Hej everyone! I have survived my first week in Copenhagen. A lot has happened, but the city and my host family have been great so far and I look forward to the rest of the semester. My arrival last Sunday was crazy. I went directly from my plane through customs (which was surprisingly easy), picked up my bags, and was ushered to an arrival orientation meeting. I got all of the paperwork I would need for the coming week and then a DIS staff member who looked as exhausted as those of us arriving walked us through the basics of living in the city. After about an hour my host dad Peter and host brother Hesse picked me up and we headed out. I’m living just a short walk from downtown Copenhagen in a neighborhood called Christianshavn.
Our orientation took place Monday through Wednesday. It was mainly taking care of immigration paperwork (without a residence permit you can only live in Denmark for three months), figuring out how to navigate the city via information sessions and brief historical tours, and meeting new people. As with most orientations, the people you meet
in these sessions you’re likely to never see again. I also got to explore the city a bit more, meaning that I got lost on more than one occasion. Getting lost worked pretty well as an introduction to the city, though, and I can now successfully navigate most of downtown Copenhagen.
Classes have just started, so I don’t have a lot to say on the intensity or style of teaching quite yet, but so far all of my courses and professors seem great. I’ll get into the gritty details of that in my next post. For now, here are some fun facts I’ve learned so far about Danes and Copenhagen.
- Danes hate peanut butter. My host dad said it’s because peanuts are for squirrels.
- There is no Danish word for “please”. This can cause confusion when Danes speak English. They aren’t trying to be rude, they just don’t get the point in having the word.
- Danes will wait for the “walk” sign on street corners even in there are no cars or bikes in any direction.
- Cyclists are ruthless. If you’re standing in the bike lane, expect at least to be yelled at. I have seen Danes purposefully almost hit tourists standing in the bike lane so (hopefully) they’ll stay on the sidewalk in the future.
- Milk and yogurt come in extremely similar cartons, so make sure you actually read the label or you’ll end up with yogurt in your cereal.
- You know how in America when you pass someone you know you say something like, “Hey, how are you?” and then keep walking? This is so confusing for Danes. If you ask a question, expect an answer, and probably not a short one.
- Speaking of questions, tourists and travelers are often afraid to ask Danes for directions or advice because they’re so serious-looking. They can be intimidating but nine out of ten Danes will smile and help you with your problem if you approach them. I’ve had people literally escort me places when I asked for directions. So if you have a question, just ask. Unless you’re on the train. No one talks on the trains.