Dublin, capital of Ireland

My journey to  Dublin began with a 11:00 PM mini-bus trip to the London Stansted airport. Since my flight didn’t leave until 6:30 AM, I had the pleasure of joining many other London travelers sleeping on the airport floor.  Not the best way to have fun on a Friday night.

The River Lifey, which separates Dublin’s North and South sides

For my first day in Dublin, I was ridiculously tired from staying up all night. After finally making it to my hostel (got off at the wrong bus stop), a free walking tour seemed like the perfect way to get introduced to the city. Not the best idea when it’s raining and you’re barely able to walk, thanks to too much walking in one pair of shoes. Since I was feeling pretty miserable, I got some coffee and decided to go see The Hobbit in Dublin! The theater I saw it in, the Savoy, is the oldest operational theater in Dublin. The large glamorous theater room was set up in curved rows that bring to mind a venue for theater performances, not movies. Now, making it even better was one interior design layout detail. In the back of the theater were exit doors AND doors into bathrooms. When I had to go to the bathroom during the ridiculously long Hobbit, the time from movie seat to bathroom to movie seat was probably less than a minute. If I ever design a movie theater… I’ll be stealing this idea.

Christmas tree in downtown Dublin

For my day and a half in Dublin, I enjoyed exploring the city (and actually went on the free walking tour). Dublin, despite having about one million people, felt like a big “small town” to me due to the short buildings  and the atmosphere. Compared to the Brits in London, the Irish in Dublin appeared to be bit rowdier, and the Irish accent was warmer and more fun. I was surprised to find that the Irish accent, combined with Irish colloquialisms, often sounded like an entirely different language. In fact, Irish itself, the Gaelic language, is on many signs in Dublin. I thought Irish was a dead language, but apparently it’s not. According to Google and Wikipedia, it is still the everyday language of several communities in Western Ireland and is taught in Irish schools. Ireland encourages the preservation of their national language, and the last census reported that the number of people claiming to speak Irish at least occasionally  in Ireland increased from 1.2 million in 2006 to 1.3 million in 2011.

I had to try Bangers and Mash (Sausage and Mashed Potatoes)… it was much better than I expected. Plug for the Metro Cafe… they have top-notch service, reasonable prices, and excellent food.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that the Irish fluency is increasing; the Irish are proud of their heritage and still take a general dislike to the British (according to the Irish boys who I ate breakfast with at the hostel). Some of Dublin’s points of pride that I learned of or saw include: Trinity College, the Book of Kells, Millenium Tower, the Temple Bar area, James Joyce, and Jonathan Swift. To be fair, I think I would have found the beautiful Irish landscape more impressive than any of these human landmarks, but I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to go to the Irish countryside.

I wasn’t supposed to be taking pictures… but I had to take a discreet picture in the Trinity College Library.

Christchurch in Dublin, where I spontaneously decided to go to my first Anglican church service ever. The choir was beautiful.

And so concluded my European travels, until an indeterminate future time. They were fun, inspiring, delicious, (a bit) educational, and relaxing. Yes, I love to travel even more than before. This spring, I think I might try for some American adventures: first time in Boston and New York City anyone?


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London and the Rain Room: Hannah’s Solo Adventure

Typing away this post, I sit in the room I’ve had since childhood, familiar and comfortable. Two days ago I returned from Denmark, and Chanhassen, MN seems almost identical to when I left. I wish I had posted even more while I was in Denmark, because I’m afraid I’ll forget little details of all my experiences. Ah well, you can’t change the past, only the present and the future (one of the things I try to remember.). So I’m determined to at least finish with two posts on my last trip: one for London and one for Dublin.

When I embarked for London, my small carry-on suitcase contained my clothes for five days as well as my gigantic laptop and a messenger bag. Partially thanks to airline regulations and partially thanks to this being my last trip in Europe, I had finally learned how to pack lightly. “Yeah, that’s right, I’m a world adventurer who travels all the time.” Well, I suppose a true adventurer would have just left their laptop at home. Exploring with little more than a map, one could rely on locals and tourist information stands. I’m just not ready for that yet, but I think I would be if I had a smartphone on that trip.

The first morning after leaving the hostel, I walked like I had nowhere to be, aiming for the London Eye and Big Ben without time deadlines. I had decided that one day in London would be without a transport card, in order to save on money and help me get exercise. Thanks to my decision, I walked through streets that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise… and my foot soreness became almost debilitating by Dublin. Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and of course the Thames were all sights to be seen. The area around Big Ben, which includes Parliament and the London Eye elicited a bit of awed excitement; I had seen these icons in pictures, movies, and books. To finally meet them in person was a fulfilling experience.

Big Ben and Parliament

me in front of Big Ben

On day #2 (because I forget which day is which while traveling), I went to an interactive exhibition that ended up being one of the most memorable things I did in London. I took the tube to the Barbican stop, which is also the name of the Barbican Centre (notice the British-English spelling), which is a venue for concerts, plays, movies, and exhibitions. Currently, the Rain Room is a widely-acclaimed interactive installation by Random International at the Barbican Centre, and it happens to be free. After waiting in line for the amount of time I would wait for the best roller coaster, I was finally allowed in with a small group. The large room is completely black except for a bright white light on the side of the exit. Between the light and the entrance is a space of approximately 1000 square feet where “rain” falls from the ceiling down underneath a metal grate floor. Small groups of six at a time are allowed into the rain area. When it was my turn, I walked into the rain with my messenger bag and my camera vulnerable to water damage. But I knew that I would not get wet. You see, as long as you walk slowly enough, motion sensors will detect your presence and stop the rain from falling around you in a pretty large area. It’s like walking with your own personal invisible umbrella. Of course, it’s not perfect. Sometimes you catch leftover drips after the rain releasers above you are stopped. If you run, you can beat the sensors and catch a downpour. Nevertheless, the rain room defies your worldly experience, and the simple lighting produces a beautiful picture of rain and shadows.

amidst the Rain Room (I took the artsy self-picture: the big head is me)

the Rain Room

Seeing the Barbican was the highlight of an almost-perfect day: I preceded it with a walk over Tower Bridge and a visit to the trendy Ozone Coffee Roasters (on-site roasting, long macchiato deliciousness, and cool industrial interiors). Afterwards, I made it to Camden, where I had ice cream made with liquid nitrogen at Chin Chin Laboratories (so COOL) and explored the multi-ethnic market. Then, I made afternoon tea into an early “dinner” at Sotheby’s before going to Harrod’s, Hyde Park, and Covent Garden.

Tower Bridge (not London Bridge)

an energizing long (double shot) macchiato at Ozone Coffee Roasters

an energizing long (double shot) macchiato at Ozone Coffee Roasters

making my ice cream with liquid nitrogen… and Kitchenaid mixers?!

exciting Christmastime at Hyde Park

London was delightful and full-of-life. I would go back in a heartbeat, as two days wasn’t nearely enough. It doesn’t hurt that the English boys are quite handsome and have the most ATTRACTIVE ACCENTS! Also, in case you were wondering, London Bridge is NOT falling down.

Vi ses,

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A Long Commute

Last Tuesday marked the day of Hannah and I’s last final, which was in Sustainable by Design, our class addressing sustainability.  Hannah celebrated by galavanting off to London, which I’m sure she will post about later on.  I wrote a blog post!  Although we aren’t going to post about our final, we would like to share the video we made about our commute for one of the other projects in this class.  The goal was to show our daily commute to DIS and analyze the benefits/disadvantages.  You can find this video below or by clicking here!  It’s only about 3 minutes, so give it a watch!

Laura and Hannah’s Hillerød to DIS Commute

I think you can agree that a 70 min. one way commute time is pretty long!  That’s because we live in a højskole and none of DIS approved højskoles are in close proximity to the center of Copenhagen.  There are others even further out than ours…a friend of ours had 1.5+ hour commute one way, and it was a big reason why she moved to different housing.  This is not to say the entire commute is bad.  Often times it is an opportunity to do schoolwork (there is wifi on the trains, most of the time) or a chance to relax and collect your thoughts.  However, I personally am not in need of 2 solid hours of personal reflection and usually take a break from the world and put the ‘ole earbuds in.  Sometimes I did homework, but for some reason my computer never let the internet work, so not much got done (except for last minute cramming for tests, maybe?).  Hannah often did work, though…it’s up to the individual.  Reading is also a great way to pass the time – personally I’ve been working on the Game of Thrones series this semester.

However, the biggest inconvenience of this commute (and our reliance on the bus and train) is that busses and trains dont always run!  We’ve had to walk to the train station a few times (with luggage too!), which is a 40 minute walk from our housing, because the bus didn’t run early enough.  For our Study Tour to Sweden and Finland, our commute was almost two hours due to walking, train and metro time.  Mysteriously, sometimes trains also stop running, like today.  Then you are reliant on the Togbus or Trainbus, which often takes a much longer time, is more unpredictable and can literally leave you out in the cold for up to an hour or more.

Although I don’t regret living so far away (we do have a castle practically in our backyard after all), it is hard sometimes to justify the two hours that we spend on a train or bus each day. Sometimes it feels like we commute into the city only to commute back again.  Additionally, it’s very hard to make spontaneous evening plans – the buses stop running at around midnight, so then we’re at the mercy of the Nightbus.  I’ve definitely had to leave early from events in order to be home in time from the bus, which makes the commute kind of a bummer.  The town we live in, Hillerød, is beautiful though and the housing experience is unmatched so it is all worth it, but the commute is not the best part of that!

If you have any questions about our commute, please feel free to ask in the comments below.  We’d be happy to tell you about it!

Vi Ses,


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Things I will miss (or not miss) about Denmark: my bathroom

I have less than a day left in Denmark. As I write this, I am in a London hostel for a short trip to London and Dublin, and I will arrive home only to repack for home home. I know I will miss Denmark, this country I have called home for four months, so I’d like to share some specifics that I will miss (or not miss) about Denmark.

Things I will miss about Denmark #1: having my own room and bathroom.

For the first time in my life, I’ve enjoyed my own bathroom, and it was glorious. Although I do have my own room at home, I share my bathroom with my parents. At school, I share a bathroom with seven girls. Needless to say, I appreciate my single bathroom.

However, I don’t think I’ll miss my European shower, which makes me feel like I’m showering on top of my sink and toilet. European showers, where a showerhead is attached to the bathroom wall, are really not more inconvenient than an American shower. In fact, it’s probably more convenient, because I don’t have to remember to close the shower door or curtain, and there’s no chance of tripping and falling getting in and out of the shower.  Nevertheless, your whole bathroom floor gets wet, so if you forget to wipe it down, you start slipping all over if you re-enter the bathroom.

My mixed feelings about my bathroom correlate with my mixed feelings about leaving Denmark: it will be bittersweet.


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In A Nutshell: Studio Project 3

Wednesday marked the end of our studio class when we finished our final crits, aka final studio critiques.  All of our work was due at 10 PM on Monday and the next few days consisted of our attending other students’ crit sessions and attending and presenting during our own time slots, and this presentation and presentation board (with accompanying model) totaled for 60% of our total project grade.  Hannah and I had a pretty rough weekend before this was due and a lot of time and not very much sleep went into the completion of this project.  However, we’re happy to say we’re done and are in general quite pleased with the results!

Our third project was to retrofit an existing building expansion that currently is quite empty and undefined from an interior perspective into a space for the Materials Research Institute.  Our designs had to consist of a lecture/workshop area, materials library (as in interior materials), and an exhibition of some sort, whether that be a display area or an integrated exhibition.  We were to incorporate Danish pieces and materials into our design and were to challenge the human senses with our exhibits.

A ‘persection’ or perspective/section view of the three levels of Laura’s design

Laura’s Architectural Section

Laura’s Project (as told by me): My design focused on creating an emphasis on level change and was inspired by Scandinavian mythology’s tree of life, Yggdrasil.  This tree has three layers; the underworld, the people’s realm and the god’s realm.  They were all connected through either ‘bridges’ or by the roots of the tree.  By adding a third level to the the underneath of the space, I was able to achieve these three realms.  The underworld section featured a workshop space where children and adults could actually work with materials and mess the space up; it did not have to be pristine.  The people’s level had the more functional lecture/workshop area and the exhibition space; functions that would actually be used and viewed by the most people.  I featured the Danish textile designer Kvadarat (North Tiles added workable partitions and their Cloud textiles are an installation/exhibition here) and classic Arne Jacobsen furniture in these middle areas.  The upper level was the most modern and focused on elevating the materials library, featuring LED technology and modernly made furniture by Danish designers Louisa Campbell and Matthias Bengsston.  The three levels were connected by a custom helical staircase, which penetrates through throughout the space and allows the user to view all three levels while emphasizing the level change.  Overall, my design was a success and I had a great critique session.  The images above show a ‘persection’ (combination of perspective and section) of my spaces overall, while my second image shows a more architectural section of my spaces.

Hannah’s Main Area with Curtained Exhibition

Hannah’s Sensory Material Exhibit

Hannah’s Project (as told by her): “I started with the concept of revelation, relating it to the idea that characteristics and qualities of materials are revealed through investigation or display in a materials library. I was especially interested in the ideas of an “aha” moment, curiosity, and engaging the user in space. Through spatial strategies like curtains, space dividers, and transparency I created a materials library and workshop space that reflects my concept of “revelation.” A main strategy was using two story curtain panels to partition an exhibit wall from the primary space. The first picture shows the main space, with the curtained exhibition to the right. The second image shows an interactive sensory material exhibit that is in the materials library.”

Well, that’s our final studio project in a nutshell!  As you can see, we both took very different approaches, but each works in its own way to meet the requirements.  If you have any additional questions about Hannah or I’s projects or just about studio in general, feel free to ask us a question here.  We hope that you enjoyed seeing our work and hearing about the work and process of interior architecture students!

Vi ses,


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