Sunday, January 17, 2010

The first of many impressions

This is my blog!

I'm at hour 24, more or less, of awakebeing. Mental faculties are suffering. I napped on the plane briefly but I was so enthralled by sitting in the same place watching G-Force for 6 hours that I couldn't stay asleep after takeoff. I know, it's impossible NOT to be.

I had quite the layover in Newark, featuring me sitting as close to an outlet as I could and counting the number of people who disconnected my power cord from the wall by absentmindedly punting it or steamrolling it with their tremendously obese luggage. This was clearly a game I was losing, so I looked for other kids going to my program. This is the big arrival day, with some 660 students coming in from all around the world (read: New York, Chicago and a smattering of midwestern Nowherestons). I met with initial success, only to realize that one of the guys headed my way was a Bizarro Clone of Nathaniel Schroeder. Except Nathaniel's usual affinity for Jazz and slacking was replace with a razor-like obsession with Jay-Z's shoes and intense academic pursuits. He was great at asking questions, but even better at showing he cared very little whether they were answered or not.

Anyway, turns out all these other kids are on a flight directly to Copenhagen that leaves 45 minutes after my indirect flight to Dusseldorf, two gates down. I'd like to take a time out here to personally damn Travelocity to the pits of hell. This was after the very same website told me all of my flights were being operated by Lufthansa, which turned out to be patently false.

On the plane, I sat next to Anonymous Scandinavian Businesslady 247 (you may recognize her from such gems as "Generic Bank Commercial" or "Non-Profit Emphasizes Diversity During Primetime TV To No Apparent End"). The stewardess at one point, mistaking my rebelliously uncropped hair and devastatingly handsome physique for that of a non-English speaker, asked if I wanted water "with gas." Using my agile but at this point addled wit, I replied "no thanks, I have enough already," much to the chagrin of the stewardess and the utter non-comprehension of my Anondinavian companion. I spent a heft portion of this flight thinking of puns and portmanteaus involving bears, and I'm not embearassed to say it. Au Contraire, mon bear, I'm really beary proud of it. Bear in mind that I'm on an unbearably long flight, but I bearly had enough charge left in my phone to write my ideas down and really let them come to bear fruit.

Landing in Dusseldorf I had a much better time with the other DIS kids, who were easy to pick out of the startlingly German populace. I say startlingly because I knew what Germans generally looked like, at least several generations later in their Iowan incarnations, what they acted like (mostly from movies starring Don Taylor) -- stereotypically. I had no idea that I would find exactly the type of people I imagined in my head, from the voice to the ridiculous faux-hawks to the scrupulously trimmed von Bismarks. When the pilot came on the plane's PA I nearly burst out laughing because it sounded like a broadcast from 1933, crackly transistor interference and all, later finding out that I was not alone in this sentiment. It's not that far out if you think about it -- they sound as ridiculous as American pilots sound, with that trademark mumblegrumbling nonchalance, but with the added puissance of the already ridiculous German language.

After struggling to find out how to use just about every appliance in the German bathrooms, from the toilet flush mechanism to the door locks to the deviously ingenious infinite towel-loop hand drying...dynamo, I boarded a small flight to Copenhagen. I sat, by chance, next to another DIS aspirant who happened to be friendly and play video games, so naturally we talked far too loud about them. We got to Copenhagen, were instantly blown away by how suave their airport is, and then slowly agglutinated with like-purposed Americans until we formed a huge atheroschleroid in front of the spacious revolving doors. In the spirit of "build it and they will come (to ruin it)," everybody thought it would be prudent to approach these apparently over-accommodating doors by cramming as many people into each revolution as possible, therefore all but halting its circular progression. As the doors sputtered and jolted, spastically herding us into the waiting arms of that bitch the Danes call Winter, a lone native sat on the floor above us in agony as a frown was no doubt permanently affixed to his face by the whole affair. I had essentially already broken my vow to not be that American Tourist that every foreigner curses under their breath, if only by association.

An few hours of bewildered bus riding and luggage shuffling later, I've endured the pre-orientation orientation (orientation, I think there are 4 total if you include the "immersion fairs") and established a stable internet connection. I have a phone, supposedly a place to sleep tonight, several thousand kroner in transportation stipends and only a vague idea of where I am or what I'm supposed to be doing for the next week. My surroundings, what at first appeared to be a preemptively abandoned IKEA factory factory, have turned out to be a spectacularly designed and appointed Technical Institute 5 miles south of the city proper. This brief complex of glass hulks is flanked further by what looks like pristinely fossilized remains of several Soviet apartment complexes. There's also a frozen river (?) running through the middle of all this. I can't tell if I'm in Denmark or some futuristic and incredibly remote research outpost on the set of a French sci-fi Impressionist film about determining the sex of Pluto. Hopefully finding the city proper will reorient my cinematic compass rose.

In about an hour a bus of sorts is allegedly coming to whisk me off to my distant and, as of now, future abode. In the mean time, I'm going to Google "What should I Google about Denmark?!?"

P.S. The bar in this IT university is called the "Scroll Bar," featuring drinks named after classic Mario and FFVII characters. Flawless Victory.

--Count Truckula, hopefully counting sheep before too long.

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