Lisa in Denmark

Lisa is a junior majoring in markets and culture in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, with a minor in education in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. During spring 2014, she is studying at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad with SMU-in-Copenhagen. The following posts are excerpts from Lisa’s blog at raizesl.tumblr.com

Gleaming Lights of the Souls by Yayoi Kusama

Gleaming Lights of the Souls by Yayoi Kusama at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.

Gleaming Lights of the Souls by Yayoi Kusama at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark.

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European National Handball Championship

Handball is a very popular sport in Denmark and tonight my host family and I watched the European Handball Championship where Denmark played against France on Danish turf. Unfortunately, France took the win.

Mikkel Hansen, who was born in Helsingør, the city where I am currently living, plays for Denmark and is one of the best handball players in the world! His father also played handball nationally.

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Week One

Week one complete! My week started with an Arrival Workshop for the first three days and then ended with the start of classes. The professors seem very intelligent and have nice accents. One of the things I like most about the DIS program is that there are field studies – learning that takes place outside of the classroom. For example, in my human trafficking class there is a planned field trip to the Red Light District in Copenhagen. I’m sure I will greatly enjoy my classes except for the papers. The classes I am taking are:

My core course (the course I will spend the most time in and which also has one full week of traveling and studying just for the course):

Cultural Diversity and Social Capital

The other classes I will be taking:

European Storytelling: From Homer to Harry Potter

Gender and Sexuality in Scandinavia

Human Trafficking in a Global Context

I’ve been enjoying my homestay and definitely improving in my communication skills. Sometimes things you can do really well in your normal life become more difficult when you are fitting into someone else’s routine. Something as simple as storing leftover food in a new kitchen can make you rethink how you do it. Do our host parents want us to save the plastic container the meat came in? Should we put the food in Tupperware containers or wrap it in foil? The dishwasher becomes another thought. Would they like me to put the bowl in this way? Does this item get put in the dishwasher or does it get hand washed? At home, storing food and using the dishwasher would be a simple habit, but in a host family you find yourself rethinking things because they might have a different way of doing it (or I just over-analyze everything). The host family must also be comfortable enough to communicate their wants and needs to you. For example, our host family told us that they wanted us to turn off the water when we lather in the shower. This is not something I personally do in the U.S. so it was important that they expressed this to me.

Some funny things that have happened this week:

-My American host sister and I had a problem getting off of the bus. Who has problems getting off of a bus!? We weren’t lost or anything, we literally could not figure out how to get off of the bus! The bus stopped at our stop and some people got on through the front doors, but the middle doors where you exit did not open. The bus then proceeded to continue on its route. It made another stop and some more people got on and the middle doors still did not open. We were stuck waiting at the doors looking confused. Finally at the next stop the middle doors opened as some other people got off. Of course, we quickly followed them off! We later learned that even if the bus stops, the “STOP” button must have been pressed for the middle doors to open. Who would have thought of that!? Anyway, we had a scenic walk home.

-I accidently paid $30 (Yes, U.S. Dollars) for lunch at a sit-down restaurant. Although the smørrebrød was amazingly delicious, that won’t unintentionally happen again.

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Arrival/Day One

After three flights, expensive airport food, and a sore bottom, I arrived in Copenhagen yesterday! I’ve been in Denmark over 24 hours now and I’m feeling right at home here. I appreciate my host family and American siblings,they have made the transition so easy! My host parents know what it is like to be around young adults – after all they raised three sons and have had three DIS students in the past, although this is their first time having three students at once. My American host siblings and I make a great team proven when we spent today exploring Copenhagen together.

Copenhagen is very beautiful and clean. It is definitely very cold here – mostly because of the strong winds. No matter how much I bundle up I think I will always end up sporting a red nose. Strøget, the pedestrian-only shopping center, reminds me of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. The Danes seem to be less of a homogeneous population than I thought they would be. One sees many different kinds of people walking down Strøget, not just the tall, thin, and blonde.

Day One:

-Used public transportation (Our host father kindly brought us to Copenhagen today. With a native, and three other heads, public transportation was a breeze. I will be more nervous when I have to go solo).

-Started the DIS Arrival Workshop with a celebration ceremony and a housing meeting

-Ate Shawarma

-Walked on Strøget

-Walked by Tivoli Gardens (it won’t open until April)

-Visited Nyhavn, the famous harbor with colorful buildings

-Ate my first Danish pastry at Lagkagehuse

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Pre-Denmark

There is less than a week left until I will be in Copenhagen! Being a Texan girl, I’ve never had to worry about a down jacket, functional scarves, or wool gloves, but in my preparations for Denmark, I’ve gotten most of that covered now. These last few days are a little stressful trying to make sure I have everything I might need in Denmark (no matter how much I prepare, I will never be fully prepared) and spending last moments with friends and family. It is scary and exhilarating to be leaving the comforts of my life at home.

I am very excited that I will be staying with a host family! We have been exchanging emails and there is already so much I want to experience with them! My host parents have three boys, although they are all older and have already moved out of the house. They also have a Great Dane and five hens (fresh eggs)! More exciting news: I will have two other Americans on the DIS program living in the same family as me!

I can’t wait to meet everyone!

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Why Denmark?

In no particular order:

  • My dad studied abroad in Denmark when he was in college (with a different program)
  • In a class about the Holocaust I learned that the Danish collectively saved their Jews during the Holocaust by shipping them to neutral Sweden – Read more here. I also just ordered this novel about the rescue of Denmark’s Jews. Thanks Aunt Sandy! A country with a group of people like this must be fascinating!
  • I have not yet been to Europe
  • I heard great things about DIS from friends who previously studied abroad there
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