Astrud in Copenhagen

Astrud, a junior majoring in biology and minoring international studies, is participating in SMU-in-Copenhagen during Fall 2008.

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We’ve only just begun …

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Wow. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote.

I’ve now officially met most of my professors. I must admit it’s a bit unusual to call them by their fist names but as the saying goes, “In Rome, do what the Romans do,” and I’ll do what the Danes do.

Likewise, I’ve been to my program orientation. For the next four months, I am enrolled in DIS’ Medical Practice and Policy Program. I particularly think that it’s such an advantage to study medicine in a country with a different healthcare program and policy than the United States. A different perspective on things never really hurt anyone. On the other hand, it can probably help more than hurt. But that’s my opinion on that.

My Danish family
So much happened this weekend. This past Friday, I met my visiting family. Since I’m staying in a Kollegium, I chose to take part in the Visiting Family program so that I can get immersed more into the Danish culture. And after Friday, I’m really happy that I did! My visiting parents are amazing!

The dad used to be a pediatrician but now works for another agency, while the mom used to be a pharmacist and just recently retired. To describe them merely as that is insufficient. While they were working, they both biked to work, much like a third of the Danish working population. But their workplaces are an hour bike ride from home! And this is not leisurely biking either. It’s like Olympic-trial biking in my eyes, so the fact that they bike 2 hours a day to get to and from work is really impressive in my eyes.

What I learned about Danes is that most of their meals are prepared at home. They don’t really eat out as much. Even for lunch, most of them choose to bring their own food to their respective jobs. So when they asked me if I was free for dinner, I jumped right in and said yes. It was really nice to sit down with them as they talked about their travels to the United States and all of Europe. We had salad, potatoes and a meat dish whose name eludes me at the moment but rest assured that it was amazing. To finish it off, my visiting mother baked an apple pie with fresh apples from her backyard. I was definitely in heaven.

I know that it won’t be our last meeting. We already planned to go to Rodskilde to see a Viking Museum. We’ll just have to plan dates now.

Denmark by bike
My Saturday was just as eventful since I got to experience the Danish way of transportation – the bike – for myself. DIS sponsors various tours and activities throughout the semester, and one of them was a Bike Tour. I was apprehensive at first, of course. Biking is no joke here. But why not try, right? So, I did and I definitely felt the aches and pains when I woke up this morning. But nonetheless, it was still very worth it.

Seeing the city on a bike is so much different than walking it or taking the bus. There’s a different perspective that one gains when they pedal their way through traffic and as they enter and exit the bike lanes. We got to practice our bike signs and also got to see various places in Copenhagen. Once in awhile, we’d stop and our tour guide would tell us more about the history of Copenhagen and explain to us the importance of the particular building that we were seeing. I think I consider the amazing weekend weather to be a plus as well.

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Sunday featured another trip, but this time, it was away from the Copenhagen area. This one was to Helsingor, a place north of Copenhagen. The focus of the trip was to see Kronborg Castle, also dubbed as Hamlet’s castle. You see, Dallas doesn’t really have that many castles, so going to see one was particularly appealing to me.

Once again, our group had a very knowledgeable and amazing tour guide who talked to us about the different rulers of Denmark. I thought it was particularly funny that a lot of the artifacts were either stolen by Sweden at one point in time or are actually in Sweden right now. Oh, those Swedes. The tour was a great start of the great weekends to come!

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