Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole (Stephanie)



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    Danish Hygge

    By Stephanie
    Oct 7, '09 6:11 PM EST

    Last Thursday the head of our department, Karina Mose, invited the foreign students for dinner. Her house is near the Lyngby/Sorgenfri stations, on the edge of Copenhagen. Each student was to make a 'cultural' dish. Being Canadian, I had limited options (poutine would have been great, but I can't find cheese curds or thick cut fries for the life of me...) I settled for roast beef since it's kind of my tradition to make roast beef near Thanksgiving. Yeah.

    The landscape was so beautiful! It was really as if you were going into a whole different country...

    When we arrived there, Karina took us down to the Lyngy SØ, the deepest lake in Denmark. Reportedly, people are still going down for their morning 'bath' in the lake, though the temperatures have been hovering around 5 degrees in the morning! All I can say is they must have amazing circulation around here.

    We ended up walking through a lovely path that took us by canals, horses, and leaf-strewn forests. It was really nice to get an idea of what the Danish countryside is like, even though the city is lovely as well.

    Finally we cozied up in Karina's living room and started serving food. I think the best one was from Chile, some kind of rice-curry with chicken. Overall the food was really delicious, and it was nice to see what is common in different parts of the world. Scandinavia is notably obsessed with eating smoked or raw fish. *gag* I love fish in most of its forms, just not while it's still slimy.

    Here's where I need to interject with the explanation of Danish Hygge. Wikipedia describes it as something cozy, comfortable, and warm... or alternately, the absense of all things annoying. It generally involves candles, fleece blankets, wine, good friends, etc.

    Apparently this is a concept the Danish feel the need to specify against all other kinds of gatherings. 'You can come over and we'll do the Hygge'... like it's some kind of special dance that only THEY know. Come on. We have hygge in Canada. We just do it so naturally that we don't need a special name.

    Well. Okay fine. We don't do hygge.

    The Dutch have a similar concept: 'geselig.' I remember being told about it's specialness last year by my workmates in Amsterdam. But I'm starting to suspect that all the northern European countries have some form of 'coziness' or the other, with the common denominator being lots and lots of booze.

    Anyways. Here's what hygge looks like.

    We have 3 Danish students in the foreign class (seems weird, I know, but they chose to be there!). Two of them got together to make a special traditional dessert. This is actually a birthday cake, and it's supposed to look like the person whose birthday it is. Well, we didn't have any birthdays going on, so they just made it look like a robot.

    Complete with licorice shoe-laces, wine gums, gummi bears, and all other manner of candy delights!

    All in all, it was a super nice evening.

    Which brings me to the school side of things.

    We did a series of workshops in September, which I described earlier. These were our 'electives' if you will, and now that they're finished, we are free to do design from now until our final review in December. That's right, we JUST have design. You know what that means?

    -No extra projects taking up every waking moment
    -No group work!!! Happy!
    -You can work normal hours and still have time to make a nutricious dinner!
    -Time to do things other than school *shock*

    I know. It's unheard of. We actually get to focus our time and resources on the thing we all like the best, and can still enjoy an active life! Someone should really tell North American schools about this, I've already seen people blogging about all-nighters. I think I can safely say that if you have to pull an all-nighter here, it's because you're pretty damn lazy.

    Eh. I kind of always thought that anyways. But this confirms it.


    • very informative. I suspect the concept Hygge/Geselig may have to do with the weather and having informal gatherings in the home - bodies to warm a space. Just a thought. I am currently tutoring a class that has at the forefront how space is used (versus space planning) as the driving concept and this post suits my thinking very well. Good stuff!

      Oct 8, 09 8:26 pm  · 

      This post REALLY makes me want to visit Denmark. Please please keep up your posting. I'm very curious! Also, your experience with the way studio is treated sounds similar to other northern european studio experiences I've heard about... sounds like you have MUCH more time and mental space to allow yourself to be creative. Also, this is the way to learn how to manage your time -- not via the North American way : "we'll throw more work at you than there are hours in the day, and then tell you 'you need to learn how to manage your time!' without giving you any tools to figure out how to do that!"

      ..."managing your time properly" kind of goes out the window when you literally are so overloaded with work expected of you that you could skip sleep and eating for the full semester and still not have enough time to meet the demands. ugh.

      Oct 12, 09 12:17 pm  · 

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