I had a funny experience a few weeks ago. A friend(-ish… more of a friendly acquaintance, I guess) of mine from Ren Fest has a band outside of Fest, and I’d never gone to any of his shows. Finally there was one I could make it to, and I convinced my (ESTJ, I think) friend, Sarah, to go with me. So we got to the bar, found some seats at the bar, and ordered some drinks. Shortly thereafter, my friend, R, from Fest saw me and came over to say hello. He’s an INFP (self-proclaimed), and we said sort of an awkward hello and had a sort of awkward, brief conversation. It was probably made even more awkward than usual, due to the fact that I had a slight crush on him at the time, but it would have definitely been awkward anyway. Presently, R announced that he had to make the rounds (an exit strategy!) and moved on. Sarah and I proceeded to chat (we’re close friends, so not awkwardly!) and consume our drinks.
After his first set, R came back over to talk to us again. He had a can of PBR in his hand, and by that time, I’d had at least one glass of wine. I wasn’t drunk, but I was definitely disinhibited. We then proceeded to have a very animated, not-at-all-awkward, and even (gasp!) personal conversation about Fest, while Sarah looked on, a somewhat astonished expression on her face. It must have looked strange to her, as an E, but I knew exactly what was going on. Get a little alcohol into an introvert, especially two INFs, and we start spewing out all the feelings we don’t know how to express when we’re sober.
We’re not technically supposed to drink at Fest, since we’re part of the cast, but I think I might have to imbibe just a little each day next season, for communication purposes and entertainment value.
Right now I’m in Philadelphia for the CIEE conference. I find conferences exhausting, but I think I’m getting better at them. I’m certainly getting better at networking.
There are 5 of us here from my office. Most of the staff are sharing double rooms, but I booked my room super late, and all of the double rooms at the conference hotel were taken, so I have my own room. I kind of feel bad about that, because the hotel is pretty pricey, and in retrospect I feel like I should have booked a room at a nearby but cheaper hotel (there’s Holiday Inn a couple blocks away), but I didn’t think of it at the time and what’s done is done. As long as I have my own room, I might as well enjoy it!
Actually, it has been quite good for me to have my own room. First of all, of course, it makes it easier for me to get the down time I need, away from people, to recharge. But also, it enables me to get out on my own a lot more. I’m pretty independent and like to do my own thing, but if I were rooming with someone from work, we’d probably be going to all the receptions and things together. Instead, I’ve just been going on my own and meeting people there/on the way there to hang out with during the event. I am actually quite proud of myself because I haven’t been hanging out with the other people in my office a lot here. Most notably, I went to the reception tonight alone, met someone on the bus on the way there and then sat with her and some other people at dinner. I briefly said hello to other peeps in my office, but many of them were hanging out together– and I’m the extreme “I” that no one thought could handle these types of situations! On the bus on the way home, I met another new colleague and talked with him (a very charming guy from London… love that accent!!). Last night, I went to a dinner hosted by DIS, and met a few lovely people who were at my table. I’ve also been introduced to a few people by my office colleagues here, and had perfectly successful networking-type chats with them. I am very tired, and I’ve had to take an afternoon nap between daytime events and evening receptions, both today and yesterday.
I have this very romantic notion about ships and the sea. They always just captivate me for some reason. So of course, I loved the old port are, Nyhavn:
The Danes are generally very proud of their Viking history. We got to go visit the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, and see some actual Viking ships that were recovered from the sea and reconstructed. This next photo isn’t mine– I forgot to charge my camera the night before and it was completely dead the day we did this outing.
Two very Danish things: Waiting for the Green Man to cross the street, and having a bicycle as one’s primary mode of transportation:
Denmark is a big center for the sustainability movement. Copenhagen is very bike friendly. This is DIS’s staff parking area:
Denmark isn’t really known for its cuisine, but I sure ate a lot of good food there!
For lunch one day DIS provided the famous open-face sandwiches, which were very pretty. I wish I would have taken pictures, but I didn’t. I tried 2 different kinds, and one was very tasty, but one had liver pate hidden underneath a slice of ham. I did not like that. Yuck.I think that one was called Veterinarian’s Treat or something– well, the dog would have liked it.
We also went to a traditional Danish restaurant one night. I had cabbage, very salty meatballs, and yellow potatoes. It was pretty good, but not terribly interesting, and it was very salty. I liked the potatoes the best.
But like I said, I did have some very yummy food in Copenhagen. One of my great food experiences was at this place:
Yummmmm! Tapas. On the left is squash, then beets, which I usually hate but this was really good, then scallop, then beef then some kind of ham, I think, with bleu cheese. I ate everything, and there was also lots of wine. Apparently Christel, the woman who planned the workshop, was afraid that “small plates” would not be enough food. Uh yeah, there was totally enough food–I was soooooo full!
Another thing I found very attractive about Danish culture, aside from its introvert-friendly values, is that it’s a very egalitarian society. The income gap between the richest and the poorest Danes is relatively small, Danes are notoriously modest and don’t lie to show off, and they genuinely care about the good of the collective. We had a visitor yesterday from the psychology department at DIS (who I met in Denmark, and now she is here for a week) who gave a lecture on why the Danes are consistently ranked the happiest country in the world. One of the things she said is that collective societies tend to have higher suicide rates but lower happiness, where as individualist societies tend to be the opposite – more happiness, but also more suicide. Denmark, she said, is what’s called a individualist collective society (or something like that), meaning that they pursue their own hopes and dreams, but feel that one shouldn’t pursue one’s personal happiness at the expense of the collective.
That’s probably why, in general, they don’t mind paying the high taxes that they do. The average tax rate in Denmark is 50%. That’s right, half of your income goes to taxes. The highest earners pay up to 75% – I talked to one woman who said she pays 70%, and she was complaining a little bit, but really not too bitterly. Even those who make minimum wage pay around 30% income taxes. But the minimum wage, AFTER TAXES, is still the equivalent of about $18-20/hour– more than I currently earn at my job. Of course the cost of living is higher than in Minnesota, but in general I think Danes earning minimum wage probably live a lot more comfortably than Minnesotans earning minimum wage, which is $6.15/hour here (BEFORE taxes).
I spent last week in Copenhagen, Denmark, visiting one of our study abroad partners, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS). Every semester, they hold a workshop for international educators. My university gets to send two staff and/or faculty members each semester, because DIS’s North American office is on our campus, and we’re their school of record, so we have a pretty close relationship with them. I was supposed to go in April, but due to the infamous ash cloud, everyone’s flights and subsequently the entire workshop were canceled. But I finally got there, and I’m so glad—it was GREAT!!
First of all, Copenhagen is a great city. It’s very walkable, but also has good public transportation. Everyone speaks English wonderfully, and they don’t mind doing it, but you are still surrounded by a different language in print and in conversations around you. Not to mention it’s just a beautiful place!