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The Final Sketchbook Tour? Days 090-118

cold weather Danish life, explorations in local architecture, and amendments to my previous promises and commitments

Day 090

The Blox building is pretty hard to miss if you’re walking along the main harbor of Copenhagen. It is aptly named, with a blocky additive form of green glass and metal. It houses the Danish Architectural Center, DAC, a gym, offices, and even pricey apartments. This sketch of a man looking at a large model of an apartment building in Sydhavn is from the opening night of DAC’s Vores Arkitecture exhibit. The exhibit had construction drawings, images, and -my favorite part- models from different Vilhelm Lauritzen projects – a Danish firm that has been practicing for 100 years.

Day 091

The SMK (Statens Museum of Kunst/National Museum of Art) does several SMK nights throughout the year. The entire museum has free admissions, and food trucks and drinks are available in the concourse. I went there on a field study with my Danish Class to enjoy the food, friendship, and of course, analyze some danish art. The museum has an interesting collection of historical/classical and contemporary art. The building itself is divided into an older classical portion and a modern addition. This sketch is the space between the two. Lit up with some seasonally appropriate snowflake lights.

Day 092

It is far from a secret that I’m a fan of some good tea, and bad tea too. My palette isn’t exactly what I would deem discerning. My host mom is also a fan, and having family tea now and then has been a fun way to bond with my host family. Exploring the tea options in Copenhagen has also been a fun way to Explore. A.C. Perch’s Tea and Østerlandsk Thus are favorites for grabbing some looseleaf, and Tant T’s matcha lattes do not disappoint. But alas, I didn’t sketch a cup of tea today because I found a new favorite plant water joint. This cup was today’s muse because I was feeling pretty sickly, and this was about the only thing that kept me going.

Day 093

Despite not feeling the greatest, I rallied and attended The AmCham thanksgiving banquet. I was able to meet some delightful people and eat a surprisingly accurate “Amercian-style” thanksgiving. I wasn’t expecting it, but this ended up being an extremely impactful experience for my journey abroad. I wrote more about it in my blog post, An Unexpected Turkey Day.

Day 097

The most observant among you may realize that, for the first time, I’ve skipped a couple of days. After I eased off the fever reducers that allowed me to finish a paper, I soon realized I was sicker than I thought. As a result, I missed the last couple of class days before thanksgiving break and spent a good chunk of my vacation attempting to sleep off a fever.

At the end of my infirmity, I found myself more than a couple of days behind on my sketching. This wasn’t new, truthfully, in the past month, I’ve often done sketches for 3-4 days on one night, but the source photos for these drawings were always from the experience and the day I labeled them. I still enjoy these sketches, but creating them had started feeling like a chore, and as classes continued to ramp up, I was left with less time to explore and a lack of desire to redraw places I see every day.

The final straw that broke the camel’s back which was my resolve to sketch every day abroad was the quickly diminishing pages in my sketchbook that would not last me until my flight west. There are some sketches in this book that I did before arriving in Copenhagen, but that bothered me significantly less than the thought of not containing my semester sketches in one book. So, I ditched the plan. I showed myself some grace and decided that with my remaining time in Copenhagen, I would only do enough daily sketches to finish my sketchbook, and instead of grabbing random pictures of the city to sketch later I would only choose images with meaningful experiences behind them.

The first of these sketches is an image of the JuleMarked in Gammeltorv. This Christmas market and others like it pop up all over Copenhagen pretty much the moment Halloween decorations are disassembled. They provide warm snacks and drinks, tricks that make for perfect stocking stuffers and their arrival brings giddy glee out of tired students and groans out of equally tired teachers. I didn’t do my holiday shopping at a Julemarked, but I have frequently enjoyed walking through their festive atmospheres.

Day 100

It was quite fitting, in my opinion, that my 100th day in Denmark also happened to be the first day of Advent. Advent is traditionally the start of the Christian church year and the time my family fully embraces the Christmas season. Much to my delight, my Danish host family celebrated the occasion by pulling out an advent wreath. I grew up counting down the days until Christmas with my family’s advent wreath. It is a simple candle holder with four candles representing the four weeks of advent. Each week on Sunday another candle is lit, and while there are some slight differences between my host family’s wreath and the wreaths of my childhood, it was a welcome taste of home during a holiday season that can seem lonesome separated from family.

Day 111

It has been unusually chilly for a Danish December, but that has meant snow! Snow isn’t uncommon in Denmark, but it usually melts shortly after falling, so there isn’t much accumulation, unlike my home state of Minnesota. (I’m writing this after my home state decided to welcome me back with a blizzard.) The wintery change to the landscape provided some of my friends from Southern parts of the US with some snow time, and it provided me with an excuse to make yet another sketch of Amager Fealled since it acquired some new decor. This admittedly chilly walk through the woods was made complete by a couple of deer running accross the path in front of me and a classic case of snow blindness.

Day 113

My host family members are not huge fans of Julemarked in the city center of Copenhagen, but they did take the holiday opportunity to travel south to Dragor. Dragor is an old town on the southern tip of Amager. I briefly saw its peaceful yellow houses early in the semester when I biked the coast of Amager, but for this excursion, I was happy to drive. We spent some time walking through the town and on the pier before heading to the Julemarked at the center of town where we enjoyed some warm beverages and children singing carols.

Day 116

I participated in the Career Connection Homestay this semester. A handful of students live with a host family where one of the host parents works in a field they are pursuing. It is a great opportunity for students to gain exposure to Danish workplace customs and to network within their field. With classes officially over, I had the opportunity to spend the morning with my host dad, visiting his office and some of the construction sites he is working on as an architect specializing in Urban planning and management. One of the sites was near Carlsberg Byen in Vestebro, so we took the opportunity to walk around and enjoy the landscaping of the affluent neighborhood.

Day 118

The final day in Denmark was emotional for me, and I knew I would be coming back in a month, so I can’t imagine yet what it feels like to leave without a return ticket in your proverbial back pocket. There isn’t a single image I could choose that would adequately summarize my semester, so instead, I drew another picture of the rental bike that brought me on so many adventures. Maybe it was the emotion, but it is clear that my biking ability has improved far more than my ability to draw bicycles.


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