Settling in

Here in Denmark, the wind is starting to blow with an icy edge and the leaves in Copenhagen’s many parks are fading yellow – fall is fast approaching and I’m finally here to tell you about the last golden weeks of summer I experienced in my first month in this country!

The transition to studying abroad was surprisingly smooth. I didn’t experience any culture shock and everyone I encountered spoke English. I even had a free month of data with the Lebara SIM card that DIS provided, so I was never without my guardian angel, Google Maps. In my first days in Denmark, I even ran into some old friends:  

Seeing these familiar plants made Denmark feel more like home! In some primitive way, I must have been comforted by the knowledge that even here, I could find food and medicine growing in this new landscape. I know that these aren’t the same exact plants that greeted me when I was weeding in the Enchanted Edible Forest or biking in upstate New York, but they made Denmark feel a little more welcoming.       

I mentioned summer earlier – it’s sweater weather now but for my first couple weeks here and we had warm sunshine nearly every day and I regretted not packing a pair of shorts. I love how the Danes embrace warm weather; It’s common for people to go for a dip in the harbor before heading to the office and on the sunniest weekdays, I saw the boardwalks packed with people sunbathing with their friends. I certainly didn’t expect to hit the beach in notoriously dreary Denmark, but I’ve also been to the one by my homestay several times now.

            Besides the harbor and beaches, you can also find Danes on the sunny lawns of Copenhagen’s many beautiful parks. There are several parks near DIS where you can get your vitamin D and mid-day meal but my favorite is Kongens Have, the King’s Garden.

            Early in my college career, an upperclassman told me that studying abroad is just going to school but in a different country. What they meant is that life has ups and downs no matter how far from home you are. Yes, traveling adds excitement and wonder to everyday life, but don’t hold any illusions that your study abroad experience will be perfect. I think this advice and keeping an open mind is a major part of what made the change so smooth. To be sure, life is a little easier here at DIS – the workload is a lot lighter than Columbia’s and the weekly field trips add a welcome dose of fun to the usual school routine; Train commutes are stress-free compared to NYC’s subway and the colorful architecture of the city center brings a bit of joy with every step.

The sunshine we’ve been having brings out the rainbow of the streets.

            Now that I’m comfortable with my commute and school schedule, I’m preparing to branch out more. There are so many museums and botanical gardens I want to visit! Stay tuned for stories about my Sustainable Food class’s field trip to the “gourmet food island” of Denmark, a day trip to Malmö where I ate a dung beetle and fermented shark, and volunteer at a Harvest Festival. Thanks for reading!

– Zoe

Written from a sunny courtyard in Copenhagen.

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