Thursday, March 23, 2006

Get paid to go to school

As if free tuition was not enough, Danish citizens receive a salary while attending university. Each month, students get about 4000 Kr (800$). This in intended to cover housing (2000 Kr), food (1500 Kr) and fun (500 Kr). As well, they receive money each semester to cover the cost of textbooks. And free printing at all university databars.
Of course, they'll pay 60% tax for the rest of their lives...

"Do you dream of spending the summer in Canada?"

A big poster has been put up in one of my classrooms, advertising the exciting possibility of working in Canada this summer. Successful applicants could help develop new course materials and laboratory exercises for the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fastelavn (i.e. Danish Carnival)

The Danish are really confused when it comes to holidays! Halloween doesn't involve costumes or candy. Christmas decorations are set up by the beginning of November.
And their take on "Carnival" or "Mardi Gras" is just plain weird: a mix of European, Mexican and Viking traditions. Like many other European countries, they dress up in costumes and have a big party. And, similarly to Mexico, there is a pinata, but it's a little different: it is a wooden barrel with a black cat outline painted on the outside. They take turns beating the barrel until it breaks open. There is no candy inside the pinata, but the person to break open the barrel is declared to be the winner and gets some prize (often beer, or candy for kids).
The winner is said to have "killed the cat." This is because this tradition is a tribute to their Viking past, when they used to put a live cat inside the barrel. The "winner" was the person who broke the barrel and revealed the dead cat inside. This was supposed to somehow ward off evil. The weirdest part is that Danes don't see anything wrong with this...
Stay tuned for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.