I am enjoying my embassy work in Copenhagen. The weather is turning a little worse and I finally hung up the biking gear. Buying monthly bus passes from here on out made me realize that I only have two months left in Denmark. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone!
Living in Copenhagen is insanely cool. It is such a green city. There are plug-in stations for electrical cars everywhere, if cars can find parking. It’s mostly bikes. People have large cargo bikes that carry dogs, children, and friends… not necessarily all at once. The most impressive I have seen to date is a friend pushing a cargo basket in front of her bike containing a set of drawers, a mattress and another friend holding it all in place. I must give them kudos for efficiency.
My work at the embassy is primarily with the Trade team. This puts my Economics and International Trade courses to good use, especially since so much of it revolves around CETA advocacy. I get to look at complaints against CETA that are expressed in mediums such as town hall meetings and social media. I then try to see if there is a better way the Canadian government can communicate the key benefits of the agreement. It’s really interesting. I am also given odd assignments from the political team. I have been writing briefs on environmental policy in Denmark, which is great since I am in the environment specialization at GSPIA, and even had to do a research assignment on Copenhagen Fashion Week.
Haven’t had too much culture shock since I have arrived. I am lucky that most Danes speak perfect English so there is no language barrier. Differences in mannerisms may make them seem a bit blunt, but they are always so helpful when I ask for directions. I sadly get lost more than I care to admit. I spent my Thanksgiving weekend visiting a friend in Amsterdam. He is a fellow GSPIA student doing an academic exchange. Seeing the difference between Amsterdam and Copenhagen was really interesting. I noticed some differences between the two cities. Having grown up in France, Amsterdam felt a little closer to what is familiar. Denmark and Sweden (visited back in September) feel so very Nordic. Copenhagen just has different energy about it. Maybe it is the higher prices or the colder weather, but it seems that most places in Copenhagen demand nice outerwear and sophisticated tastes. I see business people and a clipped professionalism everywhere. It is the height of courtesy to be brief and respectful, I find I can fit in with that crowd well. Meanwhile, Amsterdam had a a bit more of a grunge student vibe. They have decriminalized marijuana and that affected the sense of place as well (particularly the neighborhood I was in). I am making gross generalizations based on snapshots of countries, but there you have it.
I am loving the food here. Amsterdam had nice cheese and Sweden had really good jam, but nothing rivals the pickled herring and rye bread of Denmark. I also have to mention all the Danishes and baked goods available. I live close to a bakery and lets just say it is a good thing I bike so much. Our embassy has a chef to cater special events and take care of general hospitality. He is very generous with his cooking and makes sure I try all the different kinds of food he makes. His chocolate mousse is to die for and he can make delicious appetizers out of cod and herring. The strangest thing he has made to date is øllebrød. It is Danish black bread boiled down with beer and served with cream. Not sure it is a favorite but it is definitely worth trying!