Hej from a new site! I haven’t had time to post since I’ve been transferring my blog from Tumblr to WordPress, and then dove right into Core Course week. So, this post will highlight some things I did in week three. Moving forward, I’ll be sharing “Meatless Monday” posts to highlight vegan places around Copenhagen and easy recipes to make at home. I’ll also post more general weekly updates to detail some of the week’s best activities, probably on Saturdays or Sundays.
Denmark are World Champions! (Jan. 28)
It took 81 years, but Denmark’s men’s national team finally won the World Handball Championships, and in very impressive fashion. They won all ten of their matches and breezed by Norway in the final with a score of 31 – 22. Since the soccer team’s improbable first place finish in the 1992 Euros, it has been tradition to hail major victors at City Hall.
I went straight from class to Rådhuspladsen with some friends to get a spot with a decent view before 30,000 others joined us. We all found it quite funny how tame the crowd seemed to be in comparison to American championship parades. My mind kept flashing back to footage of the Eagles Super Bowl parade, where 700,000 people lined the streets of Philly and players and fans tossed beers to each other. There was certainly none of that, but lots of cheering when the players hoisted the trophy and singing along to some Danish songs and, of course, “We are The Champions.” It was a really great experience, especially since a lot of my initial bonding with my host family was spent watching handball, on TV and in person. I’ll have to find a way to keep cheering on the squad once I return home, especially stars Niklas Landin and Mikkel Hansen.
Field Studies: DHI & Christiansborg Palace
After having my first Wednesday free of any field studies, I got to travel to Denmark’s Institute for Water and the Environment (DHI) with my Environmental Economics class. For the first half of the trip, we learned about how changing sea levels and precipitation patterns pose risks to human health all across the world. The most memorable example was a study done following a 2010 Ironman competition in Copenhagen. There was intense rainfall the day before the event, and DHI used a model to show how this rainfall led to increased bacterial concentration in the water which athletes swam in. They compared the incidences of gastrointestinal illnesses to the event the following year and found some shocking results. Check out the report titled Gastrointestinal Illness among Triathletes Swimming in Non-Polluted versus Polluted Seawater Affected by Heavy Rainfall, Denmark, 2010-2011 if you’d like to learn more. Basically – don’t swim in sewage tainted water, you’ll probably get ill.
On the second part of the trip, we checked out their physical modeling facilities. I had never seen facilities like this and was surprised with how much detail went into each model. They model scenarios for a variety of stakeholders, from fisherman to utility companies. There was a deep water wave pool and multiple shallow water wave pools spread out across a few buildings. They explained how most of the time is spent preparing simulations rather than actually performing them since every variable has to be considered. These include the wave energy which could bounce off the boundaries and distort testing results, water salinity, and scaling the environment precisely. The one model we got to see in action was being used to test how to best protect floating wind turbines from waves.
On Friday, I saw the massive difference in ease of access to the Danish legislature compared to the incredibly secured American legislature. My Environmental Policy in Practice class and I were guided around beautiful Christiansborg Palace, home to the Danish parliament known as “The Folketing.” The best part was our tour guide, an actual member of parliament! Since it is an Environmental Policy class, our tour guide was Christian Poll, one of ten MPs from a new green party called The Alternative. They’re challenging the way political parties have typically operated in Denmark and have ambitious policy goals. My favorites include drastically reducing meat consumption, labeling regulations which communicate all social and environmental costs of products, and a conversion to 100% organic agriculture by 2040.
Christian was incredibly generous with his time and openness to questions. He explained everything from the unique motivations behind the portrait styles of past Prime Ministers to how to use the Paternoster elevator. We toured the main chamber, the hallways which housed Denmark’s various founding documents its governments, and wrapped up in The Alternative’s meeting room. We got to ask Christian some questions we had prepared about the history of Danish Parliament and his party’s outlook on some specific issues, like renewable energy and product labeling.
That’s a wrap on a quick summary of week three with DIS! I’ll be back tomorrow with my first Meatless Monday post. Later in the week I’ll do a day by day summary of a memorable, touching, and sometimes disturbing Core Course week!