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.

Is it spring yet???

Danes and the snow

As I’ve been told now by every professor and Dane I meet, this winter is the worst Denmark has had since 1999. I know what you’re thinking – lucky me, I get snow days and get to play in the snow. No. Snow days do not exist. Ask the many Danes whom I watch every day struggle riding their bikes to work in the snow, which has now become more of a mix of rain and snow.

The Danes and their bikes are a sight to see. Everyone is on a bike. It’s amazing! They can even talk on their cell phones while riding their bikes! Bikers DO NOT stop for pedestrians, as one friend of mine found out when she got hit by a bike the other week. So my advice for you future SMU-in-Copenhagen students: pay attention to bikes!

Walking: get used to it

There are not that many cars in Copenhagen, because, well, everyone is on a bike. That’s not to say that there are no cars at all, but the city is unlike an American city in that most of the transportation is bike, bus, or your own feet. This becomes more “fun” when you add snow.

picture%207.jpg On Wednesdays – when none of the Americans have class – we like to take walks around the city together. This past week we found ourselves on a lake … literally. There are three lakes that are the barrier between the city and my suburb, Norrbro. The best thing about this cold winter is that for the first time the lakes are frozen enough that people can walk on them! So we managed to amuse ourselves by walking on the lake and taking silly pictures – we even found a couch to sit on.

Malmo

This past weekend a bunch of us decided to visit a neighbor of Denmark – Sweden. Malmo is a small city but has some really cheap shopping! We had fun just wandering around the city for a day. A tip for Malmo is that it’s cheaper to buy two tickets than one. So get your friends and go in a group!

Well, I’m off to Prague on Saturday – a 17-hour bus ride to get there. I’m sure I’ll have lots to blog about when I get back. Vi ses! Hej, Hej!

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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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Let’s joust

Exploring Copenhagen

This was my first week in what will become my “normal” routine. On Monday I am lucky in that I have no classes. I instead spent my day exploring the city that I will be calling home.

picture%201.jpg I took the bus into the city and proceeded to do what all of my professors and administrators have been telling us to do – I went and got lost (photos left and right). I went all over the walking streets and ended up in the largest department store in the city, Magasin. This department store is so big that it even has a metro stop connected to the store basement!

picture%202.jpgI had nothing else to do, so I decided to get on the metro and see where I ended up – which ended up being only one stop, as the next stop was the major stop that I needed to get home.

Tuesday/Thursday/Friday are less exciting in that I had to go to class. Yes, that’s right, I only have class three times a week. No one in DIS has class on Wednesday, as it’s set aside for field trips. My classes are fine so far; I will probably change my mind once papers start piling up.

Misadventure

On Wednesday I had my first field trip. It was with my Nordic Mythology class at the State Museum. I was all ready to go and took my bus into the city and got off at the stop Statens Museum for Kundst.

All seemed to be going well, except I couldn’t see anyone from my class. I waited a while longer – now I was officially late – and called my friend who was in the other section of the same class. She told me that her class was meeting later and that I should just go with them. I waited around and couldn’t get in touch with her when it came time for her class to be going through the museum.

It wasn’t until I called DIS that I found out that I was in the wrong museum. I was at the National Museum, not the State. Not such a good start, but I get to make it up.

Weekend fun

On Friday night I went out with my friends from my kolligium on our planned monthly “family dinners.” It was a lot of fun as we wandered around our area looking for somewhere that wanted 20 Americans to eat there.

picture%203.jpg Saturday I went into the city with some friends to do what girls love best – shopping. Unfortunately Copenhagen is very expensive so I didn”t buy anything. Saturday night we had a party in our kolligium for all of the international students.

Sunday was a big day out as I went to visit Elsrum Abbey (photo left). We went and played medieval games – I even got to joust!! Sadly my team did not win, but we had lots of fun even though it was freezing outside.

Next week I’m off on my short study tour to Jutland! Vi ses hej hej!

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Hej, hej from Denmark

Hej, everyone and welcome to my blog! I am new to blogging so bear with me for this first one. I have been in Copenhagen for one week and so far I am having a blast. The weather could be a bit warmer, but, well, this is Scandinavia.

Arrival

I left Cincinnati on Saturday and got to Newark airport just in time to make my connecting flight to Copenhagen. While waiting for the flight, I was able to see just what I was getting myself into as the whole waiting area was completely taken over by college students. I met some nice people and was able to enjoy my flight, on which I was unable to actually fall asleep.

We arrived bright and early at 7:30 a.m. and were quickly bused over to our orientation spot. We were then given what I thought was the quickest orientation speech ever – it lasted at most 20 minutes. We were then left to hang out and wait for our transportation to our living arrangements.

This semester I am living in a Kollegium – it’s pretty much a single dorm but I have my own kitchenette and bathroom. Everyone that I have met so far in my Kollegium is really cool, so I’m pretty excited about this semester so far.

Real orientation

Monday through Wednesday we finally got most of the information we needed – like where to get our bus pass and our 4-hour survival Danish classes.

On Wednesday we were sent out on a citywide scavanger hunt. I have never had so much fun wandering around lost. I was in a group with five boys, so naturally they felt the need to be boys and lead, and also never felt the need to stop and ask for directions when we were lost.

My only regret is that at the start of the hunt, my camera battery died, so I have no pictures to post yet on the blog! Though if you happen to have a brouchure from ISI you may just see my photo (they needed to make the picture look “more busy” so they asked us to pretend to walk by while they photographed the CEO).

Classes

So since I am in Copenhagen to study, I should talk about classes a bit. I have only had one day of each class, so it’s still early, but I am looking forward to my classes – especially my Danish class where we get to go on some really cool field trips! I’ll keep you posted on that.

Vi Ses! Hej Hej.

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