Week One: (Near)Death By Bike

You’ll never believe where I am!

Just kidding, but it still feels surreal to think I’m writing this while in Copenhagen. It’s been one heck of a week so far, and it’s only Monday. I’ve officially been in Denmark for three whole days, which doesn’t seem like much time in the grand scheme of things, but have been packed full of events. Add to it the stress of adjusting to a new country, meeting hundreds of new people, and settling into a new routine and I am exhausted.

see ya later, USA!

I arrived a day early and had a night to catch up on sleep, so luckily I was ahead of the curve on jet-lag (for any future DIS students reading, if you have the time and money I highly recommend doing this). I arrived on Friday and spent the night at the Clarion Hotel, which is connected to the airport and also the meeting point on the day of arrival. I got to spend the afternoon after my flight relaxing (aka binge watching Friends) and fell asleep at 6:30 PM (or 18:30, as my new Danish neighbors would say) ensuring that I was super well-rested when I had to wake up the next morning and meet everyone downstairs. Another pro: I also got a shower in after a 10 hour plane journey, which I’m sure those around me appreciated.

my cozy little corner in the quad (i decked it out with an extra pillow, blanket and a rug because I have no chill)

After checking out of the hotel and in to DIS, I was bussed from the hotel to my new housing, which is absolutely amazing. DIS has housing locations all across Copenhagen, and I got super lucky and ended up right downtown in city centre. My building has four floors with 7-13 people on each; I personally live on floor 3, which in America is actually floor 4, since here the ground floor is considered floor 0. I have three roommates and six floormates, and we all share a kitchen, living room, and two bathrooms.

the view out of my bedroom window

Living in a quad has been a bit overwhelming: not only does our room get bright at 6 AM, but squishing four girls into one space can obviously be a bit of an adjustment for everyone. My roommates are wonderful and we all get along great, but it’s definitely a different lifestyle than I’m used to with my private bedroom and bathroom back home. Still, it’s so nice to be able to wake up to the sounds of church bells at 9 AM and walk out my door straight into the middle of city centre. My classes are just down the street, and there are tons of adorable coffee shops and cafes along the way so I’m sure to scope out some great study spots throughout my semester!

one of my roommates, Lizzy

Classes officially start on Thursday, and I’m so so excited to get started. DIS is really experience-based and puts a lot of emphasis on hands-on learning instead of the traditional lecture style class. Every Wednesday, we don’t have any classes but instead go on field studies, which are basically field trips around the city. We get to visit museums, hear from locals or guest lecturers, use different public transportation systems and generally get out and about to learn in the community instead of sitting at a desk all day. Next week, I have my first field study for my Designing Communications Campaigns class, and I can’t wait to see where we will venture to.

my floormate, Grace

In other news, I’ve rented a bike for the semester (this show of athleticism is shocking, I know). While biking is not a big event in the states, in Denmark it’s a big freaking deal. Copenhagen is THE biking capital of the world, with more people cycling during their daily commute than driving. I was “lucky” enough to experience my first bike ride during the middle of morning rush hour, and let me tell you, I’m surprised nobody lost any limbs. There’s established bike lanes and literal bike stoplights that control the traffic, which to me is wild. I mean, in Chicago we have maybe a dozen bike routes, but nothing so extensive as this. On the plus side, I’m finally getting the hang of the hand signals and the dreaded left turn. My bike also came with a basket, so I can throw my purse, water bottle, jacket, etc. in there for easy travel. After being here for only three days, I can definitely see the hype over biking: not only is efficient, but so much fun! Here’s to hoping I’ll be a pro by the time this semester is over.

waiting in the bike lane at a red light to cross the intersection by king’s garden
the bike line for crossing an intersection – everyone lines up like cars!

Other than the terrifying bikers who make me fear for my life, everyone I’ve encountered has been so kind and welcoming! All of the Danes I’ve interacted with speak English, and while I can imagine they might be a bit overwhelmed with the amount of tourists, they’re nothing but friendly and incredibly helpful. Tomorrow, I’m planning to get my first Danish pastry (called an onsdagssnegl, or “Wednesday Snail”), from a very well-known Danish bakery called Sankt Peders Bageri. This has been a goal of mine since I was first accepted to DIS – my sweet tooth doesn’t mess around. 😉

thankfully, I’ve been blessed with good weather

I won’t lie and say my first few days have been some magical and seamless transition – I’ve been nervous, stressed, exhausted, and terrified all within the quick span of three days. I’m a bit homesick and miss the normality of sitting on the couch and talking with my family, or watching my two puppies annoy the heck out of each other. I’m coping with this by reaching out to friends and family, and reminding myself to be thankful for the wonderful experiences I’ve already had here in Copenhagen. Just this morning, I was riding my bike across the Queen Louise Bridge and marveling at the fact that I have the opportunity to ride a bike with the Danes in such a gorgeous place and on such a beautifully sunny day (seriously, how many times do I get such an opportunity?!). I’m incredibly grateful for this once in a lifetime experience, and cannot wait to see what else this semester has in store.

For now, I look forward to a good night of sleep and a tasty Danish cinnamon roll in the morning – the perfect start to a new day.

Tak and vi ses!


2 thoughts on “Week One: (Near)Death By Bike

  1. Love your pictures Erin, and your “slice of life commentary”. How exciting to be there experiencing it all! Can’t wait to keep reading your posts. I’m traveling vicariously through you!


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