This week has been a whirlwind of culture and excitement in CPH-and no, I don’t mean classes (though those are measuring up to study abroad standards-interesting but not overly demanding). In the past five days I’ve met up with a group of young Danes in their own setting, wandered upon the infamous Little Mermaid Statue, spent an evening with my Danish ‘visiting’ family, and experienced a Danish ballet, and I’m starting to feel truly Danish.
A quick run-by of my week of culture:
Tuesday night-a night out with my ‘buddy network’, DIS’s way of setting up American students with young Danes to get more immersed in the youth culture here. It was a great experience to meet up with my group and get to know them, and I can’t wait to start seeing the real Copenhagen with them-though I could probably go without the fisk – a type of Danish alcohol that’s really popular among the Danes that honestly tastes like liquid toothpaste. One taste was enough to freshen me up for the night at least!
On Wednesday we had a day of sun-which, after January, where CPH experienced a record low of only 17 hours of sunlight all month, was much needed-and I took that as a sign to leave reading to later and explore the city on my day off. I ended up walking along the water as far as I could go, and low and behold, there she was-The Little Mermaid Statue. Calling her ‘little’ is an incredibly honest term, because she sits very modestly in the harbor, but the combination of finding out she was commissioned by one of the most famous Danish beer brewers and watching a boat of tourists flock over her made the trip very worth it.
Wednesday night I went to my visiting family-a Danish family that can be kind of like a surrogate host family for students not living in a homestay- in Avedøre, a suburb to the southwest of Copenhagen. My family is really sweet and is quite used to having Americans around the house-they’ve had multiple visiting students and host students, and one of the students they hosted a few years ago is even living with them again this year as a DIS intern. They were completely welcoming to me and showed me around the suburb and cooked me a tradition Danish meal-complete with Rød Grød med fløde, a strawberry and cream dessert that Danes love to use to trip Americans up, because it’s impossible to pronounce unless you grew up in Denmark-and I got to know their family for future outings! Most ironic moment of all: my family traveled to America about 20 years ago and visited some family friends in Ohio, and they think they stayed in Oakwood while their friends worked at NCR….definition of a small world.
I wrapped up my week of immersion with a trip to the Royal Danish Ballet on Thursday night, courtesy of my Danish teacher as a cultural outing. My first impression of the ballet was how beautiful the theater was-once upon a time, Danes used Kongens Nytorv as the venue for theatre, ballet, and opera. Since then a new opera house and theatre has been built, leaving the ballet in this stunning building right by Nyhavn. The ballet itself was a special production choreographed for young Danes who normally wouldn’t go to a full length classic ballet, so there were three acts each covering a different kind of dance. The first was a more modern ballet and the second was a classic ballet duet, both of which were incredible and so impressive physically, and the third was a modern dance that was like nothing I had ever seen before. They started off with a sort of tribal chair dance type thing and then blasted some fun, almost club like music and pulled people from the crowd on stage to ball room dance around the volunteers. It was loud and fun and not what I would have ever expected out of a ballet, so I’m glad we got to see it!
So after all this-and a week of biking to and from class every day, I think I actually might not look like a complete foreigner doing hand signals anymore-I’m beginning to feel like a real (even if temporary) Dane!