Recently, all I can think about is autumn, the season of change and the most beautiful shades of nature: yellow, orange, red and brown. Maybe because I was an autumn child, autumn foliage excites me more than anything in the world.
And Copenhagen autumn is only amplifying my experience with its brick red buildings and early-November Christmas decorations. And then I also find myself thinking about the fading nature of things more often in this season, and reflecting more. And how we are constantly letting go of certain parts of ourselves, and that everything is transitory, and ends are not necessarily always bad. We are always on some kind of journey, always exploring, and learning. And time passes by so quickly that I sometimes find it hard to keep up with the pace or observe the changes I am going through as I am settling into my life here in Copenhagen, establishing new routines and feeling that I always have a little too much on my mind.
I had an old friend visiting me from Korea last weekend. She is originally from Norway and she graduated one year later than me. So, this was us meeting after over one year in Copenhagen after some years together in Seoul. As I have been trying to spend as much time outside as I can and explore Copenhagen, having her over was yet another reason to roam the city and show her what living in Copenhagen in autumn feels like.
In my first month here, I dated a Danish boy/had a date who drove me to one of the most beautiful parts of the city, Charlottenlund Fort. As someone who was born and raised in a city far away from the sea, I always find myself astonished by it.
And I have this mindset that I must explore the parts of the city where I can see more of everyday/ordinary life than solely the tourist-friendly spots. And Charlottenlund had that vibe, with people walking their dogs; people out on a run; simply people living their day-to-day lives. So later I went there again by myself and sat on a bench to watch people walk by or took a little stroll and soon it became one of my favourite spots in Copenhagen.
And when my friend finally arrived last Friday, I decided I would take her there too. We took the train to Charlottenlund Station and walked around a kilometre or so to a cafe by the fort. Sat by the window, we ordered coffee and the famous Danish smørrebrød and caught up on life.
I think although it is almost my third month in Denmark, at times I still find myself a tad bit lonely and having an old friend to talk to also made me realise how much more I have become accustomed to spending my time alone. And unlike before, I do not think it is necessarily negative as it gives me more room to get to know myself and to actually develop a sense of belonging to the city.
Then we also went to the Carlsberg Museum or Glyptotek, which literally translates as sculpture collection. I have been wanting to go there for some time now but as I was caught up with everyday life too easily, I could not really make the time myself.
So, on Saturday my friend and I decided to spend a few hours at the Carlsberg Museum, which was opened in 1897 by Carl Jacobsen as a museum to house his art collection of mainly French art pieces: sculptures and paintings. Upon entering the museum, I felt like we were in a garden in the open air rather than in a cold stone building. There were benches surrounding a charming sculpture and people were sitting there unwinding.
Later, I learned that when he decided to open the Glyptotek, Carl Jacobsen had a vision to not only provide people with a museum, but also a space where they can let their hair down even when the weather is grey in the city, so the museum has a Winter Garden in the centre. Without hesitation, I could see that his vision had succeeded, as the garden not only offers a calming space but also complements the museum with a touch of nature, as the museum consists mainly of stone statues from Greece, France, Egypt and Denmark.
Moreover, they had a solo exhibition of Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s sculptures and amongst all, I found her work the most fascinating. Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen is known as the most important female sculptor in Denmark. She was the first female sculptor in the world who was commissioned to create an equestrian statue of King Christian IX of Denmark, however, like many other women artists she was not so well-known for her work.
More intriguing was her story about her persistence to study despite her family’s traditional view on women’s role in the society, how she won a scholarship and how her art evolved over time. And, that later she also contributed to the women’s right to academic education by establishing the Society for Women Artists. To me, her work had more life than anything else I have seen at the exhibition that day not only because of her artistic expression but also her daring stance in life as a woman of her time.
And I believe to this day, she represents the struggles of women, and the perseverance, but more, the overcoming. And there were also Danish and French paintings that were awfully vivid and beautiful, but given its meaning, I feel Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen’s work will be what will stay in my memory most vividly.
My friend left on Sunday morning and bittersweetly I went back to my new ‘old’ routine. And as I have been told quite a lot of times already, the days have become very short in Denmark, meaning we have more dark hours.
The sun sets at around five pm or so, and it is much darker than a month ago. I believe Denmark switched to wintertime last week, so the clocks were put one hour back and that day I lost track of time as I was in all day working on a project.
I looked outside my window at around four and thought it must be much later than that but it wasn’t. Everybody seems to complain about it and also the weather becoming much colder but so far, I am enjoying the shorter daytime and I feel it is very calming when people go home from work and it feels like the city is already sleeping.
Living alone in Copenhagen most of the time feels like nothing much is really happening except for the ongoing Christmas zeal for the time being, which is quite delightful to me as the city became even more cosier with all the Christmas decorations and markets, especially in the evenings.
And when I go to Nyhavn these days, I see a lot of stalls selling gløgg (mulled wine with raisins) so maybe next time I will take you on a little Christmas stroll with me, but for now, I hope you stay warm and enjoy the autumn hygge in Copenhagen as much as I do because in my opinion it is an absolutely blessing.