Core Course Week

Hej everyone! It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, so I wanted to let you all know what I’ve been up to. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been accepted as an official DIS student blogger, crossed a few more sites in Copenhagen off my bucket list, joined the Copenhagen Business School choir, and visited two new countries. Needless to say, it’s been a busy time with plenty of new experiences! I’ve officially been in Copenhagen for one month, which is surreal–in some ways, it feels like I’ve been here for ages and in others, it feels like I just got here yesterday.

Last week was core course week at DIS, meaning all my classes except for my core course were cancelled. I’m in the Religious Mythos & Philosophical Logos core course, which has been really fun and interesting so far. Here’s a recap of how I spent my core course week:

Monday

We had a regular class session in which we discussed Hegel and Heidegger’s views on art. I hadn’t read much of either philosopher’s works prior to this class so it was interesting to explore their philosophies on the function of art. I can’t say I find either of their arguments particularly convincing, but the discussion was valuable nonetheless.

Tuesday

We met for coffee at a cozy café before visiting the Glyptotek, which is an art museum in Copenhagen. The vast majority of works in the museum are sculptures, and it was by far one of the most beautiful museums I’ve visited. Our professor, Jakob, showed us a few of his favorite works before giving us time to explore on our own. We were tasked with thinking about how the artworks we saw fit (or didn’t fit) in Hegel and/or Heidegger’s philosophical frameworks.

The winter garden inside the Glyptotek

Wednesday

Not much to report from this day–we had an exam in my core course, which wasn’t too bad, and had the rest of the day free. I went home to relax and pack for my study tour before heading to a choir rehearsal in the evening.

Thursday

We left early in the morning for our short study tour to Germany! Every core course goes on a 3-day study tour during core course week, and I was lucky enough to visit two cities in Northern Germany–Hamburg and Lübeck. After a 5-hour bus ride that included an hour on a ferry, we arrived in Lübeck, where we visited a church and museum. At both sites, we were again challenged to think about art within the context of Heidegger’s philosophy.

Afterward, we checked into our hotel, ate dinner, and explored the city a bit more before getting some well-deserved rest.

Friday

We woke up early for breakfast and boarded the bus again to drive to Hamburg. After dropping our bags off at the hotel in Hamburg, our professor, Brian, led us on a walking tour of public art throughout the city. Here are a few of the sites we visited:

After a tiring day of sightseeing, we had a fancy four-course dinner courtesy of DIS!

Saturday

We spent a couple of hours at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, an art museum in Hamburg. The museum was huge and had artworks ranging from medieval to contemporary.

After the museum, a few friends and I explored Hamburg a bit more. We stumbled upon another beautiful church and the state parliament building.

Courtyard of the parliament building

Finally, we had lunch at the (very fancy) restaurant inside the parliament building before heading back to Copenhagen.

Double rainbow appeared right before we left 🙂

Overall, it was a tiring but fun and exciting core course week! I can’t wait for my long study tour to Greece next month 🙂

Vi ses,

Dana

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Week 2: Host family, friends, and field studies

Hej!!

It’s my second week here in Copenhagen and my first full week of classes. I’ve been settling in and getting more comfortable with my surroundings–I’m finally able to walk from the train station to my classes without using Google Maps, which is definitely an accomplishment!

I thought I’d update all of you on three core aspects of my study abroad experience so far: my host family, new friends, and my classes.

Host Family

My host family has been a wonderful constant in my daily life here in Denmark. I will admit that I was initially hesitant about living in a homestay because of the commute, possible restraints on my independence, and the chance that my host family and I wouldn’t get along. I’m happy to say that these concerns have not been a problem! My host family has been nothing but warm and welcoming, I am treated like an adult, and the commute has actually been quite nice. I live a 3-5 minute walk from the train station and from there, it’s about a 30 minute train ride into the city. I use that time to relax, listen to music, and watch the transition from city to countryside from the window.

One thing I was worried about was being isolated from other DIS students. While living in a homestay does mean that you will not be eating and hanging out with your fellow DIS students as regularly as those living in kollegiums, residential communities, and LLCs will, it is a unique opportunity to experience Danish family life. On a typical weekday, I’ll come home from classes around 5, relax for a bit, help my host parents make dinner, eat and talk for an hour or so, and then watch TV together (anything ranging from Black Mirror to the handball world championship).

DIS also does a good job of connecting homestay students through homestay networks. My network had its “jumpstart event” this Saturday. Each family brought a homemade cake and we spent a couple hours talking and getting to know one another.

So much cake! The one with the Danish flags was a carrot cake made by my host mom.

Friends

There are at least 20 other students from Smith studying abroad in Copenhagen, but I’m not close with any of them. It seems like a lot of people here are studying abroad with friends from their home schools, but I think an important part of studying abroad is to leave your comfort zone and meet new people. My homestay network has been great–this weekend, we visited Christiania together. Christiania is an alternative community in Copenhagen that was founded in 1971 in an abandoned military area. The residents have their own community rules and are somewhat autonomous from the government. The community is open to visitors and was really cool to see.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but we found a mural outside that provided a great photo backdrop 🙂

Classes

I’m taking 5 classes here at DIS:

  • Religious Mythos & Philosophical Logos (my core course)
  • Kierkegaard’s Authorship (taught at the University of Copenhagen to a combination of American and Danish students)
  • Health Economics & Health Policy
  • Trade of People: Modern-Day Forced Labor
  • Danish Language & Culture

All of my classes have been really interesting so far! The academic setup here isn’t too different from what I’m used to back at Smith–the classes are relatively small and tend to be discussion-based. A great thing about DIS classes is that they all have a field study component! I had my first field study yesterday for my Health Economics class. We visited Danske Regioner (Danish Regions), which is the interest organization for the five regions in Denmark (similar to the states in the U.S.). We were treated to coffee & croissants and listened to presentations about healthcare lobbying and ongoing changes to the hospital system in Denmark. It was interesting to learn about the Danish healthcare system and some of the healthcare policy debates currently taking place in Denmark.

That’s all for now! I’ll leave you with this beautiful photo of Nyhavn at dusk:

Recap of the first 5 days

Hej!!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been in Copenhagen for 5 days! The past few days have been so busy that I feel like I’ve been here for weeks. Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past few days:

Saturday, January 12

I took a red eye flight from JFK to Copenhagen and landed at around 12:30 pm. After breezing through customs and baggage claim, I went across the street to a hotel where DIS staff greeted us and led us to a room where homestay & rented room students had a short orientation. Afterward, we all anxiously awaited the arrival of our host families. After waiting for about 30 minutes, one of the DIS staff members called my name and I went into the lobby area to meet my host family! The family consists of my host dad Morten, my host mom Mette, my 18-year old host brother Mads, and my 21-year old host brother Martin (who no longer lives at home). They are all very sweet and make me feel at home! Their house is in a small town called Nivå, about a 30-minute train ride north of central Copenhagen. I have my own room, and the house is very cozy, minimalist, and hyggeligt. 

My room
Dining area

Sunday, January 13

I had a much-needed opportunity to sleep in. After a refreshing 10 hours of sleep, my host family showed me how to take the train to Copenhagen and showed me around the city center. We got coffee at a market in the city center and found some of the DIS buildings before heading back home and relaxing for the rest of the day.

Monday, January 14

First day of orientation! I had to wake up early to make it to an 8 am opening ceremony, where we heard from the executive director of DIS, some former DIS students, and a Danish singer named Elisha. Afterward, some friends from my homestay network and I went to Studenterhuset, a student-run café for students attending school in Copenhagen, for a free chocolate croissant.

Free croissant!
Inside Studenterhuset

In the afternoon, I had a housing workshop with the other students in my homestay network. DIS does a great job of connecting homestay students living near each other by organizing an event at the beginning of the semester for us to get to know each other and providing funding for group activities.

Tuesday, January 15

More orientation! I went to the Danish Immigration Ministry to get my biometrics taken for my visa, hung out at a cozy café called The Living Room, and attended some orientation workshops in the afternoon.

Wednesday, January 16

I had my core course orientation in the morning. I’m in the Religious Mythos & Philosophical Logos core course, and we ended the class session by taking a walk through a nearby park, looking at statues of Greek gods, and eating croissants – I can’t complain 🙂 I spent the afternoon doing some solo exploring and stumbled upon some beautiful sights:

I’m posting this a day late so it’s actually Day 6 in Denmark! I had my first day of classes today and am feeling pretty good about the semester, albeit not quite ready to get back into school mode yet 🙂

Vi ses,

Dana

3 Weeks Until Departure

Hej everyone! My name is Dana and I’m a junior at Smith College in Northampton, MA. At Smith, I study philosophy and government, and I’ll be taking the Religious Mythos & Philosophical Logos core course at DIS this upcoming semester. I’m originally from Queens, NY (aka the best borough in NYC!) and therefore have strong feelings about public transportation and good Asian food.

My previous international experience has been quite limited. However, I had the incredible opportunity of participating in a month-long study abroad program in India last winter break. It was the experience of a lifetime and fueled my desire to spend a semester abroad!

View from a boat on the Ganges river in Varanasi, India

I just returned home today after one of my most stressful semesters so far and finally have time to think about what expectations I have of my semester in Copenhagen. It seems best not to go in with any expectations, however, as many of my most memorable experiences have been unplanned. Nevertheless, I hope to push myself out of my comfort zone, make new friends, spend time with my host family, and learn about Danish culture. I also want to avoid viewing Denmark as a utopia (as I’ve heard others call it). I admire Denmark for its free healthcare, education, etc., but realize that it is very ethnically homogenous and has recently come under scrutiny for some of its policies regarding immigrants.

Ultimately, my point is that I want to appreciate the many wonderful things Denmark has to offer without idealizing it to a fault. It’s hard to believe that just three weeks from today, I will be boarding a plane to spend the next four months in Copenhagen. I can’t wait!