Alex in Copenhagen

Alex, a junior international studies major with minors in Italian in Dedman College, is participating in SMU-in-Copenhagen in spring 2010. She will be studying European culture and history at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad and plans to take a study tour to Prague, Czech Republic.

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Exploring Western Denmark and a tiny German town

Thursday

I had to wake up much earlier than normal – at 6 am – so that I could meet my core class for our short study tour. I went with my core class that I will be traveling to Prague with later this month. (So excited!!) We made our way onto the tour bus for our “short” four-hour ride to Jelling (pronounced “yelling”).

Our first stop ended up being at a restaurant where we got to experience a real Danish meal. This was great for those of us in kollegiums because we have to cook for ourselves and therefore never really eat anything except pasta and soup. Once we had our fill at lunch, we went to look at the famous Jelling Stones. The Jelling Stones show the conversion from Pagan beliefs into Christianity. It was a stop that I would have never made on my own, so I was really glad that I had the opportunity to see it.

From Jelling we journeyed on to Vejen. In Vejen we stopped at a sculpture park. There was really no point to this stop when I look back on it, but I did make a new friend (in photo). picture%204.jpg

Our last stop on Thursday was Sonderborg. We stayed in what has to be the nicest hostel I’ve ever seen. We were left to find our own food before we were to meet as a group for a Chopin concert later that evening.

I went out with my roommates and we managed to find what looked like the only place open in the entire town (the next day I found out we were wrong), a tiny hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. It was OK.

The Chopin concert was another thing that I would never do on my own. I was glad for the experience. I will always be amazed by people who play instruments so effortlessly. Afterward our teachers decided to treat us all to a drink at a local pub. It was a nice time to bond as a group before we go to Prague.

Friday

Friday morning started out with a relaxing Danish breakfast, which includes meat for some reason. We then went to Dybol Banke, the site of the 1864 battle between Denmark and Germany. Denmark lost. The museum was interesting, even if we didn’t quite understand what really happened during the war or why exactly the war happened. We were then given 15 minutes to run into Subway and grab lunch before we set off for Padborg.

picture%205.jpgIn Padborg we visited Frosleviejren, a German prison camp from WWII. Here we were given the most oddly positive talk about a prison camp that I have ever heard.

It focused on the fact that Denmark did the right thing by giving into Germany’s demands and was therefore able to save all but 300 of their Jewish population. I left the camp unsure of how I really felt about the information they provided. I guess it is something you should see for yourself to make your own conculsions.

Next we set off for the small town of Flensburg, Germany. This was another random stop that I think was just put in to fill up time. We were given a walking tour of the city where we learned about the small town that has both Germans and Danes living in it. We could even see Denmark in the distance. We also learned about an old tradition in Flensburg that when you graduate college, you put your shoes on telephone wires.

Our final destination was Ribe, Denmark. We met up with another DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad) core class for dinner. It was a fun time but very, very loud!

Saturdaypicture%206.jpg

After another Danish breakfast, we set off to explore Ribe on our own until we were to meet up at the Viking Museum. In the Viking Museum we were given a guided tour by a very enthusiastic Dane. He seemed to know everything about the Vikings and was very excited to “practice his English.” We also had fun dressing up like Vikings in the children’s part of the museum.

We then went to the oldest church in Denmark. The church had some very interesting paintings from the 1970s that made it more modern.

After leaving Ribe we were finally on our way back to Copenhagen, which for the first time felt like I was coming home.

Vi ses! Hej Hej!

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