5.14.17 – Reflections


Off to the airport bright and early on my way to London!!!!

Although I’m going to miss my fellow classmates and our times in Denmark and Sweden, it feels so good to be on my own heading towards another adventure that is seemingly unplanned at this point.

I thought I’d dedicate this post to addressing things I might have not explicitly talked about thus far and reflect now that the program is over.

  • It’s really cold in May still. I brought a hat, scarf, gloves, coat, and lots of layers. I didn’t bring my puffy down jacket and still really wanted it at times.
  • Now, I really want to travel more. Before the thought of traveling all over the world sounded fun, but after this trip, I know it’s something I’m going to make happen.
  • One of the best decisions I made on the trip was going on morning runs. Even though I normally hate mornings, something about being abroad in Copenhagen and Stockholm motivated and energized me to get out of bed even after jet-lag or a long 10 miles of walking from the previous day. I felt like I was one of the locals going out for my daily morning run, enjoying the fresh air, beautiful waters, and graceful swans. I was able to see more of cities, and I often found myself navigating around town based on locations I remembered passing on our runs.
  • When people ask where you’re from, you can say you’re from the States or the U.S., but you’re not from America. Like you are, but that’s the continent and more specifically North America. I didn’t really talk to anyone about being American though because I felt like it was better to blend in (there’s def a stigma towards Trump and the U.S. right now). Dress the part since Europeans tend to dress nicer and tend to not wear much color, so the college sweatshirt or those ill-fitting jeans won’t do. I actually got mistaken twice for being Swedish in Sweden.
  • A lesson I learned quickly on this trip was that traveling is draining. There was so much that I wanted to do and see, but every night, I would collapse on my bed utterly exhausted. Because of this, I did not really socialize in the bars and hostel at night like a lot of other did. Looking back, I do wish that I would have mustered up the courage to talk to more locals.
  • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated 🙂 But make sure you always use the bathroom every time you’re at a restaurant or your hostel. Also, water bottles abroad are so pretty! I still recommend bringing a reusable bottle though and save some money like I did. Warning: a lot of restaurants charge for water.


Overall, this study abroad program was an epic two weeks. I did not expect to enjoy the course contact hours as much as I did. One thing that really enhanced my learning experience was the energy from my peers and especially how excited Dr. Reed was always. “Watch your step”!

Sarah xx




5.13.17 – Shopping, Old town, and Farewells

AHHH today is our last day 😭😭😭

Since I did not run yet in Sweden, I made an effort to get out of bed after a Friday night and go running.


Route from Stockholm run

Dr. Reed is seriously the best; he planned a scenic route visiting all the different islands and always kept a very moderate pace for newbs like me hehe.

Now I’ll have to run in London too! New goal: run in all the places I travel to in the future.

We ate at a cute cafe Fabrique, where I had the famous cinnamon bun with salt on top and chia pudding. This place has Sarah’s mark of approval. We stopped by some shops before making our way to see the changing of the guards. Highly overrated and very touristy. Basically men in uniforms woot woot. Blargh.

We walked around some more in and out of shops and sat down for lunch at the oldest restaurant we heard about on our walking tour. Den Gyldene Freden is the oldest restaurant in the world to have the same surroundings, which is noticed in the Guinness book of records. The surroundings and environment are more or less unchanged since the day the restaurant started in 1722! It was not too expensive; my dish from the dinner menu (and only vegetarian option) was 200 sek or $22.63. I don’t think I mentioned this before, but you don’t have to tip at restaurants here (and in Denmark too).

Because gelato seems like a popular thing here, we got some for dessert and this one had several dairy-free options to choose from 🙂 In line for the bathroom, I learned that people in Europe call it a “queue” for when you’re waiting in line.

We had our farewell dinner at Ardbeg Embassy to conclude the course.

What happened after dinner was probably my highlight in Sweden. A bunch of people wanted to get coffee or something to drink at one of the old town bakeries, but they had stopped serving drinks. We passed by Café Schweizer where I had lunch yesterday, and they were closing and cleaning up. However, the two young workers invited our group in for a private sitting. They let us choose music to blast on the speakers and started making us drinks. I had previously noted at the end of lunch yesterday that they had this very unique looking tea in a giant mug, but since we had finished eating, I thought I wouldn’t have a chance to try it. I was so lucky that on my last day here, even after closing, I was able to try the tea. It had fresh mint, orange, lemon, ginger, and honey in it and was so soothing! The place was also unique in that you could write messages on the walls and we wrote “H2P” and “Watch your step – Dr. Reed” as a joke.

Apparently, they were trying to start some sort of trend because we took a group photo with these signs that said “We love Café Schweizer”, and they started this facebook page with other small groups that they also invited in. Overall, it was such a nice end to the night.


Sunset at City Hall

Stopped by city hall to catch the sunset before going back to the hostel to pack.

City hall

Stockholm, it’s been fun.

Farewell Sweden.

Sarah xx


5.12.17 – Swedish Meatballs & Museums

Hej vänner!!!


Breakfast: Hot chocolate and Pistachio Pastry at Vete-Katten (a very pretty 1920s-style cafe).

This morning Dr. Reed and Michael told us that they would pay for our entry into the Vasa museum. That was so nice of them, and I am so thankful for all they’ve done for us on this trip. The Vasa is a warship that sank on the maiden voyage. The remains were salvaged and preserved in this museum. The ship didn’t even make it farther than 120 meters before a gust of wind pushed the ship so far to one side that water poured in through the open gunports on the lower gundeck and started to sink.

We continued the stream of visiting different museum starting with the Museum of Medieval Stockholm (Medeltidsmuseet).  Random fact from this museum: in the middle ages, stockholm had these bath houses all ages and genders would use. They would bathe while playing games and eating and drinking. Apparently, things could get quite wild that it might have been like a brothel. However things degenerated and by the 18th century, bath houses were banned and everyone was hiding under wigs, powder, and perfume.

Then, we went to The Royal Palace of Stockholm which had the Royal Apartments, the Treasury (regalia), the Tre Kronor Museum (medieval history of the palace) and Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities. I feel slightly bad saying this, but I’m usually not interested in museums that aren’t on the sciencey/STEM theme or interactive hehhh, but that’s what Stockholm seemed to have a lot of…

We ended our day with the famous Swedish meatballs (think Ikea) at Meatballs for the People. I definitely recommend this place! They had vegan meatballs made out of chickpeas-falafel-like balls, which were delicious. I also enjoyed a refreshing lingonberry tea. Apparently, Scandinavians eat the most lingon berries person in the world, and it also prevents inflammations.

We tested out of the subway system in Sweden and successfully navigated back to our hostel. Since Stockholm is bigger, it is a lot harder to just walk everywhere like we did in Copenhagen.

Tomorrow we’re thinking of a more chill day of shopping and photos. Definitely stopping by city hall to see couples getting married in under 5 minutes.

Sarah xx


5.11.17 – ABB


Our class outside of ABB Lighthouse, R&D and demonstration site

Hej vänner (HEY FRANDSSSS)!

Can’t believe it’s Thursday already 😮

We are taking a bus out to Västerås, Sweden. Vasteras is home to Asea, which is the company that merged with Brown Boveri to become ABB. ABB employs roughly 4,200 employees in this town, which is insane!

The highly anticipated ABB visit did not disappoint. The ABB facilities in Vasteras were a lot bigger and, in my opinion, a lot nicer compared to that of my ABB location in Oakmont, PA and also Wickliffe, Ohio. The highlights of the day include playing with virtual reality and seeing the robotics assembly factory. I actually initially approached the ABB representative at the co-op fair because I was interested in ABB’s robotics sector, so it was surreal to actually pass by ABB’s moving robots.

The focus of our visits was on the FACTS (Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems) technology. This includes technology like a shunt compensator or a series capacitor that enhance the capacity and flexibility of power transmission systems.
A shunt compensator combines resistor and capacitors to control the grid voltage according to a given optimal characteristic. This means the ability to control voltage locally. This also enhances the grid capacity since the behavior is now more predictable and robust. There are two types: Static Var Compensator (SVC) dealing with thyristor technology, and the Static Compensator (STATCOM) based transistor IGBT technology.
Similarly, series compensation reduces transfer reactance, which results in an increase in the transmission system transient and voltage stability. This is like reducing the virtual line length and thus increasing speed and power flow. As a result, fewer transmission lines are needed in theory since more power is transmitted through existing lines. Series compensation with thyristor control (TCSC) enables the modulation of reactance, which makes it possible to interconnect grids with very high generating capacity.

With regards to incorporating more renewables, we were told that Sweden has goals of being 1/3 wind, 1/3 hydro, 1/3 nuclear by 2040.

We then each got to test out a virtual reality experience of a FACTS plant. The fun part: jumping off buildings and throwing things. The useful part: being able to walk in the buildings and handle components virtually.
Next, robots making robots: ABB Robotics! From ABB’s corporate news emails last year, I learned that Lady Gaga actually used ABB industrial robotic arms in her tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys.

Lady Gaga plays dancing piano featuring ABB’s IRB120s

At the factory, workers were actually assembling the robots by hand; however, we did see some robots that were assembling the controllers. As expected, a large share of the market is in transportation. The robots typically have up to 6 axes of rotation and have an impressive tolerance of 0.1mm. The lifespan although not definite would roughly be 30 years, which also demonstrates the quality of the robots being produced. Although I really wanted to take pictures, I know this experience will stay with me.

Lastly, we toured the Lighthouse, which is a new R&D testing facility focused on high power, high voltage, and converter technologies. I felt like this tour was lacking in clarity. Some of the cabinets in the test area were similar to those that I worked with on in my co-op.

We ate at the restaurant Pyttirian in the Kungshallen food court and got gelato afterward.

One challenge I faced more in Sweden (not at all in Denmark really) was that most of the menus were in Swedish and not English. This made it difficult to tell what was vegetarian and the ingredients were in food. I overcame this by asking about vegetarian options and then just going with what that was since there often wasn’t more than one to choose from. Most of the time I did not know what I was eating in Sweden, but I did know that it all tasted new and delicious (and unhealthy haha so more of a one-time thing). It really is not too different though from the U.S. since I usually have to ask and make adjustments at restaurants so I can still try a variety of foods that meet my lifestyle. I never limit myself to salads and always opt for more unique options 🙂

Now we have the rest of the time to explore Stockholm for two full days. We’re basically taking the rest of the evening off to plan for the next two days and then resting.


Sarah xx


5.10.17 – Train ride to Sweden and Walking Tour

Today we had to get up early to catch our train for Sweden.

I absolutely love the atmosphere of Copenhagen so much, so I woke up a little earlier for a quick 3 mile run at 6:30 AM to really enjoy my last morning in the city. There’s something about the people there that I connect with. Riding bikes everywhere, their sense of style, staying active, trusting and helping each other, and so on resonate with me so much. In 2016, it was voted the happiest country in the world, and I can really see why. Let me move hereeeeee.  


At the train station about to leave Denmark for Sweden

It was little stressful and disorganized getting from our hostel through the metro and to the train, but once we got on, it was a nice, smooth ride, and I caught up on some much-needed sleep.

We are staying at the Generator Stockholm, and OMG IT IS SO NICE! Like the lounge-bar area is so hipster with swinging cage chairs, unique light bulb hanging fixtures, jail bars, and graffiti wall decor. I was told that it is fairly new, which is why it is so nice.

When went on a 2-hour walking tour of Stockholm and learned about old town Stockholm. It has this small town- wannabe city vibe. Dr. Reed and Michael bought us yummy cookies randomly, which was so thoughtful. On the tour, our lovely guide told us about interesting stories that had to do with Swedish history and places we passed.  Some highlights…


On Riksbron (“The National Bridge”)

Outside of the Rosenbad (Prime Minister’s Office and the Government Chancellery in Sweden), there was a little homeless fox (pictured below) that we were told is a constant reminder that there are still improvements to make in the Swedish welfare society.

We walked down the narrowest street in Stockholm called Mårten Trotzigs gränd. I’m not sure why a narrow street is a tourist attraction, but when someone tells you this alleyway is the narrowest, you’re like yasssss.

We learned about the Stockholm Bloodbath that has Game of Thrones Red Wedding vibes all over it. The Danish king Christian II organized a large banquet inviting many important Swedish dignitaries. At the end of the festivities, he had eighty-two of the guests, who had opposed his rule arrested and then beheaded in Stortorget the following day.



Stortorget – Stockholm’s oldest square surrounded by colorful buildings


The Swedes have this term fika for when they take a coffee break. I don’t drink coffee, but I’ll make sure to stop somewhere later for a hot chocolate to get the vibes.

After the tour, a group of us dined at Polpette to fill our tummies and escape the grueling cold before retiring for the night.

Tomorrow, we’re visiting my company ABB, so that should be interesting!

Sarah xx



5.9.17 – Offshore Wind Turbines Boat Tour and Avedore Power Station

WOWAZAAA!!! Today was the main highlight of the trip so far. Such a statement, but I have been looking forward to this and Hans pulled through!turbines

Bright and early in the morning, we left for the boat trip to see the offshore wind turbines that we couldn’t see last week. It was the perfect day, not too windy and clear skies. The wind turbines blew my mind (hehe stole that joke).  It was absolutely breathtaking up close, and actually being able to go inside the turbine was surreal. I’m not going to say much more because I really just let myself live in the moment and enjoy the boat ride without getting bogged down in the technical intricacies.

*Inserts obnoxiously large pictures of wind turbines*



*wah my hair so long*



*ermahgerd it’s freezing but we still happy*



We on a boat!

We then visited a power station owned by DONG Energy. Note the elevator had the floors labeled by their metric height, which I thought was interesting. We got hard hats, safety glasses, and radio headsets that I was way too excited about.

This site visit I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Perhaps part of this was because the presentation was delivered by Gitte Højgaard-Nielsen in a very clear manner that helped simplify a very technical topic. DONG Energy is largely involved with the production of wind, bioenergy and thermal power. By 2030, they plan to have converted all their power stations from coal to biomass.

There are two units that make up this power station, which was commissioned in 1990 and 2002. The first unit was originally built as a coal-fired plant, but now burns wood pellets. I found it interesting that biomass can run on the same machines as coal. The second unit is a modern multi-fuel plant that can use wood pellets, straw, natural gas, and oil. Despite the switch to biomass, there is still a need for oil as a start-up and reserve fuel.


Our class in the power plant

The total production capacity is 797MW electricity and 932MJ/s heating. Generating both heat and power allows up to 89% fuel efficiency. This plant mainly produces heating for roughly 215,000 households through the district heating system, which is distributed by local cooperatives. Electricity is produced as a backup to wind turbine power.

In contrast to the previous solar thermal plant visit, it was intriguing to learn more about biomass, and how it is used at this CHP plant. The primary fuel used is wood pellets made from sawdust pressed using steam. We were told it actually cost 3 times as much as coal, but it is tax exempted when used to produce heat. The benefit of biomass fuels is that it is CO2 neutral, which means the CO2 emitted will be reabsorbed by the trees and crops that are replanted to maintain the CO2 balance; however, I am skeptical about this claim.

Straw is the second type of fuel used. The straw storage area is shown above, where we saw the straw being unloaded off trucks by a machine. Later, the straw would be automatically taken to the boiler. Approximately 130,000 tons of straw is combusted per year!

In addition, we were given an overview of the production process. First, the biomass fuel is fed into a fuel mill, which crushes the fuel into dust. Hot air blows the dust into the boiler burners. Due to the combustive nature of dust, it ignites and burns at 1500 degrees Celsius! The boiler walls have water flowing in them, which changes into steam due to the high temperature.

The steam drives the turbine blades and subsequently the generator, which produces electricity using electromagnets. The steam is either fed into district heating heat exchangers to heat water for the district heating system (stored in storage tanks) or to a condenser, where it is cooled using sea water.

Control Room in

Control room

On our tour, we visited the control room. Most of the graphic displays were provided by Emerson and some were from ABB.

I was able to recognize several of the monitor displays since I have worked on the making the graphics for turbine control systems at ABB. It was gratifying to be able to see the application of technology I have experienced from the backend now from the control room of a power plant.

For our free time, a group of girls and I went to check out Freetown Christiania. It is a small town that declared its independence and is a self-governing community, where most notably cannabis is freely traded and smoked. Since we were kinda lost trying to find the place, we were low-key freaked out cause we definitely stood out. However, I felt like the town was truly unique and some people came back with some really cool stories from talking to local people who lived there. After walking through, we bolted for dinner at paper island again.

To end the night, I really wanted to check out special vegan places in Copenhagen, and Simple Raw was one that was still open! Cultural note – most businesses seem to close relatively early.


Raw Vegan Dessert Sampler at Simple Raw

Maddy thankfully joined me on vegan dessert endeavor, and we shared a dessert sampler and each got hot chocolates. BEST HOT CHOCOLATES like EVARSSS. The desserts were also really rich, and we couldn’t even finish cause we were so stuffed by the end. Definitely recommend this place!!!

Now I wish I had gotten a chance to visit more vegan restaurants here, but it’ll be easier once I’m on my own in London to venture off. So surreal to think that this was our last day in Copenhagen. I don’t want to leave 😪

I’m ready to see what Sweden has to offer though…

Sarah xx


5.8.17 – Jægerspris Kraftvarme Solar Thermal Farm and DTU

Meep. Today, we got up early for a long bus ride to one of Denmark’s several CHP plants, and this particular one also has solar thermal panels.

Jægerspris Kraftvarme is one of Denmark’s several consumer-owned Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants across the country providing district heating. This particular plant does not sell electricity. Denmark has built a system where 63% of all homes are connected to district heating. District heating in the US is not as widespread, and district energy is only likely to be found in big city centers or colleges where there are high loads. The heat in this plant is generated from gas-fired boilers and heat pumps. The thermal energy is transported through a 60.2 km long piping system in the form of hot water around 80 degrees Celsius and fed through a heat exchanger and into hot water tanks for storage. The piping is also only about 50 cm underground. In contrast, Pittsburgh still has a fairly old system using steam.


Our class standing inside the CHP plant where the gas boiler and heat storage is located

In 2010, the solar thermal plant was commissioned and later expanded in 2013. The total production for solar is about 6100 MWh. All over Denmark, solar district heating has grown increasingly more popular since the first plant in 1988. Similar to the wind farm cooperative, the community voted on adding the solar farm, and everyone contributes through taxes. This means the community made the DKK 23.5 million investment, but each household is also benefiting.

One difficulty with the solar farm that is common with renewables is the weather. Whether the sun is shining or not affects how much solar will be produced, and these decisions have to be made in advance based on the weather forecast for what to put on the spot market. On a good day, this plant has an effectivity of about 50% from solar and is usually around 20%. This is why there is still a need for the gas boilers. Additionally, the solar panels take up a large area and also need large storage areas. Like the geothermal seen at Pitt-Ohio, an aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) utilizes the groundwater and seasonal temperatures. Right now there are no plans to expand the solar, but another gas boiler is expected to be installed.

At the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), we toured and learned more about their Center for Electric Power and Energy. Their focus is to develop a reliable, cost-efficient and sustainable energy system based on renewables. There are efforts to transform the energy system and decentralize to become more user centered and incorporate smart technologies.


A little simulation DTU had to play with where you could adjust different elements in the system like how much wind was blowing and see the effect

A unique research endeavor DTU is pursuing as part of the experimental platform PowerLabDK is the island Bornholm, located south of Sweden. The island model represents roughly 1% of Denmark’s population, area, and energy consumption. It is a full-scale power system, and measurements from Bornholm were able to be displayed in the control lab that we were in. This island is also a microgrid that can operate independently but is currently connected with the Nordic power system. There are experiments on the island testing out Smart Grid technologies. Branded as the “Bright Green Island”, it is currently at 50% renewable energy with goals to reach up to 100% renewables.

Moreover, my favorite fact was that our presenter Dr. Ostergaard owns his own wind turbine!


The High Voltage Lab and class picture 🙂

The center had several very impressive facilities that range from a Control Center Lab with a real time digital simulator for hardware-in-the-loop tests and wide area monitoring and control to a High Voltage Lab (above), where applied voltages including AC, DC, or impulses can be used to simulate conditions like lightning!

Whoa. That was a lot of information. Sarah even took a nap on the bus ride back 😅 We had the rest of day as free time so most of us wanted to venture out and pick up some souvenirs and gifts for our loved one.

I remembered the tour guide mentioning a big department store called Magisan where we could get chocolate liquorice, which the Danes are famous for eating a lot of. I snagged two of the classic chocolate ones to share with my family because food is always the best gift 😉 They had samples; I thought it tasted strange, but I sort of like it? The liquorice inside is distinct black liquorice, and there’s also liquorice powder dusted each of the chocolate balls.

Image result for chocolate licorice lakrids milk

Chocolate Liquorice

We stopped by a generic souvenir shop and then got some nomnomnoms. I really wanted to try these waffles on a stick because they looked cool. Yeah, my reasoning makes so much sense, but everything on a stick is pretty cool, right?


Chillin with my waffle on a stick dipped in hazelnut chocolate

Something that’s been on my mind is what I’m doing after the end of the course. Pro tip: figuring this stuff out beforehand can relieve some of this stress but YOLO. Most people are flying back home from Sweden this Sunday, but I wanted to stay longer since I’m already over in Europe. Well, I was contemplating Norway and possibly joining another student on his adventures, but tonight/ this morning (at like 2 am hehe) I have spontaneously changed my mind completely and booked a flight to London and also a hostel to stay at. This feels more like me because I’m such a city girl and really want to see all the Harry Potter stuff like King’s Cross Station. Eeeep, I have no idea what I’m doing, and it’s kind of scary knowing I’ll be traveling by myself. I couldn’t coordinate with anyone to go with, and there was no way in hell I was going to let that stop me from doing what I want. So I’m excited for the unknown challenges and adventures that lie ahead.

Signing off…

Sarah xx



5.7.17 – Virtual Reality ROLLERCOASTER!?!?

Happy Sunday 🙂 Today, everyone had a slow start. We took it easy after cramming most things in yesterday. My main goal was to ride the virtual reality roller coaster in Tivoli Gardens. Let’s just say Mission Accomplished 😀

Our first stop was the “cool spiral staircase church building” actually known as the Church of Our Saviour. People can walk up the spiral to the top for a beautiful view. We grabbed a quick breakfast of pastries and such at Lagkagehuset.

On our way, we passed by some public trampolines. I saw some kids jumping on them the previous day, and it seems like a fabulous way for kids to stay active. I really want these to exist in public parks in the US.


Jumping on trampolines

Next, we decided to go to the Cisterns in Frederiksberg, so we took the metro. This is where it gets interesting…..


We get on the metro, and since there are five of us, I chose a seat behind the group. When I turned around a little later, there was an officer talking to our group. I was really confused as to what the situation was, but he was asking for their IDs.  We all got off at our stop with the police officer, and since no one realized I was part of the group, they told me to go on ahead. I waited for half an hour worried and confused about the situation. It turns out we didn’t physically write the date and time our Copenhagen cards started, and they had no way to scan the cards like every other place. Good thing I walked away though because each person got fined 😣 Apparently another group had the same encounter, but the officer just told them to write the date and let them go. hmpf.

On our way to the Cisterns, we passed by Frederiksberg Have (gardens) and saw some fun birds hehe. I’m constantly amazed at what you find when just walking everywhere abroad. The yellow palace is rightly named Frederiksberg Palace. Didn’t even know it was here, but there seems to be a lot of palaces in Denmark…

Finally, we made it to Søndermarken park where underground the Cisterns are. The Cisterns is a former water reservoir that once supplied drinking water for Denmark, but now it’s more of an art exhibition. To be honest, it was pretty small and only takes like maybe 10 minutes to walk through the dark, eerie underground reservoir so I wouldn’t say it’s worth going all the way out for it unless you’re passing by. Sort of reminded me of the book series City of Ember. 

Looking for places close by, we settled on the Tycho Brahe Planetarium. OMG, this planetarium surprised me so much! The description mentioned movies, and I thought I didn’t come all the way to Denmark to watch a movie…. but boy was I wrong! They are known for their 1000 m2 dome-shaped screen, where they play 3-D movies. You could pay for English translating earphones, but most of us just opted to hear random Danish and enjoy the visuals. I didn’t even need to know what was being said to enjoy the rich, crisp visuals that surrounded and popped out at me on the dome screen. The planetarium itself is also pretty fun for kids and science geeks like myself, so I thoroughly enjoyed my time there.


Pretty view outside of the planetarium

After stopping for lunch at a random pizza buffet place (heh we were hungry), we ventured to Tivolis again, so Sarah could finally ride the Virtual Reality roller coaster. You basically wear VR headsets while on the roller coaster. It was a Chinese new year themed virtual world and you followed this dragon around. Super cool concept, but I think roller coasters without VR are just as fun.

Image result for tivolis vr roller coaster

We walked around the amusement park for the rest of the afternoon, most notably feeding some cute duckies and fish.

We ate at Cafe Flottenheimer for dinner. I had vegetable chili, which was delicious 🙂 Again, we tried to find a relatively cheap place to eat and my entree was about 95 DKK or $14.05. I recommend the restaurant if you ever visit too.

That’s a wrap for this Sunday funday. Tomorrow, back to class site visits and such.

Sarah xx


5.6.17 – Exploring Copenhagen

I did end up waking up at 7:30 AM for another morning run. It was difficult after walking so much the previous day, but I wanted to get a head start exploring Copenhagen. Dr. Reed took me on a 4.25-mile route that passed the swan’s nest above. It never occurred to me that swans have nests, but here’s proof of the mama swan chilling in her humble abode. Next, we ran in the perfect area in the middle of the city around The Lakes of Copenhagen. The Lakes consist of five basins but in fact are only made up of three lakes: Sct. Jørgens Sø, Peblinge Sø and Sortedams Sø. We saw a lot of runners out this morning there, so I felt like I was one of the locals already.

For the rest of the day, we hit all the major tourist stops trying to use our Copenhagen cards to their fullest potential. The weather was absolutely spectacular! It was about a high of 60, which felt so nice after the previous cold and windy days.

First stop was Rosenborg castle (pictured above). It was a palace built by Christian IV in the 1600s. From the 1700s onwards, Rosenborg went from a place of residence to where the king kept all his rare objects to show off the wealth and status of the kingdom. Inside we saw coronation thrones, elegant tapestries, funny things like the king’s bathroom, and the crown jewels like the crown shown below. The King’s Garden (Kongens Havearound) around the Rosenborg was such a nice place to relax and go for an afternoon stroll too.

We made a quick stop by the Botanical gardens (Botanisk Have). To be honest, Phipps is bigger and better, so there’s not much to say about it other than it’s a pretty place that’s free 😅

Next, we went to the Round Tower (Rundetaarn), which was built in 1637-42 by King Christian IV originally to be used as an astronomical observatory. It is 34.8 meters high (ain’t got nothin’ on Cathy), which is actually higher than most of the rooftops in the city. Because it’s a round tower, the only way to get up is using the spiral ramp that twists around the hollow core. There was the lovely view of Denmark captured in the gif above 🙂

One of the things I definitely wanted to do was go on one of the iconic canal boat tours. Somehow I made the poor decision to sit with the group rather than snagging an open window seat 😜😜😜 I could not see anything without being obstructed by someone or the roof that really should’ve been down *sigh* But I didn’t let that bring me down 😉 We got to see the Inderhavnen Bridge (Inderhavnsbroen) open and close to allow ships through the channel.  We passed by The Little Mermaid statue and waved 🤗 to people sitting along the shore.

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, outdoor

It was a nice, relaxing boat ride. I was jealous of the people we saw floating along the canal enjoying meals and their friends and family on little rental boats.



In guard booth outside of Christiansborg Palace


Next, we went to Christiansborg Palace, which is a government building for Danish Parliament Folketinget, the Supreme Court, and the Ministry of State and is also used by the Royal Family. There we visited the Royal Reception Rooms which included a throne room, where foreign ambassadors are received by the Queen and the balcony where the Danish monarchs are proclaimed. The Queen and the Prince Consort use the rooms for official affairs like representative dinners.


model of the ruins from Bishop Absalon’s castle

Under Christiansborg Palace, we went to see the ruins from Bishop Absalon’s Castle wall from the 11th century. It was rebuilt several times and was discovered by accident when trying to build the Christiansborg palace.


Garden of The Royal Library (I really don’t know what happened to me in this)

After escaping 🤣 the depths of the dark middle age ruins, we stopped for a group picture in the garden of The Royal Library before actually going to the library. We saw a guy in a Pittsburgh sweatshirt and gave him a shout out (he wasn’t actually from Pittsburgh, just visited).

Finally, my growling tummy was satiated at Papirøen (“Paper Island”) where there was a variety of Copenhagen Street Food to choose from. It was so cool to see so many different vendors. I opted for a vegan falafel pita and it was AHHHHMAZZINGG. Maybe I was super hungry, but it was like one of the best meals I had so far here. 😋😋😋 For reference on how much food costs here, this was 75 DKK (just for the pita), which is $11.09. At a cheaper falafel place you could find it for 35 DKK or $5.18, but it was not as good and more on the lines of fast food quality. 

Colorful facades in Nyhavn

On our way back to our hostel, we stopped by for our touristy Nyhavn colorful houses pic to share with everyone back home that we indeed were in Copenhagen, Denmark having a blast. But like urmahgerd, the clouds in Denmark are so FLUFFFFYYY. Image result for so fluffy gif

The day was not over yet on this Saturday evening. Below our hostel was an ICE BAR called Reflections. It was basically an ice castle. Wait… are there actual ice castles I can go to?

ice bar

Reflections Ice Bar

It was super cold in there, but it was definitely worth it for the experience. There were like ice cube shot glasses and the tables and walls were all ice!  They actually had virgin drinks, which I opted for (basically fruit juice sugar 😅).

Overall, I felt like we were able to see a lot in just one day. Exhausted and definitely sleeping in this time haha, but tomorrow is also a free day to do whatever we want and the last day of our Copenhagen cards. Since we saw the main things we wanted to see already, we’ll definitely keep it more chill. I know some others are going on long bike rides or kayaking, which also sounds super fun.

Sarah xx


5.5.17- Epic morning run in Copenhagen

I decided that I would be a little crazy and wake up at 5:30 AM so I could run with Dr. Reed. We ran a little over 5 miles, which is on the far side of what I usually run, but I really wanted to see more of Copenhagen, since it is our first morning here.

We got to run to the power plant/ ski slope area called Copenhill, pass the opera house, across the Inner Harbour Bridge (that can open for larger ships to pass under), and through the iconic Nyhavn canal area. One of the nice things about morning runs is that there are not many cars, just some bikers and other runners.

Amager Bakke - winter activities, ski slopeImage result for copenhill

If you couldn’t tell what I meant by power plant/ ski slope, I looked up pictures (above) of what it’s supposed to look like in the winter. It is waste-to-power incinerator plant and is part of an initiative for Copenhagen to become the world’s first zero-carbon city by 2025.  The twist is that they are planning on having an artificial ski slope on the roof.

From state of green: The plant will be able to burn 400,000 tons of waste a year result in:

  • 99% energy efficiency.
  • District heating for 160,000 households.
  • Electricity for 62,500 households.
  • 100 million liters of spare water recovered through flue gas condensation.
  • 90% reuse of metals from waste amounting to 10,000 tons of metal a year.
  • 100,000 tons of bottom ash reused as road material which saves large amounts of gravel.

😱😱😱 Now that’s one pretty cool ski slope, eh?

A breakfast buffet was included in our hostel package. It felt like a traditional Danish breakfast with lots of bread and cold cut meat platters. I opted for toast with strawberry jam, cucumbers, mixed fruit, a mix of granola and corn flakes cereal, and green tea.

Next, we took the metro to the Middelgrunden wind cooperative for lunch and presentation given by Hans Chr Soerensen. Hans was very informative and an overall interesting guy. I felt like I got a thorough overview of Danish wind power and Denmark’s history.


Our class having a Danish lunch before our Middelgrunden lecture

In the 1980s, most electricity production was based on coal. The move towards wind energy began with the oil embargo in 1973 and increased in popularity with fluctuating energy tax and more concerns about global warming and carbon emissions. Denmark has been a leader in wind power and hope by 2020 to achieve a goal of 50% wind power. Depending on weather conditions and other factors, electricity is traded with neighboring European nations like Norway, Sweden, and Germany on the Nord Pool spot market as part of the Nordic interconnected power system and power market. Denmark has shown how energy consumption can become independent of economic growth. Trends depict how energy consumption has remained relatively constant with increasing with GDP.
A unique cultural aspect of Denmark is how the communities are trusting and supportive of one another. The Danes have a cooperative model for wind, where there is shared ownership so everyday people can own shares in wind turbines! The Middelgruden Wind Turbine Cooperative had more than 8500 members in 2005, and now maintains a minimum of 20% local ownership. Because of this involvement, it seems like the Danes are more supportive of wind and solar.

Before this lecture, I naively wondered about how wind turbines could be built in the ocean. I discovered that the wind farms are actually built on a natural reef, where the water is only 3 to 8 meters deep. This actually creates an artificial reef that thus far has had little effect on the fish communities. Fishermen have even come back to the area. The environmental effects of the wind turbines are of concern and closely monitored. I was curious about the bird population, but there also has not been any major effects and most species avoid the wind farms.

city hall

Outside of City Hall (Rådhus)

We had the rest of the day to explore. Everyone divided into groups and went our separate ways. We walked absolutely everywhere. My vivofit watch tracked that I ran/walked 15.38 miles or 43,437 steps!!!! To put that in perspective, my goal each day is to reach 10,000 steps.  We had delicious (and pricey) dinner at Cap Horn in Nyhavn. I ordered a quinoa salad.

Then we headed over to Tivoli Gardens, which is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world :O The Copenhagen card we were given got us entry, but the rides were an additional fee. No one in my group wanted to pay that much for the rides, but there was a VR roller coaster that I am planning on going back to on my own to ride.

There were lovely flowers and animals roaming about.

We mainly came because we heard about a free concert. It was featuring Infernal and Kongsted (yeah I don’t know them either). I soon discovered the Danes really like electronic/ techno dance music a lot. There wasn’t much singing, a lot of bass, cool visual effects, and BAGPIPES. I couldn’t really get into it, so I left halfway through because there was too much smoke. Oh yeah, that’s a very common thing here. Smoking. And drinking. I’m not into either of those things, but it’s amazing how healthy the Danes still are.  I was told by other students that the bars were full of smoke too. The cigarette packs also have very horrific images on them to discourage smoking, but I don’t know how well that’s working…

My teacher messaged the group about having different running groups starting as early as 5:30, 6:30, and then 7:30 AM.  A lot of people asked me about my run with Dr. Reed XD. Two people told me that they were interested in the runs tomorrow (but I’m doubtful they’ll show up). I’m a little sore from all the walking, but I’ll see in the morning about that 7:30 run!

Sarah xx