I am in Copenhagen! It is officially my sixth day here, but honestly it feels like it has been a month. I have barely had any rest time and am just enjoying sitting at my desk right now writing my thoughts about the past couple of days down. Here’s the rundown!
I flew from Chicago to Rome, then from Rome to Copenhagen on Friday-Saturday. Total travel time was somewhere close to 16 hours, and I failed to sleep on the plane, so I was pretty exhausted when I arrived, but so excited to finally be in Copenhagen! After so much anticipation it felt too good to be true. It was cloudy and raining when I flew in, which is normal weather for Copenhagen, but by the time I left the airport it had stopped raining and the sun was peeking through the clouds. I finally arrived to my dorm around 5pm on Saturday, met my roommate and the other DIS students living on my floor, and then explored my neighborhood with some of the kids in my building. I live a couple streets over from Nyhavn. You can see the canal from my window, and the trampolines on the street are mere steps away from my front door. All in all, I’m super happy with the location of my housing, and how friendly all the other DIS students in my building have been.
The next few days have been a blur, but included in my adventures have been the DIS welcoming ceremony, a first scary trip to the grocery store (everything is in Danish!), shopping for school supplies and desperately running all over the city trying to find contact solution. I have also attended two of my four classes, gotten a gym membership, and almost knocked a runner over trying to cross to the other side of the street during an Iron man. I’ve gone on several runs alone, and honestly those runs have been some of my favorite moments in Copenhagen so far. They have allowed me to explore the city quickly, and gave me some much-needed me time to clear my head and try to process the chaos that is always the first week of school. On my run several days ago, I passed Nyhavn, Amalienborg (the home of the Danish royal family), Kastellet (a fortress), and several ships that I’m convinced are pirate ships — all within 3 miles of my apartment! I also visited Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world. My friends and I decided to go at dusk, right when the gardens light up in a beautiful array of colors. As we strolled through the park, we savored the mouth-watering smell of candy-cane, which was accompanied by the laughter and delighted shrieks of children and adults alike riding the roller-coasters.
The city itself is absolutely beautiful, and surprises me with more beauty every street I turn down. I’ve been using google maps to navigate, and it likes to take me down side streets and on new routes every day. I never know what I’ll come across next – from a palace, to a cute coffee shop underground lit up with candles and covered in plants, to a very realistic replica of the David – everything is on the table!
A word about the biking culture. As most people know, or quickly find out when they arrive in Copenhagen, biking is one of the easiest modes of transportation around the city. There are almost as many, if not more, bikers on the streets than cars and busses. The bikers have their own bike lanes, where they have to follow strict rules including hand signals and stopping at stop lights when cars do. I have seen many tourists get the side-eye from local Danes riding bikes because they stepped into the bike lane when it wasn’t their turn to cross at the crosswalk, or because they jaywalked through the bike lane. I’ve been told by DIS faculty that if you really want to immerse yourself in the culture here, you must get a bike. I have yet to get my bike, as I’m honestly slightly intimidated by the local Danish bikers, but am excited to have a faster mode of transport around the city. The bike will especially come in handy for my commute to class, which is currently a 20 minute walk through the center of the city.
As much as everything has been going well, I have definitely been stressed a bit, as anyone would be moving to a new city. There are cultural differences here, but they are so slight it’s hard sometimes to tell if the locals are being rude, or if they expect you to be more upfront about what you want (i.e., ordering coffee can take a very long time if you don’t call the worker over). Additionally, I was very surprised this morning when I missed the bus… not because I was late, but because I didn’t make more of an effort to look like I wanted to get on the bus, despite the fact that I was standing right in front of the bus stop. It will clearly take some trial-and-error periods before I get the hang of things here – but I’d say I’m doing pretty well for right now!
As I close out this very lengthy post, I’m excited to announce I just signed up for the Copenhagen half-marathon on September 15th! Stay tuned for more adventures from my runs through the city.