Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Travel

The Black Diamond, Copenhagen

First things first. What is The Black Diamond? It’s this onyx-like structure which is an extension of the Royal Danish Library. Take a look below.

It’s got some nice views facing the waterfront:

When you face away from the water, you face the Danish War Museum which is just across the road from The Black Diamond.

Do keep scrolling, because the coolest features of this building are yet to come.

Inside this building is a massive open hall that reaches all the way up…
And up…
And up.
This photo kind of looks like one of those impossible M.C. Escher illusions to me, ha
Really liked all the interesting views from each floor of this place.
The views by the water cycling back out weren’t too bad either.
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Culture, France, Travel

Travel Throwback: Giverny (2019)

Over a year ago, I had the great pleasure of wandering around Monet’s garden in Giverny with my family. Won’t say much more because the photos speak for themselves. See the idyll for yourself…

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

Claude Monet

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Copenhagen, Home, Uncategorized

Design and Homeware stores in Copenhagen

One of the first things I noticed walking around Copenhagen was the lovely array of design/home/concept stores. Of course I had to make some purchases (or ten) for my new abode here in Copenhagen. I won’t include Flying Tiger (or just Tiger as it is known in the UK), which is the most obvious and well known (and super affordable compared to other stores in Denmark) homewares/decor/everyday items store dotted all over Copenhagen.

Here’s some other places I checked out:

Notre Dame (Nørregade 7, 1165 København)
This is a really cute little shop tucked away close to Strøget, the main “downtown” shopping street. Expect lots of earthy tones, ceramics, flower pots and hanging plant baskets. I didn’t take photos from this shop but the cute little clay flowerpots featured in my banner image for this post are from Notre Dame!

Stilleben No. 22 (Frederiksborggade 22, 1360 København)
This shop is a stone’s throw from Torvehallerne market and Nørreport Station – a very obvious place to drop in if you’re walking about town. I was attracted in particular by the colourful ceramics.

African Touch (Frederiksborggade 20, 1360 København)
A couple doors down from Stilleben you have another eye-catching store, full of bright colours and prints, decorative figurines, accessories, and so on.

Søstrene Grene (Amagertorv 24, 1160 København K)
This place is super cute – has a lot of baby/children’s items, stationery, home decor, and some “fancy” food items (ok actually just fancy looking jams, candies, etc.). I bought a fleecy rug from this place along with some cacti (yeah, I’m basic). Compared to the others, it seems pretty affordable too.

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Bristol, Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Travel

Harbourside – Copenhagen edition

To those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning (or my friends in Bristol, ha), you already know my favourite thing about living in Bristol, UK, was access to the lovely Harbourside. It’s where I’ve spent much of my time and taken many a walk to contemplate, have deep chats with friends, check out the CARGO eateries, and get sunburnt in the summers. By the way, Bristol recently made national headlines when the Colston statue was dumped in the harbour during the recent BLM protest – a huge moment given Bristol’s maritime history.

Anyway, it pleases me greatly that there’s plenty of that Harbourside living in Copenhagen. I’ve only just begun exploring around Islands Brygge/Sydhavnen. There’s a lot of hanging out and swimming in these areas, plenty of modern buildings, and pedestrian paths by the water are very clean and well-kept.

Have a lovely day 🙂

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Copenhagen, Expat life, Personal

New job, new country: Life in Copenhagen 1 month update

So, in lieu of my Sunday Musings (abstract overthinking?) series this week, I’ve decided to do a little update on how things are going in my life given that it’s been exactly a month since I moved to Copenhagen.

Where to begin? Hard to believe it’s already a month since I arrived, though it actually feels like a lot longer. At this stage, I’ve just about opened up a Danish bank account, in good time for my much anticipated, much needed first paycheck. I haven’t minded dropping basically all my savings on this move to Denmark, but all the spending I’ve done in terms of upfront costs have barely been sustainable for the month (plus I’m trying to live that good life over here, ha). I did get extremely lucky to not have any “gaps” between pay checks, but I genuinely could not live in Copenhagen making what I was making on my old paycheck, that’s for sure. I’ve also only just got round to getting a Danish number, after having the same number in the UK for 10 years. I bought a bike, though I’m riding very precariously at the moment and embarrass myself on the daily with my clumsiness. I mean I haven’t really cycled in a good decade – and especially not when I was living in Bristol, which is full of the most hellish hills.

I’m already a few weeks into my job now. Even though in some ways I have a lot more to accomplish in this job, I don’t feel like I’m tripping over myself to do my job properly – I don’t feel like a headless chicken. The work culture actually does make me feel like I’m doing “enough” for once, or at least that being the most productive as humanly possible really just isn’t everything. Even though I’m the first one in my office and the last to leave, I feel like I spend a very reasonable time at my desk. I still probably work a bit more than what I’m supposed to (oh, the joys of academia), but an actual 40 hour workweek is a welcome change from the ungodly amount of unpaid extra hours I was putting in my previous job.

I’m interested to see how my latent imposters syndrome develops, if at all, in this new role. Ever since I started my PhD, I felt like I had no idea what was going on, that I was being policed by my peers about how much I work (PhD competition is real – I really don’t miss that), and that anything I did accomplish was a fluke I didn’t deserve. All those feelings stayed with my even when I finished my PhD. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty realistic about myself and I can definitely say all three of the aforementioned were and are true at points. It definitely feels like everyone else around me has done “more” than me, and I’m sure that feeling is not baseless. And it’s not like I suddenly “know” what I’m doing now, one year post-PhD (in fact, my new role involves research in a field that I did not specialise in). Moreover, there’s a very quiet but nagging voice in my head that tells me I objectively probably do not deserve the job I have now, even though I worked so hard to get it. But, well, who cares? I’m here, aren’t I? The difference now seems to be that it doesn’t feel like the end of the world even if it were true that I “could be better.” It’s just not a cause for despair anymore. My “incompetence” and “flaws” are part of a learning curve, which I get to experience in a tolerant and supportive environment, as far as I can tell. Talk about work-life balance and emotional well-being! I’m sure part of this newfound confidence is down to actually starting a new job and being really excited about it, but I’m definitely experiencing a trend towards having a little more faith and just trusting myself a bit more.

Collegiality seems to be a big thing in the working environment here, which is another positive. You don’t notice much of a hierarchy between the different “rankings” of academics. The difference between a PhD and a postdoc (that’s what I am) seems rather minimal, even in terms of pay grade, which is a good thing. In the UK I would say the difference between a PhD and a postdoc is basically a doubling of salary (with PhDs being underpaid, that is). That much should be explanatory of some of the differences in British and Danish academia. So yeah, when I got this job offer I already knew it was my dream job offer, but now that I’m living it, I can only confirm how happy to have this job, beyond all expectation.

The frustrating stuff about settling in? Not knowing the language. I mean it’s so easy to get away with only speaking English in Denmark, and sometimes you actually forget you’re in a non-English speaking country (well, bi-lingual at least). But for me personally, I’m not used to being in a situation where I cannot communicate or comprehend something perfectly. So when I go into a Danish supermarket or receive bank letters in Danish I’m reminded that I’m sort of helpless in that aspect, and that I need to be a lot more proactive about learning the basics. I mean, I’ve even avoided using my work desktop because it came with a Danish keyboard that I just could not get used to, ha.

Weirdly, though, I’ve been kind of enjoying the fact that most people I’ve met here assume I speak Danish (maybe because borders are still closed to most tourists) and will speak Danish to me first (before I respond in English, ha) rather than assume I am too foreign to speak the language. So all that’s left for me to do is to actually live up to those expectations and try to integrate a bit more.

I guess I’ll be back in another month with any progress 🙂

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Valbyparken, Copenhagen

Goodness, this place was an amazing surprise. A big green park a mere 20 minute cycle ride from home, and with a beach? In the city? Yes and yes.

My cycle going there and back wasn’t very pretty – it was a hot sunny day, I’m very road-shy, I had no idea where I was going and had to stop and check my map every 2 minutes. I also haven’t quite perfected my cool cycle chic look. Regardless, I would definitely brave the trip again to revisit this park.

I’m guessing these are poplar trees?
Either way this long path lined with trees is a distinctive entry point into the park, and very nice to cycle down.
Loved the little peeks of water through the trees.
Plenty of folks windsurfing at this place!
It was an almost blindingly bright day.
I skipped on a few stones by the water 🙂
I can’t say I’ve ever seen people windsurf before, but it looks fun!
Clear water at the beach.
Just beautiful, isn’t it?
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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Expat life, Travel

Reffen, Copenhagen

This post is going to be super visual and truly drool-worthy…consider yourself warned!

The weather forecast wasn’t looking great, but my friend and I were determined to visit Reffen, a food market set up like a little village on the other side of the water from Copenhagen city centre. Thankfully it didn’t rain on the day we visited – we even caught a bit of sun. It’s a short trip up with the bike/bus/water taxi from town – we went with the water taxi, which would be a great option for a sunny day.

To my knowledge, this place is one of the few Street food markets in Copenhagen (apart from the fancy Torvehallerne by Nørreport, which is dangerously close to my workplace…) As someone who used to work in a food stall in multiple food markets back in the UK, I’m a little surprised that there aren’t more of them in the capital here in Denmark. But I’m not complaining – the selection is good.

Reffen has a bit of a grungy vibe with lots of containers around…kind of reminds me of the Cargo project in Bristol (my favourite Harbourside eating area in Bristol basically)
This photo says it all – everything is contactless and there are reminders everywhere to keep up hygiene.
I definitely don’t need to be told twice to get ice cream. The ice cream shop is called “BadHabits” by the way – very fitting.
Honestly, the ice cream here was really good.
Outdoor stalls and seating around the food “village.”
Love how colourful everything is!
More food, more containers…
Cute outdoor dining area right next to the water.
How very Danish 🙂 I did mention in a previous post how difficult it is to take photos here without some kind of a bike in it, did I not?
Now for some food! That’s freshly grated truffle – cost me an arm but it was worth it.
So many options…
There’s also some cute shops around that aren’t food stalls.
Me being an embarrassing tourist.
Hope you’re not too hungry after reading this, ha.
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Personal, Sunday Musings

Anger is a rational response to injustice

When we think of an angry person we probably think of someone who holds onto negative energy. We associate anger with aggression or violence. Someone who sputters; someone without any patience; someone who just can’t deal with things. Normally, we would not treat this as a productive thing to feel because it seems to worsen our general experience of life and seems to be bad both for ourselves and the people around us. It’s not a pleasant thing – it is something we feel burdened by, something we would rather not embody.

But that’s not all that anger has to be about. We can both ask ourselves why we are angry in the first place, and assess whether our expression of that anger is proportionate to our reasons for feeling angry. Much of the time they won’t match up – but in other cases, our anger might be entirely appropriate.

Anger can be coherent. Anger can be productive. And I think people do have a sense of how it can be so, once we get past the most “negative” aspects of anger.

I’m not saying anger in itself is very useful. However, in many manifestations it can be an expression of giving a damn in a world that gives us a lot to be angry about. The advocacy that motivates anger may be an empathic demand for change. In a world where racism – for example – is rampant, anger is a rational response. It is a righteous response. And we should be angry about the things it is justified for us to be angry about. That’s not to say we don’t often get it wrong about what we get angry about – the point is that we can be angry about the right things. We should most definitely take caution in what we get angry about, but it’s not always a bad thing to allow what is otherwise a negative feeling to be part of our moral compass. That we feel bad is sometimes an indication that something has gone very wrong – not merely within us but around us.

And there are plenty of things that should make us angry. The racialization of rights, moral treatment, medical access, social status, etc. And it’s not just racialization of course – that’s just the topic which has most recently been dominating the news. The fact that we each of us live in a world where huge disparities and inequalities exist between how people are treated, often to do with reasons that are beyond anyone’s control in the first place (like the colour of skin you were born with) – that is a situation we should recognise as a problem with urgency.

And when these issues of utmost urgency continue to be perpetuated in the most ugly ways, when there is no progress, it’s important not to be too cool-headed about them. Would you be cool-headed if you found out the world was going to become an inhospitable habitat within yours or your children’s lifetime? One should think not; that’s why people are “angry” about things like inaction over climate change.

Wouldn’t we all love to be peaceful, “zen” people who can actually sleep at night without a bother in the world? I sure would. But the world right now actually isn’t the kind of place to which one can easily close one’s eyes and turn over to slumber until the fire has died down.

Because the fire is now. The fire is going. It’s a wildfire.

Do you have to be some grumpy, negative person to feel justified anger at the injustices of the world? No. I should think feeling this way about particular things (of the right kind!) makes you someone with a sense of empathy and compassion. You can be angry because you want the world to be a better place. You can be angry because you know it can. You can be angry because it isn’t. And though many people use the “anger argument” as a way to knock down legitimate positions in heated debates – invalidating “angry feminists” merely by emphasising the emotion or tone in their voice, for example – if you think about it, it would be really weird if we had “cool” debates about things like racism, sexism, climate change, and what have you. I mean, how on earth can you be cool about the world’s most serious problems? And what do you think should actually motivate things like protest if not something akin to anger?

I’m not going to engage someone with harmful views in a tolerant manner merely in the interest of keeping up some social etiquette. To me, that is equivalent to capitulating to an injustice. Words, attitudes, behaviours, and structures alike can be bad; bad not just for me but for groups of people, and consequently for the welfare of the world. We all inhabit this globe together and so there’s no being picky about who gets to have a decent life. It just wouldn’t be fair. So “being zen” need not apply to those instances. If someone tells me something racist, I’m not going to be like “Good for you – I understand where you’re coming from” or “Fine, I respect your opinion”. I’m not going to be “cool” just to be seen as the person who is “not the type to get overly offended or sensitive”. Life is too short for that. I’m going to be honest, because it’s always easier to be honest than to pretend otherwise; and that honesty may involve anger.

It might suck to lose friends over problems that are pretty much beyond anyone’s individual control, but at the same time I’m starting to get tired of smiling my way through people’s horrendous attitudes and pretending it’s fine for people to be bigots. I’m tired of having to fulfil someone else’s privileged idea of what it means to be nice; my idea of being a decent human being involves being angry at the right things – problems that need addressing – while of course maintaining the humility necessary to realise anger that is actually proportionate to the battle. There’s a scene in the Korean movie ‘Parasite’ (you should watch it if you haven’t already) where the family talks about how easy it would be to be nice if they were well-to-do and with no problems in life to speak of. And I think that’s right. Being “nice” in the way incompatible with anger is a privilege afforded to those who either have no “reason” to be angry because they are not a target of injustice, or because they can buy their way out of having to confront the world’s most pressing problems. Ignorance as bliss is a luxury good indeed.

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Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Culture, Denmark, Home, Travel

Fredriks Kirke/Amalienborg, Copenhagen

This is another very photogenic area in Copenhagen at golden hour. What I just love about this place is that if you look one way from Amalienborg Slotsplads (the courtyard of the Royal residences) you get a majestic view of the rococo-style “Marble Church” Marmorkirken/Fredriks Kirke; if you look the other way, you get a view of the water and the very modern looking Copenhagen Opera House (Operaen) which was built less than 20 years ago. The opera house was built in alignment with Amalienborg. Take a look below.

Hope you’re all well.

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