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The ABC’s of Copenhagen: getting (A)round, (B)irthdays and (C)lass

It has been a little over a week since I last blogged, so I will just mention some of the highlights thus far: 

1.  Getting (A)round: One of the biggest differences between Copenhagen and what I am used to is the transportation. At first, riding my bike AND taking the train to school everyday was a bit strange, but by now I am used to planning around the train schedule. During the week the train runs about every 10 minutes from the station here in Greve which is really nice. Wednesdays are reserved for field studies, so we don’t have class, but this Wednesday I did not have a field study, so me and my friends decided to do a canal tour. The canal tours are a great way to see the sites of Copenhagen in a short amount of time. My favorite site was the Little Mermaid, but I’m definitely going back another time to take a picture with her. 

2. (B)irthdays: Last Saturday I was invited to my friend’s host sister, Louise’s, 18th birthday party. For the Danes, 18 is comparable to our 21st birthday; they are able to get their license, order drinks at a bar, vote, etc. Louise’s birthday was actually over the summer, but she decided to wait until all her friends were home to celebrate. My friend Marie and I showed up at Hattie’s house not really knowing what to expect. There were Danish flags decorating the outside of the house and around back there was a big white tent set up. Inside the tent were long tables with candles and other decoration, a dance floor, and a DJ. This was quite the experience, and a really fun night overall!

 3. (C)lass: Today marks the end of my first FULL week of class! The classes I’m taking are: Cross-Cultural Communications, Sociology of the Family, Danish Language & Culture, and Nordic Mythology. They are all pretty interesting, and I can’t wait to travel to Malmö and Ireland with my communications class! The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I am horrible at Danish. This is the third language I’ve had to learn (Spanish and then Chinese), and it is by far the hardest in terms of speaking. The Danes have three letters extra of the alphabet (æ,ø,å) that I cannot get the hang of – hopefully by the end I will be a bit better. 


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Cafe Night, GoalBall, & Polar Bears

After biking in the pouring down rain Tuesday morning and attending my 8:30 am class, it was about time for some coffee, coziness, and Mary Catherine (an angel from Elon that I'm so thankful to have with me here in Denmark!).
While sipping an amazing cappuccino at Cafe Paludan, we talked about our time in Copenhagen so far and how we are adjusting to the culture, living in a foreign country, and living in homestays. It's always good to have someone to talk through life with, especially through such an adjustment period. Though we both are missing Elon, we have decided together to make every day count in this amazing place and to encourage each other to embrace every experience that comes our way.  
That night was Cafe Night with my Danish Language & Culture class! Our professor, Tina Nielsen, had us meet at an awesome cafe called Cafe Luna, and we all sat around a table together while we talked about Danish culture. We discussed the differences between America and Denmark having to do with homelessness, gun control, crime, taxes, and much more. For those of you interested in taking Danish Language & Culture at DIS, take it with TIna! Her energy and excitement to teach and discuss Danish culture is contagious. 

Tina then walked us around the harbor as she pointed out some of her favorite places to visit. We walked down the water looking at all of the house boats, a community athletic field, and then we arrive at Copenhagen Street Food, an incredible warehouse of food trucks from dinner to cocktails to coffee! Tina treated us all to a coffee (I told you she was the best!), and we sat outside by the water with blankets. It was the perfect end to our cafe night.    

Wednesday I had my first field study with my Strategic Communications course, and what an experience that was! We all met at the institute for the blind and played Goalball together, a sport that's similar to soccer meant for the blind. 

We were all given eye masks and taught how to block the ball and shoot it down the court. Please imagine me blindfolded trying to roll a ball into a goal…

The ball had a bell inside of it, so this was how we could tell if the ball was coming for us. I tended to just curl up and cover my head when I heard the ringing of the bell get louder and louder as it bounded towards me, but I somewhat improved throughout the morning! 

Our class learned that communication is key when attempting to strategically reach a goal. Through talking to one another and listening for the bell inside of the ball, we eventually got the hang of it. 
After Goalball I met up with Mary Catherine and our new friend Piper at the Copenhagen Zoo! I had studied this zoo in my wildlife conservation class this past winter term. We learned about the scandal with euthanizing the giraffes that didn't contribute to genetic variation, so it was cool to be there and see the giraffes I studied! We saw EVERYTHING from tigers to polar bears to kangaroos. We had a blast!
After the zoo Mary Catherine, Kyle and I went to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art! It was amazing. When I get my hands on some pictures from the day, I'll fill y'all in! So, from Goalball to the zoo to the museum, Wednesday definitely opened my eyes to more of Copenhagen. 
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Bikes & Rainbows

After class on Friday I met up with Kyle to go to recommended restaurant called Mother. Though we were met with about an hour wait, we made the most of our time and explored the meatpacking district. The art on the side of the buildings was incredible, and even more so was one of the brightest rainbows I’ve ever seen. We were both in awe. 
Photo by Kyle Vines:
Mother was just as good as we had been told! Though some might say it’s a little non-cultural to eat at a pizza place for your first Danish restaurant, you would change your mind if you went here! It was amazing.

Oh, and tipping is not a think here. Yep, you read that right! Waiters get paid a decent wage, and the tip is technically included in the price of the food. My Danish teacher told us that especially as students, we are not expected to tip. This is a little perk of the culture here compared to the states!

On Saturday I spent the day cleaning and fixing one of the Rosendal’s neighbor’s bikes that they were so kind to let me borrow for the semester. Per and Katja taught me how to clean the chain and how to find punctures in the tires by removing the tubes, holding them in a bucket of water, and searching for air bubbles that show evidence of a hole. I had never repaired a bike before, so I’m so thankful for my great teachers.
Though I was a bit fearful to hop on in their gravel driveway, I went for it, and the bike was perfect.

Together, we all biked over to the Rosendal’s family’s home to attend their “cousin party” (family reunion). Little did I know we were going to bike through the forest! Before I knew it I was on the gravel path in the woods, going up and down hills and over little bridges. This sure snapped my biker legs back into shape!

The family party was spectacular. We played soccer in the yard together and swung on their swing set, talked about some of the differences between American and Danish culture, and then enjoyed one of the best meals ever. The entire family gathered around a huge bonfire with a metal slatted plate on top to grill different kinds of meat over the flames, and dishes upon dishes of homemade sides were laid in the kitchen to choose from. Katja made me homemade veggie burgers from rice and beets from the garden, and she also made the buns! YUM. She is the sweetest chef and I’m so thankful I have her to show me some awesome vegetarian recipes.

We sat around the dinner table for hours and hours with blankets and fires to keep us warm. This is one of my favorite aspects of Danish culture, how people simply sit and enjoy one another’s company around a long meal.

Soon it was after midnight and it was time to go home…on our bikes…through the forest…in the dark.

In short, I was petrified. For those of you that know me, it’s a known fact that I’m not the most coordinated individual and steer towards caution rather than risk! Well, out the window with that! I stuck close behind Per and made it out alive. I’m so thankful for their guidance and encouragement, and I had some serious bonding time with my two-wheeled new best friend.

On Sunday we had the network event where DIS students and host families in the area met up for an afternoon of fun. Each family brought a dish and a big lunch was enjoyed by all. Katja made a beautiful platter of shrimp, cucumbers and tomatoes.

We then divided up into teams and completed a series of six challenges, and after each challenge completed, we were given an ingredient to make a traditional Danish layer cake. We all laughed and laughed as we completed the tasks, and then created a yummy layer cake. 
Sunday night I went to Hillsong for church. It. Was. Incredible. My favorite familiar worship songs were sung, and the atmosphere made me feel so welcomed and loved. The people were so inviting, and I’m thrilled to attend the service weekly with some of my DIS friends. I can't believe I've already found a church that will make it thrilling to stay in touch, as well as strengthen, my faith while I'm abroad. What a blessing. 
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Professors and Pop-Tarts

Wednesday was full of excitement: a session on living in a homestay, a class on Copenhagen fashion, intro to my Communications core course, and the activities fair!

The homestay session was awesome to meet everyone living with families in my "network" (area of town). We're all excited to see each other on Sunday for our network meet-up where we will meet each other's families and enjoy some traditional Danish food! I can't wait to meet some more Danish families and get a glimpse into others' homestay experiences.

The Copenhagen fashion course was awesome. The speaker was a Danish fashion designer and he had us all laughing out loud when he described the typical Danish woman's fashion choice: black, HUGE scarf, black, hair in a messy bun on top of your head, and more black. 

The dark clothing isn't just a stereotype. I've definitely observed the sea of black, grey, navy, and dark brown walking/biking the streets of Copenhagen. Let's just say I might stand out a little bit when I wear my bright orange sweater I brought…the Danes might mistake me for a traffic cone!

I am looking forward to my core course, Strategic Communications, especially after meeting the faculty. Their professional backgrounds, passion for teaching, and amazing study tour plans had me wanting to start the class that second. 

In between my sessions and the activities fair, some friends and I hopped over to a bakery around the corner where I had my first Danish pastry, called a Hindbær Snitter (or a gourmet Pop Tart!). It was just too good…
The activities fair was a blast as well- and slightly a flash back to the freshman orientation organization fair back at Elon. I was so excited to see Hillsong there! Hillsong is a church that has locations all over the world. I've always been a huge fan of Hillsong United's music, and it gives me so much peace to know that I have a familiar church service all the way over here in Copenhagen. I signed up for a "connect group" that will put me with a small group of Danes to have a weekly get-together. I am ecstatic for this. 

Today was the first day of classes! First, here are the classes I'm taking:
  • Strategic Communications
  • Danish Language and Culture
  • Danish Design
  • Sociology of the Family

All of my professors are amazing and beyond passionate about their subjects. 

Before our communications class, Kyle and I went to an awesome little coffee shop called Cafe Retro. It's a nonprofit coffee shop with volunteers at the baristas, and the surplus earned goes to aid India and Sierra Leone. They were the kindest volunteers, and my latte was perfect.
In my communications course we did an exercise in groups to see who could build the tallest structure out of marshmallows and spaghetti. What?! So fun. The activity showed how a strategic plan (good or bad) can benefit, or sometimes harm, a final plan. So in our group's case…the plan went a little downhill…too much planning and not enough action! 
It's almost time for my first full weekend in Copenhagen. I can't wait for my host family's family party, my homestay network's get-together, to attend Hillsong on Sunday, and to experience whatever else this amazing city brings me!
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The Amazing Race- Copenhagen Edition!

On my walk to the bus stop yesterday morning, I was reminded again of how wonderful my homestay is. As I passed my “front yard,” I couldn’t help stopping and just gazing out for a minute before I started my day. 
Transportation to school: success!

I started the morning off by touring the DIS facilities. Thank goodness for this, because the different entrances, stairwells, and floors (that start with 0…not 1) would have definitely gotten me lost on my first day of class.

Next was The Amazing Race- Copenhagen edition. I was put into a group with 5 awesome girls, and we set out to tour Copenhagen while we captured our stops in photos. At each stop, a DIS faculty member greeted us and told us the history of the location. 

First, we went to the Church of Our Lade. I’ve always loved touring churches, and this one particular stands out. We learned about Christian Frederik Hansen’s, the architect’s, neoclassical style.
We made a sweets pit stop on our way to our next destination at Studenterhuset, the coffee shop and meeting area for schools in the Copenhagen area. We were given free coffee and flødeboller, a Danish specialty treat that’s typically served for birthdays. It was delicious!
After being fueled with some sugar, we walked across the street to the Round Tower. Inside the church was absolutely beautiful. The gold adornments and brightly lit sanctuary amazed me. Our group plans to visit the Round Tower again soon and actually walk to the top of the tower, which has no stairs. It has a spiraled ramp that leads to the top of the tower, which was originally built as an observatory. 
Next, we went to the Christiansborg Palace, which is where the parliament is located. The building was amazing. All of a sudden our tour guide interrupted us and informed us that the previous prime minister of Denmark was headed our way. Casual. This would be like George Bush casually walking past you with no crowd, bodyguards, or other attention-drawing aspects. Oh hey, Prime Minister!

As an addition to this stop, we rode the elevators to the top for the amazing view of Copenhagen. And then it was POURING. By the time we entered the building to the time we reached the top, the sky went from bright and sunny to dark and stormy. Thank you, Copenhagen weather, for showing us your bipolar self so early in our time.  
With our umbrellas turning inside out like foolish tourists, we walked to Nyhavn on the way to our last stop. Yes, THIS is the “headshot” of Copenhagen you all have seen! I’m not going to try to pretend we weren’t the ecstatic tourists snapping photos like crazy of the shining water and colorful buildings…we just had to. 
Transportation home: fail.

Got on the wrong bus. Woo hoo. I could have SWORN that I saw bus 385 pull up to the stop…

We started towards my house and then, we took a left. And it was all downhill from there.

Panicked, I quickly befriended the Dane next to me and asked her where in the world this bus was going. She was beyond kind, and I told her the bus and stop I intended to go to. She had me get off at her stop with her, pulled up directions on her phone, and pointed me to the bus stop across the street where I needed to go. What a blessing!

So as I’m about to cross the street to the stop on the side of the road that I needed to be on, the traffic picked up and I couldn’t cross. Wonderful! Here comes the bus and I’m stuck on the other side. It stopped. Let someone off. And continued on its merry way.

Panic again. My new map-bearing Danish friend was gone and it looked like my bus would be too.

JUST in time, the traffic light turned red and the bus stopped at the intersection. I crossed the street and waved frantically at the driver. He chuckled and opened the door for me. Whew. It was a close one. This bus took me back to the train station, and I triple checked that I got on bus 385 this time.

Dinner was amazing. Again. I don’t think I’ll ever get a break from saying that! We had fish that Per caught in the sea called ­­­mackerel. It was some of the best fish that I’ve ever had. We then had roasted potatoes seasoned with paprika, garlic green beans, seasoned beets, and a colorful salad with tomatoes, basil, cucumber, blueberries and cheese. Every vegetable on the table came from the garden in the backyard. Oh. My. Goodness. You hungry yet?

The countdown to classes is almost to an end! I can't believe it hasn't even been a week since I've been here- it feels like it's been much longer. I get the feeling that Copenhagen and I are off to a good start and have paved the way for an incredible semester. 
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The Amazing Race

Yesterday (Tuesday), DIS organized an “Amazing Race” to help us get to know the city. We were in groups of six and traveled around to 4 of 9 sites. It wasn’t really a race, but I think there is a prize if you submit a picture of/write about something you saw while you were out. We left from a courtyard at St. Kannikestræde 11, and headed over to Christiansbord Palace which is where the Danish Parliament is located. Next we headed over to Amalienborg, the home of the royal family. The first thing the DIS representative asked us was if this is what we expected a royal palace would look like. Our answer? No. It didn’t look anything like the towering castle surrounded by tall gates that we had all expected. It is an open area surrounded by four buildings which are each a home for members of the royal family. On one end is the church, and the other is open facing the harbour. Our next stop was Nyhavn which literally can be translated to New Harbour. The prefix Ny means “new,” so when anything has that in it, you can assume it is old. And when anything has the prefix for old, you assume that it is really really old (medieval times). Nyhavn is one of my favorite places so far, it is so colorful and surrounded by tons of people at all times. From there we were able to hop on the harbour bus and head to our final stop: the Black Diamond aka the royal library. The royal library is old, but has a newer addition added on to it. This addition is called the Black Diamond because it is all black and reflects the light. After we reached our final point, we headed back for DIS. One thing I have learned here is that you really do always need an umbrella. We were about halfway back when we got caught in a downpour, so we proceeded to hop from doorway to doorway in an attempt to stay dry. After about 10 minutes of rain, the sun came out and we were able to make it back.

Once the race was complete we had a few hours of free time to just explore, so I met up with some friends from Elon and we roamed the streets of the city. Eventually we had to meet back to board the bus that would take us to register for our residence permits. By the time we were finished with that, we had to take the metro back into the city and then switch onto the train to make it home. There were four of us who all had to take the same train, so we sat together until our individual stops. This was also the first day I had to ride my bike home alone, so I was glad I made it there without any trouble (thankfully it’s only a few turns).

Today (Wednesday) is our last day of orientation, which means classes start tomorrow! It has definitely been a busy few days, so I’m glad we will finally be settling into a regular routine.

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Day 1 at DIS- Success! 

So this morning was perfect…I sipped coffee and had some yogurt, granola and blueberries as I sat at the Rosendal's beautiful table while the morning light reminded me that I was in one of the most amazing homes I could have ever asked for. 

Silja and Nuka got ready for school, and Nuka and I packed lunches together. We made avocado and pesto sandwiches, and then packed an apple and a Danish granola bar (I think…it was chocolate and coconut…so good). Per was too kind to take me to my meeting spot and show me the ropes of the train. 

BIG News: I survived my first round of transportation to Copenhagen!! Yes, I did have Per with me on the way there, but his wonderful teaching had me going home without any problems! I'm not about to start getting cocky though…let's hope I keep waking up to my alarms and don't miss the bus any time soon!

The train was so nice. If you've been on the subway in NYC, think the same idea of transportation, except the opposite of all adjectives you would use to describe it. So, the train is easy to map, quiet, clean, and filled with happy Danes on their way to work. SO much better than my subway experiences this summer in New York. 

The Opening Ceremony at DIS was wonderful. A Danish electronic musician, Mike Sheridan, performed for us, and it was incredible. This was a great introduction to a part of the unique culture that Denmark holds for all of us students to explore. The speakers, including the director of the program, inspired and encouraged us to create our own Copenhagen experiences. We have so many opportunities to embrace the culture and to truly get to know the Danes and their way of life…but there's also the possibility that we could let these opportunities slip away, to hang out with only our American friends, and to set ourselves apart by not taking a chance by stepping into this unique culture. I've made up my mind which road I will take, but I know that as I spend my time here, I will constantly have to reflect and keep pushing myself to make this experience one of my own- culturally extraordinary. 

I got a little glimpse of home today as I met up with one of my best friends from Elon who's also doing DIS, the one and only Jess Bast! We shared in our excitement and explored the streets with the best tour guide we could ever ask for- Kathryn Weitzner, another Elon student who did the program last year. She was back visiting and got to show us her favorite spots around DIS. Jess and I now know where to find giant cinnamon rolls, called "snails," at a bakery close to the DIS buildings. YUM. 
Jess and I got our books and met some awesome DIS students in line. I'm excited for classes to start so I can get to know some more students and see them often! Jess and I parted ways, and I made the train ride back with a DIS student from UNC who happens to live in my same area of town- such a perfect meet up!

Tonight Katja's good friends came over to sew together and have tea and cake. They are all so kind, and one of them also has a DIS student with her this semester, and this is who I rode the train with this morning with Per. 

Silja, Per and I then put on a movie: Midnight in Paris. I can't believe I had never seen this before! I tried to pay attention to the Danish subtitles to pick up on some vocabulary. It was wonderful, and we all were laughing and enjoyed it a relaxing end to the day. 

Tomorrow at DIS holds the "Amazing Race"- a scavenger hunt around Copenhagen. More to come…and prayers I make my bus in the morning! 
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Arrival to Copenhagen!

Friday morning I woke up eagerly to my alarm at 3:30 am to leave for the airport to start my travels to Copenhagen! I hugged my mom, sister, and friend Cate (who were all unbelievably kind to come with me that early in the morning!) and was on my way. 
During my 8 hour layover in Newark where I became BFFs with terminal B, it was wonderful to slowly have other Elon and DIS students meet me at my gate to share in our excitement. The time slipped by fast, and I was soon on my flight to my new home for the semester.

Thankfully I got lots of sleep on the plane to be as rested as I could for my morning arrival. I met up with the other DIS students when we landed, attended our orientation, and waited with expectantly for my family to arrive. 

I heard my name called and was filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness, but the nerves soon slipped away when I was greeted by my incredible host family, the Rosendals: Katja and Per, my host parents, and Silja and Nuka, my host sisters. 

Their warm welcome made me so thankful to have them as my family for the semester. We quickly became friends as we drove to their beautiful home in Birkerød

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw their charming house. The inside of their home looks like you picked it out of a furniture magazine. The windows light the house with the natural sunshine, and the mixture of antique and modern decorations make for the most inviting and warm interior. We sat down for coffee and enjoyed getting to know one another, and they toured me around the house and the gardens. The gardens are incredible, and we picked some of their grapes from the vine on the way out. Pictures of this to come when the rain gives us a break (but that might be while!).
I was then shown my PERFECT room. My room is the coziest nest that I could have ever asked for! Katja made my bed with soft pillows and a warm duvet. I unpacked and then joined my family around the table for a traditional Danish lunch. We had bread with an array of food to choose from to top it with: salmon, herring, avocado, capers, butter, cheese, and more. I then got some much needed rest after being exhausted from traveling! After I nice nap, I cuddled up with some tea with Katja and Silja. 
Katja and Per went to a birthday party that night, so Oskar (my host brother), Silja, Nuka and I made dinner together. We had spinach lasagna and some tomato salad (tomatoes with mozzarella and basil), and it was all delicious. The time flew by as we had so much fun laughing around the table and getting to know one another more. 

Today we enjoyed a sleepy Sunday and woke up late to peaceful rain. Silja and I were up first, and we watched some Beverly Hills 90210 as we woke up. I thought it was hilarious that she enjoyed this show that I used to watch re-runs of at home! We then enjoyed a delicious brunch. The Rosendals gather eggs from their own chickens and they were the best scrambled eggs I've ever had! We also had grapes from their garden, as well as blueberries, watermelon, bread and cheese. 

Katja and Silja then showed me around town. We went to the station near their house and they showed me all of the steps to make my first Danish transportation experience a success. It was so kind of them to show me step-by-step! We even looked inside a parked bus to get a feel for how the bus system works. 

Next we went to the town center in Birkerød and went for a quick grocery run. It was so fun to see their favorite Danish snacks and some familiar ones as well! We then went to the town athletic center to watch Nuka play handball for a little while. She's amazing! I'm looking forward to going to see her play some more games.

When we got home we warmed up with some tea and Silja showed me how to use the Danish transportation app called Rejseplanen. WHAT A GIFT! It's like a GoogleMaps just for Denmark, aka my saving grace for the next few weeks as I learn the commute from home to DIS. 

We then had an amazing dinner- Chinese food! The Rosendals are incredible cooks- I mean they should open up their own restaurant. Everything was homemade and had me asking for seconds. We also had cokes! How fun for a little kick of good ole American soda.  

The Danish word for "favorite." I thought it was so funny how Coke is still doing their new branding cans over here in Denmark too!
After dinner we gathered around the computer and watched some quality 80s music videos, and then songs from Dirty Dancing and Greese. Ah, I wish I recorded us singing to these! We had a blast.

Nuka and I then played soccer in the yard with Milo (the doggie).  

Now, I'm off to sleep for my first day of orientation activities at DIS! I can't wait to start the week.  
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Newark to Denmark

Hello everyone!

I’ve decided to keep a blog, because it is much easier then constantly re-telling the same stories everyday. After a quick flight across the Atlantic I landed at Copenhagen Airport (which is actually located on the small island of Amager) at 7:15 am. In the airport I met up with a few other girls on my flight and we got our luggage and headed over to the Hilton Hotel where we were met by DIS representatives. After a brief orientation, we were given a bit of free time to sign up for phone plans and mingle before our host families arrived. At around 10:30 my name was called to let me know my host family had arrived! I was greeted by my mother (Kristine) and father (Lars), the kids (Patrick, Rebecca, and Patrick) had stayed at home. We loaded up my suitcases in the car and were off to the city of Greve (pronounce the v as a u).

On the way home we made a quick pit stop at a bakery to get bread for breakfast. I had heard all about Danish pastries and bread, so I was excited to get a taste first thing when I arrived. We finally got to the house which looked very different from the traditional colonial style houses of West Hartford. Instead of going in the front door we went around the back because their dog Simba is only one and sometimes pees in the house when he gets excited. This way they were able to let him run around outside when first greeting me. I was also able to meet big Patrick (16), Rebecca (12), and little Patrick (10). After introductions it was time for breakfast! We had the pastries and bread we had bought from the bakery with an assortment of spreads (butter, Nutella, jams, etc.) After breakfast I helped to cleanup before I began to unpack.

I was given a bit of downtime, at which point I took a nap because I only slept for an hour on the plane, before we headed back to the airport. For the first week we have a second student, Chad, living with us because his family is currently on vacation. We picked up Chad and then made a stop at the grocery store before returning home. For dinner that night we had pork with a dill sauce, and potato wedges and cooked mushrooms on the side. After dinner Chad and I learned to play a board game called Partners. It kind of reminded me a bit of the game Sorry! We played in teams, I played with Lars (Kristine for the second game) and Chad played with big Patrick. During the game they also set out a basket of Danish candies that were delicious!

Today (Saturday) we had breakfast and then took our bikes to the train station. Every morning we have a short bike ride to the station where we will then get on and travel to Copenhagen. We biked back home and then drove into the city where we saw where we would be getting off, we learned how to switch onto the metro, and where DIS is located. After we returned back to the house we had lunch with the whole family. For lunch Kristine made us an assortment of sandwiches: 1. salami, remoulade & fried onion 2. chicken, pesto & avocado, 3. liver pâté, mayo and pickled beets. I had never had half of these things before, but they turned out to be quite tasty! We are currently enjoying a bit of downtime where everyone is off doing there own thing.

I am not quite sure when I will get the chance to blog again, but hopefully by the end of the week! Classes don’t start until Thursday, so until then we have orientation to help get us comfortable with the city.


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Ten Reasons Why Italy Rocks – Buzzfeed Style

In honor of my aspiration to someday work for famed online news aggregator and blog, Buzzfeed, I’ve composed a brief BF-style blog post on why Italian gems Milan and Venice (Milano and Venezia) simply must be your next stop outside American soil…

1.) The architecture will not be outdone.


DSCF0406  DSCF0483

2.) The food…just..the food…

DSCF0412 <— panini spot in Milan recommended to us

DSCF0476 <— Holy canole!

DSCF2028 <— It would be sinful to visit Italy and leave without having tried their pizza.


3.) Where else will you get to partake in a gondola ride? Nowhere.

DSCF2029  DSCF2034 Ciao ciao!

4.) The language sounds like people talking in song. It’s a beautiful, melodic, musical sound, as the tone of Italian speakers fluctuates up and down so quickly they might as well be belting out an energetic tune.  Also, some will double up on their word for greeting people and saying goodbye (ciao ciao!) How freaking cute is that?

5.) The variety in terrain is remarkable. One minute you may be driving through the mountains, the next your in the city, and before you know it you end up in Venice, which is, well…unlike any other place you’ll ever see.


6.) The hostels, which vary from hotel-like tranquility to community-style energy and activity perfect for college students. Speaking of college students, your best bet is the Venice Fish. It’s located right on one of the rivers snaking through the city, their employees are incredibly friendly and helpful, and a cozy common room – overlooking the water and streets below – is complete with wi-fi, massive couches, and several guitars on the walls for residents to play as they please.

DSCF2067         DSCF2068

7.) How awesome it looks at sundown…


8.) …and at night.

DSCF2059 (without flash)

DSCF2060 (and with flash)

9.) Ice cream will simply never outdo gelato. It won’t.


10.) It seems that anywhere you visit the country, you’re bound to walk through splendid splashes of color.

DSCF2127 outdoor festival/shops sale near Duomo Square, Milan

DSCF2117 park in Milan

DSCF2078 restaurant in Venice

DSCF2025 restaurant in Venice

DSCF2023 building in Venice

One picture says a thousand words. Have I said enough?

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