Week One in a Nutshell

Where do I begin? I’ve been here for a full week now and I am having the time of my life. I already have enough stories to fill multiple books, but I’ll only include a few highlights and anecdotes here.

I’ll start by mentioning how much I love this city. I’m just beginning to learn all about the history of this place, namely all the accidental fires that destroyed castles and the shenanigans of a womanizing, party-boy king named Christian IV. It’s been incredible to view the blend of the historical and the modern, and I haven’t even seen that much of the city yet.

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Rosenborg Castle, Christian IV's "summer home"

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Nyhavn, aka the street on every postcard from Copenhagen

I haven’t been around as much as I’d like to, mainly because I live right next to my school and haven’t gone too far out of my area. I live right in downtown Copenhagen, in an apartment on St. Kannikestræde, which is pronounced something like “Store Kon-ick-ahh-strehl”. Like most Danish words, you have to say my street name from the back of the throat and look as if you’re going to puke, but I love telling people where I live (probably a little more than I should). I share my room with two other guys and my apartment with eight people total, but it’s definitely one of the best housing options DIS offers. 

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I’ve only had two days of classes, but I’ve really enjoyed them so far. DIS is an all-around phenomenal program, and they do a great job with including study tours and field trips to places all over Europe. The courses I’m taking are: War Crimes and Human Rights (which has a week-long trip to Bosnia!), Criminology & Criminal Justice in Scandinavia, Communication & Campaign Management, Contemporary European Film, European Storytelling: From Homer to Harry Potter, and Auschwitz: From Genocide to Memorial. 

And since I can’t seem to organize my thoughts coherently, here are some of my scattered thoughts and experiences from the past week:

  • It’s cold. Actually, that’s an understatement. I feel like I’m being stabbed by an army of needles every time I step outside. 
  • I accidentally shoplifted from a 7-11 the first day I was here. By the way, 7-11’s are EVERYWHERE here. 
  • The Danes are more reserved and less outgoing than most Americans. They’re also just quieter in general. So when I was in the local grocery store (the Netto) on my first day here, I turned to a girl who I thought was another DIS student and asked “Do you know where the bread is?” in what I thought was a normal volume by American standards. Apparently, I’m louder than I thought, since the girl jumped, let out a tiny scream, and ran away. Glad to know I’m in a place where people find me intimidating. 
  • If I’m outside my apartment, I’m usually lost or about to be run over by something. Perhaps I’m just directionally-challenged, but every time I take a different street than usual to get somewhere, I end up walking around for a half hour trying to figure out where the hell I am. As for the nearly dying, I’m not used to (a) this many bikes or (b) the fact that no one jaywalks here. 
  • Danish beer is fantastic. Now, I’m a huge supporter of cheap American beer, but it’s nothing compared to a good ole Carlsberg or Royal. Also, the sign on the Carlsberg Brewery is one of the funnier things I’ve seen in a while.Image
  • This past weekend, I traveled to Kronborg Castle, known widely as “the Hamlet castle”. I didn’t read Hamlet in high school when we were supposed to, but it was still an awesome experience. The highlight was definitely seeing the dungeons that still had the holes where they held the hooks to torture people.ImageI could go on and on, but I’m going to stop here. Here’s hoping that the rest of the semester is just as good, if not better, than the first week!

 

 

Leavin on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow marks the official beginning of my study abroad experience. Wow, I get the heebie-jeebies (I’m bringing it back!) just typing that sentence. 

I will begin my voyage by flying from Washington D.C. to Frankfurt, Germany, where I will then board a plane to the “dirty ‘Hag”, as my friend Vivian calls it. Apparently, on the second leg of my journey, the flight attendants give passengers free wine! Win #1.

I’m hoping none of the following things occur during my travels over the next two days (in order from least to most preferable): 

  • Delays/cancellations
  • Lost baggage
  • Vomiting
  • Me pulling a Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and stupidly boarding the wrong plane
  • Crying babies
  • Crying adults
  • The flight attendants only serving peanuts as the in-flight snack
  • The plane only showing Whitney and Two and a Half Men as in-flight entertainment.

Once I arrive in Copenhagen, staff members from DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad) will escort me to my apartment, which is apparently next to an amusement park. Win #2.

We have an arrival workshop and an over the next few days, which I’m sure will be chock-full of awkward icebreakers (my favorite!) and dumb questions (95% of which will be coming from me). And before classes start on Thursday, I need to (a) get my shit together, and (b) learn how to pronounce/distinguish my professors’ absurdly long names.

On a serious note, I wish everyone a happy and successful semester. Keep in touch and don’t forget about me! 

Genesis

Out of the hundreds of thousands of undergraduate students who study abroad every year, it appears as if all but five have a “study abroad blog”. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “study abroad blog” is a way to tell the entire human population (all 6 billion+ of them) that your experiences are so unique and fascinating that everyone must know about them immediately. It makes it easier to “stay in contact” with people, because who has the time to do personalized emails and Skype dates when you’re out there expanding your horizons and getting wasted on Monday nights? Abroad blogs also show everyone that you how worldly and cultured you are, even though the majority of your time abroad is spent complaining about how much you miss peanut butter and Chipotle.

To the people reading this who don’t know me (I’m flattering myself thinking that strangers are looking at this), the above paragraph is intended to be satirical. I don’t look down on people who create abroad blogs, considering I just made one half an hour ago. I don’t think I’m better than anyone. And I certainly don’t believe I’m going to revolutionize the world of study abroad writing, although a guy can dream, right?

But let’s be real. We’ve all read about the yummy pizza Margie ate and Reggie’s awesome trip to the Eiffel Tower and how Betsy finally learned how the difference between “dinner” and “incest” in Swahili. I don’t want to bore you by spitting out facts and figures (go to Google or Wikipedia if you want to learn about the agricultural history of Denmark). I want to avoid as many cliches as possible, although this whole “post about how my blog is going to be different and better” has probably been done a million times before. To thank you for taking time out of your day to read this, I will do my best to make sure it is as engaging and entertaining as I can.

Less than 3 weeks until departure!