Days two-five: Working at DONG Energy

Wow this is a cool company and a cool country. Its been a really exciting couple of days full of walking and work and waking up to the blazing sun at 3am.

Quick hits:

  • there is no obvious pecking order at work
  • everyone shares tables and desks (and they’re the cool desks that have motors so you can stand and work if you don’t want to sit)
  • everyone eats together and lunch is free
  • no one knows what a sorority is and it is very hard to explain
  • the architecture at this company is insanely beautiful
  • tattoos are everywhere
  • full service coffee machines are all over the office
  • people wear Birkenstocks to work
  • not learning the metric system from birth is so inconvenient for the rest of the world



On Sunday I was lucky enough to spend the day getting to know my coworkers at DONG Energy on the company’s dime. The gardens are located right next to my hotel and they are absolutely adorable. Tivoli is a mini, more clean, more charming, Disneyland. It makes perfect sense that Tivoli was the main park that walt disney drew inspiration from to create Disneyland.


The rides were nothing short of super lame and extremely cute. We sat down for a lunch that was too pretty to eat. Strawberries are a big deal here in the summer and apart from root vegetables, they are one of the very few kinds of produce that can grow here.


On Monday one of my coworkers was nice enough to come and pick me up on his way to the office so I would know the way. The Gentofte office of DONG is the main building they have in copenhagen and it houses the CEO and from what I can tell most of the development. The building is almost a greenhouse, with trees, glass ceilings, small pools everywhere. The Viriam office is less pretty, still modern and illuminated by natural light. This morning I got a little lost on my way to work and had to spend an hour on the metro correcting my error. Although the office is in Viram, you have to take the Jæsborg exit to get there, even though there is a train exit that SAYS VIRIAM. Whatever, I made it to work, I just took a little scenic detour.


What struck me more than the architecture was the nature of the office space itself. No one, not even the CEO, has an office. Everyone sits at tables in an open room. The desks are assigned but there are no walls, no clear partitions. The team lead poked fun at the American way of having walls everywhere in the office. Honestly, he’s not wrong.


When there is such an open structure like this, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to tell who is in charge of who. Who is the boss? What is the pecking order? I AM AN AMERICAN. I NEED TO KNOW WHO TO BE AFRAID OF. Honestly though, it is very admirable the way in which everyone is given equal respect, and I much prefer this open style of working. I know who hired me, obviously, and I know she is very busy, so I assume she is in a relatively high position within the company. Other than my boss, however, I have no idea who my immediate boss is, or what levels of authority everyone is on. I am sure the longer I work here I will have a better understanding, but as of right now I am enjoying thinking everyone is important because everyone in this world really is important, regardless of title or pay.


everyone gets a desk with a motor so you can stand up and type!! the coolest!

My work here is currently very vague. Because I am an “external consultant” and my internship is unpaid, its the immediate supervisor that hired me that has the ability to assign me work. My boss is interested in hearing a fresh perspective, and knows my interests in clean energy coupled with GIS, but has yet to decide what she wants me to be doing. I have a pretty clear list of objectives for what I hope to gain from this internship and until I have a specific task I am getting an education on how the company works, what kind of technology is being used in the generation and distribution of clean energy, and how GIS is used to tackle some of the issues the company faces. From what I have learned, I am thoroughly impressed.

An issue I have encountered here is work dress. People are wearing Birkenstocks and shorts. BIRKENSTOCKS. Being the naive and ever prepared boy scout I brought heeled work shoes, slacks, blouses, and sweaters all coordinated from ann taylor. Little did I know I would be on par with the actual business men of the company. Programmers and scientists here wear t-shirts and jeans. Although the first two days were a little embarrassing, and my blisters are horrific, I just feel the worst for my generous mother, who bought all of these nice sweaters and blouses from ann taylor that weren’t really necessary. If anything I can dress down the blouses with jeans. The heels will go into my suitcase and never return.


before i showed up to the office and looked like a total DOINKER

After work this Monday and Tuesday I have walked the city. If I wasn’t thoroughly stretching each night I would have terrible shin splints. As a matter of fact DONG Energy is having a stretching campaign going on right now, and in general is obsessed with safety, health, and well being of their employees. I, an undergraduate intern, get complete health care out here.


we get in trouble if we don’t hold onto the handrails… 



I am provided breakfast at the hotel and work (yay) They really like their cheese and dairy here. Half the time they just put a hunk of cheese onto a piece on untoasted bread. My hotel has oranges and they are actually really good so that is a major treat. I love rye bread so thats an added bonus because I’m pretty sure its the national source of carbs here.

DONG Energy provides lunch and breakfast to all of their employees (yay) It is gourmet buffet. I am very overwhelmed. This is the only opportunity I have all day to get some serious veggie intake so I’m trying not to screw up my selections. Also I am eating with respectable adults and I don’t want to embarrass myself too seriously before the end of my first week.

There are these Scandinavian dry cracker things that look like prison food. They have no flavor. They explode into a violent crumb catastrophe after the second bite. They might cause death if not consumed with emergency liquid lubrication. I love them and will be eating at least one a day.

Dinner kinda sucks honestly. I am not a full time employee so I cannot take any of the cafeteria food home (a popular option) and my hotel does not have a kitchen, so I am either going to waste all my money on food or have to get creative. I have a coworker that might be willing to do some sneaking for me, but he’s a real adult with real responsibilities so I might befriend someone younger who respect less to do the dirty work. I could live on ramen dinners, but I don’t want to do that to my body. I could also eat a lot of street hot dogs, but again, I don’t want to do that to my body. It is a constantly evolving situation that I will keep you updated on.

More pics:



Hope you have a fantastic week! Hav en god uge!

Day One: Orstedparken, Stroget, Christiansborg Slot, and Hannah!

I’ve been here less than 48 hours and I am falling into the ultimate abroad girl cliche but I don’t care. I am proud to say I’m already in love with this city. In an attempt to not sound like  broken record the entire time I’m here, I’ll just say that everything in this city is beautiful.

Heres the quick hits:

  • I have read that this city is walkable and after a day here I can confirm this statement.
  • The bike culture here is awesome (not too different from IV)
  • I was identified in the Copenhagen airport as my fathers daughter because one of his co workers saw my NASA jacket and thought “thats Erik Hoel’s kid” (listen to “My Old Man” by Mac Demarco)
  • I am living in a hotel for three weeks before the company puts me in a more permanent living situation for two more months and I am in the SMACK DAB MIDDLE of the city
  • Everyone initially speaks to me in Danish
  • Saturdays are for the loud aggressive drunk German boys
  • Trendy “New American” style burger restaurants are everywhere (maybe I didn’t need to slam so much Habit before I left)
  • 1 dollar is like 6.5 krone
  • hot dogs are like 4 US dollars
  • Danish is not an intuitive language. (I don’t know what I was expecting)
  • ABBA, the BeeGees, the Bengals, and Blondie are all big here. (I am not opposed)
  • This is not an easy place to be lactose intolerant
  • Public urination is a problem here. Not hard to believe considering I have only seen one public bathroom after walking around for an entire day
  • Basic colors and sneakers are the style here. I have seen almost no accessories other than sunglasses. (did someone make this country for me?)
  • It is bright from 4am-11pm (yikes)
  • Weather here is great (its going to be sunny and 75 today)
  • Hans Christian Anderson is a big deal here.


Saturday 6-17-17:

Saturday morning I was ready to go do some adventuring so I set out to the closest park to me, Orstedparken.DSC_0131.jpgDSC_0051.jpgDSC_0090.jpgDSC_0045.jpgDSC_0127.jpgDSC_0017.jpgDSC_0085.jpg

I managed to connect with another ADPi from Kansas over Facebook and she invited me to spend the day with her exploring and wandering around the city center shopping. I am so thankful I was able to meet her. Hannah had an absolutely inspiring story and amazing attitude. She is only here till Wednesday and I hopefully will be accompanying her to get a tattoo Tuesday night.



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Postcard worthy photo around every corner

We walked all around, one of the stops was Christiansborg Slot. Apparently this is a palace (makes sense) From the top we were able to see some amazing views of the city.




check out the cruise ships and wind farms on the ocean!



Christiansborg Palace



We both got hot dogs for lunch (yay hot dogs)


We got dinner at the downtown Hostel and it was really affordable and delicious


We shared some pastries and I cant remember the names of them for the life of me but the white one was like a fancy flakey layered strawberry poptart

Many more adventures to come today! Can’t wait 🙂

Danish phrase of the day:

Undskyld mig (On’skil ma’ee) (excuse me) (also isn’t this language the worst?)


On the flight to Copenhagen

Thursday or Friday sometime between June 15th and 16th

I am sitting on an airbus a380 and most everyone is sleeping or watching a movie. My mouth vaguely tastes like skittles.

I am currently on route to Heathrow, then to my summer internship in Copenhagen Denmark,

“The internship will cover education within the areas:

Wind Farm construction and Operation

Distribution Grid Operation

IT support of related processes, especially Geographical Information Systems (GIS).”

Was the exact quote in my bosses formal invitation letter (which I found particularly adorable)

My first movie viewing of this journey was Moana, which in the most cliché way proved to me that I can do this (I can do ANYTHING actually) Its been months now that I have been telling people about this job and now its actually happening. I am flying over some lame part of Canada, I have a passport and documentation and a plug adapter and a hair dryer that folds in half and can run on euro voltage (shoot-out mom!!)

Before I even land in Denmark, there are a lot of people I have to thank for even helping to get me here.

IMG_7835.JPGFirst and foremost, my parents. My mom was the one crazy enough to suggest I apply with this company in the first place, and without her idea there is actually zero chance I would be here right now. My father was kind enough to put in a good word for me, and although he downplays it, I am also certain I would not be here without his word. Although we have never had the closest relationship, I know my parents love me more than anything on this freaking earth, and I cant believe they have dealt with me in all of my horrifically selfish and terrible times. I am so thankful that they believe in me, and I haven’t felt so appreciated ever in my life as I have in the past month. *now crying on this plane* There will never be an appropriate way to thank them for all they have given me. This and everything I have ever done, had, or seen was because of them.

Second, all of my amazing friends that have talked me through this massive life change. I cant start naming people, because the list would be egregiously long and I might forget someone and feel like human garbage. Even if what we were talking about was the power of a bathrobe, mortifying freshman year stories, or what we aspire to be like as parents, they all meant something special to me, and without the moral support I have received in the past 10 weeks of my life I would be on this plane with two sty’s from all the stress (I only have one right now)

IMG_9238.JPG.jpegThird, my education, obviously. I have had the insane honor of being able to work with some of the smartest minds in the world of oceanography. Without UCSB, who even knows if i would have the skills to be qualified for this internship. I have done far too many group projects, but I have learned a lot about working on a team. I ended up actually becoming good friends during the nightmarish work we shared the burden of (shutout GIS girls love ya’ll) Also, without knowing it, my professors have pushed me to attempt so much more than I though I was capable of.IMG_7794.jpg

Fourth, my brother, Grant Hoel. I love him so stinking much I would almost consider moving to Ohio to live near him. *almost* There is no one in this world that has listened to as much pointless blabber coming from my mouth, even while I am chewing during most conversations we have had. I am so freaking stoked that he’s going to be with my for three months this summer wandering around Europe. I will surely embarrass him and he will still love me just as much at the end of the day! He is the best ever. That’s all I gotta say about that.IMG_6905.JPG

Fifth, our beautiful mother earth. If she didn’t exists we wouldn’t have wind and we wouldn’t be able to make wind farms in the middle of the Baltic sea so I wouldn’t have an internship. So I’m v thankful for that.

DSC_0485.jpgSO, with all that said, I will be posting my travel things on my blog under the tag “travel” because I just don’t need to make another new blog. Make sure to check me out in insta @paigehoel Hopefully those pics will be quality and aesthetically pleasing.

I am so looking forward to sharing all of my adventures with you whoever you may be!!

Hej Hej!