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:

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