I have been in Denmark about a week and a half, and this is literally the first opportunity I have gotten to blog. So many things have happened since I arrived, and I would love to tell about them all. However, I think that in order to pack all of the information in, I would have to write a mini-novel. I’ll just try to sum up the best things.
First, I LOVE Denmark. I have never been happier with a decision in my life. I will be here for the next four months, and I could not be more excited. I am living in Copenhagen, a little ways from the city center on an island directly to the southeast of the island that the majority of Copenhagen is on. It is called Amager (pronounced Ah-Mah), for the curious!
I live in what is called a “Kollegium,” which is basically a dorm with a common kitchen and TV room, but without a really structured “residence life” feel to it. Each floor certainly has its own atmosphere, and I luckily enough ended up on an extremely social floor.
I have had so many awesome experiences so far; it is hard to pick what to write about. The first official day of our orientation, we got to take a bus tour of Copenhagen to see many of the major sites. We saw “The Little Mermaid,” Parliament, the Danish National Library (aka, the Black Diamond), and Tivoli (the amusement park in Copenhagen).
Overall, I would say that bus is definitely NOT the ideal way to travel around Copenhagen, as the streets are very narrow and not car-friendly. A Dane living in my Kollegium told me the other day that the officials in Copenhagen do their best to make driving as much of a hassle as possible to encourage the use of public transportation, biking and walking. They certainly have succeeded as you can tell from this picture (right).
The next day of orientation, we got to take “Survival Danish” class, which I was skeptical about but turned out to be very useful. On the second day of the course they took us to the supermarket and taught us lots of common food words, which I must say has probably been the most beneficial part of the whole thing.
Unfortunately, they didn’t tell us that we needed to take our own bags to the grocery store since the store doesn’t provide them. This was the result of 5 people at the grocery store with only 4 bags in which to hold things! It was a mess – many of the Danes walking down the street had a good laugh at the crazy Americans!
On Wednesday before classes started, I took some time to explore the city on my own, and returned to the National Library (aka, the Black Diamond). The reaction to this building among Danes that I talk to is somewhat mixed – some think it is a gaudy blemish along the canals, and others see it as a sort of “National Building” that represents the identity of modern Copenhagen. I tend to agree with the second group.
I hiked up about 50 flights of stairs (OK, maybe 5-6, still a lot) to get to the top to take some pictures. This is my favorite (right). It looks down on the main open atrium of the library and out onto the canal.
This past weekend, a Danish girl in my Kollegium invited me to go to the beach with her. I was a little nervous, as I have gotten quite used to Florida weather and beaches. She arranged for me to borrow someone else’s bike (also a first for me, biking in Copenhagen), and we rode to the beach. It is really not far, probably two miles max.
Apparently, a couple of years ago, Amager decided that they wanted to create an artificial beach. They imported sand, and the Copenhageners flocked to it. We celebrated the end of “summer” (note, the temperature was about 65 degrees), by running through the sand and even getting in the FREEZING water. It was insane, but also fun. That day, we could see the bridge that connects Copenhagen to Malmo, Sweden, as well as some of the Swedish land across the sound.
School started in earnest this week, and the highlight so far has been a “field study” that I took today for my Hans Christian Andersen class. We had a scavenger hunt with disposable cameras around the city for places relating to H.C. Andersen. It was great to get to see new things, as well as things that I walk by all the time without noticing, with new perspective.
This square is right by my school building and was actually a part of the hunt. We had to come up with the intro to a fairy tale involving the characters found on the fountain.
Things here are going at a crazy pace, but I hope to be able to blog more regularly (and hopefully they won’t be so long in the future). Until next time, “Hej, Hej!” (pronounced Hi-Hi, aka, goodbye in Danish!)