Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanksgiving and stuff

Last few weeks I've been busy studying as always, and right now I have my finals coming up. It's also getting a bit cold, at least for LA standards, the temperature in the night is sometimes below 10C. (Which is very cold when you're used to 25C all the time.) It however feels nothing like christmas yet, and at least in the daytime it's nice and warm. The trees are also still green.

Anna (my sister) came and visited me last weekend for thanksgiving. We were invited to a thanksgiving family dinner at a distantly related relative of ours. It was actually somewhat of a cultural shock but very interesting nonetheless. The family was very "american" but also nice, the food was also very good. Anyways here's a picture of me and my sister with our distant relative Sjana.

That weekend I showed my sister around LA, the old burned out hippies in Venice beach, and the insanely rich people in Beverly Hills shopping on Rodeo Drive. We also saw Santa Monica, Hollywood and a little bit of the crazy nightlife there. We went to club where of course there were huge lines outside to make it seem hip, and where everybody had to be on the guestlist, except for VIP's, bottleservices, and so on. Once inside if you wanted to sit down you had to pay at least $500 or more.. depending on where you wanted to sit.. The best and most expensive seats were on a stage ovelooking the club. Anna was shocked by this hollywood caste society, where everybody is obsessed with looking good, being somebody, having money, and most importantly showing it! We quickly fled this place filled with "fake" people for a more normal bar. (The picture is taken from the MCB (molecular and computation biology) building, where I have my office.)

On saturday it was game day again and we took part in the big tailgating party before the game, drinking beer in the sun. Anna left that night, and USC won Notre Dame, which probably means that they will play in the national final. Now USC only has to beat the archrivals UCLA tomorrow to get to the final. (Pranks inflicted by UCLA (and USC) are quite common just before these LA rivals play. A few years ago a couple of UCLA students rented a helichopter and came down from the sky to paint Tommy Trojan (the USC icon) blue. Hence the Trojan Knights now ducktape and guard the statue it day and night just before a UCLA game.)

Finally I went and played beach volleyball a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of november! Actually for people in Iceland, I probably only have to emphasize that we actually played beach volleyball! (I doubt it has ever been played in Iceland. It's probably always too cold.) Here are some pics.

(A couple of friends of mine, MCB students and their girlfriends.)

(Me demonstrating my icelandic beach volleyball talents.)

(Santa Monica pier and mountains. People are still surfing in November.)

(One more sunset in the pacific.)

Monday, November 27, 2006


Last night around 4am I woke up to some strange sounds. At first I thought I could hear some noise coming from the kitchen. Tierd and confused I sat up in my bed, it must be a burglary I thought, after all I'm living in South Central. My mind panicked and was quick to imagine mercyless burglers with guns and horrifying murder scenes... however as I looked out the window I finally came to my senses. It was raining. For the first time since I came here it really rained, and boy did it rain. It was just the rain slamming the roof and windows of the house. I went back to sleep.

Good night.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Don't you know who I am? I'm important!!

Once again I found my self (yesterday) on the sunset strip trying to get into a club (Privilege) filled with wannabe's. We arrived early, but apparently not early enough. The problem was that clubs like these have several wating lines, the normal line, the guestlist line, the dinner reservation or bottleservice line, and finally the VIP line. And of course if you're a well known actor (e.g. Don Cheadle, from Hotel Rwanda) or a model you could skip all the lines. This time being on the guestlist just didn't seem to be enough. There were apparently too many VIP's. Some of my friends got in, mainly because they were with girls and therefore had a better chance, but I ended up standing in this stupid line for over 2 hours and 30 minutes. Sometimes I completely loath LA, and especially Hollywood, for its obsession with being somebody important, acting cool, and looking really good. But then again, if I would gotten in I might not have this problem. Anyways, I hate this Hollywood attitude for now. After I gave up standing in line I went to a couple of other more "normal" bars with some danish and german people, and had a nice time despite not partying with the rich and famous.

Last weekend my institute held a retreat in Laguna Beach. Laguna beach is a really nice city, just south of LA (little over an hour drive from USC). Unlike LA which most of the time looks like an enourmous slum covered in smog, this small city is propped with upscale galleries, cool restaurants, and trendy cafés. Anyways it was alot of fun and really strange lying on the beach in 27C in November! Like you can see in the picture I havn´t had much time to get tan since I came here.

Finally I wanted to post some pictures from a USC football game I went to a couple of weeks back but never got around to blog about. USC won the game of course, and there were loads of parties before and after the game. It was alot of fun, and also completely insane.

(A couple of friends of mine, we looking for the tailgating party before the game.)

(Trojan spirit before the game. The marching band is playing the USC anthem, Fight On.)

(USC Song Girls, i.e. the cheerleaders.)

(About 100.000 people cheering in the coliseum.)

(The USC student section in the stadium, going wild.)

(Finally me with a couple of chinese students at the game.)

Fight on.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Not dead.... yet.

Lately I've been extremely busy and havn't got round to blog therefore. I had my last midterm today, and although this day is called Dia de los muertos or "Day of the dead", I think I survived one more crazy exam. Now I finally foresee a week of doing perhaps something else than study 24-7. They really force one to study like maniacs here, actually one of the 8 PhD students I started with quit because he couldn't find enough time to study, having a family and all.

Last wednesday was halloween, it was really interesting to see all kinds of people, children and students walking around in costumes. Some students and faculty showed up to school wearing costumes. Buildings were decorated, costume parties were held etc. Sadly I had absolutely no time to take part, since I was of course studying. However, it was nice to see children and teenagers walking around in the streets after dark in my neighbourhood. Normally the streets where I live are completely void of any life after dark.... because it's dangerous to go outside after dark, of course.

While we're on the subject of how dangerous my neighbourhood is, there was a murder here close by the other day. Extremely scary! A guy on a bike was killed in a drive-by shooting! It happened in the middle of the day, outside the house of a friend of mine. It is thought to have been gang related, although the motif was not known. This is apparently how everyday life in LA is. After this happened I've become scared of walking outside in my neighbourhood, even during daytime. I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder, and looking out for spooky people.

And yes while we're on the subject of getting killed. Yesterday, on halloween of course, I woke up at 6am in the morning to the quieking sound of the firealarms in my building (which I live alone in). It turned out that the newly installed heater had turned on automatically during the night because the temperature went below 15C or so, and set fire to something in the ventilation system. This caused smoke in all the appartment. Luckily I was quick to discover the source of the smoke and turn the heater off before the whole building went down in flames.. I was shocked, things could have gone worse, much worse. Fire is especially dangerous here in LA since everything is so dry. After this I don't even feel safe inside.

But although things here can sometimes seem dire, the constant good summer weather makes up for incredibly much. It lets you tolerate much more. And no matter bad things look it's impossible not being affected by the constant summer atmosphere here. Actually this place grows on you, and like all places it has good things and bad things...

This weekend I'm going to a Laguna Beach resort (payed by the school), where I plan to lie on the beach and enjoy the sun.. :) Perhaps I'll even get a chance to learn how to surf?


Friday, October 13, 2006

Partying with the rich and the famous..

If you're bored in Los Angeles, then it's only your own fault. There are always some huge events happening, concerts, festivals, shows, sport games, etc. And if that doesn't satisfy you then there is always the beach and the mountains, which are great for hiking in, that is as long as you don't run into a mountain lion. (The picture was taken from one such hike, its showing downtown LA in the distance.) There are also loads of theme parks, amusement parks, museums, venice beach, hollywood, good nightlife.. and of course famous movie stars walking around. And yes last night I met my first movie star here in LA. It was academy award winner Jamie Fox, who won the oscar in 2005 for playing Ray Charles in Ray. I was partying at the Privilege on Sunset Boulevard, a typical high-profile LA club, filled with wannabe actors, models, rock stars, rappers and other very very weird people. The only reason why I got in was because I happened to know the right people, some USC students I was with had some connections.. Anyways there he was, Jamie Fox, just hanging out with some friends of his. Apparently Paris Hilton was of course also supposed to be there, but I didn't see her... Anyways this kind of stuff only happens in LA.


Friday, September 29, 2006

My new carrier as an actor.

Today as I was walking towards my terrifying applied probability class, I passed Tommy Trojan (the statue that Dorte is inspecting on the right...), and I noticed it was covered in plants! Strange.. I thought and then as I looked around I noticed banners reading "Yale: Parents Weekend". Apparently I was in the middle of a "Gilmore Girls" episode shooting. I've never watched this show, but supposedly the mother and the daughter (characters in the show) were right there couple of meters away from me. It was pretty weird.. Anyways don't be surprised if you see me walking in the backround at Yale University while watching the Gilmore Girls...


Sunday, September 24, 2006

In the ghetto

Yes I live in the ghetto. This is no joke, the yellow house on the figure is actually where I live and the car next to it is my car. The neighbourhood, which is located in South Central, is called West Adams. The racial breakdown is something like 35% blacks 45% hispanic and rest poor USC students that couldn't afford anything better.... or like me just naive foreign students that got ripped off. I'm paying like at least 200 dollars a month too much for this place.

But actually its amazing how easily you get used to living here. Although you can't go for walk after dusk, since there's a great chance of being robbed or something worse, it is actually not that bad. People are really open, they'll great you out in the street, and are very willing to engage in any conversations.... although they sometimes speak in spanish. I personally think that they appreciate all students in the neighbourhood, but this neighbourhood used to be alot worse just 10 years ago. Then no students dared to live here and gunshots in the night were a everyday event. Today this area is patroled by the campus-police (as well as the LAPD), which I think the residents here really appreciate.

Although things have improved alot in the past years, this neighbourhood is far from being safe. Almost everyday there are police helicopters flying over my house, and at least once me and Dorte woke up in the middle of the night hearing horrible screaming followed by flashing lights of what was probably the campus police. Another student, a chinese guy I met that lives nearby, also woke up last month to a gunshot and witnessed a gun-fight in his street followed by police sirens. And of course the ice-cream salesmen walking around the neighbourhood with their children melody playing aren't just selling ice-cream... I also thought it was a bit strange to hear these stupid children melodies going past my house at 10pm in the evening.

It's really not that bad living here, in some sense its only cool to be here. Its here or close by where a bunch of cool rappers and mucisians grew up. Its probably also just healthy to be exposed to the fact that alot of people have to struggle through life everyday. Not everybody is as lucky as I am, I have an education and a health insurance, something that many people here don't. Anyways, I think I'll be moving in february as soon as my lease runs out....

Have a good one.

Friday, September 22, 2006

USC - University of Severe Courseload?

It was not exactly an easy thing to get into USC, I mean it took time and alot of effort. I went to London to take exams, the GRE and TOEFL. I had to fill out long lists of forms, write several "statements of purpose"s, get the right recommendations from my professors. I had to apply for an US VISA, pay several hundreds of dollars and then pick my words carefully in several interviews. After we arrived it continued, we had to find a place to live, lend money, buy a car, get a social security number, californian ID, etc. But now when I've got almost everything in place, I can't help asking myself: Why the hell did I come here? The reason is that all of my classes here require a tremendous amount of work, unlike most of the classes I took in Denmark. For example, I have an algorithms class which started with an examination or a quiz on the prerequisits, which you had to pass to be able to take the class. This quiz also weighed 5% of the final grade. Each week we also get tough homework on which we must answer more than 45% correct in order to pass the class. And the funny thing is, as a PhD student, you're not allowed to get anything below a B, or you'll be kicked out of the program, let alone flunk a class. Actually that's not funny at all.. I mean, the workload here is much much greater than what one is used to in good ol' Denmark. For example some PhD students here at my institute actually have matrices to sleep on in their offices. This way they can save time by not having to go home at night!!! In my opinion that's just insane! I, hope I'll never have to resort to that... besides Dorte would probably kill me if I would.

Anyways I just wanted to get this out of the system.. Well I better go do some work again, I have three midterms coming up soon, all of which I'll have to pass in order to stay in the PhD program....


Monday, September 18, 2006

Fight On!

It was gameday yesterday (saturday), which is the day USC had its first homegame in football against Nebraska, and everything went suddenly CRAZY here. It was amazing. I woke up hearing my neighbours out in the street shouting "30$ parking", where people were selling parking spaces in their private parking lots to arriving USC fans (although I live about 2.5km from the stadium!). And even though the game started at 5 pm people arrived already around 11-1pm.... well because of the tailgating parties! The tailgating parties are basicly barbecues or grills where the fans bring their own tents, chairs, food and alot of beer and just enjoy life before the big game. The whole campus was just like one huge festival filled with people dressed in red and yellow, it was amazing. When you walked around campus absolute strangers offered you their own food and beer, I have never ever experienced that in Denmark or Iceland. People whom you've never met were suddenly your best friends just because you happend to be studying at the right school. It was awsome! It was impossible not to get captured by the trojan spirit and join in the whole em.. "celebration"?? Well the game hadn't started yet but people were partying like they had just won the world championship. Some of my european friends even ended up buying USC T-shirts and had instantly become hard-core USC fans! GO TROJANS! (USC students are nicknamed trojans).

Even though the stadium, The Coliseum, takes about 100.000 people it was sold out a long ago, as with almost all homegames this season! Some games are so popular that the black market ticket price is at least 2000-3000$ for crappy seats!!!!! But this is of course the game against the archrivals UCLA bruins. Anyways we didn't get tickets to this game, (although students can get pretty cheap tickets), and we therefore watched in on TV. After the game (which we of course won 28-10) there were houseparties everywhere, it was alot of fun (the picture is taken at one).

A German friend. of mine said this gameday reminded him on the World Cup in Germany this summer. I mean this was big, I've never seen anything like it. I spent almost 7 years in Copenhagen and I never really became a fan of FCK or any other team there, but after only one game here I've suddenly become a USC football fan, although I probably don't know the rules. It's simply impossible to escape the atmosphere surrounding it. Anyways, this is how it's going to be every other weekend for this semester... and that's awsome!

Go Trojans

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Loony Los Angeles

On the 28th of July we finally left the big apple for our final destination, Los Angeles. Already on the plane we were exposed to the loony atmosphere of Los Angeles where the head sterwardess, Barbara around 50, said on the speakers "If there is anything you want just ask and we'll do it. Really anything at all.. (short pause), if you want me to dance I can dance, act, anything at all and we'll do it." Then she went on to explain all the cocktails she could make and how delicious they were using gestures and sounds like "mmmhhhm". It sounded like she was really really drunk or on drugs, and although it was very funny we were just hoping the pilot wasn't on the same stuff as well. Later on we however realized that this is just typical Los Angeles in the sense that this city is filled with crazy people, many of which originally came here with big dreams of becoming movie stars but ended up in other less demanding roles, such as for example being airline stewardesses. Even the girl sitting next to us on the plane, Andy a red-haired comics-reading girl, had moved to LA to become an actor. Perhaps she'll end up perfroming on the streets in front of the chinese theater with Freddy Kruger and Jack Sparrow, although I hope not.

We were glad to get out of the airplane alive. The weather in Los Angeles was nice when we landed, sunny and 25C, like always, much better than the humid 40C in New York. We took a taxi to the USC campus. We were shocked to see how dirty this city is. Although the freeways are huge typically 5-8 lanes in each direction they are often bumpy, littered, and of course covered with graffiti. It's obvious that this city is actually really poor. The per capita income in LA is only 20.600$ well under the average for USA as a whole. In fact more than 1/5 of the population here is below the poverty line. These are typically blacks and hispanics and these people live almost all in East LA (hispanics) or South Central LA (blacks and hispanics), and ironically thats where the USC or the "university of spoiled children" is located...

When we arrived at campus we were amazed by the stark difference between the surrounding neighborhood and campus. Unlike the surrounding neighborhood the campus was clean and very cozy. In fact USC was the cleanest and nicest university I had ever seen, completely incomparable with Copenhagen University. The picture is showing Dorte walking around on campus. Later when we then went to get dinner at the cantine we found a huge free selection of foods. Mexican, grilled brugers, pizzas, fish, meat, vegetarian, jucy tropical fruits, tofu, salads, cakes, deserts, you name it it was there. It was of course all you can eat. You people eating at August Kroghs cantine or HCØ really don't know what you're missing!! They have everything here from sushi to mexican or indian food, you name it you can find it here on USC campus. Anyways I'm hungry so I'll continue later..


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The big USA

After more than one month here in Los Angeles things are finally calming down so that I can find time to blog. So how have things been here so far. I'm going to go back to the first days here in the big USA.

Well to sum up I have to say that this whole travel experience to the US has been a tremendous cultural shock. We entered the country on the 24th of July, almost without problems. First there was New York, the city that never sleeps. It's really a fantastic city.... that is if you look past all the garbage piling up on the sidewalk, and disregard the stupid "no alcoholic beverages in public" regulations, and of course the incredibly extensive ID checking at bars (wow do I really look younger than 21!?!). Some bars didn't even accept passports as an ID!! Anyways, the city is nontheless so big, so cool, so beatiful, so dirty, so impressive, so full of everything that you're quick to forgive the americanos for their stupid alcoholic regulations.

Daniel's family were extremely nice in offering us an great studio appartment on 16th Street in Chelsea in the middle of Manhattan. This tiny little appartment (22 square meters) had a rent of whopping 1500$, I used to pay 350$ for a bigger studio appartment in good old Amager in Copenhagen, but thats not Manhattan. Daniel invited us also to a family reunion on our second day in New York where we ate an all-american breakfast, that is pancakes with sirup, some more sirup and even more sirup and then a little sugar as well. There we met among others Daniels aunt which offered to rent us a small pool house in Beverly Hills where her sister lived. We were thrilled! Later we however found out that this small 5 bedroom poolhouse was a bit too expensive for our modest budget.

We spent five days walking around Manhattan with Daniel and his girlfriend Susanne gazing at the huge skyscrapers towering over our heads. We checked out the view from the 86th floor of the Empire State building, stared at all the colorful huge flashing billboards on Times Square, ate at cool restaurants, (ethiopian, japanese, NY deli, at orthodox kosher places (in Brooklyn)), checked out the UN building, and finally got lost in the huge Metropolitan museum when the heatwave hit (around 40C and humid). There I even found a nice picture of a close relative of mine, the famous half-ICELANDIC and half-danish Bertel Thorvaldsen, but the brother of his icelandic father was a great great great great great grandfather of mine. Here's a picture of the lad.

Susanne wrote a great blog about the trip Iceland and New York, which can be found here if you're interested. We however traveled only together for the first ten days (24. July - 2. August).

Thanks for now..

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ferier varer ikke evigt..

Bjarni på sin pind på MCB

Så er det sidste dag i LA for mit vedkommende, inden jeg skal tilbage til min helt almindelige hverdag hjemme i København med studie og arbejde og regninger – og alle Jer! og min cykel og rugbrød og rent vand i hanen og og.. Jeg skal i gang med at pakke alt mit habengut lige straks (bare jeg har plads til det hele..) og så tager vi et smut til stranden senere, når Bjarni er færdig med sin forelæsning. Av, det er ikke sjovt at sige farvel til ham min søde Bjarni. Men han har travlt har han, og jeg er sikker på han får rigeligt at se til efter jeg er taget afsted.
Jeg var i koreansk spa forleden. Wauw, det er ikke sidste gang jeg prøver det. Der bor over 100.000

koreanere i LA - den største gruppe uden for Korea, og

ligesom andre etniske grupper har de deres eget kvarter ”Koreatown”, hvor de langt de fleste butikker,restauranter, aviser mm. er koreanske. Nå, men de har så også de her spa’s, som jeg blev anbefalet af en koreaner fra IRC, hvor jeg arbejdede. Så jeg besluttede mig for at være god ved mig selv (selv om jeg ikke helt havde råd til det) og bestilte body scrub og massage på sådan er sted. Det var sådan et rigtig luksus sted, men på den koreanske måde, hvor man skulle side på en lille skammel uden tøj på og vaske sig inden man gik videre til boblebad og sauna og urtesteam. Da det blev tid til min behandling lå man på brikse på rad og række uden tøj på, mens damer i sort bh med matchende trusse (!) skrubbede og maserede og gjorde ved. Det var en ualmindelig grundig dame, og jeg ved ikke hvor mange lag døde hudceller hun fjernede – alle vegne, det var ret ulækkert, men bagefter var jeg blød som en baby. Det tog 2 timer og kostede ca 420 for scrub, ansigtsmaske, hårvask/massage og kropsmassage. Det er da billigt. Jeg skulle jo prøve det hele, så efter endt behandling gik jeg videre til sauna, hvor man kunne følge med i koreansk tv (selv om jeg ikke rigtig gad sauna, men bare fordi det var så mærkeligt, at man kunne sidde der og svede og følge med koreansk soap opera), så prøvede jeg også sådan nogen rum, hvor man lå på siv måtter med varme i gulvet og slappede af. Jeg svansede derfra 4 timer senere, meget afslappet og meget ren.

Nå jeg hellere komme i gang med pakkeriet. Jeg er hjemme søndag ved middagstid efter 15 timers flyvetur med stop i New York og Reykjavik. Jeg glæder mig til at se Jer.

I øvrigt snakker Bjarni om at begynde at skrive på bloggen nu, for dem der har lyst til at følge med i det..

Tak fordi I har fulgt med, og tak for alle mails og hilsner. Rigtig dejligt! Jeg er tilbage på bloggen til februar.

Store knus fra Dorte

Udsigt over Los Angeles fra Muholland Drive

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cirkus a la LA

"Oh my gaawd, is that Phyllis from The Young & Restless?!"

Jeg kommer lige netop fra Emmy Awards, som er TV verdenes svar på Oscar, og aldrig har jeg set så mange limosiner!! Prisuddelingen er i gang nu i Shrine Theater, som ligger LIGE overfor USC, og jeg troppede selvfølgelig op sammen med Sam fra Indien for at spotte kendisser ankomme til showet. Bjarni (udtales som Piano men med i stedet for o) skulle læse til eksamen, og så er han vist heller ikke helt så hooked på den slags som jeg..
Jeg havde jo store planer om at komme helt tæt på, men det var slet ikke så nemt. Det tætteste vi kunne komme var buskene på den modsatte side af vejen, hvor betjente opmærksomt holdte øje med vi ikke krydsede afmærkningen. Medmindre folk skilte sig ud ved at være meget høje eller lave eller havde noget specielt hår el.lign. var det svært at genkende hvem der steg ud af limosinerne og gik langs den røde løber, men jeg spottede Seal, Heidi Klum, Kevin Bacon, Debra Messing (Grace fra Will & Grace) og Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe fra Friends). Der var mange som dem omkring os kendte, men som jeg ikke aner hvem var. Det var et optrin uden lige af sikkerhedsfolk, kæmpe biler, helikoptere og fine kjoler og bare ret skægt at se på.

Jeg har i øvrigt fundet min pung igen! Ups.. (Jeg kan se min far ryste på hovedet af mig nu) Jeg prøver mit bedste, men nogle gange glemmer jeg ting. Fredag aften glemte jeg så min pung på en diner på vej til San Diego. Shit! Der var ikke penge i, men alle mine kort til alt muligt, som er ret uundværlig. Jeg bandede og svovlede og fik mit visa kort spærret, men lørdag da vi ringede til dineren for anden gang havde de gudskelov min pung. Sikke en lærestreg for distræte Dorte. Vi havde en alletiders tur til San Diego som ligger et spytklat fra den mexicanske grænse. De har en kæmpestor zoologisk have, som vi besøgte og spiste mexicansk i det gamle Gaslamp Quater.

Nu går jeg ind i min sidste uge i USA for denne om gang, og jeg har stadig en del jeg gerne vil nå. Jeg har hørt om koreansk spabad - det må jeg prøve! Jeg vil også finde ud af om jeg kan komme ind og se et eller andet tv show (har jeg mon en skjult celebrity-fetish?) og så har jeg stadig to dage tilbage hos IRC. Ellers skal jeg bare nyde at være sammen med min skatter, som jeg snart skal undvære, og ligge lidt ved poolen og nyde det sidste af ferien.. Og så bliver det jo også meget godt at komme hjem igen.

Vi ses!! Jeg når nok at skrive en gang eller to mere.

KH Dorte

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ud af byen


Jeg er sneget mig ind på Bjarnis nye kontor, hvor de fysiske rammer for er en phd-studerende er en del mere bekvemme end på KU/Binf. Vi har endnu ikke noget internet derhjemme, så det er godt at jeg kan tiltuske mig en computer her.

Forsikring, sikkerhedsinstallationer mm. kom på plads i fredags, hvor vi så endelig kunne få bilen. Vi benyttede weekenden til at teste dens evner, og kørte nordpå langs kysten ad Pacific Highway. Det var virkelig dejligt at komme ud af byen og slappe af sammen! Vi endte i Santa Barbara den første aften og måtte slippe med godt 900 kr for et luset motelværelse. Men intet er så skidt, at det ikke er godt for noget andet, for motellet lå ved siden af en karaokebar, hvor vi drak os en pind i øret, og snakkede med de "lokale", og det var vitterlig hyggeligt! Det er absolut minimalt hvad vi drikker af alkohol for tiden, så det brandgodt at slå til søren!
Her er bil og jeg med redbull og vodka i blodet. (sådan må man godt gøre, når det er ens egen bil...)
Lørdag fortsatte vi og spiste smørrebrød og frikadeller i Solvang. Det var hyggeligt, men et ret pudsigt sted (dansk kultur med et twist af hollandske vindmøller og plastic storke på tagene). Jeg ledte efter saltlakrids, men så danske er de åbenbart ikke, for det havde de ikke.

Vi kørte videre forbi et hav af vinmarker (området er kendt for sin Pinot Noir vin), og videre ud langs havet, og så et par søelefanter på vejen. På vej op af bjergene mod Ben Sur national park, som var vores endemål, mødte vi et dansk par, som kom den anden vej fra og fortalte, at det var umuligt at finde overnatning, så vi besluttede at vende om og køre tilbage mod LA med stop i Santa Barbara, som vi ikke havde set i første omgang. Santa Barbara var en rigtig hyggelig overskuelig by (omkr. 80.000 indb), som vi brugte søndagen på at snuse rundt i. Vi så det gamle kloster, hvorfra spanske missionerer lærte de mexicanske indianere om kristendommen og kiggede lidt på butikker. Bjarni fik en slange om halsen af en fyr, der stod og samlede ind til et eller andet slangehalløj. Lidt senere kom han med en KÆMPE slange bag min ryg og skulle til at ligge den omkring mig. Puh, det havde jeg ikke lige bedt om! Jeg nåede at undslippe.
Santa Barbara ligger halvanden time fra LA (når trafikken er god), så det kunne helt sikkert godt blive et sted at tage til i weekenderne fremover, når man får for meget af storby. Vi bliver dog nok lige nød til at lærer nogle at kende her, man kan overnatte hos, for priserne for værelser er tårnhøje.
Det var super godt at komme ud, og se at der er rigtig mange muligheder for spændende oplevelser i områder omkring LA. Jeg tror godt jeg kan gå hen og få lidt fniller af trafik, smog og affald i længden.

Jeg håber at I har det godt derhjemme.
Kærlige hilsner Dorte

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MBC & IRC (forkortelser alle vegne!)

Kaere allesammen

Endnu en dag med sol her i Californien, og noget der for Bjarni (Beedjarni, Barney, Bjarmi - kaert barn har mange navne..) og jeg langsomt begynder at ligne noget der hedder rutine. Bjarni er startet paa MBC (Molecular Biology Center) til noget introduktionshalloej med de andre phd-studerende, og gaar i gang med kurser mv. i naeste uge.
Jeg er blevet kastet direkte ud i flygtningearbejdet hos IRC, som er den organisation jeg skal i praktik hos til foraaret. Jeg droppede organisationen med de hjemloese, selv om det egentlig var planen, fordi det var besvaerlig at komme frem og tilbage. Istedet er jeg blevet smidt direkte ind i sagsbehandlingen med asylansoegere. Nu er det jo virkelig minimalt, hvad jeg ved om forholdene og proceduren for flygtninge herovre kontra DK, men jeg har fundet ud af det er private organisationer, som varetagere sagsbehandlingen med flygtninge i USA, og saadan en organisation er IRC. De er pt ved at drukne i sager ang. nytilkomne, og jeg er derfor blevet sat til at gennemgaa sager primaert med iranske familiesammenfoerte, som personalet ikke har haft tid til at foelge op paa, fordi de har saa travlt. Saa jeg skal ringe til flygtninge, der er ankommet i maj-juni og bede dem sende kopier af papirer som vi mangler, og foelge op paa hvordan de har det (har de faaet arbejde, deltager de i engelsk undervisning osv), og saa tilfoeje det jeg finder ud af i edb systemet. Nogle snakker daarligt engelsk, og andre har en helt masse spoergsmaal om ting jeg slet ikke kender til. Saa jeg synes det er ret forvirrende, men ogsaa totalt spaendende - den slags frivilligt arbejde kan man ikke lave hos Dansk Flygtningehjaelp. Jeg taenker ogsaa, det er utroligt de saetter mig til at rette i sagsfiler, men det er vel fordi de er saa presset. Jeg har faaet en helt masse materiale om asylproceduren, saa det er bare med at faa sat sig ind i reglerne. Det er helt vildt spaendende at se en anden tilgang til arbejdet med denne gruppe, og saa sidder jeg paa et kontor paa 6. sal med udsigt til Hollywood skiltet. Helt aerligt!
Jeg tager bussen frem og tilbage. Det kan godt vaere det er lidt mere besvaerligt med bus, men til gengaeld bliver man "underholdt" paa vej fra A til B fra to fladskaerme, der viser madprogrammer, vejrudsigt og doedsyge reklamer om alt fra billige laan til fitnessmaskiner.
Tss.. Man undres ind i mellem i det her land.

I maa ha' det. Jeg skal naa hjem inden det bliver moerkt..

sommerhilsner Dorte

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fotoalbum side 1

Hej allesammen.

Først og fremmest tak for alle kommentarerne. Det er virkelig rigtig dejligt at høre fra Jer!
Jeg følger Meretes råd og oploader nogle billeder her på siden. Man kan vist klikke på billederne for at se dem i større størrelse.

Her er Bjarni og LA's skyline. Der er relativt få skyskrabere i Los Angeles pga. jordskælv.
Vi bliver anbefalet på det skrappeste ikke at tage ind til centrum uden bil om aftenen, fordi mange hjemløse gør området usikkert.
Mange hjemløse fra andre stater søger til Californien pga. klimaet. Her kan de bo gaden året rundt. (Jeg må lave en side for sig selv om de hjemløse. Der er meget mere og fortælle om dem)

Dorte på stranden (Huntington Beach), hvor jeg forinden blev ret så voldsomt knock out'et af en kæmpe bølge 3 m. ude i Stillehavet, så jeg røg omkuld og slog enden mod sandbunden og fik sand og saltvand i munden og tænkte: Åh nej! Nu kommer ham baywatch-livredderen med sin røde bøjle og redder mig. Pinligt! Jeg klarede mig dog.

Vi mødtes med Won, som Bjarni kender fra bioinformatik i KBH, som var i byen til en konference. Helt dejligt med et kendt ansigt, og fantastisk koreansk mad!

Ellers alt vel.. Vi er kommet godt på plads på vores lille værelse. Vi venter i spænding på der flytter nogle flere ind (pt er der kun os, der er plads til fem mere). Huset er ikke helt færdigt, dvs. at nogle ting ikke virker endnu, fx air condition. Saa fryse goer vi ikke! Vi har brugt weekenden på at kigge på biler. Puh, hvor kan de være anstrengende sådan nogle bilforhandlere. Efter at have set og prøvekørt diverse biler er vi endt med at købe en Ford Focus fra 2003 til $9000 (ca 54.000 dkr) Vi ledte efter en lille bil, men de findes simpelthen ikke herovre. Magen til store skuder skal man lede længe efter - bare ikke her. Den er grågrøn, har soltag og cdafspiller, og jeg sidder rigtig godt på passagersædet. Jeg må dog også i gang med at køre! De 5 sporede motorveje her i Los Angeles er nu altsaa virkelig skraemmende. Jeg er blevet min mors kopi i en bil: Bjaaarnii pas paa! BREEMS!

Jeg slutter for denne gang. Jeg haaber I har det godt derhjemme. Jeg taenker paa jer.
KH Dorte

Bjarni hilser

Solnedgang ved Santa Monica Beach

Thursday, August 10, 2006

IKEA forpligter...

Dagene går og jeg svinger mellem at synes, at det vi har gang i er det mest fantastiske og det mest uoverskuelige nogensinde. Hjem er indimellem meget langt væk (taget i betragtning af hvor længe vi har planer om at være herover)! Det tager lang tid at få styr på alting, og eftersom vi kun har været her en uge er der jo stadig mange ting der skal falde på plads.
Tanken om jeg jo bare kunne tage min taske og rejse hjem har ind i mellem været meget betryggende, men nu har vi været i Ikea og købt alt fra seng til strygebræt, så nu er det ikke så nemt at stikke af mere. Vi flytter til værelset i morgen, og det bliver rigtigt rart at indrette os der.

Jeg har i øvrigt spottet den første stjerne herovre: Kelly fra Beverly Hills. Tænk en gang.. Hun handlede ind i Ikea samtidig med os med to børn og en stor gravid mave. Jeg blev da helt befippet. Det kan godt være her er farligt, men her er oss totalt seje stjerner!!

Var hos mit kommende praktiksted International Rescue Committee i formiddags. Det var rigtig fint at hilse på, og de var virkelig søde og imødekommende. De har faktisk så travlt for tiden, at jeg vi endte med at aftale at jeg kunne være frivillig derinde et par uger. Så det er super!

Ikke mere for denne gang. Bjarni kalder..
Jeg skriver snart igen.

KH Dorte

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nørrebro go home


Selv om jeg til dagligt bor på Nørrebro ved siden af Mjølnerparken, og er vant til lidt hærværk her, skyderi der og en sjælden gang imellem bodegadrab, så har det mildest talt været et chok at komme herover, og mærke hvor slemt det står til. De fleste huse udenfor universitetet er barrikaderet bag høje jernstakitter i et slumområder, hvor bilerne oftest er dårlige, skraldet flyder og ledningerne hænger i et kaos mellem lygtepæle og huse. Man undres over man stadig er i USA.. Selv om jeg godt var klar over det før jeg kom hertil, er det så påfaldende hvor store kontrasterne er! Kør en halv time nordpå og store villaer med grønne saftige græsplæner, blomsterbuske og damer der lufter hunde dukker op i et område, der minder noget fra om
Desperate Housewifes. Det er fascinerende og skræmmende på samme tid.
Udover faren for at blive skudt eller røvet i nabolaget hænger der et advarselsskilt på vores dør, der fortæller hvad man skal gøre i tilfælde af jordskælv! Uh ha, der er meget jeg vende mig til.

Ellers går det godt her. Jeg er ved at føle mig helt hjemme her på campus. Jeg har iøvrigt mødt Elvis! Elvis er mexicaner og arbejder som opvasker i cafeteriet, og når jeg ser ham siger jeg HOLA – mere skal der ikke til, så snakker han derudaf på spansk. Halvdelen er befolkningen er mexicansk, så jeg må helt klart genopfriske mit spanske og blive bedre for det får jeg brug for. Så i første omgang har jeg allieret mig med Elvis.

Jeg punker lidt Bjarni for at komme ud af starthullerne og skrive, men han er en meget travl mand for tiden.. såh kommer tid kommer råd.

Kram Dorte (de kalder mig Dora – det er jeg ikke helt tilfreds med..)

Sunday, August 06, 2006



De sidste par dage har været ret hårde, fordi der er så mange helt basale ting, vi skal have styr på.. Min tålmodighed og tolerancetærskel udfordres dagligt (Det er så sundt siger jeg til mig selv!).. Nu er der styr på bolig, så det er virkelig fantastisk, at vi kan strege den fra listen over ting der skal ordnes. Vi har været rundt og se en del værelser og lejligheder, men enten har det været super uhumsk, farligt kvarter eller for dyrt. Efter at have overvejet dyre og sikre!! kvarterer som Santa Monica, Los Feliz valgte vi, at området omring campus er bedre for nyankomne som os, fordi her er alverdens sociale, kulturelle og sportslige tilbud, som uden tvivl er en nem måde at møde nye mennesker på. Nu har vi så fundet et lille værelse med eget bad/toilet i et nybygget hus med plads til 6 studerende, som ligger en blok fra universitetet. Det er uden tvivl det bedste vi har set i det område, men ikke stort nok til når jeg kommer tilbage i februar og vi skal bo der begge to. Men til den tid kan vi forhåbentlig få en kollegielejlighed på campus. I første omgang er det bare så fedt, at vi ved hvor vi skal bo efter tordag, når vi bliver smidt ud af værelset her.

Vi har iøvrigt lejet en bil indtil Bjarni får sit californiske kørekort og vi får købt en bil. Vi har uden held forsøgt at tage en bus, for at komme ud og se lidt af byen, men vi måtte sande at det offentlige transport system vitterligt er så ringe, som vi har hørt, for bussen kom aldrig. Vi skal lige straks mødes med en dansk fyr vi mødte forleden, som skal læse film musik herovre, og cruise rundt i vores seje lejede bil og se nærmere på byen. Jeg har set Hollywood skiltet og Santa Monica beach, så der er stadig en masse jeg må se!

Ikke mere for denne gang. Jeg vender snarligt tilbage.

Store knus Dorte

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hvor er Brandon og Donna?

Hej alle!

Velkommen til vores nye blog, som vi netop har oprettet så alle dem derhjemme i Danmark og Island kan følge med i vores udskejelser på den amerikanske vestkyst.

Vi ankom i forgårs til Los Angeles, og var så afsindigt spændte på at se alt det, vi har gået og snakket om det sidste halve års tid. Det var meget surrealistisk da vi fløj ind over byen og vide, at det er HER vi skal være i de næste par år. Pigen vi sad ved siden af i flyet var iøvrigt skuespiller og boede i Hollywood (typisk!?).

Nu bor vi så på USC campus, som dækker et stort område med jeg ved ikke hvor mange forskellige fakulteter (Her er alt fra tandlægeskole, lærerseminarium, journalistskole, filmskole mm). Det ligger som en ø isoleret midt i LA’s bad ass neighborhood South Central, men det mærkes nu ikke her. University of Southern California er et privat universitet i den dyre ende - godt nok har jeg ikke set andre universiteter herovre, så jeg kan selvfølgelig ikke sammenligne, men det virker som om at det prioriteres højt, at alting er tip top. Det er derfor virkelig pænt hvor man end vender blikket med statuer, springvand og grønne områder, og det virker helt absurd at der uden for universitetets stakit er farligt.

Som sagt er det et minisamfund i samfundet, hvor en del af universitets 30.000 studerende bor på eller omkring campus. Jeg udforsker området når jeg går tur om morgenen, og opdager alt fra kirker (jeg har ihverfald talt 3!), kæmpe boghandel, teatre, biograf, apotek, bank, restauranter (de har en sushibar!), caféer, biblioteker, stadium, svømmehal mm. De fleste studerende har stadig sommerferie, men der må være nogle sommerkurser igang, for her er langt fra øde.
Det mærkeligste er når det bliver spisetid. Så går man over til cafeteriet og tager en bakke plus tallerken og bestik. Første gang var jeg målløs! Jeg har set det hundrede gang i diverse teenage tv serier, og så lige pludselig står man midt i scenen, hvor teenageunger går rundt med bakkerne fyldt med rød/gul frugt jelly, små mælkekartoner med sugerør osv. Hah! Det er den mest sindsyge buffet, hvor man kan spise og drikke alt hvad man vil, og der er ALT muligt og vælge i mellem. ”Hvor er det mærkeligt at se alle dem som bare går lige ind, og antager det her er normalt” sagde Bjarni den første aften. Det overgår i stor stil vores tidligere kantineerfaring.

Bjarni er startet på kursus om at undervise, og jeg er gået i gang med at søge lejlighed. Vi har et par steder vi skal kigge på i weekenden. Det er noget nyt og egentlig ret ubehageligt, at man i den grad skal tage højde for at finde bolig i et område der er sikkert, men det vender man sig forhåbentligt til...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Coming to America

We arrived at JFK from Iceland at 19:05 on the 28th of July. The humid 35°C awaited us outside the airplane as we got out, a stark contrast from the cool 15°C in Keflavík.