Jumping in Headfirst

On Saturday, I experienced the wonder of international flying for the first time. But no one wants to hear me complain about that for a whole post, so I’ll keep it to this quick advice for anyone heading off across a large body of water in the near future:

1) You won’t sleep on the plane. Trust me on this one. I had a 6 hour layover in Chicago, so by the time we boarded the 10 PM plane I was tired and sore from sitting in the terminal and from my last flight, and I even took a mild sleeping pill, but nope. My body had none of that. Something about the plane seats and the uncomfortable pillows and the man next to me encroaching on my personal space combined with the excitement of going abroad meant no sleep for me.

2) You will be jetlagged. I tricked myself into thinking that, because Denmark is 6 hours ahead of Ohio, that if I slept on the plane and got tired out by the time I got through my flights and orientations yesterday, I could go to bed at 10 last night and jump right back on track. Yeah, that didn’t go at all as planned, because after running around all day today, I feel like its 3 AM during finals week. And it’s only 5:30 PM local time. That time change takes a while to get used to no matter where you travel to.

3) Landing in your destination will feel absolutely magical. The moment the pilot announced that we were starting the landing process, I sat up and opened the window (which probably upset the man trying to sleep next to me, oops…) and waited for my first view of Copenhagen. We dipped under the clouds right above the Baltic Sea, so all I could see was water and ice, and then we rounded on the airport and it just felt so surreal. I had been planning this trip for months, and finally I was actually in Copenhagen, and it didn’t matter that I couldn’t tell the difference between the baggage claim and bathroom signs in the airport or that I had to wait a horrifyingly long time for my luggage to show up on the belt. Being in Denmark  made it all completely real and exciting and terrifying all at once, and it made the exhausting plane ride completely worthwhile.

I didn’t have time to recharge after landing-we jumped right into the Danish lifestyle. We were sorted by

My little nook in my roomhousing at the airport hotel and I ended up on a bus to Hoffmanns Minde Kollegium, where I met my SRAs and had some time to unpack and get to know my roommate, Lauren Ashley, before we had dinner as a group. I was worried about what the living quarters would be like, but I’m pleasantly surprised. Besides the fact that the room turns into a kiddie pool whenever we shower, the room is a good size and very livable for the semester-it’s exactly something I would think of as cozy and modern and European.

Up to now is how I pictured my first day-then the Denmark effect kicked in and everything switched around. I probably could have scrounged up a wimpy dinner of my own and slept for 12+ hours, but hey, When in Denmark? Turns out we had a catered dinner with all of the DIS students in the Kollegium, which was a great chance to meet the people I’m living with. And once I met them-they’ve turned out to be a much more social and outgoing and loud group than I expected, but that’s exactly like my freshman dorm, so I’m cool with it (holla at Storrs 2nd)-I just ignored the jetlag and stayed up late getting to know each other and the SRAs. I live with some really cool people from all over the US, so I think it should be an exciting semester in the Kollegium.

Today marked the real start of the fun, more specifically the start of the Arrival Workshop run by DIS. We The Cirkus Buildingstarted off the day with the Opening Ceremony at a really cool venue in the city center that use to house the circus. Some of the DIS faculty spoke about Copenhagen and the semester ahead, and we listened to a string orchestra from the Royal Danish Academy of Music play music by Danish composers, which was a good start to getting to know the culture of the city.

We had most of the afternoon off, which made for a shambly but enlightening afternoon. I went with a few girls to explore the city and fight a store called Tiger, which is kind of like a small scale Target, to get school supplies and some other stuff we need for our rooms. Pop quiz: what do you get when you throw three American girls with no access to Google maps in a beautiful foreign city?  Three lost, awestruck girls. It probably took us three times as long to find Tiger as it should have, but it was perfectly fine to wander around Copenhagen along the way. We found the Student Center that we can eat and hang out in between classes, and we found a busy pedestrian area of large streets with few cars and tons of shops and cafés and restaurants in such a cozy and European way. It was really great to just wander for a while, even if it probably wasn’t the best use of time.

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This post is getting longer than I hoped for, so I’m going to wrap it up with a quick lesson in Danish culture before I stop rambling.

1) Danes like small things-a professor mentioned it during the Opening Ceremony, but it’s definitely true. Everything here seems similar, but on a smaller scale. The grocery stores are smaller and more rustic, the stores are smaller-we saw an Urban Outfitters and an H&M that are maybe 1/3 of the size of ones in America-and all it does is contribute to the coziness of the city overall.

2) Everything in Danish is impossible to pronounce. The SRAs tried to teach us to pronounce the name of our street and suburb last night, and I think we all failed miserably. But what’s great about Danish is that it’s beautiful to listen to-when an American struggles to say Frederikssundsvej, it’s just funny, but hearing a Dane speak the native language is kind of mesmerizing. None of us has figured out how to make the sounds necessary to speak well yet, but the Danes have such smooth voices even with such harsh sounds in the words. Even though there’s little hope for me to ever speak Danish well, hearing the Danes converse is really cool to witness.

3) Danes get right to the point. A friend and I were looking for the bathroom at the Cirkus for the Opening Ceremony, and we started in the wrong direction, and one of the guards just shook his head and said “No no, turn around” in a frighteningly serious tone before showing us the other bathroom. Although I still can’t tell if he was kidding (which I’d like to think he was), it was a quick but efficient lesson in Danish personalities, and it’s good to know what to expect from the Danes from now on!

Ok, I’m done now, I promise. More to come this weekend-especially after we have an ‘Amazing Race’ style tour around Copenhagen tomorrow!

****Belle probably hates me right now for writing so much, but hey, I can’t find myself to care when you were supposed to go on your first dive today in Bonaire. Enjoy the sun!

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