Wow have the last few days been crazy! With settling in to my Residential Community, meeting new people, getting lost and navigating the grocery store where every sign and label is in Danish, the study abroad experience has just begun to sink in. Moving to a whole new country not knowing anyone is such an unreal experience so unlike normal travel, where you know you’re going to see certain sites and be gone after a week or so. All the emotions that come with trying to make friends and adjust to the cold climate while still exploring and going out certainly takes a toll mentally and physically. But it’s all part of the adventure!
Arrival day was unlike any other. Waiting in the airport before my 11 hour flight, I was surprised and comforted to see so many other DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad) people there too. Almost everyone surrounding me on the flight was DIS and it was great to make some friends right away. After arriving in Copenhagen, we were all shuffled to the Hilton across the street, where about 1000 other DIS students were mingling around quite confused about the process of getting to the appropriate housing. But after a few hours, everyone got on the right bus and we made our way to our new home for the next four months!
I was placed in a Residential Community, and while all are slightly different and spread out all across the city, they are made up of all American DIS students. My first choice was a Kollegium, apartment style housing with Danish students, because I had hope it would help me make Danish friends, but so far it has still worked out well. It is certainly comforting to be surrounded by other people who are equally as lost as you are.
My room is quite large for student housing. My roommate and I share a bathroom and kitchenette, and there is a large common room and kitchen where most people cook and hang out together. There are about 50 other DIS students living on this floor, so learning names and faces is still a process. The weirdest thing housing-wise has been the bathrooms. The bathrooms have open showers where water floods the entire bathroom floor every time you take a shower. This is still something I am trying to adjust to without making a huge mess.
My housing is not located near DIS, it is about a 30 minute commute (including walking and train), so I have quickly learned how to navigate the public transportation system, which I am quite proud of. It’s very easy to take the train, it runs on time and it’s clean. Definitely planning on getting a bike very soon as well! One interesting cultural note I’ve noticed about taking public transit here is how relaxed everyone looks. I sometimes find myself running down the steps and preparing to push my way in to be sure I get on the train, but here everyone just leisurely waits their turn and everyone gets on and off without a problem, even when they are crowded.
We just finished a few days of orientation, which has been a great way to ease ourselves into our new environment. Orientation included scavenger hunts around the city, academic introductions, and guided facilities tours. I’ve already found some great coffee shops and bakeries, and am starting to find my way around certain streets and neighborhoods.
I just started classes today and am so excited to see what the rest of the semester brings academically. What I love about DIS faculty is that everyone is a current professional in their field. For my Urban Studies Core Course and Strategies for Urban Livability Course, both my instructors are professional architects, which makes me extremely excited to network and gain unique insights into the professional field. This brings an amazing perspective into the classroom, and here the classes are focused on discussions, group work, and projects. I’m pretty sure I don’t have any actual tests!
I’m excited for the moment when I realize that I know the maze of classrooms and streets like the back of my hand, to be here long enough that I can navigate without a map, and to experience a moment where someone mistakes me as a local.