There I was: a lone wolf out of breathe, mildly sweating, and heart pounding a mile a minute after sprinting from Concourse D to Concourse B. KLM flight 1127 from Amsterdam to Copenhagen was ready to board. As I looked around the gate area, there was a sea of American students sporting their Herschel backpacks, converse sneakers, and of course, Canada Goose jackets. It was a nice and refreshing sight after an exhausting but memorable jaunt across England, Scotland, Morocco, Portugal, and Spain. Jez, the budget hotel hopper, airport squatter, and McDonald’s connoisseur for the past 21 days will now be a full-time student and temporary resident of the Great Kingdom of Denmark. Filled with fear and excitement, I walked down the jetway with a million thoughts rushing through my head: will I have enough money? did I bring enough clothes? Is my passport still attached to my hip? Will I make any friends? Where is the closest exit door in the event of an emergency evacuation?
Arrival in Dark, Gloomy, and Warm Copenhagen
After spending a week in sunny Barcelona, arriving in Copenhagen was a dark and gloomy shock. Thankfully, as a student from one of the coldest campuses in the entire North American continent, January in Denmark in comparison, feels like a bad April in Syracuse. The daily temperature hovers at a warm and balmy 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and while the skies may be consistently gray and the sun may never actually rise until late March, it rarely ever snows. After hearing all the news about the entire American East Coast covered in white powder, and unexpectedly experiencing blizzard conditions in the Moroccan desert a week ago, Copenhagen was just where I want to be.
The Danish Institute for Everything So Organized
A few months prior to the start of the semester, The Danish Institute for Study Abroad, or DIS sends everyone a 120-page student pre-departure handbook that details everything from renting a bike to instructions on how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius. Details of the core classes and electives are already posted months in advance, including the syllabi, instructors, schedule, location, and even the exact flight you’re taking for your study tour. The four-day arrival workshop is scheduled by the hour and students are already assigned to a specific group, designed to make the first day of commute and exploring Copenhagen easier. If DIS was a country, then it would be one of the most efficient and organized places in the world. It made the first few days in a new city and a new culture much less overwhelming.
The Hillerød Squad Scanvenger Hunt
These are some photos from our scavenger hunt around Copenhagen during our arrival workshop. We were asked to form a group of six students to explore the city on a massive urban scavenger hunt. Despite only knowing each other for a few hours, our homestay network made out of more than 11 people (which I will hereto refer as my Hillerød Squad) was inseparable. We were tasked to visit some of the key cultural landmarks in Copenhagen, which was one of the highlights of the first week: we saw Nyhavn, or “New Harbor” where the iconic and multi-colored houses line up the waterfront and we even witnessed the changing of the guards at the Amalienborg Palace, where the royal family of Denmark resides. This lead to the Hillerød Squad’s first night out on a weekday at an old Irish pub named Old Irish Pub, our first Copenhagen weekend club experience, our first foosball match and beer pong tournament, the first movie night, and our first informal soccer game after some serious sugar overload from a “Danish cake party”.
Introducing Triple J: Jez, Jake, and Josh Takes Copenhagen
It was John Adams, James Madison, and John Marshall, who once said “Men and women whose name begins with the letter “J” shall form an unbreakable bond stronger than the force of a thousand command strips.”
Introducing The Coolest Roommate in the World
Meet Reggie. He goes to Colby College and took the trans-Siberian railway from Beijing to Moscow, and a combination of train and ferry to get from Moscow to Copenhagen. Enough said. Name someone cooler.
The first week of study abroad has simply been overwhelming but also incredible. First, I absolutely love my host family: they’re so kind, intelligent, and just so Danish, which I will detail on a separate post. Second, I’ve met new friends! It feels like freshmen year all over again when meeting new people is both frightening and easy at the same time. But my friends in my homestay network are wonderful and I look forward to making new memories with them. Lastly, the classes at DIS are incredibly diverse and interesting. I’m taking travel writing, holocaust and genocide, new media, virtual worlds, and Danish language and culture. The class sizes are super intimate and it’s all discussion based, so it’s a refreshing break from larger lectures back home. Travel is also heavily integrated into the courses. For example, my class is flying to Dublin, Ireland, the tech capital of Europe to visit Google, Facebook, and Amazon and we also get the chance to visit a former concentration camp in Northern Germany for my genocide class. I am beyond blessed and ecstatic to be in my favorite city in the world, and fully immersing myself into the Danish culture, learning inside and outside the classroom, and of course, having fun with new friends. Yes I miss Cheesecake Factory and reasonably priced water but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be but here and I can not wait for the next few months.
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