Sitting on the bus during one of my daily commutes to-and-from school (takes about 20 minutes), I figured there’s a better way to spend my time than staring outside the window or at the TV screen that lists the stops going by. I’m going old school – pen, notebook, and a mind full of interesting stories and ideas.
First, a bit about the buses themselves. There’s a lot of them, and lots of people too. Lots of stops. Lots of bus drivers – some that smile politely as they check your transportation card, some that look like they couldn’t care less if I was showing them a valid ID or a movie ticket. Some yell at passengers drinking beer on the bus, others would probably join along if they could (side note: did you know it’s actually legal to drink a beer while driving? No, seriously. You can crack open a Carlsberg behind the wheel, and as long as your alcohol level is not above a certain limit, you’re perfectly fine. Crazy weird laws here. Or is it our laws that are weird?)
Anyway, I had a busy, fun-filled week. Sunday was definitely a highlight. Though we might be several thousand miles and 7 time zones away from New Orleans, I still watched the entire Super Bowl! My eyes were fighting to close as the clock struck 5 am, but I planted myself in the front row of the Studenterhauset (a main student bar/cafe hangout) and watched the game until the final snap. To be honest, it was mostly DIS and other American students there. But it was nice being at a place where “football” actually means American football, and not soccer. Best. Sport. Ever.
But Sunday became awesome even before the game happened. I was invited to the birthday party of my visiting family’s aunt. Wow, the food was glorious. I was a little worried at first, because when I showed up at 3 pm we started eating desert. Did I miss something here? Don’t worry, it was phenomenal: home-baked layer cake with bananas and strawberries, apple-cinnamon cake, banana cake, these fluffy, slightly sweet bread rolls that were crisp on the outside and soft like pillows on the inside. I love food, and this was basically desert heaven (its made 10x better because everything is made with the most natural ingredients – no artificial preservatives, sugars…that’s why all of the bread loaves at the store taste so good but expire in 2 days).
Still, I was worried because I thought desert was the first and only birthday meal. I love the cake, but at heart I’m more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I was in luck, because after an hour-long desert, present-opening, and more hours of talking on the couch, we were treated to a wonderful dinner around 7 pm. Chicken, pasta, potatoes, lasagna, salad, more salad, more baked bread (this time with olive oil and salt), veggies. After about 45 minutes of feasting, my stomach bulged like a balloon, and I was more than stuffed. I seriously think I’ve gained some weight here. But it’s absolutely worth it! Thank you, Larsen family!
And did I forget the mention the company? These people are wonderful; opening their house to me and allowing me to share in the celebration. We talked about lots of things (in perfect English) – the upcoming Super Bowl, New York, Georgetown, the Danish legal system, the Muslim immigrant community, the weather, trip planning, and even the best bars/clubs in town. To all you prospective DIS students: if you ever have the opportunity, please please please sign up for a visiting family! You can’t go wrong with amazing people and food.
In other news, this week is a “core course week” for DIS students. Basically the whole week is devoted to my Justice and Human Rights program. Today we visited a giant UNICEF facility (takes care of impoverished children) north of the city, and conducted an interview with DIGNITY, an NGO that works with victims of torture (according to our contact, America has got some work to do!). On Thursday we’re heading for western Denmark, where we’ll be doing some law-related field studies, and some non-related ones as well. Our professors are young and energetic, our student leader is super peppy, and our hostel for Thursday night looks like its in the middle of the woods. Translation: we’re in for a good time!
Other random notes:
- I played (real) handball for the first time last Wednesday; I think I can keep up with the Danes
- Still no bike
- Getting really creative with food; made some Danish meatballs with a few eggs over top and rice – sounds weird but its good
- Went to the gym to work out for the first time in over 3 weeks…feels so good
- Feeling like I’m getting fatter every day; probably a combination of amazing bread that I can’t stop eating, worrying that I won’t eat enough (I am), really delicious beer, desire to huddle up in the cold with a cup of tea and these amazing tea cookies from Netto (may be addicted to them)
- Due to point 5, need point 4 really badly (gym membership coming soon!)
- writing on paper takes a long time
- I stayed up until 5:30 am watching the Super Bowl
- Did I mention I love football?
- Waiting for soccer season to start so I can start cheering for FC Copenhagen
- Danish language is super hard
Tomorrow is off, but lots more to do later this week. Hej hej!
Finally have touched down in Copenhagen! I flew Air Canada from Rochester –> Toronto –> Copenhagen. 6 people on my flight out of Rochester! I’m a huge sports fan, so as I was waiting for my flights I had my eyes glued to the TV screen, catching parts of both NFL playoff games on Saturday night. Reluctantly, I had to pull away from NFL this weekend, knowing that I would miss moments like the Ravens’ double-overtime victory and the Seahawks 20-point comeback. I sort of have to tame my sports obsession, and find new interests and activities in Copenhagen.
As for what I did and learned the past few days, I don’t really know how to write this post – there’s just so much to talk about!! It has sure been a busy start to the semester. Although classes don’t start until Thursday, DIS has organized 3-day orientation to help us adjust to the new environment. I’m waking up much, much earlier than last semester – getting out of bed at 7:30, meeting up with the rest of the students at my kollegium, and riding downtown by bus to the many speeches, info sessions, and activities that are planned.
Initial thoughts and things that I learned:
- Everyone is super, super friendly! The other 50-some DISers that live in Hoffmanns Kollegium (aka “The Hoff” – a dorm-style building, 25-minute bus ride to downtown Copenhagen) are incredible so far. Though it’s only been a few days, we have gotten along very well, and I’m slowly starting to remember names. Even the Danes – who are supposed to be of the quiet, private sort – have defied all expectations! They help me out at the grocery store, give me directions, and have been nothing but completely accommodating during these first few confusing days.
- $$$: downtown is super expensive. If you find a good deal for a sandwich, you’re still paying around $10, and beer is about the same price. There’s student discounts at most places, but by far the best option is the Netto supermarket located right next door to our kollegium. Prices there are the same as my Safeway in Georgetown, sometimes even cheaper. Everyone here is a living on a budget, and we were all pleasantly surprised last night when we went shopping.
- Weather: it is cold. Let me repeat, it is cold!! (And don’t forget, I’m from upstate NY.) Ok, maybe I’m overblowing it. Today wasn’t too bad – the sun was out for a few hours, and the snow was less intense. But Monday was freezing. I think it has to do with the wind, and we are very close to the water. Luckily for us, every day gets longer, brighter, and warmer this semester.
That’s it for now! Tonight we are going downtown again to meet up with more DISers, and hopefully meet some new Danes, too!