Saturday, September 25, 2010

Life in the FAST LANE

When life is in the fast lane, it gets even harder for me to upload my status on the net...(facebook included) I think I am just not very good with this kind of stuff. In other words, I am just too lazy. :)

So to summarize the past three weeks, school has started and the party life just gone nuts. Haha, two seemingly existing at opposite ends of the spectrum @ Cal, goes quite hand in hand here in CPH. >3< Some threshold points:

First week of Sept, transfered to a new Dept. (process and methodology...sounds like Arch 100A all over again, but quite different literally...thank god!) On the first day in the dept. we had a study trip to tour around the recreational spaces in CPH. It was great to see all the awesome architecture, but I have also made a total fool of myself. At one of the sites near Amager Beach, my adrenaline and excitement drove my curiosity to a high point. Stupidly, I wanted to test the temperature of the sea water and decided to approach it by slowly walking down a boat launch. Yet to my surprise, the boat launch was covered in super slippery algae, (no, they looked fuzzy, so it never occurred to me that they were slippery...) and I slipped right into the water. Thankfully, I immediately stretch out my right hand held the iphone high above water, however my sketch book wasn't so lucky....Hence, for the rest of the day, my lower body was drenched in sea water and seaweed....Yes, the water was warm. ;}

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Intro Days

Monday and to day (Tues.) were the intro days for the international students. This is my first time meeting SO many different international architecture students!! There are about 50 or so of us, from Spain, Brazil, France, UK, States, Japan, China, Australia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Cypress, Germany, Portugal, Holland....these are just the countries I remember. It was just simply amazing. People were exchanging so many different topics, jokes, and different assumptions about each other's country. I think it will get even more exciting once we get to meet the Danish students and all work on architecture projects together!

We all went out for drinks after school and exchanged information about where to buy the cheapest bike, where to find apts, or where the cheapest bars are at. I have tried Carlsberg and Tubor, both traditional Danish beer, and enjoyed them a lot! @ Europe, people drink less hard liquor and just really enjoy having a nice drink. So no beer pong or vodka shots, which I think is a great way to know each other, without all the ugly stuff. :) Carlsberg and Tubor are pretty light beer, but a great aroma, similar to Asahi or Kiri but a more heavy and full taste.

I have also discovered the Danish dollar store called Tiger. It is MUCH better than dollar stores from the states. Things are better quality and designed to look nice and durable. Everything useful can be found there, from toiletries to notebooks, instead out dated decorations and cheap soda drinks. I have found a toilet paper role with puzzles on it, and bought a waterproof messenger bag for 50kr (~$8.50, one of the most expensive ones in the store) with a map of Copenhagen printed on it. Tiger is now my new favorite store. XD Tiger site in uk, for all who don't understand Danish~

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Little Mermaid

Today, I woke like usual, had Crusilii for breakfast (cereal from Quaker, chocolate flavored with chocolate bits.) and start reading a book given to me by a friend a yr ago. I have been enjoying this book a lot, it's a compilation of short stories by Muraue Haruki. Since the book in in Chinese, his name is known to me as 村上春樹, though I did attempt to sound it out in Japanese. (むらうえはるき)Then I saw a huge picture of a Japanese man on the Danish Sat. paper and was reading "Muraue Haruki" in Danish.(the photo of him in my book was much younger..) Then followed a slow but crazy realization that the paper were translating his work directly in the article (in Danish of course) while I am reading his works! My landlord, Grethe, then kindly informed me that he is in Denmark now and will be holding a lecture! However, it also said on the paper that all tickets are already sold out… :( I suppose I can only wait for other possible events to meet him while he is here. Conclusion: Must meet him in Denmark and must see SANAA's exhibition. :) Everyone I want to see is here!!

Later on that day, Grethe gave me a tour of CPH and areas outside of town by car. We visited the rich section of CPH with beautiful streets and more French looking apts. Then it was off to see the Little Mermaid. As you may know she is in Shanghai @ the Expo. However, her place by the harbor is replaces by a bug screen showing her live from the Danish pavilion. Hilarious, no? I had a sudden urge that if only I knew someone there RIGHT NOW, I can see him or her on the screen too!

Little Mermaid LIVE

Afterwards, we joined the hundred of ppl to watch the annual event of ppl swimming in the harbor for about 2km though the canals that cut sections of the city. Brave souls, though it was quite sunny…We also visited the Black Diamond, or the National Library. Beautiful architecture indeed, and I have to say much more pleasant than BIG's Mountain and Tallet (8) Apts. We visited them by the end of the day….the aluminum/steel metal sheets as apt building material gives off a cold and share feeling…really not desirable, but very nice to photograph. Now looking at the architecture in real life, I am much less impressed by it, and definitely would not want to live there. Compared to the old Danish (or even some newer ones) in the city, these are too cold and has no street life at all. Though, I have to agree if they were build in bricks (as most other buildings in DK) it would ruin the form. I guess material wise metal does look nice, but for housing….wood is much warmer. I did get a kick out of the amazing view and green roof though. :} Until tomorrow, it's 3 am (again) and I should head to bed.

Swim meet around the Black Diamond.
Danish hot dog. Sweeter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer 2 + Denmark

Soooo, after my one month of summer break, it was back to summer school!! Yay! I took a landscape architecture course focusing on sustainable environments and an honors case studies studio. As my first time staying for summer courses, I really enjoyed both my classes. Though they are all 8-week courses, really pressed for time esp for studio, they are both much less stressful then regular semesters courses. I think that largely is due to less courses to worry about, less distractions, and just being during summer. The studio this time is also taught by a visiting lecturer from NYC(Patt), who is an alumni and a former student of my last semester's professor. (Turned out we both lived on 8th floor of Griffith Hall our freshmen year....with 15 yrs of difference...weird huh?) My instructor's enthusiasm, dedication, and (good looks?) has definitely made architecture feel much less painful and more enjoyable again. I suppose for young students throwing ourselves into the dark pits of architecture edu, instructors really do matter quite a lot. (Not to say my former instructor wasn't inspiring, he was great in fact, but somehow just didn't work out too well.) All in all, summer school was really great and quite a relaxing way to experience berkeley from a different angle. (fireworks at the marina!!)

Aaaand after summer school, I had one week to move out of my berkeley apt, move back to home, and pack for Denmark. YES, it is FINALLY happening (after a yr of fighting and planing) AND Yes, it took me a whole week to unpack all my boxes, stuff them in my room, and take some out again to a far away land. My flight was on the 23rd of August, and was 11 hrs to Zurich, Switzerland, followed by 1 hr to Copenhagen. Since I was with SWISS Air, I got plenty of good chocolates and perhaps too much cheese. (Though the cheese were all American since they were stocked in the States)

Now I am on my third day in Copenhagen in my cozy little room. :} Thanks to many help and warm greetings from my land lord, so far everything has just been fantastic. I have really never experience anything like this city (well, since I have never been to EU) very different from Taipei and SF. The Danes walk and bike everywhere, which also means they have awesome bike lanes that are separated from the car traffic. The sidewalks are mainly cobble stones with larger flat tiles it one should like prefer flater surface. (I kept walking in the bike lane since that seems to resemble us sidewalks a lot, more of an instinct) The country is VERY flat, definitely a big change from the hilly berkeley. I was running by the harbor today (I live REALLY close to it) and running on flat ground is definitely much easier. The night view of the harbor was amazing (sorry no pix, didn't have camera) as the other side is mainly taller office buildings lit up in different colors. There were also lots of people hanging out by the harbor. It is essentially a huge park with areas for skaters, restaurants, grassy recreational areas, and plenty of seating. Oh and of course the famous harbor pool (designed by BIG) is also there.

Alright, now that I have finally churned out my summer, I should head to bed son. My landlord is taking me out on a tour of the city, thus should be up early, though I have been taking 2-3 hr naps during the afternoon...jet lag perhaps? I will try to post more often with short updates of different things Iearned each day in Denmark.

p.s. I explored the Danish Teli (TV) today. I was surprised to find so many British and American channels. I saw friends, the steward show, (yes, they exist here) mtv, vh1, Danish nickelodeon, and bunch of movies. (including american pie) They are all subtitles with Danish. I think I was only able to find a couple Danish speaking channels...though Discovery was in Danish.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


So this last 3 or so weeks of summer went by in a flash. My days mostly consisted of extremely unproductive activities. These included playing games, watching movies, reading mangas, travel books, novels, and of course dealing with visas and housing. Yes, I should probably be ashamed of wasting my time, but it's really nice to loose myself in these wonderful imaginary worlds after a harsh semester of studio. I really didn't think I was able to survive with the stress from studio last semester. Simply put, I have never experienced such anxiety which made something I used to love some thing I dread with all my heart. With that said, I did learn to manage my time better, though even so, hard work doesn't mean much to a certain extent in architecture. I think I need to go back to enjoying it more, give it more love. :)

Anyhow~ let's see, well, here's the list of things I have been occupying / wasting my time with...
-Zelda Spirit Tracks: At the boss level, but decided to finish side quest and catching all the stupid bunnies. This is a good game following the Phantom Hourglass, with more challenges and puzzles though the main theme is similar and you can control phantoms. If you are looking for something different than PH, then this is not the one.
- Zelda Twilight Princess: Searching for Poe Souls...Still have to fight Zant and Ganondorf. Haven't played this game in ages, forgot the wonderfulness of L-target. Though since I already beat the cave of ordeals, I must have been pretty decent...

-Departure (おくりびと Okuribito): Great movie where a recent out of work cellist decided (or forced) into a new job as a Japanese undertaker. In Japan, the undertaker's job is to carry out the ceremony to wash, clean the deceased and dress him or her up for to put into the coffin. The ceremony has series of steps that both signifies a respect for the deceased and also refresh the memories of the deceased in the living. It was a very touching and meaningful, yet hilarious film. :}

-Tokyo Sonata (トウキョウソナタ Tōkyō sonata): Another great Japanese movie that reflects its culture, however this time taking place in a typical Tokyo family during the recent economic crisis. The movie starts off with the husband loosing his job and due to fear of shocking his wife, decides to pretend he is still employed while spending his day sitting in the park or looking for low paying jobs. The wife, the two sons later also faces their own crisis as the family begins to fall apart due to financial reasons. The movie examines how a regular family falls apart as each member tries to escape from the invisible roles of each family member as tension between each other and the society arises. Yet, ultimately each return to their home in the end after many turn moils as their efforts renders useless, and perhaps called to home by their basic instincts. This film magnified the tensions within a family and questioned what it means to be a family with hilarious and somewhat outrages turn of events. Great to watch with your family!

Monday, May 10, 2010

DK 1354

That's Denmark's postal code. Yup, today I mailed the registration form for the exchange program to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture. It cost me $56 just to mail some docs and a portfolio...though the clerk in FedEx was already able to save me $30 bucks....sigh, well that's what you get for only mailing a week ahead, not two weeks.

I am super excited that this may actually work out, though it has been a huge ordeal (and still is) since I may be one of the first Berkeley exchange student there? I think because it's such a small and specialized school, it is not even listed as an accredited school. I was also able to find someone to sublease my apt. Now I just have to figure out the VISA issue, housing at Copenhagen, and $$$ problems....must power through! Thank you, for all that have supported me and helped me along the way.

Though, I think some people aren't quite as excited about me leaving. I apologize for my absence, but please find a small forgiveness in your heart and let me be selfish. :}
But until I get the complete "OK," let's just hope all will work out according to the master plan.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Sweat and Blood

So I figured may be I should document some of my sweat and blood from studio, just to track what I have been selling my soul to. Looking back at it now, I really don't know why I spent so much time on such little things. Though I have to say, those projects reflects when I was doing "ok" in class, compared to now where I am quite behind and stuck. Somehow designing has been more pain in the butt lately than anything. However, after watching a video intently in ethics (without falling asleep since I actually got enough sleep for monday, for once, feeling much smarter today~) on the creative emergence of the universe, I felt much better.

The basic idea of the video is where the universe is this mass of creativity, where it has an urge to break through points of tension with creative solutions, thus the "emergence" part. Such "emergences" are when the first star was created, the element carbon, earth, eukaryotes, etc. The scientist / philosopher in the video brought up an example where the cells, in dealing with the massive amounts of Oxygen left behind by pulling Hydrogen form H2O, struggle and suffered millions of yrs before becoming eukaryotes. This "deep, deep ignorance and profound confusion" is essential to the breaking point, which then shows that the universe "loves ambiguity, and embraces the situation" in order to surpass it with creativity. That is where I feel I am right now, for the past two studios, this profound, ambiguous, ignorant situation in which I must embrace.

In short, I am stuck, but must plow through it yet again. Chances are, during the summer, I will see how foolish the whole problem has been and wonder why I was stuck for so long. That can only mean two things: one, I lack sleep and anything good to my health and brain during the semester and have too much on my plate. Two, I have learned something from that point in time. Preferably the latter one.