Sitting on my flight to Copenhagen, I was flooded with last-minute anxieties about my homestay and the semester ahead. I worried that I might not feel comfortable in my homestay, might not be able to meet friends living isolated from other DIS students.
However, when I saw my host mom Gitte waiting for me outside of security–a huge smile on her face–I immediately felt at ease in my surroundings and more optimistic about the upcoming months.
After picking us up from the airport, Gitte’s son Per drove us to her beautiful apartment in the Sydhavnen neighborhood of Copenhagen. In my room, Gitte had laid out a colorful array of Danish flags. Not only that, she had a welcome gift for me–a mug for my morning tea and an “I ♡ Copenhagen” keychain for the keys to her apartment. Exhausted from my day of travel, I fell asleep in my new bed feeling so welcomed into Denmark.
Over the weekend, Gitte gave me a tour of her neighborhood area and a nearby park. We also went grocery shopping together so I could show her the type of food I wanted for breakfast and lunch. Generously, Gitte offered to show me how to use the public transportation in the area. I feel so lucky to be in a homestay so close to the city, and so far, I have loved living in Gitte’s residential neighborhood and sharing delicious home cooked meals with her.
In addition, I spent some time this weekend exploring downtown Copenhagen with my friend Sarah. We had a series of misadventures as we tried to explore. On Saturday, we hoped to visit the DIS facilities and stumbled upon the pride parade. Though we couldn’t make our way to DIS, it was fun to be a part of such a joyful and colorful celebration.
On Sunday, we hoped to visit the iconic (and somewhat underwhelming) little mermaid statue. However, we did not realize that there was a popular Iron Man race scheduled on Sunday, making it nearly impossible for us to cross over to the statue. But with some persistence (and a couple extra kilometers) we finally made it to the surprisingly small statue!
We mentioned our surprise at the scale of the statue to Gitte, and she laughed, saying that when she visited the United States, she had expected the Statue of Liberty to be the same size as Den lille Havfrue.
The rest of the week has been filled with DIS orientation activities. On Monday, we visited the Royal Danish Academy of Music for an opening ceremony and surprise musical performance. The next day, we teamed up with students in our “Homestay Network” (living in a similar geographical area) to go on a walking tour. It was great to get to know some of the other students living in homestays, and definitely made me feel a little less isolated.
Today, we’re looking forward to a tour of the DIS facilities and our academic orientation. I’m actually very excited to begin classes tomorrow, and I’m hoping it will be a good way to get to know more students with similar interests.
I’m also looking forward to beginning my Danish language and culture education. Though almost everyone I’ve encountered here has spoken English, Denmark still certainly feels like a foreign country. It has been difficult to understand street signs, directions, and labels at the grocery store. I’m hopeful that a greater knowledge of the language will definitely help me to adjust to life here in beautiful Denmark.