We have arrived in Copenhagen and are just about to begin our Spring semester. While DIS offers various housing options including dorm, kollegium, and apartment living, I have opted to live in a homestay. There are approximately ten of us who are living in homestays in the Vaerlose region of Denmark (roughly 30 minutes from Central Copenhagen by train). My host sister, Amalie, and her father picked me up in the mid-afternoon, and driving through the city, I was immediately struck by the many bicyclists (they have their own wide bike lanes) and the lack of vehicle traffic. Karsten, my host father, informed me that biking is the primary mode of transportation for both workers and students. On most days, he will bike to work and the rest of the family will bike to the train station in order to get to school. There are particular rules to biking in Denmark in order to ensure proper safety. For instance, a bicyclist must signal when they are planning to stop by raising their hand for bicyclists behind them. Additionally, they must signal which direction they are turning to warn other bicyclists. They must wear helmets to and from their destinations and use their lights at night. Bicycling has become an integral part of the Denmark’s transportation system, and there are a lot less cars on the road compared to the United States. My commute each day will consist of either walking or biking to the train station (only 20 minutes) and then taking the train into central Copenhagen.
Immediately upon arriving at their house, I was welcomed by my host mother, Helle, and she showed me many of the different decorations she and the family put up for the winter holidays. Typically, they will place many miniature Danish flags as well as ornaments around the tree. They are very proud of their flag, and the country has set restrictions on when Danish people can display their flags (must be raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset). Public establishments must raise the flag on official flag days including various birthdays’ of the Danish royal family and holidays.
After Amalie, their daughter, gave me a tour of their house including showing me their rabbit playground/living space as well as their extensive garden, we then had a delicious meal of wienerschnitzel, broccoli, and potatoes and a delicious rice pudding with cherry sauce. We finished the meal with coffee and tea.
Though a little nervous to begin studying in a new learning environment, I am excited for tomorrow’s arrival orientation program. We have our arrival day orientation, facilities tour, and various lectures/discussions tomorrow (including how to get involved in various aspects of Danish culture such as different sporting/outdoor opportunities, cooking, and sustainability). Later in the week, I will begin to take various classes including my core course, Competing Narratives: Modern European History, Arctic Glaciology, Danish Language 1, Enemy Within: Spies and Espionage in the Cold War, and What’s So Funny (a satirical writing course).