Summer arrived in Copenhagen! I actually got burnt and I’m currently peeling as I’m write this update! Eeesh! It’s now pouring with rain and the temperature has dropped – keeping my fingers crossed for the sun to come back out to play!
This month my tourist experience culminated in bespoke weekends for some visitors! And the end of June marks 12 months since I moved to Copenhagen!
Know when to drop it
Sometimes you have to know when you’re flogging a dead horse and stop doing it. I realised I was starting to exhaust my motivation. So this month I decided to put to the side a bit of work that I still hadn’t to optimise for a timeout and put my efforts into the other aspects instead! [I’ve updated my collaborator who’s an expert on CRISPR and he’s said that getting 30% transfection efficiency wasn’t that bad and suggested I do FACS with a new fluorescent-tagged tracrRNA (Cat no.1075927 from IDT). I’ll definitely get back on it after the summer!]
I also found out that I get to use a piece of equipment from my collaborators at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry for a whole 4 weeks in July because people are away on their summer vacation! Being British, the summer holidays are always going to be in August! Looking forward to maximising use of the machine in July!
In this last week, I’ve been doing an experiment to test out an idea I have. During the two hours of ultracentrifugation late at night, I had a sudden attack of self-doubt. Doubting my technical skills and doubting my idea. There’s a huge difference in having an idea and holding onto that dream optimistically versus materialising that idea and facing up to the results. I did what I normally do in these moments and texted my BFF for her advice and she says I just need to stay positive, not let the doubt overtip the balance, and just ka-pow the situation. I kept my fingers crossed for the next two days of western blotting. I got confirmation of positive markers but needed to take another day to confirm absence of negative markers… And today, KA-POW! What should be there is there, what shouldn’t be there isn’t. Whoop! Now, I just got to do the experiment again, every 4 hours for 24 hours! What a fun July it’s going to be!
In June we also said goodbye to our wonderful RUBICON exchange physiotherapist/PhD student from University of Cape Town! And said welcome to a new Italian postdoc! We are gettin’ all international up in here at the ISMC!
Grant update: Been waiting to hear back from my last grant application submitted to Ministry of Culture and unfortunately I got an “afslag” or refusal from them. If I am going to make myself feel better (and trust me I love myself and therefore I am going to make myself feel better), I will highlight that the refusal letter said: “The project is supportive. The subject is interesting, but the project is not a priority as it is of limited relevance to the sport.” Still, sad face. Time to get papers out and try somewhere else again!
Papers update: Got reviewers’ comments back from one and working on it now! We think it’s doable! Still not heard back from the other one yet! And as for the money shot, today will be the first of many 24-hour days since I’ve moved here! Luckily, for the moment I only live down the road from work!
Exploring wider Copenhagen and beyond
Since the weather has been nice, I’ve been on a couple of runs around the local marshland, Utterslev Mose. This was one on the to-do list my colleague gave me when he let us rent his apartment in Nordvest. It has a picturesque lake with birds squawking in formation in the sky, geese stopping traffic and ducks sitting on the grassy banks. The water looks clear and you can see fishes and lots of shiny clam shells too. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
On what was probably the hottest day ever with the clearest skies, I went with my German Danish class friend and his Danish girlfriend on a cycle adventure beyond the airport, which I had previously thought was the only place I’d ever have to venture that far down Amager for. I was wrong. We cycled to Dragør, which is not even in the Copenhagen municipality! Its little town centre is so cute and the yellow houses with orange tiled roofs and cobbled streets looked so unlike Copenhagen that it felt like we had gone on holiday somewhere! We even enjoyed a nice ice coffee made with ice cream from Rajissimo, a super popular gelateria. This was the epic cycling day that caused peeling sunburnt shoulders.
At the end of May/start of June was Copenhagen’s annual music street festival called Distortion. It’s a city wide celebration of all sorts of club music with street parties in different districts. I only had a taster of it this year; A few of us from work met up in Vesterbro and walked from stage to stage on Sønder Boulevard that were blasting different genres of music. I was secretly disappointed I didn’t happen upon any UK garage. The streets were packed with young people looking happy and enjoying the sun and it really felt like summer was here!
Fun with friends from afar
By now I’ve learnt that the most economic (time and money) way to travel with visitors is getting them on to bikes. I bought my boyfriend a secondhand fixie last year and at first, trying to guide someone on a bike whilst I was looking at Google Maps on my phone, on my bike, is hard! But now I know my main routes to different parts of the city, cycling with guests is sooooo much better than waiting for buses and metros and having to find that special Check In machine that lets you validate more than one person!
We cycled to Bakken – the world’s oldest amusement park and Bellevue Beach in Klampenborg, which is considered to be the nicest beach in Copenhagen. On rest days we took day trips on the trains to Louisiana to look at some modern art and to Hillerød to visit Frederiksborg Castle.
I finally got enough people to visit me at the same time to make it worth it to get on a GoBoat again! I remembered the tip from my ex-flatmate to book ahead and to bring some food, snacks and beers to enjoy on the ride. My boyfriend operated the boat and he said, several times, that it was the best day of his life! But if there isn’t a group of you, you can still enjoy the Copenhagen waters! When my next visitor came, we took a canal tour (you just have to turn up at Gammel Strand or Nyhavn to purchase tickets). These tours take you further than you can go in an hour on a GoBoat and you get some good tourist facts from the tour guides! Our one was called Oliver and he even gave us a rendition of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep!
This last week of June was also the week-long celebration of high school graduations – Studenterkørsel weekend. I, as a foreigner, can only describe it as open side party trucks on the road with young people in sailor caps drinking, dancing and shouting to Justin Bieber’s Sorry (good song), whilst the truck driver and other drivers around beeped their horns in encouragement/celebration.
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without eating out and trying some new nordic food. This month we visited Höst, the sister restaurant of Väkst which I also visited in February. Both of these restaurants offer impressive nordic food set menus at a really good price of 325 DKK for 3 courses (actually more like 5 with all the ‘snacks’ they give you). Their service is excellent and the food is tasty and interesting without being weird. I also visited a restaurant dubbed Noma’s little brother, 108. This year, 108 was awarded its first Michelin star! They also offer new nordic food but they don’t have a set menu. The atmosphere is trendy and casual and so is their menu – there are inexpensive small plates to share or to have as starters that are then followed by their larger sharing dishes. We really liked their food. The fried brown beech mushrooms topped with seaweed and mushroom powder and served with smoked egg yolk sauce was delicious!
For other typical Danish foods, I’d recommend smørrebrød. We found time to revisit Cafe Gammel Torv, which we first learnt about from our Foods of Copenhagen tour last September. We got the platter which is 5 different smørrebrød served one after the other. Our favourite was the breaded fish. I was happy to find that Nyhavn also has a branch of Rajissimo – that delicious gelateria that we discovered in Dragør! At this branch you can see them make the waffle cones! They are so crunchy and have a great caramelised flavour!
The sommer hygge
For those of you who think that hygge was a concept created for the long dark Danish winter days, think again! I learnt from my colleagues that there is such a thing as hygge in the summer. It’s sitting around a big table outside with friends and family, enjoying Danish treats and the long sunny evenings. The treats may include a BBQ, super sweet Danish strawberries of just the right ripeness, fresh peas popped out of the pod and a buttermilk dessert dish called koldskål.
Koldskål can be purchased all year round but apparently, all the good stuff that’s unpasteurised and organic (from Irma) can only be brought during the summer. Apparently the best stuff is homemade. If you want to try it yourself you can google a recipe! It’s usually served in a bowl and is topped with tiny biscuits called kammerjunker and it’s normally eaten with a dessert spoon so that you get the right amount of biscuit to koldskål ratio. We had it at work today instead of cake for Friday’s cake club, with a teaspoon (so the ratio was off)! It was quite nice and I liked it but I still can’t see why it’s so special. But maybe the lunch table didn’t provide an atmosphere that was hyggeligt enough…
Happy one year anniversary to me and Copenhagen!
I have now been a resident of Denmark for a whole year! So this month has been a good time for some brief reflection…
- I still fecking love my career choice! It has its ups and downs but I love working here at the ISMC. I’m also getting over the mini hurdles of finding my way around and working out how to do what I want to do in all the different departments or campuses. My boss is awesome and a great mentor, and my colleagues are really really lovely!
- My boyfriend pointed out, “You’ve made some really good friends here!” And you know what? I have! They are all fabulous! Some of them are even Danish! Check. Me. Out!
- Cycling is easy! I’ve got this sh*t down†. It was tough through strong winds, dark winter mornings, cold and wet winter evenings, sweaty summer days and getting sunburnt shoulders. But it’s definitely still one of my top 3 favourite things about living here.
- Copenhagen is a great city to live in! It’s been quite a ride so far but the adventure has only just began. So, like this sign says, the journey is on! There’s more excitement I want to share but I’m going to save it for the next update!
(†Excuse me for my attitude, I’ve been watching a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “Can I get an amen up in here?”)