Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thursday, October 30, 2008

DIS Study Tours

One of the main tasks for my position at DIS is to arrange companies for the Business and Economics students to visit while on two separate academically related tours. The first being a shorter three day excursion into Western Denmark and the second and longer tour that goes either to London and Brussels or Berlin and Prague (depending on what grouping they are in). In addition to arranging all of the company visits for the three groups, I co-lead one of the tours on both the short and long.

Short tour company examples this semester were NASDAQ OMX, Jyske Bank, Vestas Wind Systems, Bang and Olufsen, Innovation Living and Lego Systems.

Long Tour firms: Transport for London, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Brewer's Association, Belgacom, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling, Microsoft, Czech National Bank, Deutsche Bahn, Zendome, T-Mobile and the Czech Beer and Malt Association. Picture below is our group suited up for a tour of the factory floor after being given a presentation by the CFO.
Students also enjoy many cultural activites that are set up by our Study Tours department such as walking tours, museum visits, etc. and meals at iconic restaurants like the Prague TV Tower, Ugly Duckling, and the Berlin Restaurant for the Blind.
Our guide Daniel giving us the low down about the Berlin Wall (directly at his back). He has many interesting first hand experiences from living in Berlin during the fall of Communism.

Below is a video from a Hockey Game we saw in Berlin. It went to a shootout and the Berlin Polar Bears came out on top!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back in Copenhagen, Hej Josefine!

I have been fortunate to come back to Denmark to intern with my old school, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad as the International Business and Economics Program Assistant. Quite a mouth full, I will definitely have to get some business cards made. The contract is for thirteen months and I am really happy to get the opportunity to go abroad again and to see all my old friends and family. In fact, the second day my old host-brother Anders and his girlfriend Tanja (it is less common for Danes to get formally married) had a baby girl, Josephine. It was a little strange for me to think of Anders as a father but both he and Tanja are ecstatic and so is Ander's mom Lisbeth. She is a beautiful bundle of blue eyed joy and I held her like a delicate carton of eggs, always support the head!For the first month I have been staying with Lisbeth, who hosted me while I was a student. It has been good to reconnect with a family that I grew very close to in past. This week I will start renting an apartment in the city and riding a bicycle to work. I have enjoyed living with her because she has taught me about the real Denmark and is just a cool lady. Thanks again Lisbeth!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Glacier National Park

The one thing on the top of my to-do list this summer was to make it over to backpack around Glacier National Park. Tyler, Josh and I made a plan to take four days after the fourth of July and make our way to North-West Montana to see what the Blackfeet Native Americans call the "Backbone of the World." That saying is truly deserving. The landscape made me feel like a snowflake on Mt. Everest. There were endless 360 degree views of towering peaks, placid lakes, frozen glaciers and the occasional Grizzly...
Our journey into the backcountry toward our site at Poia Lake started innocently enough. That was until we went left instead of right and hiked for several hours until we reached an enormous bowl of cliffs. After some discussion we backtracked and surmised that the trail went off at such an angle that we could cut over to it if we did a little bushwhacking. Don't ever make your own trail unless you are a masochist. We spent a few hours in the deep woods with oversized packs stirring up uneartly aggresive swarms of mosquitos and disappointing ourselves with false sightings of the mysterious lake. When we thought we were at our wits end we broke through some branches and arrived on the beautiful, well maintained Yellow Brick Road that was going to effortlessly take us to salvation (pictured above amid Bear Grass, the large white flowers). Effortless turned out to be a small understatement. Keep in mind that this is hour ten with no stops over twenty minutes and a healthy midget on each of our backs. We hiked with determination in our hearts to find this chimera named Poia for another three hours of merciless incline until we happened across a couple hiking back from our port of call. The woman seemed a little ashen faced as they described the Grizzly who had been hanging around the lake's edge for most of the day refusing to cede any ground to the hairless apes. We had come so far and were so exhausted that we decided we would take our chances with Smoky. Our bear calls became more pronounced as we hiked the remaining three miles with a sharpened sense of our hunter-gatherer instincts. The campsite was heavily wooded and the lake was a further 100 meters downhill. We gave the area a good looking over and besides some fresh bear digs we could not spot the fabled bear. At this point we went back to the campsite and gorged ourselves trying to gain back some of our spent energy. I had my back to the trail with a fist full of trail mix when Tyler gave out a uncharacteristic "Oh my God." As if in a surreal dream, I glanced back and stared at a large dark-brown boulder thirty feet away in the middle of trail that had not been there before. The world turned slower as my intuition told me that this was in fact not a benign rock but a fully grown, flesh ripping carnivorous barbarian. This period of realization was plenty of time for him to have stormed our gates and done as much raping and pillaging as he desired. But to our luck he seemed only curious of the smell of our leaking pasta and man musk. We all stood up bear spray in hand ready to unload but he was as placid as morning pond, just a few sniffs of the passing air and he lumbered his way back down the trail. And so we arrived at a crossroads, spend the night with Smoky the Curious or hump all the way back down the trail we had nearly killed ourselves coming up? We surmised that we would not get a wink of sleep anyway so we should finish our meal and pound it out in the fading light. Thank God for endorphines and adrenaline because I'm sure the body is not able to take that kind of abuse normally. More fresh bear digs on the trail that had not been there before kept our bear calls true and the velcro on our spray cans undone. Never has the sight of my Pathfinder been so sweet as that day.
When we finally made it back to the main tourist campsites they were full and we had to head outside the park to stay in a seedy little motel that turned out to be blessing because the alternative was cramming into a ultra-lite three man tent that we had needlessly hauled over hell's half acre without showers. The smell would have been terrific.
If the trip had gone to plan and was free of a few bumps and turns I would have been disappointed. It is an amazing place and an adventure I will never forget.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Idaho's Crown Jewel 08'

One more summer of bliss in the greatest place on Earth, Priest Lake, ID. Josh and I returned for a few months of bar tending at Hill's Resort. To all of my fellow bartenders, servers, managers and owners thank you for making it such a fun experience. Belles, Bobby, Beth and Cheri you are the best supervisors I've ever worked for. Ben There, Dane That!These were taken on a hike up into the Selkirk Mountains to an area called the Wigwams. It took all I could muster to hang my legs off a 500 foot cliff. I think the ladybugs are mating?The EHL Crew made an appearance to take a canoe trip up the Thorofare into Upper Priest Lake for a night of camping. I really can't believe that the canoes didn't fly off the cars or that none of us managed to flip a canoe with all of our gear. Conor, I am really suprised it didn't happen to you. Have your mosquito bites scarred over yet Billy?Below is definitely the highlight of my summer. Lois Hill, John Ryan, Marcus, Josh and I went to the Green Owl near the town of Priest River. It is the most backwoods biker/logger bar I've ever been to. The owners live in a trailer behind it, three dogs make their way in and out and live on the dance floor, there is no food, one tap and an enormous fish in a tiny tank that they feed cherries. The sign we are standing next to read "WE LOVE YOU WHOREDOG AND WE'LL MISS YOU." If anyone can top this please mail me a picture.
Here is a hilarious video of Ryan Lodge from the Elkin's crew sliding down from the Wigwams, bottle of wine in tow. We were doing commercial ads for "Canyon's Edge" that they had 'borrowed' from the wine tasting the day before.

Monday, April 28, 2008

African Highlights

During our time in South Africa we stayed with Josh's brother Jeffrey and his family. They were extremely hospitable and graciously took us into their lively home. With all the guests it sometimes numbered between ten and fourteen persons. These picture are from the Groenkloof Nature Reserve which is literally right next to the capital, Pretoria. We were able to ride bike from the house into it. There are only ungulates and birds there so you can walk and bike around without having to worry about being stalked by lions or trampled by an elephant. The only danger you could run into is if you are dumb enough to try and ride a zebra. Below is a enormous grasshopper like insect that we noticed around the area. It was about as long as my hand!

The twin boys Isaac and Eugene had a birthday party that we held at the American Community Center, which is a facility behind the Ambassador's house that Americans can use. I got back to my arts and crafts roots and made a pinata out of paper mache. It held true through several glancing blows before a young girl connected with one and then kept swinging as the children dodged the mop handle to grab for the candy falling on the ground. We are lucky no one lost an eye.
This is Esaie, Jeffrey and Rose's baby boy. He likes to wear what he eats especially if it melts.
This is a shot of the beach in front of the hostel we stayed in Mozambique. Amazing place and country. It felt much more like the Africa you think of than South Africa. The scuba diving was also other worldly. So much different sea life. There were giant manta rays and whale sharks being seen everyday.
We met a girl named Lydia at one of the boys' soccer tournaments who had played on the National Soccer and Basketball teams and was giving a motivational, Don't Do Drugs type talk. She invited us to come to Soweto with some of her friends because she partly grew up there. Soweto was the part of Johannesburg that was a black area during apartheid and is actually bigger than Johannesburg itself. In the past there had been a lot of violence and it has a bad reputation but nothing we saw or people we talked to would indicate that. Lydia also is working for the World Cup that is coming to South Africa in 2010 so we were able to see the new visitor's center and one of the stadiums under a remodel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Drakensburg Mountains

We turned northward from Durban and entered the Drakensburg Mountains just East of landlocked country of Lesotho. We stayed in a hostel at the foot of the Amphitheater, which I grabbed a picture from the internet because our weather was not that nice. There are no trees in this area because of a combination of elevation, rainfall and soil quality so the people are all animal herders. Above is one of the many waterfalls that run off the flat top of the range.

Below are pictures of the Tugela Falls. It is the world's second highest waterfall at 3,110 feet that falls in five steps. It was completely clouded over so the only picture that turned out was the one below where I stood right next to it looking down. I probably would not have been so brave if I could have seen the bottom. The second picture below I found on the internet that shows its size.

The time we spent on the summit was cold, raining and windy so when we made it to the opposite slope we were all a little tense about climbing over a cliff edge on wet ancient steel chain ladders with frozen hands.The weather cleared in the way down and all the wet rock faces shined in the sun warming our hearts and bodies.

Friday, March 14, 2008


On our excursion along the South coast we met two South African guys Gary and Justin who we became friends with over a game of King's Cup in a hostel in Wilderness. They had been studying accounting in Stellenbosch but were from Durban and were making their way back home along our same route before going to London to work for a year. Justin was kind enough to invite us to stay with his family when we got to Durban and we were more than happy to take him up on it. It was a pleasant suprise and a side of South Africa we would have never seen. His parents had recently retired and bought a large Catamaran they were planning to sail all over the world. They were being certified to sail it and we got to accompany them out into Durban harbor for some basic sea trials (above). They fed us a ton of amazing food and I thank them again for being so kind and hospitable. Above we got to drive around in Justin's mom's convertible Saab and see parts of the city. It was a few steps above riding in African buses. Another day we went to the Inanda Dam and went waterskiing on the reservoir. This is in an area known as Kwazulu-Natal and is historically part of the kingdom of Zulus. It's nickname is "A Land of a Thousand Hills" because of the accordian like geography. Justin brought along his small surfboard and gave us all a lesson in barefoot waterskiing. He sat on the board as the boat gained speed and made his way just outside the wake and when we accelerated to around 30 mph he slowly stood up. I had to try and the video at the bottom is my first attempt. Josh took the video sideways so you have to turn your head to the left.

Ouch, and my feet were itchy afterward!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Garden Route

Moving along the Southern Coast we entered the area known as the Garden Route. It is popular among backpackers, which proved useful catching rides and meeting people from all over the world. There is a lot of diversity in the landscape including some of the best beaches in the country and old growth forests. It also helps that it is part of the Indian and not Atlantic Ocean so the water temperature is ten to fifteen degrees warmer.

These pictures are from an area known as the Transkei. It is where Nelson Mandela is from and was a "homeland," which were areas that were set aside and given a degree of autonomy from the South African government to pursue their policy of "separate development." It was just a smoke screen because the local government was controlled by the South African government, there was zero development done and they used these areas to recruit cheap labor for the mines in the wealthy areas. Because of this these areas are the most behind the rest of the country and have a completely different feel. Beautiful but poor.
This was a hostel dog in Storm's River that turned into a statue when you held a piece of food in front of him. So we had some fun seeing how much stuff we could put on him. We gave him the biscut afterwards for keeping us entertained.
I did a little bungee jump along the way. They advertise it as the highest commercial bungee jump at 216 meters off the Bloukrans bridge and into the canyon below. It was my first bungee so I thought what the hell, no sense starting on the bunny hill. Willingly jumping off a perfectly sturdy bridge is a feeling that goes against every human instinct of survival. A middle aged woman went before me and as the two assistants' countdown approached one she crumbled to the ground and fell backwards toward the platform. Her second time she took a pathetic little hop and we could hear her scream go trailing off down the chasm. I was not honestly nervous at all until after I was strapped in by the bare ankles and standing on the edge did the gravity of what I was about to do occur to me. But when the countdown hit one I voluntarily took the suicidal leap and tried not to soil myself as the whistle of the wind increased during the four seconds of free fall and I watched the ground come rushing up at 120 miles an hour. This frightening, exhilerating, midlife crisis ending sensation was followed by the glorious feeling of my lifeline coming into affect to keep my forehead off of the earth below. The bounce up of a hundred plus feet brought all of the blood from my lower body into my skull to say hello. This was followed by another two seconds of free fall and so on and so on. I would have done it again in a second if I could have afforded it because the second time they let you jump off backwards...
Below is a waterfall in Tsitsikamma National Park Josh and I hiked to with a few Germans we had met. The coast line was so different than the white sandy beaches we had been at only the day before. This park is known for its unique tidal and fauna life.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cape Town

Josh and I began a three week loop down to Cape Town, across the southern coast and then inland from Durban through the Drakensburg Mountains. The trip began with a 27 hour train ride from Pretoria to Stellenbosch where we stayed with a mutual friend Jenny Tracy who was studying abroad there for the semester. After doing some wine tasting and catching up we headed to Cape Town in our Volkswagon City Chico rental car. Our plan was to climb Table Mountain that morning but the weather intervened and it was completely socked in. Instead we orgainzed a trip through a township and to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were kept during apartheid. The prison is a spooky place and our tour guide was a former inmate who explained what they went through. We saw the lime quarry where they dug everyday and the cave within it that they famously referred to as the Congress of the New South Africa. What is funny is that many of them did hold the highest offices once apartheid ended including Mandela who became the President.

This picture above is of a medicine man in the township Langa. Josh explained to him the 100 year curse that is hanging over the Cubs and asked him if he could do anything about it. They switched hats and apparently the curse has been lifted. Now the Cubs have the best record in baseball, coincidence?
After several days of the 'Table Cloth' dominating Table Mountain there was a break in the weather and we hiked up one of the trails to the plateaued summit. There is a tram that leads to the top but we were confident with our pocket knives that we could fend off any baboons that tried to rob us of our shiny objects. The weather changes rapidly and after eating some lunch on the top overlooking Cape Town the fog appeared out of nowhere and we moved down. It can get so thick that you can lose the trail. I took the picture above on the way down. The mist rolled over the side and down the mountain incredibly fast before it evaporated at a lower elevation.