Keeping up with Marta Randall '13 and Hillary Densen '13 in Copenhagen...

Marta Randall '13
Hillary Densen '13

October 26, 2011
It is finally cold in Copenhagen! In about two weeks we have gone from wearing shorts and t-shirts to gloves and hats. Last Friday night was Kulturnatten, which is a celebration of Danish culture in the city. Museums, government buildings, restaurants and shops all stay open until midnight with special events and free entry. The highlight was our visit to Parliament. For this night only, the building was open to the public. We got the chance to explore the entire building and speak to representatives from different political parties throughout our visit. We also went to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, an art museum very close to our school. We spent time in nearly every exhibit and were able to enjoy beautiful views of the city at night from the museum’s rooftop.

Despite rapidly cooling temperatures, we continue to enjoy our time in Copenhagen, and in fact, the weather has given us a phenomenal excuse to try new coffee shops and cafes in the city. We have discovered that the chai lattes here are infinitely better than those in the States and best enjoyed after freezing walks from the central train station to our school building. As the temperature cools, Danish establishments make up for the outside weather by providing a “hygge” atmosphere in cafes, stores, and bars. (The Danish word hygge is most easily translated to cozy in English.) Cafes and restaurants have candles lit at all hours of the day, and blankets draped over seating both inside and outdoors, which create a warm and cozy atmosphere that we certainly enjoy. We often find it hard to leave our favorite coffee shops and venture out into the brisk Copenhagen weather!

The DIS programs incorporate a short study tour within Denmark, and a longer tour to some other place in Europe. Marta spent a week in London with the Communications and Mass Media program, and in addition to a lot of sightseeing, she also learned that communications and media is applicable in a much wider range of industries than she had imagined.  She also helped to film a short video about the city, which may at some point be available for viewing on YouTube (details as the production process warrants). Hillary spent the week in Scotland with the Positive Psychology program, where she learned about different initiatives that are being taken in Scotland to increase the well-being of the population.  She enjoyed her time in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. For their last night the class traveled to the beautiful Loch Lamond, where they enjoyed beautiful views of one of Scotland’s  most stunning attractions.

This week we have been busy preparing for midterms and writing papers. Friday marks the beginning of our two-week travel break and we are very excited. We will be visiting Prague, London, Florence, Rome, Paris, and San Sebastian. We can’t wait for midterms to be over and to be exploring more of Europe!

October 7, 2011
The most essential components of Copenhagen are bicycles and 7-Eleven.  Every single Dane has a bike, and they ride them everywhere, in any weather while wearing any outfit, all while multitasking. It’s not at all unusual to see a woman with a young child riding a bike in heels and a trench coat, while talking on the phone and weaving through traffic. It’s pretty impressive and completely terrifying. We feel like bikes might help us blend in better but aren’t quite confident that it wouldn’t be a risk to our lives to join the bike culture. 

As for 7-Eleven, it is the ultimate Danish establishment. Besides the fact that they bake their own bread and pastries and one can buy two chocolate croissants for 10 kroner (just under two dollars), we’ve also been referred there to buy SIM cards, phone credits and train passes. (And they’re open 24/7.) Apparently, due to laws about the quality of meat and the levels of preservatives in food, McDonald’s in Denmark is equally as impressive as 7-Eleven, but we have yet to test that theory.

Our school is in the Latin quarter of the city, which is the original part of Copenhagen and therefore the oldest.  About 30 percent of the city was destroyed in a three-day fire in 1728, so a lot of the buildings in the Latin quarter date back to the rebuilding that followed. There are a lot of cobblestoned streets, fountains and courtyards, and it all feels and looks quintessentially European. It usually rains at some point during the day, but the timing and severity are always a surprise. It really keeps us on our toes. 

We’re learning to speak Danish but are still rudimentary at best. There are nine vowels and the pronunciations of the four that we don’t have in English are not entirely clear. A lot of words look like they were written by someone leaning arbitrarily on a keyboard. This is most problematic when we’re asking for directions and have to say, “Do you know where Rosenvængets Sideallé is?” People eventually figure out what we’re trying to say.