Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old Bike


Here is a picture of my old bike.  I wanted to get a photo of it before it got stolen because there is no lock on it.  I don't think anyone would steal it anyway...But, even though the gears didn't work and the seat was too low, the handlebars were falling apart and the front tire kinda wobbled, I grew attached to this bike.  I planned on using it and selling the other one pictured from the other day.  That was, until, it got a flat rear tire.  A flat front tire I may have replaced, but, a rear tire on this bike, no way.  That would require too much work.  Not to mention all the screws are completely rusted, I don't think I could get them off.

In other news, I went grocery shopping today with a kid from my hall, Tyce.  He has a car, so I gladly went with him.  It is a treat to ride in a car and not bike, not to mention you can buy more because you don't have to worry about carrying it back with you. 
Here is a list of some things I bought so you can compare some prices:
2.2 lbs precooked ham (not sliced) = $12.5 USD
3 lbs grnd beef (16-20% fat.  I don't mind) = $12 USD
30 large eggs = $5.5 USD
1 can tomato sauce =  $.66USD
1 store brand deoderant = $5.5USD
3 avacado =  $2.67USD
Saving money by shopping at one of the farthest grocery stores and buying no-name products, only to blow any saved money away during a night in Copenhagen..............priceless.

Keep in mind that I do shop at the cheapest grocery store around.  This is the cheapest you can buy any of these products.

To be honest though

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stuff

I've been really busy lately.  I have been trying to organize trips for St. Patty's Day and our break in early April.  As of right now, I think I will end up in Ireland on March 17th.  A group of RPI kids are leaving March 10th and skipping classes that entire week to go to London first.  Over the weekend they are going to fly to Dublin and stay through Tuesday.  
I would like to do that because I've never been to London and the flight from CPH to London to Dublin and back is only 300 USD.  I think that is a good deal considering the weekend we are traveling.  My only reservation is that I have a test in one of my engineering classes on March 17th, of all days.  I already spoke with the professor about taking the exam on the 13th and he said that was ok.  
What I may do is stay for the test on Friday, then leave for Dublin on Saturday and return on Wednesday.  I have found that flight round trip for 239USD.  I have to decide.
April break is still up in the air.

Here are some random pictures that I took:

View from my building when I walk out.  All the snow is gone now.  that was the most we got.

My building in the back.  I live on the second floor.

A bike rack.  They are EVERYWHERE.

My second bike.  I think I might keep this one.  I thought I would sell it, but, my original bike just got a flat on the rear tire and I think it will be a big fix.  

I'm brining a chicken.  It was a lot of work.

Almost ready to go in the oven after the brining.  I quickly steamed some onions and apple slices with cinnamon in the microwave and then stuffed it.
My chicken.  The picture doesn't really do it justice.  It came out a wonderful golden brown.  Most of it is still sitting in the fridge.  It was good, but, a lot of work.  I think I will stick to the beer can chicken.  That meat in the background is not mine.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Berlin and Back



The Brandenburger Tor- the symbol of Berlin

Berlin was a very cool city.  In just two days, I feel like I got a great feel for the city.  Here is how it went:

I left with Sara Laprade at 4:50 am Friday morning.  At least, I was supposed to.  All of us went to the bar on campus Thursday night.  I ended up drinking a lot and when I slept right through my alarm.  When I woke up at 9:30am, I realized what had happened.  I MISSED THE BUS!!!  Sara made it and tried to get me by throwing snowballs at my window, but, I wasn't waking up (she doesn't have a phone or she would have called).  I know I set my alarm, but, I don't even remember hearing it.  

I was pretty upset when I realized what happened.  Immediately, I looked when the next bus was leaving and it was at 4pm that evening.  I contacted the bus company and they said there were about 20 open seats on that bus and I shouldn't have a problem getting on.  So, I crossed my fingers and hoped that I could ride that bus.  

Thankfully, I could.  It was not a problem.  The only problem now is that I'm traveling alone.  Oh well, it is my fault.  I made sure that I knew exactly where I had to go once I got to Berlin because I didn't want to be wandering the city when I arrived at midnight.

The bus ride was easy.  The bus was empty, so you could spread out.  I did some reading in one of my textbooks so that was good.  About half way through the trip we get on a ferry to cross a the Baltic Sea.  The ferry was really nice.  It had 3 restaurantes and some shopping.  After 1.5hrs on the ferry, we were back on the bus.  The entire trip took about 7hrs, but, it wasn't too bad.  The ferry breaks things up nicely.  

On the bus, I had made friends with a kid from Denmark sitting across from me.  He was traveling to Berlin to meet some friends as well.  We were each getting on the subway, so I went with him.  We got on the subway, which is right next to the station.  He got off after a couple of stops and I stayed on.  It was like a half hour ride, but, once I got to my destination station, the Wombat hostel was half a block away.  I got there at midnight.  

I checked into the hostel (at 20usd/night) and I was the only one there.  I was living with 5 other kids from RPI, 2 of them girls.  Everyone else was out having fun and I had no way to contact them, so I went to the bar on the 7th floor of the hostel.  The drinks were cheap and the crowd was okay, but, they closed at two.  I didn't want to waste a Friday night in Berlin, so I went out on my own.

I asked the man at the front desk where I could go that is nearby, cheap, and has a good crowd.  He told me to go outside, take a left and the farther I went, the cheaper the bars got.  So, thats what I did.  I ended up at a cheap bar with kids my age and ended up having a good time.  I got back at like 4:30am.  

I got up at 9:30 the next morning and saw everyone.  They were happy to see me.  We went and got our complementary buffet breakfast in the lobby of the hostel.  It was pretty good.  They told me about what they had done last night.  They went on a "Pub Crawl," where you visit about 6 pubs and get free drinks at each one.  They said it was okay.  That day, Sara, Whit (the RPI AEPi alum), and I, went on a "free" walking tour of the city.  The group that did it yesterday said it was great.  

Steph and Grant at the Hostel

The walking tour started at 1pm and had a group of 35 kids, all doing the same thing.  The guide was GREAT.  It was a 5hr tour, and in that time, I feel like I learned more than I could have in a whole semester.  Some of my favorite parts of the tour was stading when Hitler had stood and given rally speeches to some 20,000 germans.  The other cool part was standing above Hitler's bunker and standing at the spot where Hitler's and Eva Braun's bodies were supposedly burned after their suicides.  And then there was the entire Berlin Wall....it was all really cool.


My tour group is up ahead.  
The Old Museum.  Hitler would give speeches from between those columns. 
A Very Very elaborate Protestant church

The 2nd longest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall

I'm standing at the former SS Headquarters.  Those are the torture chambers in the basement.  The Berlin wall runs above it.
One of the Nazi Headquarters.  The pictured gate used to have the swastika in the middle of that circle.

Standing on either side of the Berlin Wall.

A remembrance to those killed in WW2.  Beneath this statue are the bodies of an unkown German soldier and an unkown prisoner from a concentration camp.

The controversial memorial to the Jews killed in WW2.  There are 2,711 concrete blocks.

The TV Tower, a symbol of Germany

Very cool spot.  The closest tree pictured is the location that Hitler and Eva's bodies were burned.  The tree behind that is above the bunker where Hitler spent the last few months of his life.
The most expensive hotel in Germany.  One night in the Exclusive Room will cost over 100k USD.   It is also the hotel that Michael Jackson hung his baby out the window.

We went to dinner that night at a restaurante where we were told served some authentic German food.  It turned out to be very good.  I think I got the best meal.  It was called the Pork Knuckle.  It was huge.  Check it out.


That night, we went out and had a good time.  It was pretty typical, but fun.  

The next day, the bus left at 3:15pm, so we had the morning to do something.  After breakfast, we went to the Salvadore Dali musuem.  It wasn't my first choice, but, it was okay and it took us to a different part of the city.  

After, that we got back on the bus for the ride home.  Overall, Berlin was a beautiful city, and cheap too.  One last thing I noticed was the amount of graffiti.  There was A LOT of it.  Most of it was done nicely, but, it was still graffiti.  I would definitely go back.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reach Reception

Well, today went better.  At 9am I went to Planetary Physics and that was okay.  At noon, I got out and made lunch.  Mixed some tuna with an avocado and some mayo and spices.  It was very good. Then, I went off to the city again to grab that textbook.  That went smoothly this time and I made it back to campus for our Reach Reception at 3pm.  

For the Reception, the American Ambassador to Denmark came and gave a speech as well as the president of the school.  There were also a few representatives from RPI and it turned out to be a nice ceremony.  It was rather informal for the type of affair, even with all the professional photographers.  At RPI, it would have been an eloquent and dramatic scene.  Here, it was everyone in a large Hallway, standing, and listining to the speaker right in front of them at a little podium. It was informal, but, very nice.

They also had some food on a table.  They had little roast beef sandwiches, salmon rolls, olives, ALMONDS, and chocolate covered strawberries.  After not having almonds in so long, I filled up on them and made that my dinner (I probably ate too many).  They also served wine and champagne.  

Tomorrow, I get ready for Berlin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Long Day

Wow, today was a long day.  I'm going to go to bed after posting this.  Here is what happened:

I had to go to the city today in order to pick up a textbook that could not be delivered.  I took the bus from campus to the train station, where I got off.  When I got on the bus at campus, I clipped my ticket for 5 Zones--perfect.  The way the tickets work here is difficult to explain, but, from DTU to where I was going was 5 Zones, regardless of bus or train.   When I got to the train station, I wasn't thinking and threw away my ticket because it was used up now.  I got on the train and was riding when I realized what I had done.  I threw away my proof that I had paid for the train ride.  Now I was riding illegally and I had heard stories of people getting fined hundreds of dollars for this.  

Luckily, the police didn't come through the train, but, I was sweating for the next three stops.  (As it turns out, they came through the train on my way home, but, I had gotten another ticket, so I was okay).  

I found my way to the package pickup office and it was closed!!!  Even though, the day before I called to make sure it would be open.  The man there was nice, but, he said there was nothing he could do.  The office hrs are 1:30-8 (weird hrs for denmark).  I would have just stayed in the city and walked around (and skipped my 1pm class) becuase it was 11am at this point, but, the day before I had made plans.  I told a German girl that I would get lunch with her becuase she wants to live in NYC this summer to dance and she had some questions for me.  So, I had to come back to go see her.

So, I made it back to the bus station and instead of taking a bus back to campus, I went to the Danish version of the DMV.  I applied for a number that represents me as a temporary citizen called the CPR number and all my friends had already received theirs in the mail and I hadn't.  So, I walked the 5 minutes to this place and got that number.  

After getting that number, I figured I should continue walking in the direction of campus, instead of back tracking for the bus station.  I thought I would find a bus stop "up the road."  As it turns out, there was no bus stop for campus.  

I was grudgingly walking up the road thinking about my poor luck when I saw a pretty nice bike on the side of the road with a sign "garbage" on it.  I decided to take it.  Even though it had a flat front tire, I still made it back to campus rather quickly.  Now, I plan on fixing it up and selling it.  So, that is one thing that went right today.

After I got back to my room, I had just enough time for an early lunch before meeting this girl to talk about her travel plans.  After meeting with her, I went to my class begining at one.  The professor lectured till 4:30.  Shoot me.  

Then, after dinner, I decided to fix that bike tire.  I borrowed some tools, took the tire off and ran the tire tube under water to try and find the leak.  No leak.  That is great, except, I just wasted all this time taking the tire off for no reason.  Now I have to put it back on and that is a hassel.  After I get it back on, I borrow a pump and try to inflate it, but, the nipple for the tire doesn't fit anyone's pumps.  I have to go to a bike store in Lyngby for that.  

Damn.  I'm going to bed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Christmas Lunch



The floor celebrated Christmas on Saturday with the Christmas Lunch.  (It is tradition in Denmark that the big Christmas meal is eaten Dec. 24th as well as present opening).  We are celebrating Christmas now because they didn't have time to do it last semester.  It seems like other floors are doing the same thing.  From what I was told, it turns into a big party in our kitchen.  That was fine with me because I was tired from La Hacienda, the club we went to last night.

The first thing we did was got some much needed groceries.  We went to the nearest grocery store, Super Best, with a cart to refill our beer fridge.  We brought back the 16 cases of empties and got 16 cases of Carlsburgh for really cheap; it was on sale.  We had to drag it all back on this cart because no one has cars.  It was not easy.

Next, 4 of us went to Netto, the really cheap grocery store that just has whole foods.  We bought lots of food for a traditional Danish Christmas Lunch.

The first course, and a very very traditional Danish dish is centered around a piece of bread. But, it is not like bread  in America.  It is very nutty and very delicate.  It must be eaten with a fork and knife, you can't really pick it up.  You put everything on it: eggs, shrimp, meatballs (which I helped make), fish, a meatloaf dish made from liver (which I wasn't crazy about), mayonaise, remoulade; anything you want.  I usually don't eat bread, but, thought I could today.  It was delicious.

We also got a salad, but, it was made by one of the Chinese residents.  It was a seaweed salad and that was good too.

The main course was the pork.  It too, was delicous.  One thing a little different on their pork is that it is sold with a quarter inch layer of fat left on the top of each cut.  When it is cooked, it becomes like a layer of bacon on top.  Imagine that.

For dessert, we made a big bowl of rice "porridge," not sure if it is the same as our rice pudding, but, they called it porridge.  It is just rice, milk, vanilla and crushed almonds.  You put a cherry sauce on it.  When it is being made, they put ONE whole almond and whoever gets the whole almond, gets a prize.  The idea is, if you find it, you keep it hidden in your mouth.  That way everyone keeps eating, hoping they will find it.  I didn't find the almond...

After that, we were all STUFFED.  I hadn't eaten that amount in a long time.  We started some karaoke and played some card games, which were new to me.  We just partied together the rest of the night.  It was great.

Here are some pictures:








Friday, February 6, 2009

Floor Meeting

We had our first floor meeting today (monthly).  Including myself, the hall has two new members.  We got the chance to introduce ourselves, even though we knew everyone already. There are elected positions in the hall, such as president, treasurer and scribe.  It is run very loosely though.  We just talked about the condition of the kitchen and what we needed to buy.   We also talked about what food to buy for our "Christmas Lunch" on Saturday.  They call it lunch, but, it is really dinner.  We want to be eating by 5pm, which is really early here in Denmark for dinner.  They usually eat at 7pm for dinner.  

After the floor meeting, we went to the Kampsax bar.  It is the bar in my complex.  It was packed.  I didn't stay too late though.  I'm sure tonight will be long.

I asked to take some photos at the end of the floor meeting.  These are the people I live with and they are great!

Here is everyone, except for the girl on the far right.  She doesn't live with us.  She is Martin's girlfriend.


Now, I'm in the pic.
Some shots celebrating the new guys (me).
Some drinking games.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pictures

Classes are good so far.  It was what I expected.  I have some free time now, so here are some videos of my room and kitchen.

   video

video

Monday, February 2, 2009

First Day of Classes

The first day of classes were today and they went well.  Having two 4hr classes in one day is a lot, but, it wasn't so bad.

The first class, Emerging Energy Technologies, seems easy.  There were only 30 of us in a small classroom and I sat next to one of my friends from France.  The professor lectured for a while and then we got a 20 min break.  My friend and I went back to his place for tea because it was really close.  When we got back we got a guest speaker for another hour and then it was over.  It only lasted like 2.5hrs and there is no homework (I don't think we will have too much).

After that, I went and made eggs (with some ham, salsa and jalepenos) for lunch.  Then, it was off to my next class, Microelectronics.

This class went pretty much as expected.  I sat next to a kid with an RPI sweatshirt on.  As it turned out, he was at RPI last summer for research.  He told me he was a phd student and that scared me a little.  But, I later found out most kids in the class are 2nd yr students.

Once class started, the professor asked who in the class didn't know danish.  Only myself and another kid raised our hands.  I felt kinda bad.  Everyone knows english really well, but, I'm sure they'd rather learn a difficult subject like this in their native language.  Anyway, there was lecture and then we broke off and did some exercises.  Pretty standard stuff.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saturday Night

What a great day.  It was nothing formal, but, half my group decided to meet up at 3 and go back into the city.  Our guide, Anders, met us there again.  We just walked around and did some shopping. 
So far, I haven't noticed the prices being too expensive.  I have learned to shop at the cheapest supermarkets (they have aldi here).  I can buy food for a week for about 120dkk, which is about 25 dollars american.  I'm praciting my rationing.  Beer isn't too expensive if you buy it at the supermarket.  If you buy it at the bar, a cheap beer is 20dkk, or 4 dollars.  This isn't too bad because tax/tip is included in everything.  Most bars are between 30-50dkk/beer.  Like at my fraternity, we have a beer fridge in the kitchen where you can sign out beer for 2.75dkk/beer. Sweet.  You don't get a beer fridge on campus at rpi.
Clothes are expensive.  I lost my rpi hat and I really need one because it is cold.  I went into a huge store in the city yesterday.  It was a 5 story mall of JUST clothing stores.  I know my mom would like it.  I couldn't look for too long because they were closing.  They didn't have any of the hats I wanted, but, I was looking at the french style cap.  I think I'm going to get one, but, not there.  It was 60 dollars american.  I also like wearing scarves.  
Speaking of the kitchen, it is stocked with all the utensils I need.  I was happy to see that.  It might get kind of crowded when all 17 people are around and trying to use it.  Right now, it is nice and clean and a good spot to hang out and talk.  There is a tv in there too.  Half of the stations are stations that I'm familiar with and they are in english.
I'm off now to go to the gym and try to buy a bike from a friend.