Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: A Love Letter, and A Goodbye

24 hours until I’m in Colorado again.

It’s so strange that my time here is ending.  Unlike when I left for college, or when I go home for summer breaks, there’s a finality about the goodbyes that I’ve said here.  Although I would love to travel in the US and see all of them again, it’s not as easy to do that when we’re settled back into our regular lives.  Sadly, there is no budget airline where I can book $100 roundtrip weekend flight to see the wonderful people I’ve spent time with here (some of whom are pictured above).

It’s funny, because when I went into this experience, making friends was very low on my priority list.  This was always meant to be an experience where the goal was my traveling, my personal growth, my self discovery.  And yet I’ve come out of this with awesome friendships, where I’ll wonder how it’s possible that I’ve only known (most of) these people for four short months.  And, while I can always come back to Copenhagen, part of what made it home for this semester were the people I was experiencing it with.  So many people touched my life this semester, and I’m so grateful that they were a part of my time here.

In the spirit of reflection, things I will miss about Copenhagen in no particular order:

1. Personal space- not talking to strangers on public transportation/on the street/anywhere really is amazing.  The US should seriously adopt this aspect of the culture.

2. Kanelsnegle- the Danish obsession with cinnamon rolls is wonderful and I love it (unlike the Danish obsession with licorice.  Why.)

3. (Mostly) Reliable and Clean Public Transportation- the trains and buses in Europe are a massive step up from what I’m used to.  And as someone who hates driving, I’m a huge fan.

4. Tivoli- my absolute favorite place in Copenhagen.  Between this and Legoland I’ve sort of fallen back in love with amusement parks.

5. Ability to Travel- I’ve gone to so many new places this semester.  In Europe, you can do things like take a day trip to Sweden or go to the Czech Republic for a weekend.  I’ve loved having that freedom and ease to see and experience new things, and go to the places I’ve always dreamed about.

(I could add many more items, but I think that’s enough for now.  Also, expect another list that’s things I’ve missed about the US once I’ve returned and adjusted to the 8 hour time difference)

Study abroad has been everything I dreamed of, and more.  I’ve gone to 11 countries, climbed 3 mountains, and had conversations in my 2nd and 3rd language.  I’ve seen the place Hitler died, and a place where over a million of his victims died.  I’ve seen Viking memorials, Russian churches, medieval fortified churches, many other churches, magnificent palaces, the Berlin Wall, and the Queen of Denmark.  I met my German family for the first time and I saw the church my grandma originally painted in Prague in 1938.  I drank beer in Germany, wine in France, and vodka in Russia.  I traveled alone for the first time in my life, even though that part was unplanned.  And throughout all of this, I took 17 credit hours and wrote well over 60 pages of papers.  It’s been quite the journey for these past four months, and I wouldn’t change any of it.

Jeg kommer til at savne København og mine venner her.  Jeg synes byen er fantastisk og jeg skal at rejse til København igen.  Vi ses, Danmark.

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: Christmas in Christiania and Tivoli

Page Count: 46

Word Count: 15,105

And with that I’m done with all of my finals.  This was my last week of classes with DIS, and my last full week in Denmark.  It’s hard to believe, but this time next week I’m going to be back in Colorado.  It’s been a whirlwind week, with essay writing, classes, and trying to spend every spare moment with the wonderful people I’ve met in Copenhagen.  After the past four months, it’s sad that I may never see some of my friends here again.  I’ve had amazing adventures with them, and they’ve helped to make my study abroad experience wonderful.

Friday, Paige and I celebrated the end of classes by going to Christmas season at Tivoli!  It was a little cold and rainy, but we still had fun.  Christmas is my favorite holiday, and Tivoli decorates with fake snow and trees and lights everywhere.  They also have an adorable Nordic themed market where I found some decorations to bring home so that I can bring a little bit of Copenhagen back with me.

Christmas continued when Emmy and I went to the Christiania market today.  It’s in a giant room where all of these stalls are set up and people are selling handmade scarves and artwork and jewelry and other fun things.  I also ended up having a conversation with a Danish man, who was telling me how Christiania has its own Christmas celebration for people who are hard on their luck.  He said it’s a really cool experience.

Tomorrow, I’m leaving for Berlin.  It’ll be my last trip during this amazing semester, although unfortunately it isn’t going to be exactly as planned.  For now, though, I’m going to make the most of the short amount of time I have left!

Vi ses!

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: Tivoli at Halloween and the Crown Jewels

This weekend Kelcy came to Copenhagen!

Her flight got in pretty late on Thursday night, but the next day we still got up early because I had to go to class.  After some pastries, I dropped Kelcy off at the museum and we met up again after criminology to go to Tivoli!  It just reopened for Halloween season, so everything was decorated with pumpkins.  We went a bunch of rides, including one that went upside down super slowly (and I don’t think either of us recommend that one because it made us pretty dizzy).  We also got shouted at in Danish at the upside down ride because we were supposed to empty our pockets.  Seeing as that is not a phrase I had encountered before, I was unable to translate this time.  In general though now I’m at the point where when people speak to me in Danish I usually can tell what they want me to do, so that was a pretty exciting realization.

Saturday was basically an informal walking tour covering most of Copenhagen.  We went inside Rosenborg Castle (which used to be the summer castle for the royals) and got to see the crown jewels and some other gorgeous artifacts.  Then we stopped by the Little Mermaid, Nyhavn, the sidewalk trampolines, Amalienborg, Christianborg, the old stock exchange (which, fun fact, the Danes tried to put crocodile statues on but no one knew what a crocodile looked like and so they look pretty weird and everyone just calls them dragons) and walked down Strøget.  As the day progressed I realized that I’ve learned quite a bit of history about Copenhagen, so it was exciting to put that to use and tell someone else about my favorite sites.

Kelcy, I know you read this, so thanks for coming to visit me!  It was great to see you again.  And we’ll be reunited in a month in Paris 🙂

Hej hej!

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: Sculptures, Suburbs, and Christiania (again)

A few things I’ve done in Copenhagen since getting back from Russia:

1. Met my visiting family- they live in this gorgeous suburb called Holte and back up to a lake.  Having dinner at their house was great, although it was unfortunately scheduled the evening I got back from Russia so I was proud of myself for not falling asleep at their table.  They’re really nice though!  They made me a Danish dinner (for those of you who have seen me eat, I did better than one might expect) and then told me about their grandkids and the classic car convention they went to.  They even lit a fire, so it was very hyggeligt (a Danish word meaning cozy, more or less).

2. Went to the sculpture museum- whoever designs museums in Denmark needs to get a new job because I swear they’re all mazes.  It’s free on Sundays so I went in and wandered around for a long time.  I snickered to myself throughout most of my exploration because at some point during my Russia trip we talked about some author who’s friend wasn’t very…well endowed… so the two of them went to an art museum and the author pointed out that all the statues were smaller so it was fine.  I of course forgot this story until I was in the museum.  It made looking at the art more entertaining though….

3. Toured Christiania- I’ve mentioned Christiania before because I went one day with a few friends, but this time I went with my Danish class and got a guided tour from someone who had lived there for around 15 years I think.  Quick recap: it was founded in the 70s by a bunch of homeless hippies and is now pretty much just a communist society in the middle of the city.  You can build a house and live there but you don’t own it.  They’re big on street art, a sense of community, and nature/gardening.  Part of the reason that it’s well known is Pusher Street, which sells marijuana.  Since I’m from Denver this doesn’t seem like as big a deal to me, but it is still illegal in Denmark so you’re not allowed to take pictures.  Also something we talked about in Danish class is that there was a court case a few years back against the state over the land that Christiania is on, and the state won which means Christiania had to buy the land from the state.  They sold “people’s stocks” and so some Danish people put in money to finance Christiania, and now Christiania owns the land that it’s on.  It’s a pretty fascinating area!

Hej hej 🙂

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: Canal Tours, Ballet Shows, and Turning Twenty

I turned 20 on Sunday, and it was pretty weird to have my birthday away from home for the first time.  My friends from the kollegium celebrated with me, which was really nice.  I got to blow out candles, and they got me a card and a few things from Tiger (which is essentially Danish Target).  I ate a lot of cake, so I definitely qualify the day as a success.

I’m taking two one-credit classes while I’m here, which allow me to take guided trips after learning about the areas, and both of those classes started yesterday.  I had Impressionism in Paris first, where we went over Parisian architecture and how it was essentially redone in the 1850s.  Our teacher told us Paris is not really older than Chicago, which seems very strange to me!  We also discussed our study tour, which is going to be amazing.  I’ve wanted to travel to Paris for years, and going with my class will let me do a lot of things I might not do on my own, including a Seine dinner cruise!

My other class was Auschwitz: Genocide to Memorial, which goes to Krakow for four days. (side note: my teacher pronounces it Krakoof?  Is that how it’s supposed to be pronounced or is that just the Danish accent?)  We’ll be spending a full day at Auschwitz and Birkenau during the trip.  Despite the heavy subject matter, I can already tell I’m going to learn so much in that class.  My teacher knows so much about the subject and his lecture on the structure of the camps was fascinating.

Tuesday night, my Danish class went to the ballet!  The theater is gorgeous, and the Queen showed up to watch the ballet as well.  It’s interesting to see how everyone stands up when she arrives and waits to leave their seat for intermission until she does.  The ballet was pretty hard to follow… apparently it was based on some opera.  Here’s how I think the story goes: a rich girl is in love with a poor boy, but her rich younger sister loves a rich boy and his family isn’t thrilled that her family is associating with poor people so they all want the older sister to break up with the poor boy.  Also, somewhere in there she gets tuberculosis and dies.  To add to the confusion, there’s a ballet within a ballet where the main dancer is a character but then sometimes is also the rich older sister….?  The man next to us tried to explain the plot, but his English wasn’t quite nuanced enough…. “How do you say it in English?  Whore.  They thought she was a whore.”

Today I met up with Sarah and we did a canal tour and ate pastries and ice cream.  It’s cool to see the city over the water for a different perspective.  It’s also amusing to see the tourists who clearly just got here…. “Look!  Graffiti!  Take a picture!”

Danish word: blåbær:  blueberry.  One of the types of ice cream I got today (the other one was oreo)

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: The Round Tower and Vikings at the National Museum

This week is core course week, which means I don’t have normal classes.  Yesterday, my core course (the one that will eventually go to Russia) met with a Danish poet and talked about the inspiration for his work.  He also read aloud to us in Danish.  Tomorrow, we’re workshopping our writing in small groups.  The assignment is to write something based somewhat on his method.  Thursday we leave for three days in western Denmark, which will be our first class trip for the core course!

Since today was completely free, I figured I should do a few more ‘touristy’ things.  I climbed the Round Tower first, which had some cool views from the top.  There was also a museum inside with some exhibits of furniture and design ideas from women.  The tower was designed so the king at the time could be taken up in a horse and carriage, because clearly he couldn’t just walk up to his observatory….

Afterwards, I went to the National Museum, which was super cool and also free.  The exhibits are kind of confusing, so I probably should have picked up a map.  But instead, I wandered around aimlessly, which is more or less how all exploring goes for me in Copenhagen.  There were a ton of artifacts from other societies, and Danish history from around the Viking ages to the 2000s.  I also saw an exhibit on toys and one that was Interiors from the 18th Century.  Probably the best thing I saw is pictured above…. in the exhibit with ancient Greek artifacts, there was a section on Hercules, and someone who works for the museum included the Disney version of Hercules and Meg.  Definitely an ancient artifact.

In other news, I bought myself a copy of the first Harry Potter book in Danish last week, and as I flipped through it last night, I found that the four Hogwarts houses are referred to as kollegiums.  My takeaway from this is that where I’m living is basically Hogwarts.  Also, the Mirror of Erised is Drømmespejlet (no idea how to pronounce that, sorry), which literally translates to ‘The Dream Mirror.’

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: Walt Disney’s Inspiration

On Saturday, Sarah and I spent the afternoon/evening in Tivoli!  It was a perfect day for it, because it was likely one of the last warm and sunny days we’ll have in Copenhagen.

This time, we bought the fancy tickets so that we could ride all the rides, which was completely worth it.  We went on the roller coasters, the spinning rides, and a ride that told us a selection of Hans Christian Andersen tales.  Some of the rides seemed very similar to the rides still seen at Disneyland, although obviously with different themes… The one I remember as being Dumbo is an octopus here.

We had dinner at an Italian place, where we got mac and cheese (the first I’ve seen here, actually), and then we went to go see Alvin Ailey.  They were, as expected, awesome.  I always love going to see dance performances, and Alvin Ailey has great musicality and power in all of their movements.  The theater was in an aquarium, so at least it was interesting waiting for the doors to open.

Afterwards we went back and tried out some more rides.  This was my first experience in Tivoli at night, and it’s cool to see how they light it up.  All the pictures from the evening are from Sarah’s camera, because the ones on mine were all really blurry.  My camera doesn’t do well in the dark, apparently.

Overall, it was a lovely day!  Tivoli is possibly my favorite place in Copenhagen.  Just walking around, every area of the park is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s designed for everyone to be able to come and enjoy it.  I can’t wait to see how they decorate it for Halloween and Christmas!

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: I See My First Swan

Yesterday I went with a couple friends to Copenhagen’s lakes, and we rented a paddle boat for an hour.  If you’re in Copenhagen when it’s warm, I would highly recommend doing this.  It was a great relaxing afternoon, and the views from the water were beautiful.  We saw Danes bringing wine and food on the boat as well and are considering doing that if there’s another nice day and we go again.

Most lakes or canals or general water around water here seems to have swans in it, which is strange to me since I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live swan in the states.  I never realized what large birds they are!  I definitely do not want to anger one.  Also, fun fact, the swan is Denmark’s national bird.  Which is also why they’ve shown up in several of the Hans Christian Andersen tales we’ve read for class (see: The Wild Swans, where one unfortunate person ends the story with a swan wing for one arm, and the better known Ugly Duckling).

Danish word: chokolade (shock-o-lell).  Chocolate is an important word to know in any language.

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: Classes, Churches, and Christiania

It’s almost the end of my third week here, and classes are starting to get busier!  Next week we have Core Course Week, where we just focus on one class and travel to Western Denmark.  My core course is A Sense of Place in European Literature, and we go to the island of Fanø.  We got the itinerary today, and it should be an interesting experience (although a little rural for my tastes I think).

On Tuesday, we had a movie night for criminology, where we watched the movie R.  It was fairly depressing, as it focused primarily on two characters in Danish prison who got caught up in gangs and the prison drug trade, with some unfortunate endings for them.  Afterwards, our professor brought in the screenplay consultant and one of the main actors.  The screenplay consultant had been to prison ten times, evidently for low level assault, so his stories and opinions on the criminal justice system were fascinating.  He advocated for creating working education programs in the prison to help prevent some of the impressionable youths from ending up in a life of crime.  I also learned far more about the prison drug smuggling techniques than I ever wanted to know….

 I had another class activity Wednesday morning.  My Hans Christian Andersen class went on a walking tour of Copenhagen.  Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the really relevant spots like the Little Mermaid and his grave, but we walked around the city center and our teacher pointed out some spots where the buildings were the same as they had been during the early 1800s.  At the end, we saw the oldest building in Copenhagen and went in a beautiful church that was somehow affiliated with Copenhagen University, I think.  It was a good day for a walking tour, since the sun was actually out!

After the tour, I went to lunch at a café and then met up with some other friends.  We headed to the Church of Our Savior, which you might remember I climbed about two weeks ago.  They climbed the spire while I checked out the lower part of the church.  Again, lovely sculptures, as you can see above.

We headed over to Christiania next.  This is Copenhagen’s hippie commune, where basically it’s fenced off and relatively separate from the city.  They have their own laws, and people basically construct their own houses and live where they want.  One street, called Pusher Street, is where people who live there can sell marijuana and hash.  As I’m sure you could guess, they’re not really big on pictures, so I don’t have any to show.  Main takeaways: it was a lot bigger than I would expect for a hippie commune, I’m impressed when people are that good at using spray paint to create art, and it’s somewhat surprising that the Danish government doesn’t really interfere with the sales of drugs there.  I’m going back with my Danish class later in the semester for a guided tour, and I might try to buy a pair of the earrings one guy was selling there because they were really cool.

The picture of the view from that pretty glass building is at the Black Diamond Library, which is a decently long walk from class but is also gorgeous.  I’m not usually the type to study in libraries but I’m pretty sure I would make an exception to go to this one.

I tried to post this last night, but our internet in the kollegium died.  I’m very glad they fixed it, because the lack of ability to do homework, search things when I wanted, and communicate with anyone was fairly frustrating.  Hopefully this isn’t a regular issue…

Danish word: smørrebrød (pronounced smur brull) is an open faced sandwich that usually has herring of many varieties or other fish.  Apparently smoked eel is a delicacy on this.  Not my kind of food but we discussed it at length in Danish class today.

Denmark Europe Study Abroad

Copenhagen: When in Lyngby

Yesterday I spent some time in the Copenhagen suburbs with my friend Sarah!  We met up in Lyngby.  They were having a festival, so some of the streets were closed and there was live music as well.  We went out to brunch at a Danish place, where they gave us a menu in Danish and we did our best to translate.  We ended up splitting the vegetarian brunch.  Main takeaway from that: when the Danes say “American pancakes” it’s definitely not the same.  The pancake was quite good though.  Afterwards, we walked around the world’s most confusing mall, because apparently in Denmark they design malls to look like labyrinths.  We stopped by Paradis to get ice cream (it’s funny because “is” in Danish means ice cream) and then headed to Sarah’s host family’s house.

They have a lovely house.  It’s a lot smaller than a typical American family home, only on one story.  There are a lot of windows in the main living areas so it looks light and airy, and most of their furniture appears to be straight out of an IKEA catalogue.  Her family wasn’t there for long, as they were going out to dinner with one of their friends, so Sarah and I just hung out at their house for a while and made dinner together, which was nice.

I’ve also successfully done laundry, gone to a club in Copenhagen, and turned in my first writing assignment for class.  This week, classes will actually start to get busier, because our field studies are starting up.  On Wednesday, I’ll be doing a Hans Christian Andersen-themed walking tour with one of my classes!