We disembarked from the ferry onto Danish soil, delighted (and very proud) to have reached our final* country of this truly epic languages tour. Our Membus has so far travelled around 8 countries, and filmed thousands of locals en route, to create a brand new “Meet the Natives” mode for your favourite language-learning app, Memrise. You can already enjoy the videos for French, Spanish, Portuguese AND Italian, with many more coming soon…
Read on to discover how we created the Danish chapter of our video dictionary, and successfully wrapped up this final leg of our intrepid European mission!
Our first (and yet penultimate) port of call was Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, and where Josh, our QA whizz from the Memrise office, came to help us out, at the same time, incidentally, as enjoying his very first experience outside of the UK. And where better to first step foot on the continent than this charming coastal port, accompanied by the coolest multilingual camper in Europe and its formidable crew.
We couldn’t have done it either without Cille, our Danish volunteer no°1, who hitchhiked all the way from Germany to join us (together with her trusty ukulele), and our unshakable Ukrainian filmmaking duo, Diana and Kateryna.
Altogether, they were a force to be reckoned with as they went out spreading the Memrise word and filming the locals within all the cute boutiques and bistros that Aarhus had to offer. As a university town with very strong student vibes, we always managed to find lots of young folk soaking up the sun in parks and upon piers, more than happy to take a break from studying.
In the evenings, we enjoyed visiting all the town’s funkiest spots, such as the contemporary art museum with its rainbow-fuelled roof, and Godsbanen, a converted old goods train station, where we danced away one night upon the ancient tracks, whilst enjoying an example of quality Danish DJ-ing.
And then, much sooner than we would have liked, our final journey on the Membus was upon us, and it was made even more memorable by the breathtaking crossing of the bridge from the island of Funen to the island of Zealand. All crew members gathered at the front of both decks to admire the beautiful views stretching out before us, with Renato singing his favourite tune (Crocodile Rock, Elton John), making the moment even more sentimental.
In Copenhagen, Anne, our Danish Head of Learning Innovation back at Memrise HQ, arrived to help us make the most of the end of this magical ride, but more importantly, make our final rounds of videos as punchy and dynamic as possible. We also welcomed Mary Jo, one of our top Kickstarter backers, who normally spends her time as an air hostess. She was probably horrified by the lack of safety on board (for example, when we discovered, 3 months in, that you could very easily open our emergency exit from the outside, making our routine and meticulous locking up duties totally futile).
During the days, we discovered that each neighbourhood in Denmark’s capital had something different to offer, whether roaming elephants in Frederiksberg Gardens, fellow hippies in Christiania, or hipster hangouts in the meat-packing district, and we found some exceptionally colourful characters to film in each.
Every night, the bus’ lower deck played host to one culinary triumph after the next. One of the highlights was a mouthwatering array of smørrebrød (typical Danish bruschetta), prepared by Anne’s lovely dad Jens.
The final night’s feast was a true culmination of all the most enjoyable and special moments we’ve had on the bus, with Renato at the helm of the kitchen, stoking up a sumptuous roast lamb (a grand accomplishment with the bus’ limited cooking range), many ceremonious poppings of many champagne bottles, as well as speeches, presents and cards galore.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped us out on the way; to all the filmmakers and linguists who joined us in each country and went out filming come rain or shine, and to all the lovely Europeans whom we got to meet and film en route, without whom we couldn’t have pulled off this impressive feat. We cannot fail to mention all the various mechanics either who fixed our bus along the way, as well as our dedicated and downright mad driver Renato, for just about keeping us on the straight and narrow.
We at Memrise are hugely excited by this new Meet the natives mode, and couldn’t have imagined any other way than the Membus tour to make it come to life. Membus 2016, it’s been a real adventure. But it’s not all over yet – check out our ongoing and upcoming filming projects in Russia, China, Korea and Japan, (albeit without the bus) on our Instagram account!
*due to certain height restrictions in Germany, our bus was barred access, which meant that we couldn’t travel through the Netherlands with the bus, as originally planned. But fear not, we will complete the Dutch video dictionary at some point soon, just without the bus! Watch this space 🙂