Beyond the Books

I love my classes here.

When my professors teach, their eyes sparkle with excitement, and they exude an infectious passion about the subjects they teach. Why is that? Perhaps it is because Mette, who teaches Photojournalism, is actually a freelance photojournalist currently working on a photography book about Las Vegas. Or because Kristian, who teaches Equality in Scandinavia, has worked at the European Union and for a former Danish Prime Minister. Many of the professors at DIS actually do what they teach.

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Visiting the Danish Parliament

Birgitte, an interior designer and my New Nordic design teacher, doesn’t waste her breath. Every word she uses has meaning. Every sentence is painted together beautifully like a poem. It’s clean, comforting, and beautiful all at the same time. Just like the Denmark I’ve encountered in these first weeks. Tomorrow, we will be visiting the Royal Danish Armory Museum together to learn about authenticity in design.

Speaking of field trips, yesterday I had my first field study. I visited the Danish Parliament with my Equality in Scandinavia class and heard a member of the Social Democrats speak about the welfare state and issues on immigration. It was eye-opening to hear that although Denmark is perceived as “liberal,” certain issues such as immigration are still quite controversial and conservative. According to him, people fear that the welfare system will break down because there are too many refugees, many of whom cannot work and contribute to the system. I was a little taken aback and am still processing my thoughts about some of the things he said (and the current state of our world), so stay tuned. But now I know from an honest point of view, the opinions of some Danes, which I wouldn’t have by simply poring over textbooks.

One of the best parts about classes here at DIS is that we go beyond the books. I not only feel the material first-hand from the energy of my teachers, but I also see the things I learn about in the classroom on the nearly weekly field studies. It’s such a rare experience, and I hope to take in as much as I can while I’m here.

5 Stages of Exploring Copenhagen

DIS sent us around Copenhagen on a Scavenger Hunt, so we could get to know the city a little better. This is how it went down:

1.You’re giddy at finding cute and charming cobblestone streets among the bustling city scene at the start of your adventure.

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2. The city beckons you to explore all its gems with its construction walls-turned-art.

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3. You finally see Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s port that is plastered all over Google Images, and start believing you’re here.

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4. The dreamy pink lemonade sunset makes you forget that you are shivering after traversing the city in negative degree weather.

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5. You’re finally home, and your heart feels warm at the thought of sharing your day with your new family.

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An Ordinary Sunday

“It’s very cozy.”

My host mom, Malene, says that quite a lot. After arriving in Denmark, I met her as well as my new roommate Ashley, who are both really nice and sweet. We successfully stuffed my two giant suitcases into Malene’s car (if anyone is reading this, I suggest you bring one suitcase because two is actually hard to carry) and drove to our new home in Kokkedal. We unpacked our stuff, made dinner, and chatted until bedtime. It feels strange living in someone else’s home, but it already feels like I’ve settled in. Unlike the chaos I was imagining, it’s actually seems somewhat relaxed and ordinary.

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Fresh bread, Danishes, and spreads for breakfast

We woke up to a perfect Sunday morning, with crisp air and sunny skies, and headed to the Bakery to get some fresh bread and Danishes for breakfast. Afterwards, Malene was very kind and took us to see Kronborg Castle, the home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. We walked around the ocean and had some tea in a nice café nearby – all quite cozy stuff. And finally, the part I’ve been waiting for all day…we went to Netto, the Danish supermarket! When I visit a new country, I love to see each of their supermarkets because it’s so interesting how people shop and eat differently.

 

It was nice to relax before orientation and classes begin, but now I’m ready and pumped to explore Copenhagen tomorrow!

Here we go!

Hamburger, animal style, extra crispy buns. Every time I leave Southern California to go back to school in New York City, I stop by In-N-Out and marvel at the perfect combination of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, patty, and thousand island dressing one last time before I leave the sun for the concrete jungle. This time, it’s a little different. Well, a lot different.

I’ll be hopping on the plane to Copenhagen tomorrow (if I can manage to successfully stuff everything into one suitcase). It’s a weird feeling knowing that I’m about to have an amazing whirlwind of 4 months, yet not really know anything about what’s going to happen.

What will it be like to live with a host family? What will my classes be like? Will I take up a sport? Will I join the orchestra? Where will I travel? How will I be challenged along the way? And perhaps most exciting of all, who are the people that I will meet along the way?

These are just some of the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head as I await my departure. I cannot wait to explore all the nooks and crannies of Copenhagen, to meet and befriend different kinds of people, and to have my breath taken away by the beauty of mother nature on my travels.