyboard) and all the parts are functional. Our clothes smell like they were packed on a hot ship all summer, but I am hoping that will fade now that they are out of the boxes and in our closets.

It was a HUGE hassle to get our stuff, but now that it is here, we are VERY happy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yet another birthday...

It's time for another birthday--this time, my mom. So:


We're looking forward to celebrating with you in Copenhagen!

Monday, August 13, 2007

So far behind in my updates!

Well, we have much to catch you up on...

We are very happy here in Copenhagen. Actually, our new address locates us in Frederiksberg, which is a part of larger Copenhagen. We are just west of the city center. In trying to describe the area, the City Centre (where we used to live) is similar to Times Square and Frederiksberg is like New York City's Upper West Side. It is a quiet area full of very nice houses and cute little flats. The windows all have boxes full of flowers and the yards are nicely manicured. There are many cafes and restaurants as well as gourmet shops and boutiques. And, my office is located in Frederiksberg -- a short 10 minute bus ride or a less-short 30 minute walk from our flat. The former summer home for the Danish monarchs, now a beautiful park with several ponds, is located less than 20 meters from my office building. One of our guide books describes Frederiksberg as "quiet and refined." That describes our experience quite well.

In other news, we had a wonderful time visiting with our new pastor, his wife Natalie, and another couple from the church when they had us over for dinner last week. While the congregation meets in a church in Copenhagen the pastor lives in a house in Hellerup, a beautiful "suburb" to the north of Copenhagen. The pastor lives in the top floor of the house and then the basement and ground floor serve as church offices and meeting rooms. The house and grounds are beautiful. As if turns out, the church bought the house in the 1970s when Hellerup was not as nice. Then, in the years following, several embassies and large corporations purchased and refurbished houses in the same area and Hellerup is now a very affluent and beautiful area to live. It is also very convenient to get to --just a short ride on the S-tog (train). It was really nice to meet the other couple from church. They are both Americans and musicians. He (I am not sure I should include their names...) plays the flute for the Copenhagen Ballet and Opera and she is a singer. They've lived here for over 7 years. We also really enjoyed getting to know our Pastor and his wife, Natalie a bit better. As it turns out, Pastor Rimmer and I were both at UNC at the same time. He did his BS (in biology!) at UNC while I was there doing my Master's work. And, their first church was in York, Pennsylvania, near where I went to college. In fact, Natalie took classes at Millersville University, my alma mater for her Masters in Education. Very small world...

Natalie fixed an incredible meal including broccoli salad -- one of my favorites! She also made a traditional Danish dessert. I forgot the name of it so I won't blog about it too much right now, but I plan to get the recipe and fix it for all who visit! It was YUMMY!

More to come...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Guess who's 27 years old today!!!

That's right... it's Baby Boy Ronnie... although at 27 I guess he isn't really a baby boy anymore! But, he will always be our baby brother!

Happy Birthday Ron!
This is a picture of Ron and his girlfriend, Lori in Austin, Texas.
Check out Ron's homepage at

Monday, August 6, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Well, today is a very special day. Today is Rochelle, Mom, and Grandma Toben's birthday!!!
So... Happy Birthday to 3 very special Ladies!