As I have completed two semesters now, it settles in that the semester is already half over. While I love watching green leaves turn orange and feeling the cool air on my cheeks, the turning point that comes in October has reminded everyone that our time here is limited. But this semester’s finite element made it something special. Like knowing that the end point of this adventure will eventually arrive motivates me to move forward and relentlessly enjoy life abroad.
Yes, I know I talked about the difficulties associated with the limited semester. Wanting to take things at a slow and healthy pace, finally feeling a bit of guilt when I’m not on an adventure, all the blah blah. All this is still very (very) true, but it is a dynamic partnership which also has positive sides. The time here felt so short and quick, but when I look back on everything I’ve done this semester, I find it quite impressive (if I do say so myself).
So here are some of the things I’ve done so far.
Rainy day at Amager Strand – At the beginning of the semester, while the weather was still nice, one of the friends I made in my Kollegium (Liz) and I planned to venture to other places in Amager where our Kollegium is located. We had spent the morning taking a long walk around our neighborhood and after a few random stops we decided to stop at Amager Strand before heading home. Unlike most previous days, the day was actually very rainy and gray. Not a good day for swimming. But we went anyway, just for another place to walk around. The beach was pretty empty as we walked around, but on our way out we saw a small family on the pier grabbing stuff from the water. We noticed a small transparent bucket with crabs in it. I grew up in the Midwest away from big bodies of water, so it was wonderful to see a simple but unique activity. I could have watched the crabs crawling through that bucket all day.
Grønt Marked and the harvest festival – In a previous blog post, Copenhagen has a community, I talked about volunteering at the local farmers market. Since then, I’ve helped out at a few other markets, including the Harvest Festival. The regular Sunday market was accompanied by local food and drink stalls, panel discussions featuring community members passionate about changing Danish food culture and sustainability practices, and (of course) music more catchy folk. I’d spent most of the day volunteering collecting and washing wine glasses, which for a clumsy, fast-paced person was a daunting task. But as the day went on I developed a good method so don’t worry. The day had gone perfectly, until I had my first real experience with the Danish weather. In the space of 5 minutes, the sky changed from a sunny sky to a gray hailstorm. In menial attempts to keep everything from blowing away, I got completely soaked from head to toe. So when the storm passed and things calmed down, I headed home to take a much needed hot shower. Later I came back to the festival (which they had persevered) for a more musical evening and a market dinner. The atmosphere of the evening, the company of other volunteers and delicious vegetarian meals made it a great end to the day.
Swing dancing at the Studenterhuest – Unfortunately, I’m one of the most uncoordinated and clumsy people you’ll ever meet. Dancing is therefore not a skill that I regularly display (especially in public). But the Studenterhuest has swing dancing nights every Tuesday, and of course Liz loves swing dancing, so she convinced a few of us to go. Luckily they had a beginner’s class, but that didn’t help much with my coordination and grace. We spent most of the night tripping our feet over each other, slowly picking up the pace and moving more freely. Since the Studenterhuest hosts this event every week, there were plenty of seasoned dancers who occasionally offered to teach the moves. With a few beers (with a wonderful DIS student discount) and an entire night of upbeat music and dancing, I ended up really enjoying the night. (Yes, the blurry photo was the only good photo we got.)
The butterfly house – After the sun decided to show after a few days of rain, I decided to make the most of the day by walking around some areas north of the city center. The Botanical Garden was on my list of things to do in Copenhagen, so that’s where I decided to go for the day. Of course, the greenhouse was beautiful, surrounded by fresh plants and greenery. But I didn’t know they had a butterfly garden too, so I stopped there and it was an absolutely unforgettable experience. There were so many different species of butterflies of all sizes and colors. Watching the butterflies fly around each other while listening to my favorite instrumental songs made for a very aesthetic moment.
The Barista League Championship – So it was like a completely random thing that I found and went to, but it ended up being one of my favorite things I did this semester. Almost every morning before class, I stop by Roast Coffee on Studiestræde for a cappuccino in their reusable cups (highly recommend checking them out and apologizing to my bank account). And one morning I just noticed a little flyer for an event in Copenhagen that was welcome to everyone, coffee lovers and experts alike, and that it was going to be a fun night of competitions, coffee cocktails and of music. So I decided to make the trip up north on my own to check it out. The event was full of really great people and great vibes. The competitions were competitive, but everyone had a good time, which made it a lot of fun to watch. Had a pour and espresso bar to try a bunch of different local beans, ended up drinking a lot of coffee a bit late in the day. But the coffee cocktail they served, which was delicious, balanced it all out. Then, on top of everything, I met and dated a lot of great people.
Street food in Reffen – Venturing to Reffen for all sorts of street food and good vibes is a classic must-do when in Copenhagen. But it’s different from most other food markets because everything is outdoors and the tables are on sandy areas near the water. There were so many dining options to choose from that you could go multiple times to really try everything. Both times I’ve been there I’ve had African peanut butter stew with sweet fried plantains and Korean fried chicken bites with spicy pickles. While the weather was (rather) warm, Reffen was a great place to have dinner and drinks with friends.
The Louisiana Museum of Art – I repeat, but art museums are not really my specialty. However… I have been to two in Denmark now (and there are many more if I tried). But the Louisiana Art Museum is a very different art museum, and the one you to have to go when the weather is good. The exhibits worked on all different points of the artistic spectrum, and many used natural outdoor light to achieve the artwork. A few friends and I went in a small group, but quickly went our own way because Louisiana is a place you have to explore on your own. I ended up putting on my big headphones and wandering around the museum for a few hours listening to music (the playlist you could find on my About me page if you were curious). After finding everyone in our group, we stopped at a small Italian restaurant near the train station for some pasta and wine before heading back.
Cooking class with Liz – Cooking has always been my favorite method of academic procrastination; so much so that it could be classed as a hobby? But Liz thinks I’m a decent cook, so we did a weekly “cooking class” where I can teach my arbitrary and random knowledge about cooking. So far we’ve done sweet and spicy chicken with broccoli and rice, shrimp and beef tacos with salsa (yes the shrimp and beef were separate toppings, there was some confusion about it in the planning), and tomato soup with spinach pesto. Not only was the food super delicious, but I really enjoyed cooking with someone and having a solid home-cooked meal every week.
If you are a student wishing to study abroad with DIS, I highly recommend that you take your time to explore Copenhagen and Denmark. The second half of the semester I definitely spend a bit more time traveling around Europe, but spending almost every weekend in Copenhagen has allowed me to get to know the city and build community. Just being there to be open to unforeseen experiences and local opportunities made me feel more part of the city. And although I hope this isn’t my last chance to live abroad, I’m glad I took this opportunity to feel at home in Copenhagen.