Monday, February 9, 2009

May I introduce: Denmark.

Here is my travel record thus far: Kiev, Copenhagen, Amsterdam...Århus? Never heard of it? How about Odense? Probably not...but if you were in Denmark, you would recognize these 2 cities as the second and third largest cities in Denmark; a deceiving statement, seeing as Odense's population of 150,000 barely exceeds the American standards of a large town. But, after spending the past month traveling some of Europe's capitals, it was about time to get to know my host country a little bit better.

Therefore, I set out with my fellow CMMers to take on Denmark's wild west, embarking on a study tour to the peninsula protruding from continental Europe, also known as Jutland, and Copenhagen's neighboring Island, Funen. We began our trip wet and bedraggled. Dragged out of bed at 7 in the morning to wait in the snow before climbing onto a bus for four hours did not leave us very presentable for our first visit to the the Danish School of Journalism in Århus where we were given a lecture about the academics of journalism in Denmark and the Danish approach to news journalism versus other European and American approaches. And by the time we finished our next lecture at Medietska Medier, a newspaper conglomerate of Danish local papers, where we heard the doomsday tale about print media for the second time that day, we were cramped, cranky, and ready to blow off some steam.

Thus, the thought of visiting the Åros Modern Art museum was not met with too much enthusiasm...until we were given a sneak preview to the not yet opened 'Enter-Action' exhibit. To say the least, I have very little knowledge of or appreciation for art, especially so-called 'modern art' (how is a canvas of blue paint art?)...and yet this exhibit not only caught my attention but inspired lots of 'oos and ahhhs' from my un-artsy mouth. Each 'piece' was more a marvel of creative technology than what one might consider art....but if this exhibit was a display of the direction that modern art is going in, then I expect that art museums will have to begin expecting a drastic increase in visitors. We got to meet the artists of all of the pieces, who explained their work to us (a very engaged audience with mouths hanging open and cameras at the ready.) One of the pieces, for example, consisted of 2 robotic wheelchairs who had emotions and were capable of interacting and even communicating with the audience. Another piece was a digitalized wall that flashed phrases taken from internet chatrooms at random (very cool, but at the same time alarming and somewhat creepy.) My favorite piece was a room lit by 300 lightbulbs, each flashing at the rate of a heart-beat taken from an observer.

That night was spent at a hostel in Århus, which we all compared to our experiences at summer camp. And though Århus is no København, we explored the city by night, eating some of the best burgers I've ever had and playing cards in a student bar with our trip leaders.

The following day began at Koldinghus, Denmark's oldest castle and finished with a tour of TV2, Denmark's prime TV station located in Odense, where we got to see a live broadcast of the 4 o'clock news. That night was also spent in a hostel, which was slightly more hotel-like than the previous one. The real exploration of Odense took place the following day on a 2 hour Hans Christian Andersen tour that walked us through all of the main sights of the town and finished at another museum (where we were much less impressed by the so-called modern 'art' on display.)

Needless to say, it was a very full weekend, and we all found that we were a little homesick for our home in Copenhagen. Arriving back at Skindergade and my Skindergade family was, needless to say, a wonderful homecoming and the trip helped me appreciate both Skindergade and Copenhagen even more than before. Nevertheless, it was very nice to meet you on to the next adventure.

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