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This Column Is Ironic: Can You Say “Palo Alto” in Danish?


While you guys are wrapping up week two of the quarter, my everlasting pre-Oxford spring break continues. Needless to say, four straight weeks in Scranton might get a little soul-crushing, so I did what any sane person would do: I took a trip to Europe for the weekend. One of my best friends from high school, Sam, is currently studying abroad in Copenhagen. She’s always complaining how she once visited me at Stanford, but I never visit her at school. Problem is, she goes to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota — and while I love her dearly, I don’t love frostbite. Thus, seeing her in Denmark managed to kill two birds with one stone: I got to break up my extraordinarily long spring break and stop her constant guilt trips. I’ll call that a win-win.

If my four days in Copenhagen showed me anything, it’s that Stanford absolutely must make the city the next addition to the Bing Overseas Study Program. There’s been a lot of talk recently about adding a program in the Middle East. Apparently, that region of the world is very pertinent to international politics right now. That’s all well and good, but Dubai or Riyadh is about as far as you could get from The Farm. Stanford students might claim that they go abroad for international experience or language immersion, but they really go for the lack of a drinking age and the GPA boost. Do you really think our students would want to end up in some Middle Eastern country with temperatures consistently in the range of “boiling” and a complete lack of alcohol? I think not. Forget the Middle East, Bing. You want Copenhagen. Here’s the beautiful thing: the city is literally just like Palo Alto — only bigger, colder and more European. Basically, it’s the dream place for the next Bing program. Trust me on this one.

First off, take all of the yuppie and hipster elements so prevalent to Palo Alto and port them to a city of 1.2 million people. That’s Copenhagen. Danish culture has this concept called “hygge.” (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it — because everything in Danish just sounds like prolonged mumbling.) The word is usually translated to something like “coziness,” and you can find hygge in most cafes and restaurants in Copenhagen. Think of the CoHo or the Palo Alto Coupa — but infinitely more authentic — in some European building on a quiet pedestrian street. That’s hygge. For example, I found myself in this organic soup shop situated in the basement of a Copenhagen building the other night. (Speaking of, we need an organic soup restaurant in Palo Alto. Startup idea, anyone? I want credit.) I was drinking an organic beer. There was some guy playing acoustic guitar in the next room. I turned to Sam and her friend Lizzie and said, “Guys, I’m not sure if you realized this, but we’re hipsters. This proves it.” Any town that makes you an environmentally conscious hipster just by going out to dinner is definitely close to Palo Alto’s heart.

Plus, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Copenhagen is damn expensive. The chili I had at that soup place? Something like $17. A beer while out at a bar? Definitely close to $10. Sound familiar? Oh yeah! Palo Alto is the United States’ most expensive college town. I know people who willingly pay like $15 for a salad at Sprout. Want to avoid the sticker shock of living in Copenhagen? Just go straight there from the Bay Area. Problem solved.

Honestly, I don’t think Stanford can miss out on this opportunity. Scandinavia remains untapped within our vast study abroad resources. Everyone in Copenhagen speaks immaculate English, so there’s no need for a language requirement either. Less time spent learning a useless language (would you ever use Danish, anyway?) means more time going out. As Rebecca Black would say, “Partying, partying! Yeah!” As it stands, partying is the most useful thing about a study abroad experience anyway — just ask your friends who came back from Madrid or Berlin. And if most Bing programs are just recreations of the Stanford bubble in a foreign country, then why not have your European Stanford bubble in a place that reminds you of Palo Alto?

Oh, and Danish girls are really, really hot. That’s pretty important, too.

Still angry about Shane’s Rebecca Black non sequitur in a column about Copenhagen? Direct all your rage to [email protected]


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