Throwing a Fin-tastic Birthday

This past week we got to celebrate my friend Justin’s birthday! And what better way to spend your birthday than at the aquarium IMMEDEATLY followed by sushi (Ironic isn’t it?). After spending a couple hours turning in a final paper and preparing a presentation, we decided to head to the aquarium. It looked really cool from the outside, and inside it was also beautiful. We saw everything from the sea otters, octopi, and obviously many, many fish. We even got to watch them feed the piranhas! It was truly terrifying but I am glad there are none in Denmark and the United States (well, not in the wild at least).

We also got to touch some stingrays in their touch pool and have our hands cleaned by doctor fish. They like to eat the dead skin off of you, which is the WIERDEST feeling ever. You can probably tell by my facial expressions…

Afterwards, we decided to head to the sushi restaurant named Uma. We got the all you can eat sushi menu, which was the best and worst decision we ever made. For 6 people, we ordered: 25 gyoza, 3 edamame bowls, and roughly 40 rolls of sushi. I felt so full afterwards and yet some of my friends decided to go and get shakes from McDonalds afterwards. Truly a gluttonous night.

This also happens to be my last week here in Copenhagen ☹. Its unfortunate that it has to end so soon, but I hope to get in all the rest of my bucket list before I leave. I will also be covering the DIS Copenhagen Instagram again tomorrow for the student showcase if you read this in time! If not, don’t worry. They are all archived in the story sections on the Instagram page so you can view it later. Off to go Hygge one last time!

Family Time in Sweden

I was fortunate enough to meet my Swedish relatives this past break! We had 3 days off from DIS in which my family came to visit me, but for us to also go to Sweden. We traveled to Malmö where we rented a car and then drove 3 hours to Karlskrona. It was really crazy to drive at 3:30 completely dark out but I guess that’s the life here in Scandinavia. We also ended up staying in this really nice cabin on the ocean!

This was the first time my family and I have met them which made for a really cool and fun experience. My great grandfather, Albert, emigrated from Sweden to America. He has multiple brothers and sisters in which our relatives descended from. I learned more about my family history and how a lot of our family traditions around Christmas time are influenced by or are Swedish. We love to make pepparkakor aka ginger snaps, Swedish meatballs, lingonberry sauce, and have lots of dala horses around the house.

Our relatives showed us a lot of places in Karlskrona. We visited the forest my great grandfather left from, where his old house was, his school, and even where he was baptized. We even had some non-alcoholic glögg and pepparkakor on the side of the road. It was pretty surreal. They even threw us a party to welcome us! I felt like I made a connection back through my family past, and that really meant a lot to me.

It also means a lot to me to know my family history. For us Americans, we care a lot about out background and where we came from. You can see that in our mascots, media, or even just talking to others. But not a lot of us can say that we have met or know that side of our history. I have been fortunate enough to learn and meet this side which is absolutely magical.

Sweden feels like home to me, and I hope to continue my journey there after I am done with my degree back home. Living here in Copenhagen, visiting family, and going to Stockholm has made me fall in love with Scandinavia. I wish I didn’t have to go home in less than 2 weeks. Copenhagen you great.

“Seal” of Approval

WARNING: If you hate blood or dead animals, I would not recommend reading any further. We did a seal dissection so just be cautious!

Hi everyone! I have been super busy over the past 2 weeks turning in roughly: 4 papers/lab reports, 1 test, 2 journal clubs, and getting ready to my parents to come to go see our Swedish relatives for the first time. Let’s just say I am really excited to get away for the next few days. What I am even more excited about is to tell you about last week and how I went to Sweden and got to watch a seal dissection!

Last week I got to visit my friend Anja in Stockholm. She is actually in the DIS Stockholm program doing Translational Medicine: From Bench to Bedside and I would highly recommend going and watching her Instagram takeover she did a few weeks back (and mine of course 😊). I met and stayed with her host family who were absolutely amazing, and I even got to go downtown and see the historic city! We also went to a Swedish IKEA so I truly feel like I experienced Swedish-Inception. And don’t get me started on those beautiful Swedish meatballs. Also, I may have bought a Fjällräven hat that may have been a bit too expensive but was totally worth it!

I also got to watch a seal dissection for my Biology of Marine Mammals course! I will say that is was great, except for the smell. When you get a whiff of the intestines that are not exactly cleaned out…. Yeaaaaa. It was supercool to watch a real marine mammologist take us through the steps of examination and procedure of how they dissect the animal. Our animal was a harbor seal who had been shot in the head due to it getting too close to the fishing nets because they have a law that hunters can legally shoot them if they get within 500 meters of said net.

What was also great about it was the fact that we could touch and pick up the body parts. You wouldn’t realize how heavy a seal heart truly is. There were also tons of cool adaptations the harbor seal had too, including flexible ribs and expandable spleens. It was one of the best field studies I have been on so far and really helped connect what we learned about the seals to a real-life experience.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Traveling Abroad

During this past week, I traveled across the northern continental part of Europe exploring what wonders there are to behold. Through 8 days, I traveled to Hamburg, Amsterdam, and Brussels! For 5 of those days in Hamburg and Amsterdam, I traveled by myself staying in hostels and learning how to navigate the cities. I’m not going to sugar coat it; Traveling solo is not easy and it definitely not for everyone. I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be navigating on my own and finding things to do as just a single person. But throughout the whole trip and even looking back, I wouldn’t have done it any differently. It gave me a new perspective on what it’s like being in a different country by yourself with no one to help you out. As humans, we strive to find a sense of community. This feeling is comforting to us and gives us peace of mind. This trip really made me realize this and appreciate anyone who has to go through that experience outside of a vacation setting.

The other 3 days when I was in Brussels, I was with my girlfriend Maggy! She has been studying abroad in Spain and I was super excited to see her again after we met in Berlin 2 weeks before for a trip. To share my cool experiences with you I decided I’ll be giving you my little “Hitchhiker’s Guide” to traveling around Europe, especially if you decide to do it solo. Also, sadly I have not read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and I have seen the movie but I don’t remember it, but I thought the title would was still be funny. Enjoy!

Trains are cool, but also scary

Traveling Europe by train? Well that’s what I did and honestly it was pretty fun. Turns out going from Copenhagen to Hamburg requires you to literally take the train with you on a ferry to cross the ocean. Usually you have lots of leg room, and it is a great way to see Europe from a different angle instead of the airport. Keeping all this in mind, trains can also be unpredictable. In Hamburg, my train turned out to leave 1 hour ahead of schedule due to construction work. If I hadn’t asked someone about that, I would have probably been stuck there for a considerable amount of time. Thankfully, I was able to get on the next train and make my connection to Amsterdam. Overall, highly recommend traveling by train. Just be aware of what’s going on.

Legs are useful tools

Legs. We have them. But what exactly can you do with them? Walk around! Using your legs to get around the city instead of by bus, train, or metro makes for a completely different experience. By walking, you can find new stuff to do that you didn’t think of, find new and exciting restaurants, or if you’re up for it walking around 8 miles through the biggest rural cemetery in the world (yes, I did that). In total, I walked 167,940 steps or 128.03 km or 79.56 miles over 8 days. I may have done a lot of walking, but I saved money, found new places I didn’t expect to see, and it was a great form of exercise!

Street Food=Best Food

If you want cheap, delicious food then look to the streets instead of a restaurant. Local bakery chains where you can get 3 chocolate croissants for 4 euros are usually really good deals! While they are cheap, don’t dismay the quality. Having tried the #1 Holland Fries in Amsterdam, all I can say is AmsterDAM. I don’t know what their fry sauce is but it is just absolutely delicious. Oh, and let’s not forget the Belgian Waffles on every street corner. I may have had a few too many…

Expect the Unexpected

This tip in combination with “Legs are Useful Tools” really make your experience one of a kind. The greatest example of this during my trip was walking to a square in downtown Brussels only to see the city skyline and this GIANT atomic structure in the foreground. I was so confused because I had never seen or heard of it. Turns out the name of it is the Atomium and it was honestly one of the coolest places I have ever been to. Also expect to find out that someone in your hostel in Hamburg knows your friend from Santa Cruz, California (don’t actually expect that but this literally did happen to me).

Au Revoir and on to the next galaxy!

Myself

Picturesque

These past 2 weeks have been very busy for me! Lots of tests, more traveling, and honestly me trying to get back into the swing of things. Except now I leave for my independent travel week! This is a whole week I get off to travel wherever I please. I will be traveling solo for a big portion of it, but I think I will be able to give some good feedback afterwards, especially considering I’ve never stayed in a hostel.

I feel like I would be a bit repetitive talking about my past week like I have before, as it would mostly consist of me telling you about the sites I visited, and what classes I was studying for. But blog posts don’t necessarily have to be just writing. Instead, I will be repetitive in a different way. Pictures! I love taking them to the point I always have to stop my friends, but it is a great way to capture and remember the moment. Just make sure you do actually look at it with your own eyes from time to time. Hej hej and see you next week!

Study Tour Week 1

Holy cow! This past week, I was fortunate enough to have my long study tour where I got to explore Lisbon and Porto in Portugal. Here we explored everything from the cities themselves to the academic visits and what research they were doing. To make it easier and to tell the stories of the week, I decided to give a few emotions I experienced during the trip.

Happiness

On Monday, happiness. Obviously, I was happy the whole time, but nothing beats a good beach trip. After one of our academic visits, we had a planned group lunch by the beachside. Getting there took a while but was fun to find out how the bus system worked. When we finally got there, I could see the entire Atlantic Ocean. It was beautiful, glistening with crashing waves lining the shore. We had some free time afterwards, where I decided to jump on in. While the water was utterly cold, the fact that I had to opportunity to experience both sides of the Atlantic in my lifetime produced volumes of happiness that I couldn’t believe. It truly was a dream come true.

Surprise

On Wednesday, surprise. During our academic visit to iMM, the institute of molecular medicine, I was surprised to learn about what research they were doing there. Specifically, one of our hosts was working on developing a malaria vaccine. You don’t see this type of research often in the United States due to our geographical position. He mentioned that due to the difficulty of how malaria manifests within the liver and how many genes are associated (roughly 12,000), they had to come up with new ways to help people become immune. What did they decide on?  They decided to infect mosquitos with a non-active bacterium for malaria in humans, and the most effective way is for people to literally have 300 mosquitos bit you over 3 days to reduce infection spread by 95%. I couldn’t even imagine what that would feel like, and honestly was surprised how difficult research can be sometimes.

Excitement

On Wednesday, Excitement! I was given the opportunity to take over the DIS Copenhagen instagram page for the day where I got to show everyone what a day in the life might look like for a DIS student. It also included the iMM visit, but was super exciting to show everyone the city itself. This included taking a trip to the aquarium, pink street in downtown Lisbon, and the coolest food market I’ve ever been to. We also got to go to a castle on a mountain the day before! I had tuna from Azores with sweet potatoes and I think fish might be ruined forever after what I tasted. Holy cow it was good. It was exciting to see everyone tune in and join me!

Curiosity

On Thursday, Curiosity? After our morning academic visit to learn about stem cell engineering, we had the whole entire afternoon to explore on our own. We didn’t have any real plans, so a couple of my friends and I just let the wind take us wherever. We visited a monastery, got crepes TWICE, and even found some hidden gems. There was this balcony area we stumbled upon where I think I took the most beautiful picture I think I have ever taken (the first picture of this post!), and we even found random castle ruins we didn’t even know about. One of the funnier things we found is that there was a whole building dedicated to having elevators that took people down to the next street below. Lisbon, you’re weird.

Peacefulness

On Friday, Peacefulness. After a grueling 3 ½ hour flight in the middle seat with some terrible turbulence while a rain storm was going on, it was so peaceful to be back home. Sure, Portugal was fun and exciting, but nothing beats sleeping in your bed. Copenhagen has truly become to feel like my home. It took a little bit, but after the trip it felt safe to be back somewhere I knew. Hygge as the Danes would say. I realized this on the metro ride where I was exhausted and annoyed that I HATE turbulence, but at peace. I’m glad I came here, but nothing will stop my wanderlust for the next great adventure. I’m at peace with that.

(Milan)o Cookies

Hej! This past weekend, I finally took my first trip outside of Denmark to Milan, Italy. Lets just say that Italian pasta is soooooooo good. I went with my friends Mei, Justin, Justin #2, and the Justins’ friend Hanna who is another Carleton student studying in Barcelona! We left Friday night, only to arrive at Bergamo and somehow find a charter bus at the last minute and a taxi to where we were staying for the night in Milan. During the next 24 hours, we saw the famous Duomo Catholic Church, a castle, pretty parks, the Starbucks reserves, and got to have homemade Italian pizza and pasta.

To explain it in better terms, I took so many pictures that you can see everywhere I went and what I saw! I will say that Milan public transportation sucks, so I would advise not booking a flight Sunday morning at 6:35, especially if you don’t have a good way to the city center late at night. Mei and I had to sleep outside the airport for 3 hours before they opened it up and honestly was still better than paying 70 euros for a taxi. Overall, it was so much fun even if we were there for only 24 hours.

Sorry for a bit of a shorter post, but I am currently in Portugal for my long study tour (Be on the lookout this upcoming weekend for my bad interpretation of the trip that will definitely not be in Portuguese). I would also like to say that I am also doing an Instagram takeover for DIS at @dis.copenhagen this Wednesday! Follow me through one of my days in Lisbon where you get so see how boring I am. Vejo você na próxima vez!

Cooling down with Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid. An American staple that is great for a summer BBQ or when you just decide that water isn’t cutting it for you. I haven’t had Kool-Aid in many years, however someone in Denmark made me realize that we are doing it completely wrong. Toke, my host brother, has enlightened me on the greatest thing ever created. Danish Kool-Aid. OK so it’s not Kool-Aid brand like the United States, but it’s so much better that I can’t stop drinking it. Instead of the powdered mess we have, they instead have these juice concentrate’s that when diluted with 9 to 11 parts water creates a party of flavor in your mouth!

Going from left to right we have so many different flavors: Raspberry and Orange, Pineapple, Strawberry and Raspberry, Black Currant, Peach and Passion Fruit, and Elder-flower. There is way more flavors than this but it is already too many to count for me at this point. They are relatively cheap too, costing anywhere from 10 to 25 kroner which in the United States is around 1 to 3 USD. And now I present to you my top 3 flavors of Danish Kool-Aid.

3. Peach and Passion Fruit

I would like to describe Peach and Passion Fruit as the right amount of sweet with just the right amount of passion put into it. Having the tanginess of peach paired with the mildness of passion fruit, this flavor surely shines especially with regular water. While it can be paired with sparkling water instead, the water does not do the Kool-Aid justice, where the flavor is slightly muted by the CO2 bubbles. This flavor is fantastic and pair just right with any salad or salty snack.

2. Pineapple

This one may come as a shock to some, but I am a really big fan of pineapple to the point where I will say that pineapple does belong on pizza. This Kool-Aid recreates the flavor of pineapple, combining the correct amount of sweetness with the hint of sour real pineapple juice has. When paired with sparkling water, this is where pineapple shines. The mixture of bubbles with sweet and tangy is almost unbeatable, with anyone wanting to drink it to the last drop. I would recommend this flavor for almost every type of food, excluding desert as it would just be too sweet.

1.  Elder-flower

With Pineapple coming in a very close second, it cannot overpower the greatness that is elder-flower. With the delicate taste of the European elder, nothing can match this Kool-Aid. In regular water or sparkling water, you can never go wrong with this flavor. Semi-sweet with just enough tartness, it is something you would never find in the United States, which is honestly a shame. You will be gulping down this drink until the end of times, savoring the elder-flower taste and wanting to come back for more. I would recommend this flavor for any meal, but goes especially well with meat and potatoes.

Oh Yeah!

Kool-Aid Man

One “Hail” of a Week!

Laying down on the couch writing while watching the Liverpool Chelsea game, I realize I don’t have any grand idea for my next blog post. What should I write about? What do people want to know? Like a game of soccer, maybe people watch the game not just for the highlight real but to enjoy time together with friends. I guess that’s what this week has been like, sharing memories and good times. Or maybe I suck at soccer and would never make a highlight real. This blog post is about some of the stuff I did this week and some of the people I hung out with! Simple, but satisfying. Just like a goal or home run.

I guess to start I should say that due to unfortunate circumstances I’m no longer with my previous homestay, however I’m now living with a new homestay! I now live with Thor and Mia with their son Toke. Their daughter Mille is currently studying in the United States for a whole year. I guess you could say we switched places. They have been absolutely fantastic and amazing in every way possible. We even had a group dinner this past Saturday with a couple of my friends! Thor and Mia made us homemade pizza that had potatoes, prosciutto, grilled chicken and arugula on them. Oh, and don’t even get me started on how good Toge’s homemade chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake was.

Another exciting thing that happened this week was during one of my field studies. For my Biology of Marine Mammals class, we had the opportunity to go north to Helsingør and go porpoise watching on a boat. We were told that the weather was perfect for that day. There wasn’t much waves, it was slightly cold, and just a bit cloudy with some light rain. After getting on the boat, we realized that the weather was in fact perfect, only after getting hit with hail the size of golf balls for about 10 minutes straight. It was the craziest thing ever and came out of nowhere. It was one of the weirdest moments I’ve ever experienced, and something I will never forget. Luckily after enduring the crazy hail we were able to spot a porpoise female with her calf after about an hour. Life is crazy.

Some other small things I did this week include going on a canal tour with Toge and Mei, planning my long study tour in late October, and studying for a test. Balancing life in a homestay and school work has not been as hard as I thought. What has been hard is not playing baseball. No one here really plays the game, so it has been really hard to find people to play catch with. This blog has been really helpful in filling that gap, and I’m so glad to have such fantastic people around me

A Chocolate Core Course Week

This past week we had the opportunity to partake in 5 days dedicated to our core course. For mine, this was Medicine Biotechnology and Drug Development. It was super cool to learn about the research but also other things like marketing and what it means to be a startup company! I’ve decided to split this post into all 5 days and give you short rundowns so you don’t get bored of my writing (I hope you wouldn’t in the first place but we’re all human).

Day 1: Travel to Odense and Flødeboller!

  • 2-hour bus ride to Odense (the middle part of Denmark)
  • Walking tour in the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen
  • Meeting with Stephen J. Fey, CEO and cofounder of CelVivo
    • CelVivo is a startup company creating 3D cell culture technologies to create spheroids, organoids, and more for academia and pharmaceutical companies
  • Flødeboller, a Scandinavian treat that’s like a marshmallow covered in chocolate, making workshop at a local confectionery store
  • Dinner at a “food market” with multiple different restaurants
  • Night at a Cabininn!

Day 2: Aarhus and Aros

  • Early breakfast at Cabininn
  • Meeting with Dr. Martin Larsen at the Center for Clinical Proteomics at the University of Southern Denmark
    • Use of multiple mass spectrometry methods to identify and analyze cell proteins and diseases
  • 2-hour bus ride to Aarhus
  • Tour of Aros, a world-famous museum!
  • Time to walk around in Aarhus
  • Dinner at Grappa El Porto, a very nice Italian restaurant
  • Night at Cabininn!

Day 3: iNano, youNano, he she me Nano

  • Early breakfast at Cabininn
  • Visit to iNano (Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center), a collaboration between Asrhus and Aalbord University
    • Focuses on creating and researching nanomedicine, nanomaterials, and other varieties of technology for biological applications
  • Lunch at a local café
  • 4-hour bus ride home

Day 4: Stem Cell Hour

  • Presentation at DIS by Louise F. S. Lauritsen’s presentation on Non-clinical safety assessment
    • Information on how non-clinical safety testing works and the intricacies of things like first in human(FIH) doses are calculated
  • Lunch provided by DIS
  • Stem Cell Hour and learning about different regenerative therapies
    • Turns out, Dental Pulp cells can be used in your liver!
  • More information on our Drug Discovery Assignment where we all get to visit different pharmaceutical companies later in the year

Day 5: LeoPharma (No not the zodiac sign)

  • Visit to LeoPharma, a pharmaceutical company specializing in dermatology projects
    • Information on products, collaboration with other companies, and overall working environment including getting an Industrial PhD
  • Wrap up of our week!
I forgot to take pictures for the last 2 days so here’s a picture of Copenhagen Main Library. A great place to study!

Overall, this past week was a lot of fun. We got to see all sides of drug development from the start up to academics and ended with a giant pharmaceutical company. I also got to know a lot of my classmates better, including the fact that I’m the only one who actually likes licorice.

“We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”
-Jerry Garcia