"I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth, then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

 

Living the American dream in Copenhagen

Wow time has flown by fast, even though Denmark was on quiet holidays for a week due to Julen and Godt Nytar my month thus far has still been quite productive! I managed to visit 2 studios, get portfolio reviews, attended 6+ startup events/networking and I even managed to attend Design Trade DK for free! It was a three day design conference/trade show that featured the upcoming releases of Scandinavian Design. I went to a few talks and networked with designers, entrepreneurs, journalists, developers, directors and more. I was offered 6 freelance jobs but am taking on 3 of them. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to network. Especially entering the work force, it’s so vital to offsetting your career and in getting your name and your work known. It’s one thing to be a great designer but another to actually get people to discover you. With all this said, my month trip was the best decision I made in setting up my career in Copenhagen. I feel more than ever ready to enter the work force. 

It’s also been a blissful month of reflection for me. My feelings of moving back to Copenhagen has been reinforced. I have a better idea of what I want and what I plan to do when I’m back. It feels good to be proactive about one’s career and life.

I know living abroad has definitely made me grow which is why I want to continue doing it. I love being an expatriate. I love living in a foreign country and learning a new culture and language. I feel so alive and excited about life while being able to live abroad. Every day I am thankful for being here and I am challenged in a positive sense. I feel so much personal and mental growth from living abroad, which is why I need to keep doing this. 

I don’t know if Copenhagen is forever but it is for the next 3 - 4 years for sure. I’ve achieved happiness here and I’m becoming a stronger and better human being. My career is kickstarting with the network that I’ve built here. 

I can’t wait to move back permanently and continue building my career here. Copenhagen has no idea what’s in store, I’m going to take the design world by storm. 

I’m back København!

Wow, 4 months flew by just like that. It almost feels like a dream to be back in my favorite city. I had alot of mixed emotions and of course I went through reverse culture shock. It’s over with now and I’m glad I’m half way closer to moving back to Denmark. Being back for winter break has definitely reinforced my feelings. I’m more than a thousand percent sure I want to live here after graduation. It may or may not be forever but I really enjoy the living abroad experience. Especially in Europe, I’ve grown so comfortable here in my little danish home. I don’t see myself being anywhere else. This month has been quite busy, seeing old friends, sending out applications for jobs and finding an apartment. Oh and of course refamiliarizing myself with danish culture and all. I’m pretty proud of myself that I can still hold up a conversation in purely danish but I definitely need to take more classes. I will commit full time once I move back permanently in May. I hope when I go back to the states for my last semester, it won’t be as painful. These days aren’t going by as quick which is good because I want to savor every second I have in Denmark. 

Homemade Zucchini Noodle Turkey Burger topped with grilled onions and umami shoyu sauce.

After hopping on the bandwagon of eating paleo, I discovered the ramen burger but to my dismay, I couldn’t have it since it wasn’t paleo friendly. Thus I found a way to create a paleo version. Here’s the recipe.

For the zoodle (zuccini noodles) buns,

I used 2 zuccinis and used a veggie peeler to get them into shreds, afterward I cooked it for a few mins and then strained it and mixed it with an egg. Then I stored them in round bowls or you can use ramekins to create the round shape and refrigerate it for at least 15 mins. Afterward, I pan fried the buns with sesame oil until it was cooked.


For the patty
I combined ground turkey (you can use beef if you want), garlic, fish sauce, sugar and black pepper. Then gently form the meat into a ball, then flatten into a patty. Refrigerate until needed.

For the shoyu sauce, just mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 garlic crushed, 1/2 cm piece of ginger, grated 1 shallot or 1/4 small onion, chopped and 1 table spoon of olive oil, cook the sauce over a pan until it boils. 

Don’t forget to top with chopped scallion when you’re done! Bon appetit!

My apologies for the lack of blogging lately, it’s gotten busy at the office and I’ve been out and about. As I recall earlier, moving to a foreign country with no family, friends or anyone to support you is harder than it sounds. Since the last time, my social network has grown. I mentioned earlier about using meetup.com and couchsurfing.org to meet locals and its been going quite well. I met Carolyn (San Franciscan who finished her Master’s at Oxford and ended up interning in Copenhagen) and Vicki (Danish graphic design student who recently returned back to Copenhagen from working as an au pair in Australia for a year) Both girls are lovely and have made me feel more at home with Denmark. 

I feel like up to this point in my life, I don’t really need to many friends, on the weekdays it’s just mostly work and going to the gym and having down time for myself cause 8 hour working days really tire me out. It’s just the weekends, its nice to have company and a few girls to go out with for drinks. 

I still can’t tell if I can live in Denmark after graduation, a part of me feels like I’m so attached to Copenhagen is because this is the 2nd place I’ve lived in for so long aside from Maryland which I don’t count because it’s just a place I go to for school. I admit I’ve grown to be very comfortable in Denmark. I have a network of friends and a career network that’s fostering. I know I have to go back to America to make sure my feelings for Denmark are real and that I truly want this. Which now brings me to the fact that my journey is coming to a close in a little less than a month. August 8, my intern visa expires which means it’s time for me to go back to New York. My family planned a trip to Vancouver for a week before I start my senior year. I am sad that I have such little time left in this wonderful country but I’m excited to see what will happen when I return and the emotions I’ll get from the aftermath of studying and working abroad. The other day, I was flippin’ through my instagram pictures and came across these.

image

image

37 weeks ago, my life changed forever and for the better. I know this isn’t the last time I’ll be back in Denmark. 2013 is seriously the best year of my life. 

La Vagabond. turned 2 today!

La Vagabond. turned 2 today!

(Source: assets)

Social survival in Denmark

So it’s been well over 6 or 8 weeks now since I’ve been on my own. Everyone from DIS left weeks ago, the reality of living in a foreign country all by myself is becoming more real. I have to say it’s not easy when you don’t know anyone or have any family. But at the same time because of this, it’s pushed me to be more social than usual. As I mentioned earlier I’ve been using couch surfing as a way to meet locals and travelers. I recently discovered meet up and am giving that a shot. I have to say it does feel weird to meet people from the internet. But honestly, how else can you do it nowadays? Especially when I don’t attend school here. So here are my experiences so far, it’s always a hit or miss.

Sometimes if you guys talk well on the internet, it does not always apply in real life. You may not work as well being friends, face to face, as you do on the internet. (That’s what I learned after befriending students from DIS prior to the program.) It’s sad that our generation has come to this. People have multiple personalities thanks to the internet. Like a wise friend of mine once said, the internet gives us the power to speak our thoughts but no face or being to stand behind it. We can be completely different people if we wanted to, courtesy of the internet. 

Don’t walk in with high expectations. I think I’ve reached a point that I no longer cared who I was talking to or spending time with. Nor did I expect anything to come out of it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been socially alone for a while that I was open to almost any social interaction I could acquire. I just wanted to listen to someone talk or talk to someone just to pass the time. I’ve met a lot of interesting people and heard plenty of stories. From couch surfing alone, I’ve met Brian, Kim and Jeppe. Each person had their own story, their own tales. They were in the age group of 26 - 36 years old. Sure it was cool to hear about these people, where they came from, how they got to where they are. But they weren’t people I would casually have dinner with or go shopping with. I realized these people were more like my mentors.. whom I go to for advice on life or etc. Do I feel like my time was wasted with these people? Not necessarily, I did get a good story time out of it and a few laughs here and there. 

Danes versus Americans. I met Americans from an accidental meet up, they were also relatively old. (Probably as old as my parents or even older.) I mean we still were able to hold conversation and what not, but I think I converse best with Danes even with age. Americans just overwhelm me sometimes, they speak their minds a little too much or they get into debates really quickly and its always about the right and left wing, yada yada yada, political rights, etc. No wonder I was so damn stressed living in that country. Danes are incredibly laid back and its all about enjoying life and discussing how to enjoy life. 

Old folks are more abundant than young folks, it’s true. From my experience, I haven’t met anyone that wasn’t at least 5 years older than me from Couch surfing or meet up. I hate saying this but maybe its that age where you start to get lonely. At my age in Copenhagen, its rare to find locals on the internet. Probably because they already have a great group of friends from school or childhood, and honestly it’s rare to meet people that have traveled as much as I have. Most people my age, even in the States would probably be back home, not living in a foreign country for a whole summer on their own. 

Things weren’t looking up much from here until recently. I met a girl from couchsurfing who was 22 and she was American. She was also working as a paid intern in Copenhagen for the summer. We met up and we had endless conversation. I can’t tell if it was because she’s not much older than me or the fact that she was a girl that we had such a good bond. It has seriously been a great relief to talk to a human being about life and to have a female friend again. So finding friends on the internet isn’t all bad. There can be some great turn outs. 

In the end, all of this was a learning experience. I realized what worked and what didn’t work and what I needed. Now I’m well aware that I have to narrow down my choices of friends to no more than 4 years my age and no less than 2 years younger than me. What I need now is a group of friends to hang out with, have picnics, go to the beach, shopping, have drinks, get coffee, and discuss about youth media. Not well established 30 something year olds who talk about life and where they plan to be within the year with their career. The only exception I’ll ever make to this rule is if I’m using the friendship opportunity as a career opportunity, ‘Cause hey, it never hurts to have a strong network when you’re about to graduate college in less than a year. 

Bottomline, always keep an open mind and focus on what you want out of it. Apply this to every relationship you can, either friends or love.

Taler du dansk?

Jeg kan tale lidt dansk…

I took danish language and culture 1 last semester, I signed up for it within 3 days since I arrived to Copenhagen because for 1. It annoyed me that I couldn’t read the signs. 2. I didn’t know what anyone was saying to me. 3. I wanted to blend in as a local, ( I feel like it’s obvious you’re a foreigner when you speak english to people.) 4. I just wanted to be more immersed in the culture of the country I’m living in. ‘Cause you know it’d be helpful. 

The classes did help and has left me wanting to learn more danish. I found out as a foreigner you are allowed to take up to 3 years of danish for free. It can go up to level 5 which is a more fluent and intermediate level, by then you should be able to hold conversations with people in danish. 

I was going to sign up for these classes but they told me they were off for the whole month of July cause it was summer time in Denmark. They advised it would be best to sign up when I officially move back. I still practice my danish as much as I can. I admit it’s hard when you work at an international office and english is the spoken language amongst you and your coworkers. However whenever I go out to eat or order anything I always, always do it in danish. When I speak to danes, I still incorporate danish in my conversation. Like sometimes I would start a sentence in danish but end in english.. I guess you can say I speak danlish? engnish? This American here ain’t gonna give up! 

Socializing with the Danes

What DIS has told me about Danes is how closed off they are or how difficult it is to befriend them but once you do, you’ve got a friend for life. I don’t think this is particularly true and I actually see this statement as a stereotype. It’s true that Danes aren’t as friendly to strangers as Americans are but in no way would they shut you off. Living in a foreign country by yourself without your American friends around for the last 2 months has pushed me to be more social than usual. It’s true that throughout the semester I stuck around my Americans for comfort and plus we’ve already met from classes, so it was easy. I’m sure if I attended a real Danish university, I would’ve made more danish friends. I’ve tried many methods of meeting locals. Couchsurfing, bars, pubs and clubs. I think the best results derived from couchsurfing. Honestly, with night life, its not a place where you meet potential friends who will see you outside of night time and for a cup of coffee. It’s usually more like, “what happens in the club, stays in the club” kind of deal. Plus people are probably too drunk to remember who you are and what you both talked about the night before. With that said, I will now give my two cents on couch surfing. Yes, I would say use at your own caution since it is an internet website and you don’t know who you’re meeting but I’ve always had pleasant outcomes from it. I first used it during my Ireland trip. My friend bailed on me last minute so I ended up going on my own. It wasn’t bad except for times when I felt lonely so I used couchsurfing. I ended up meeting a fellow traveler and his friends and we went out for pub crawling and clubbing. It turned out to be alot of fun and I had pretty good conversations with Renee. His friends were pretty cool too and they were from Texas. My more recent encounters now are in Copenhagen. I’ve met a couple Danes from it, we had a few beers around Christiania and good talks. I used to not believe that men and women can’t just be friends without one or the other having physical or emotional attraction to the person and especially when you meet them on the internet. ‘Cause you know, why else would they talk to you? But that clearly wasn’t the case. Kim and Brian were both very friendly and laidback folks who solely just wanted to converse about life, enjoy a few drinks and nothing more.

So where do I go from here? I’m still learning how to meet more locals and people more in my age group. I have to admit that it’s harder when I don’t attend school here and probably won’t in Denmark in the near future. It’s different with work because your coworkers have their own lives and the age gap might hinder some social differences. (Some of my coworkers are old enough to be my uncle!) I will continue to use couch surfing and hopefully meet girls that are my age. I do miss having a female friend who I can go shopping with or have a girls night out with. 

Bottomline, don’t be discouraged from befriending Danes. All it really takes is a simple, “Hej, hvad hedder du? ” Once you know them, they really open up to you! Sometimes, you may not have to be the one to initiate, I’ve had Danes come up to me and stir up a conversation. Just always keep and open mind. 

21 one years later, 6 months of living in a foreign country I finally realize what was there all along.

Warning: the following post is going to be quite personal and long. Read at your own risk. 

Over and over again, I can’t get over the fact that I’m living and working in Denmark. It is indeed a dream. I know this is repetitive, my constant undying love for Copenhagen. Every day I have constant thoughts about life and deciding whether or not I will really move here. I’m sitting here in my studio apartment, gazing at the beautiful field at the park outside my window. After months of cruel winter, I’ve learned to never under appreciate good weather. That’s one thing Denmark has taught me. I would take the sun for granted so much back in the States because our weather was never really.. you know sh*t. I’ve accomplished a lot while being here, I’ve pushed myself to my limits. I’ve done crazy things, I’ve done things out of my own boundaries, lots and lots of mental growing (physically too from all these damn pastries and desserts, curse you Europe) The past 6 months, aside from traveling to 12 countries, 22 cities, I’ve started to reflect on what my own personal needs and wants are. It feels really good to be on my own and to be away from family. It’s given me alot of time to think and be selfish. I don’t want to sound conceited but I’m quite proud of how far I’ve gone. Being able to manage and live on my own in a foreign country with no one around to help me has upped my independence level quite a bit. Not only that, I’ve assimilated quite smoothly to danish culture. I’ve also traveled by myself to three out of the 12 countries I ventured to and have returned safely back to Denmark every time, my stay was always pleasant, no drama, no troubles. I’ve been able to navigate a city without a tour guide or tour group. I’ve stayed at a hostel with 25 people in one room before.. I’ve stayed in a hostel with a room with only 3 other guys…who were complete strangers. I’ve met people on the internet from couchsurfing or other sorts of sites for meeting friends. I’ve met and become friends with people from all over the world, from different backgrounds and countries. I’ve never had to hail or call a taxi to and from the airport. I’ve traveled to countries with literally just a backpack. I’m getting better at managing my own budget. There’s more to mention but those are on a more personal or explicit level so I won’t discuss it on my blog. Overall, I’ve gone through a lot and experienced many challenges which I’ve overcome. 

With all this in mind, where do I go from here? I’m working now as a paid graphic design intern at Seidenfaden Design. I love my job, I love my coworkers and I love doing what I do. Before I came to Denmark I really wanted to move to California after graduation. That idea is now thrown in the air because I’ve developed quite an attachment to Copenhagen. No country or city is perfect but so far Copenhagen is pretty close except for the crappy weather. I still have one more year left till I finish my bachelor’s degree which I am anticipating for. I’m terrified of going back, knowing the heartbreak I’ll go through because of how much I’ll miss Copenhagen and how hard it’ll be to culturally adjust to America.. At the same time, I think I’m ready to truly put myself to the test. I want to really make sure I want to move to Copenhagen. ‘Cause who knows? What if I actually really missed America and I just didn’t know it because of how foreign it has become to me? At the moment, I do want to move back but I wouldn’t become a permanent resident. Those thoughts may change if I do officially move back, I think I would only live in Copenhagen for 5 years after I graduate before I switch it up again to another city. 

I’m more than 100% certain I would not move back to New York. I hate that city and I’m glad I left. I wouldn’t stay in Baltimore either because well, it’s Baltimore.. 

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about moving to Copenhagen and he doubted me. He was telling me that I will realize I miss America and would want to stay there. He told me that all my friends and family were in America and my life was there, my native culture is there. But I thought back, it wasn’t true. Moving to a foreign country doesn’t scare me at all. To be frank, I never really had that many close friends to start with. Mostly just acquaintances. I would probably just miss 2 - 10 close friends at most but honestly I could live without them. It can be a bit boring sometimes when you live in a country where you don’t really know anyone. Sure, I’ve met locals but they’re not really people I would spend most of my time with and vice versa. But that may change in the future if I stayed here longer. I’ve never really felt lonely being in Europe but I don’t know if that would change if I stayed here longer. 

Having have traveled so much all my life, I think it’s safe to say that I want to settle down now. I actually don’t want to go to anymore cities or countries. I honestly want to stay put and have a more permanent life. I want to rent my own apartment, go furniture and house shopping, focus on my job, join a gym, read more books, keep up with world news, perfect my culinary skills, and maybe, maybe eventually share all this with a significant other. 

The past 5 years of wanderlusting has been my way of running away from my problems. I have more baggage than people know about, I just don’t talk about it unless I’m extremely close with someone. Traveling has been my method of avoiding these issues. I realized now that I can’t run anymore and these problems will always hit me back in the face one day. I never asked for much in life because my greatest fear of not acquiring happiness. But from not demanding anything in life leads me to being indecisive and not knowing what I want. Just because I didn’t want to be fastidious, does not mean I will be easily pleased. It’s even worse, I don’t know what pleases me. Now that I’ve learned from that. I know what I do want from life. I want a significant other. I want a close group of friends of at least 4 - 6 people. Not separate people but all of us will be a close group. It’s probably too late to ask for that now since I’m nearly done with college and these types of friendships start when you’re in high school..

I still blame the asshole who broke my heart 6 years ago, robbed my youth and stole my innocence. I hate him even more for putting me down and lowering my self worth to -infinity. The past few years, I’ve become even more doubtful in the dating world and not asking for what I want and not saying no when I should’ve because of him. He’s made me become fearful of rejection and being desireless. I became so afraid of being alone and not wanted by anyone that I was willing to accept nearly anyone who came my way. He made me feel worthless and unwanted. Most of all, he made me grow to hate the city I was born in. He’s ruined most of my life for me but I’m not going to let him anymore. It’s still taking some time to heal but it’s in the process. 

Now that I do know what I want, I’m not going to settle for less. I need to have the courage to be stronger than I am and to be persistent on my own demands. I have to stop being so wishy washy, yeah sure going with the flow is always a good idea but sometimes you gotta set your sails and take control when you should. Hopefully, I’ll soon get over my intimacy and relationship issues.. 

I’ve been eating too well at work, not only do I get unlimited coffee and rugbrød, Mark, one of the junior industrial designers makes pizza and cookies on the occasion, the guy loves to cook. Good thing I’m starting to run again!

This week has been incredibly exciting for Seidenfaden Design Copenhagen (SDC). We’ve recently signed a partnership with LKK Design based in China. The contract will last for a year and perhaps foster into a longer relationship. Basically what this means is that Denmark is expanding to China’s markets and vice versa. Here’s the press release for it. http://www.seidenfaden.dk/news/ex/2013-06-13/seidenfaden_design_copenhagen_signs_strategic_alliance_with_chinas_leading_design_firm

In the above pictures are the art director and CEO of Seidenfaden, Troels and Jonas. They have met and shook hands with CEO of LKK Design, David Jia. The firm in Shenzhen is visiting the studio this Friday and I get to make a speech for them as well as preparing the tea. It’ll be nice to practice my Cantonese again.. 

Today marks exactly 6 months since I’ve arrived in Denmark. I feel pretty certain that I want to come back here after I graduate. Studying abroad has changed my life and shifted some things I had planned earlier. I know now to never plan for things ahead cause you never know what tomorrow may bring. Never in a million years I’d thought I’d live in Denmark much rather wanting to move here. Even when I was choosing where to study abroad I was so set on England because of the lack of a language barrier and I had an appreciation for British culture. Denmark only happened because of academics and its prime location. I knew I wanted to be in Europe, I didn’t really care where as long as I was able to travel throughout Europe with ease. The study abroad school was the only option that worked out with my academic credits. Reflecting back now, one could almost say that Denmark was a happy accident.

Today marks exactly 6 months since I’ve arrived in Denmark. I feel pretty certain that I want to come back here after I graduate. Studying abroad has changed my life and shifted some things I had planned earlier. I know now to never plan for things ahead cause you never know what tomorrow may bring. Never in a million years I’d thought I’d live in Denmark much rather wanting to move here. Even when I was choosing where to study abroad I was so set on England because of the lack of a language barrier and I had an appreciation for British culture. Denmark only happened because of academics and its prime location. I knew I wanted to be in Europe, I didn’t really care where as long as I was able to travel throughout Europe with ease. The study abroad school was the only option that worked out with my academic credits. Reflecting back now, one could almost say that Denmark was a happy accident.

My baby. I haven’t named her yet but taking her out for a spin makes me feel infinite. Jeg elsker cykling i København.

My baby. I haven’t named her yet but taking her out for a spin makes me feel infinite. Jeg elsker cykling i København.