Since my brief update after being in Copenhagen for one week, I’ve had a good July! If I had to score it, I’d give it a B+ because it’s been very sunny and the majority of my important admin has been sorted out but my science has been slow in terms of new experiments (which is to be expected when moving labs).
I watched a lot of Netflix
In my last two months in Manchester I’ve been busy with finishing up experiments and fitting in as many social commitments as I could so I am secretly glad to be lame and be able to watch Netflix at home. My recommendations are: iZombie – a Zombie medical examiner takes on personality traits and memories of victims when she eats their brains to help solve their murders; River – originally written for the BBC, stars Stellan Skarsgård as the mentally unstable (he sees dead people) detective River who is trying to solve the murder of his partner; Stranger Things – a Netflix original series with strong 80s, Steven King and Stephen Spielberg vibes (and a great soundtrack) about the mysterious disappearance of a young boy on his way home after playing at his friend’s house.
The weather has been beautiful!
And since that’s been the case, I’ve been introduced to the beach by my flat mate and have cycled there a couple of times. Charlottenlund Strandpark is only 10 minutes’ bike ride from home and it’s a nice big park with a little patch of sandy beach and a jetty where kids fish for crabs using a piece of string and a peg holding some bait. There’s another nicer beach, Bellevue Strandbad in Klampenborg, that is also only 10 minutes north from where we live! Charlottenlund may be far from work but it is near TWO beaches! I’ve been back to the UK to pack my beach towel, bathing suit and sunglasses – it’ll just be my luck for the weather to turn back to the usual grey now!
I did some exploring
My boyfriend came to visit for a weekend and we took the opportunity to do some touristy things. First we went to Bakken ‘The Hill’, the world’s oldest amusement park. Think old seaside theme park rides – log flume, wild mouse rollercoaster, wooden roller coaster, etc and for about £25 you can buy a wristband and have unlimited turns on the rides. During the summer months it’s open until midnight! They have the usual fairground snacks like burgers and hotdogs but it’s full of restaurants as well. I’ve not tried any yet but will let you know when I do.
The highlight of that weekend was the Carlsberg Museum. For £9.50 you can learn about the brewery’s history, try (two small cups of) their beer, see the largest collection of unopened beer bottles and go on a cart ride pulled by their draft horses that take you to The Elephant Gate and the beautiful surrounding architecture. The horse and kart ride was the best bit!
My housemate told us that the new Inderhavnsbroen ‘Inner Harbour Bridge’ was finally open. It connects Nyhavn and Papirøen ‘Paper Island’, which houses Copenhagen Street Food – a large warehouse filled with street food vendors. The bridge was notorious for its construction delays due to several engineering errors and now that construction is complete some people have complained about its awkward angles in the cycle lane. Still, it’s pretty cool because it splits in the middle and slides back on both sides to allow ships to pass through (see video below) and it’s easier to get cool street food now!
Copenhagen may be a very trendy and expensive city but there are still some affordable tat shops around to help make your home ‘hygge‘ (cosy, soul-warming). In addition to Ikea I went looking around in Notre Dame, Tiger, Søstrene Grene, and Superlove. I haven’t really bought anything hygge but have picked up some essentials like a tin to hold my teabags and a clothes rail.
I’ve been eating well
There’s been some eating out but nothing out of the ordinary except for my Hawaiian pizza from Gorm’s (a growing chain of hipster pizza restaurants with a recent opening in Ordrup) that had paper thin pineapple slices rather than chunks on it. After craving Danish hotdogs after a trip to the beach we bought all the essential ingredients – hotdogs, buns, pickled cucumber slices, crispy fried onions, ketchup and mustard – and made our own which we are on the balcony. I also ate out with my first two visitors! My boyfriend and I went to an authentic Japanese restaurant called Bento and sampled their bento boxes at £25 each. We also started our Copenhagen burger tastings at Cock’s and Cows (still not beating Manchester’s Filthy Cow off the top spot). Like tourists we ate fish and chips and Danish-y prawn salad and eggs with rye bread outdoors at Guldmagerens Hus in Nyhavn. My second visitor was my old institute guest house neighbour/colleague who I met in Cologne. He came for his aikido seminar and we met up on his last night and ate at Spaghetteria La Perla, a quaint little Italian serving good pizza and pasta.
Healthy eating is big here! Not just because I now work with very sporty people but the whole of Copenhagen is pretty health and fitness conscious. From the lunch table I learnt about Skyr, which is a dairy product from Iceland and Norway. It’s a bit like Greek yoghurt but is thicker, with no fat and higher protein and calcium content then regular dairy yoghurts. Whilst shopping for food, I noticed that some products (from different supermarkets) have a green keyhole symbol on it (see picture below). My housemate asked the checkout lady and she explained that they are healthy items. The symbol makes it easier for people to choose healthier products over others that are less so (ones that may have higher salt, fat or sugar content). I’m on a mission to find an ice cream with the green keyhole symbol! I’ve yet to find one but my housemate did introduce me to Isbåd ‘ice boat’ that is a wafer boat filled with ice cream and jam and covered in a crisp chocolate shell – it didn’t have a keyhole symbol but it was fun and messy to eat. Other than ice cream, I’ve been enjoying Danish strawberries. They are the juiciest and sweetest I’ve ever tasted!
I’m settling in slowly but surely
I’ve been to the local municipality a few times now and I have to say, the officials are really friendly and helpful and have really made me feel welcome here in Denmark. My new boss’s PA has been really patient in helping me sort out my taxes too! I got a shock when I logged on to my digital post, saw my first payslip and found that they’d taken two thirds of my gross salary for pension, labour tax and income tax – this was because I hadn’t registered for my personal tax number and was taxed automatically on some ridiculous level. Anyway, the overall feeling for me is that everyone here is lovely (from bus driver to bakery staff and even drunk people on the train) and I’ve not been made to feel bad for not knowing any more Danish other than “God morgen!” and “Tak!”. I have signed myself up for Danish lessons but I’m still waiting for a letter to come through after the holiday period.
My new colleagues have been great and one of them kindly lent me his Rejserkort, an electronic card that you can pre-load and travel on buses, metro and trains at a discounted rate. I’ve also started to cycle to work. It takes me about 30 minutes and it’s been better than the bus or train because there’s no extra walking (bus stop is not close enough to work) or long transfers (journey requires 2 trains to get to work). HOWEVER, cycling is a sweaty business – especially when it’s been so sunny and warm in Copenhagen. Luckily I have a fan in the office and I spend my first 10 minutes of the day sitting in front of it! To reduce the impact of the sweat issue, I’ve installed a basket on my bike to hold my rucksack. Now I have a pimping bike! During my return to Manchester, I went into Decathlon for the first time – loved it! – and got myself a helmet. Now I’m nearly* invincible on the cycle path! *’Nearly’ because my fitness level is not quite there yet!
Work wise, I’ve been working on some analysis of data I collected in Manchester and I’ve been delegated the task of presenting journal club of some papers from authors who will be presenting at the upcoming symposium on ‘Muscle-tendon function: Cell-matrix interplay‘ in August. I also took a couple of days off to go back to the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research to participate in the poster session as part of the Wellcome Trust site visit for the centre’s renewal. It was a big day that was a culmination of months of hard work and preparation by the many PIs, postdocs and PhD students of the centre. Fingers crossed for centre to receive their renewal so that the amazing work that goes on there can continue!
During this last weekend of July, we got an additional flatmate! We’ve already fed her a flødeboller, a Danish chocolate-coated marshmallow treat that’s a bit like a Tunnock’s teacake and Germany’s Super Dickmann’s. We’ve taken her to Ikea, Bakken and the beach, and got her watching Stranger Things so I think she’s settling in just fine! Let’s send well wishes for another former Manchester researcher in continuing their academic career here in Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen!
Read the August update here.