DIScovering the life of the Danes

“I’m back with a vengeance.  This past week has been non-stop, with meeting people, traveling around the Copenhagen area, and battling the end of January weather and transportation system.”

I began classes last Thursday and most of the “orientation” events are over, establishing some sense of normalcy and a schedule to being here.  My DIS classes are all very interesting, but for the sake of brevity and you all not falling asleep, I’ll keep the school talk to a minimum. 

This semester I’m taking courses in: “Climate Change: A Case Study of Glaciers in Iceland”, “The History of Copenhagen (Architecture)”, “European Storytelling”, “Conservation Biology and Biodiversity”, “The Environmental History of Europe”, and “Barcelona: Gender, Ethnicity, and Sexuality”.  I’m most excited for the trips to Iceland and Barcelona later in the semester.  Also, a side note about education in Denmark; the Danes don’t have nearly as bureaucratic and rigorous of a school system as in the U.S.  Most of my grades are based on active participation and one final paper.

So last Thursday, I woke up (all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, mind you) early, only to arrive at the train station and discover the train was running 40 minutes late, meaning I had ZERO chance of making my first class on time.  Thankfully half the class faced the same issue, strength in numbers ;). Some Danish hooligans have been stealing the copper train wires (that help with signaling and regulation), so trains have been getting canceled or delayed pretty frequently.

Despite these setbacks, the transportation here is actually great. The buses are super easy to use, and I even willed myself to try biking into the city earlier today (~40 minutes in inclement weather).  Passing by a very scenic lake and squinting to look for street names I can’t pronounce made for quite the experience.  On my way to inner Copenhagen, I stopped at the Copenhagen Zoo for one of my class field studies.

After my zoo excursion, I biked to my school to pick up some books and meet up with some friends for craft beer and some weird, but never boring conversation (in typical Nathan fashion).  We started talking about all the places we’d like to travel this semester, over the designated travel weeks and weekends as well.  It’s crazy that you can travel to just about anywhere in Europe in mere hours.

I have also been indoctrinated into the heart of Denmark, handball.  No, not the sport I always talk about back at UIUC, but the handball you might see during the summer Olympics and the sport that dominates much of Europe.  I went over to a friend’s home-stay and got to see first-hand just how crazy the Danes get over handball matches.  Besides school and handball, it’s been fun exploring the Copenhagen suburbs (went to an ancient forest up north), trying out the different bars and nightlife, or just hanging out at the house with Inger, Gary, and cat.  I have met some incredible people already, and can’t wait to keep meeting more as each new adventure unfolds.    

Until next time,


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