We have just finished watching the final project presentations, and what a relief it is to be done! The two weeks in Lexington followed by another two in Copenhagen have been fast-paced, but rewarding.
The highly anticipated visit to Carlsberg Brewery ended up being an interesting visit, but not in the way any of us imagined. We toured the brewery’s museum to learn about the company’s history and greatly enjoyed the tasting room. Unfortunately, the representative we were supposed to speak with was busy, so we were unable to hear about Carlsberg’s CSR initiatives. Still, we managed to entertain ourselves. We discovered the Carlsberg app and ended up in a fierce competition to see who could achieve the highest score in the beer-making game and win free beer. Professor Straughan was initially a strong contender, but Kellie was better and won! Another intense competition occurred at the foosball tables, where champions Keith and Nate defeated multiple challengers.
It’s easy to forget that we are here for class, but reality kicked in this week. We spent the week working hard on our final projects Each group decided on a CSR topic that’s relevant to Denmark and created a video about the issue. The process was challenging, because we had to find an interesting topic, gather the research, and create the final product—all within a short time period. Our hostel has terrible WiFi, so most groups wound up giving up and going elsewhere to work. One of my favorite spots was Andersen Bakery, where my group spent most of our time. The quiet atmosphere was great for work. And more importantly, we had delicious pastries and coffee within arms reach.
By Wednesday night, we were all ready for a study break. Many of us went to watch FC Copenhagen play at Parken Stadium. It was exciting to watch professional football (or as Americans call the sport, soccer) and to experience the cheering fans. For Henry, the best part of the night was when he caught one of the balls the employees threw into the crowd.
Thursday night concluded with a class dinner at Höst, a restaurant that serves new Nordic cuisine. Our meal consisted of three main courses, three surprises and a snack. The meal itself received mixed reviews from the class, since not everyone is an adventurous foodie. I thought the meal was definitely interesting, particularly because the chef used ash and various local vegetables in multiple courses.
Tomorrow, we will bid Copenhagen farewell. Our last stop is the amusement park Tivoli! At our professors’ insistence, we tried a local delicacy—salted licorice. Unlike our meal at Höst, where everyone found at least something they enjoyed eating, the general consensus was that salted licorice was not a favorite of anyone’s! However, if you happen to be in Denmark, I highly recommend that you try salted licorice (and visit Tivoli) for the experience!
On Lessons and the Lydolph
The past few days have kept us busy with company visits and cultural lessons. During our visit to global shipping giant Maersk, we found out about how the company has integrated the concept of shared values into their business model. My professors have taken W&L students to visit Maersk before, so the staff provided an update on the company’s progress since the university’s last visit. I thought it was fascinating to learn that Maersk costumers value reliability over speed when it comes to cargo delivery. The session ended with a creative mind-mapping exercise, which was very entertaining to watch!
Other visits this week included the new office of pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. It is amazing how something as small as a molecule inspired the building’s design. The building also has many sustainable features, which is fitting, considering that Novo Nordisk is a leader in CSR reporting. The media always portrays pharmaceutical firms as profit-oriented organizations, so we were pleasantly surprised to learn Novo Nordisk has committed to finding a cure for diabetes and making the treatment accessible to all.
Our last visit this week brought us to the Confederation of Danish Industries, where we learned how the organization promotes CSR by working with both the government and privately held companies. This was the first time we talked about the CSR strategies employed by small firms, and it served as a good contrast to all the larger companies we have studied so far.
Most of us agree that one of the highlights of this week has been the dinners with Danish families. We’ve been served delicious meals of traditional Danish cuisine, such as Smørrebrød, which are open-faced sandwiches. It’s definitely been nice to enjoy amazing home cooked meals after months of eating in W&L’s D-Hall. Our hosts have also given us the names of trendy restaurants and cafes in Copenhagen to try.
At the end of this week, we got to enjoy a couple days of sightseeing. We saw Frederiksborg Palace, a palace so luxurious that it was too expensive for the king to live in regularly, and Kronborg Castle, which is where Hamlet took place. Did you know that a castle was for defense and fortification while a palace was a place for royalty to live? Or that most landmarks in Denmark have burned down at least once? We learned quite a few fun facts on our outings.
We’ve also learned that there is such a thing as too much ice cream! The class visited an ice cream shop outside of central Copenhagen and watched as Nate decided to take on the Lydolph (multiple scoops of ice cream in a cone, topped with incredible amounts of soft serve and then a topping of your choice). You’ll have you ask him if he was successful in his endeavor!
Next week, we have fewer class events planned because we’ll be busy completing our final photo essay project. We’re all looking forward to the last company visit at Carlsberg, especially after hearing that we will be meeting in the company’s tasting room!
Getting Comfortable with Copenhagen
After months of anticipation followed by two weeks of fast-paced preparation, we finally arrived in the amazing city of Copenhagen! Each of our rooms has an incredible view of either Tivoli, the amusement park that inspired Disneyland, or the beautiful riverfront with historic buildings. We’ve already experienced the famous bicycles and pedestrian-centered traffic culture that we’d heard so much about prior to our arrival.
Of course, looking at the city is never as exciting as exploring it. On our second day in Copenhagen, we took a tour of the city in the morning and visited Deloitte in the afternoon.
Our tour covered Copenhagen’s medieval district and included a boat tour of the harbor. While our spirits were slightly dampened by the rain and wind, we learned a lot about the city. Historical events characterize Copenhagen, including the numerous great fires that ravaged the city’s historic buildings — some buildings have been ruined multiple times. The architecture varies. One minute we’re walking down winding streets with houses that have been preserved from the 1700s and the next we’re passing modern buildings such as Copenhagen’s library, the Black Diamond. I think we were all interested to learn that there was a time when Copenhagen’s sewers were open, which means that layers of human waste could be found underneath much of the city center.
That afternoon, following the tour, we visited Deloitte for a lesson about corporate social responsibility. The Deloitte office was vibrant, open and — true to Danish design principles — simple and modern. It was lit almost entirely by natural light. We had our first sighting (and testing) of the infamous Danish “egg chairs,” which we had read about beforehand. The staff at Deloitte provided us with a great overview of the five main aspects of corporate social responsibility.
One of the best things about traveling is sampling the food. For our first dinner, some of us ate at Mother, a restaurant that’s known for delicious sourdough pizza. What stood out the most to me was how organic and natural the atmosphere was (this seems to be a repeating theme in Copenhagen). There was an open kitchen and pots of herbs were the centerpieces in the middle of our wooden tables. Other fantastic food moments have included a meal at an outdoor café, where we huddled under blankets trying to stay warm, and a quick trip to a hygge pastry shop. Hygge is a Danish word without an English translation, meaning something along the lines of cozy or comfortable.
Although we have a busy schedule, there is plenty of time for exploring the city. Tomorrow, we are off to visit Maersk and will experience more of what Copenhagen has to offer!