Jen K.

Copenhagen, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

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  • 84 References 69
  • Fluent in English; learning Danish, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Swedish
  • 34, Female
  • Member since 2007
  • Exploring.
  • Undergrad? Biochemistry. The rest? Experimentation, but n...
  • From Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • Profile 65% complete

About Me

I grew up in Minneapolis, MN and have lived in Benin, Morocco, Finland and now Denmark.

I've been at times a student of biochemisty, a musician (playing at night and working in a major modern art museum during the day), and a photographer (working with a major NGO in Africa and then doing more lucrative but less far exciting work in NYC). I dropped the lucrative for profit freelance photography I was doing in NYC, in order to do some good for the world. I spent quite some time seriously examining returning to some branch of study that could have a direct impact on mitigating climate change-- namely atmospheric chemistry or environmental/chemical engineering and remain very interested in those topics. I was most interested in carbon capture and sequestration at first and then decided that was a bit too cynical (if arguably necessary) for my blood and turned my attention to getting an education that would allow me to develop solar cells.

In order to take some time to explore what made the most sense for me to do, I landed in the EU in March of 2012 to embark on a pretty epic cycling tour. I landed in the Netherlands in March, bought a bike there and cycled solo through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. When all was said and done, I had clocked a total of 5,500km on bike alone. It was one hell of an adventure.

After some time, I decided that I could make as big of a contribution to problems of climate change and beyond by writing and editing. I started writing a book about how open governance could change the world and started up an editing business that helps other thinkers express their ideas in a more clear and therefore more powerful manner.

Amusingly, almost at the exact time I decided to forever forgo lab, fate intervened and said "hey, you can go back to lab after all, without having to go through the university system". I joined the organizational group of the local biohacking lab and was very happy for a month or two... I also thought that the anarchistic organizational schema was very progressive and that the idea of teaching and engaging the public with science was definitely part of fixing the climate change problem.

Then I was horrified to learn that this lab was controlled by ruthless, unethical neoliberals whose objective was to transform it into a profit driven operation while baldfacedly lying about their intentions and ironically operating with a complete lack of transparency in a lab whose stated purposes is to be as open and as transparent as possible. They are not only unethical in their organizational conduct and the chairman of the lab engaged in quid pro quo harassed me in a misogynistic manner. His best friend and right hand man had been harassing and bullying me using racist and sexist attacks from day one. After I romantically rejected the chairman, those two joined forces to mob me out of the organization.

This happened around the same time I started seeing what they were up to generally (trying to privatize the lab) and speaking out about it... Naturally, all hell broke loose. As abusive people like this so often do (as I learned through research, my experiences were downright normal for any whistleblower, sadly), my opponents waged a smear campaign against me he re in Copenhagen which many people bought hook line and sinker.

It’s astonishing, sobering and it’s taught me a lot about why and how, for example, Republicans are elected. People are often very uneducated, unwilling to pay attention and do the research necessary to make good conclusions and thus, quite often, the bad guys win. Both on the level of a small biohacking lab and on the grander scheme.

After learning how systemic the problems I encountered in the local hacking lab are (they happen in nearly every hacking lab, especially those who are structured anarchistically with no written codes of conduct) is, I founded an organization called Open Inclusivity to try to reform the sector. After many months of attempting to get people to write codes of conduct and behave in a more inclusive manner and to try to prevent others from experiencing what I did, I am withdrawing from being active in the messy, dysfunctional to write about it. Although the last couple of years have been incredibly depressing in many ways, at least now I'm wiser and savvier and have a ton of good stories to tell. :)

I'm quite tired these days, and focused on research and writing and will ONLY even consider host you if you write a good couch request and if you seem like someone I would get along well with. Even then, I am often too busy and/or tired to host presently.

Why I’m on Couchsurfing


By hosting and surfing, duh.


All very positive thus far.


Oh, pretty much everything once. No, really. I'm not joking. I'm a bit too interested in everything for my own good. Still, that's a bit of a copout, I know. So I'll try to be a bit more specific: anything scientific, most things artistic/literary/etc. (I paint and I write), yoga, cycling, Nordic culture in particular (I get to live here finally, I have dreamed of it for years and am so deeply thrilled-- even after a year the gloss has not worn off, my love merely grows with each passing day) and human culture in general, knowing interesting individuals (well, every single human is interesting in their own way), cooking/gastronomy, the state of the world and how to make it a better place, etc., etc., ETC. I basically live to learn and accumulate knowledge.

Music, Movies, and Books

It's hard to pigeonhole but I'll give it a shot and be happy to discuss the subject with you in person if we should have the good fortune to meet up.

For music I'm most partial to post-rock. I suppose some might call it simply "indie" or, more pretentiously (but more accurately) "math rock". Whatever! I've never been a huge fan of labels so I tend to just call it "music". For about a decade I played in several different projects myself, specializing in bass, bass VI and baritone. My influences were: Shellac, Flin Flon, Godspeedyou! Black Emperor, Low, Mogwai, Slint, Rodan, Brokeback, Del Rey, Blonde Redhead, along with many smaller projects that never recieved the recognition they deserved.

I also have an appreciation for progressive rock, noise of all sorts (rock and electronic), experimental music in general, and lately I have allowed myself to really like a lot of sugary indie pop which is something I would have scoffed at in the past.

Before I played bass I played violin and I retain a strong interest in western classical music. I'm most partial to the heavy hitters (Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler, etc.) and to the Italian baroque (Tartini, Corelli, etc.). I also adore Opera of all sorts! I find it highly entertaining and do genuinely enjoy it but I don't take it too seriously so no worries that I am too pretentious about it. In fact, I would love to turn you on to it! It gets unfairly maligned in this day and age. I love modern productions like the staging of Elektra I saw in Berlin in 2007. The more blood and ridiculous 1920sesqe set pieces the better!

I'm also fascinated by East Indian, Arabic, Moroccan/Andalous, Japanese, Chinese and Korean classical music. The scales and rhythms make a lot of intuitive sense for me and I was always subconsciously incorporating them into my own work.

I generally dislike most pop genres, but there are a few I love. I absolutely adore Arabic pop. Its nine minute suites with guys all dressed up in tuxes in front of half-full orchestras are amazing. Also, the rhythms hew very strongly to traditional music which I feel grants it a lot more resonance than its peers.

I also really get a huge kick out of French pop from the 1950s-60s. I haven't made much of a study of it so I'm stuck on things like Hallyday and Gainsbourg. I'd be quite excited if you had a deeper knowledge of that subject!

American jazz and blues from the 1920s onward is another genre I like. Etta James, Loius Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald all that. I HATE modern free form jazz, though. I've tried liking it and I just can't. Sorry! Update: I have now learned to appreciate that to an extent thanks to a surfer who is now my close friend. This is yet another example of CS making life more rich and full. :)

I could write on and on and ON on this subject (there are even more genres I like), but let's save it for later!


Film is a bit of a sidenote for me, but I do have an appreciation of it. Some of my favorite directors are: Werner Herzog, Wong Kar Wai, Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, the Coen brothers, David Lynch, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Jim Jarmusch, Darren Aronofsky, and Francis Ford Coppala. Of course, like most human animals, I get a silly kick out of any big budget film with tons of EXPLOSIONS [!] preferably in 3D. Oh and any weird Finnish films. Please, please PLEASE educate me on this topic! After I left Finland the first time, a friend of mine showed me the movie "Rare Exports" without telling me aaaaaaaanything about it. When it was over, I was more convinced than ever that I had to live in Finland, haha. I want to know more like that. :)


Soooooooooo many. I have read a great deal of the western classic literature 'canon'. I am also interested in modern literature, poetry, oh and non-fiction is a huge thing for me too. Some of my favorite authors are: Howard Buten, Vonnegut, Pinker, Chomsky, Epictetus, Arundhati Roy, Naipaul, Feynman, Susskind, Dawkins, Hawking, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Jared Diamond, , Pynchon, Murakami, Sedaris, Eco, Vonnegut, Huxley, Burroughs, Shel Silverstein, Nabokov, Orwell, Sontag, Amis, McCarthy, Miller, Nin, Philip K Dick, Shakespeare, Salinger, Bukowski, Rushdie, Kafka, Gogol, Amis, Atwood, Bertrand Russel and especially graphic novels about Bertrand Russel. That is probably my favorite genre.

Lately I've been reading a lot of review articles, essays, etc. on the subjects I'm interested in while I attempt to get myself up to speed and make a decision about what path to pursue.

I try to muddle through the Economist every week.

One Amazing Thing I’ve Done

In the past I went go-karting in post-civil war Abidjan. I won. That was awesome.


I was once pushed into Chelsea Clinton by a French ambassador as we were all filing into a private room to see a group of children living with HIV perform traditional Senegalese dances. She gave me the most surly look imaginable. I felt super bad about it all day but met her later on and all was forgiven. :)


I once saw the Big Dipper set behind the Merenid tombs in Fez.

This was amazing since Arabic cultures view the constellation as a procession of mourners following a coffin (the tail stars [Alioth, Mizar, and Alkaid] are the mourners and those of what we think of as the bowl are the coffin).

Fez has a long and storied history as a major seat of learning in the Arab world (it contains what is arguably the oldest university in the entire world, after all). I would not at all be surprised if the scholars who named the stars and gave them their meaning lived and studied there.

In NYC, one of my best friends and fellow surfers got us into a sold out lecture on the Holographic Principle at which Leo Susskind was speaking. Due to her creative use of her press pass, I was able to talk to him at length about climate change afterwards. He thinks it's happening. Duh, of course it is! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! Oh no. :( Unless we do something about it so go do something. :)

Most recently I spent 18 hours on my bike on the long road home from Tampere to Toholampi. I started in the morning and didn't sleep until 4am the next day. The Nordic twilight lit the way, dried reindeer and salmiaki fueled me and I sang out loud nearly the whole ride. I am Finnish, after all, and I rode home as only a Finn could. Sisu is a real thing.


Still more recently I followed a 3km long trail of gigantic dominoes through the center of Copenhagen. You can see video of the event here: They led me past my favorite use bookstore in which the literati of Denmark congregate and I ended up getting acci-drunk with the owner and lead singer of one of DK's most prominent rock bands. Jeg! Elsker! Danmark. :)


All that said, one can have amazing experiences anywhere at any time. Each breath we take is a miracle to be treasured. I tend to find a feeling of awe daily, no matter where I am. It is a matter of perception.

Teach, Learn, Share


Countries I’ve Visited

Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Czech Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, Togo, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican City State

Countries I’ve Lived In

Benin, Denmark, Finland, Morocco, United States

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