Last post before my short study tour! It’s hard to believe this semester is going by so quickly. In just three more weeks we will be headed off on our long tour to Milan. It’s very exciting but at the same time I’m starting to worry that I won’t get to see and do everything on my (yet-to-be-made) list. Everyone is already finalizing plans for our two week travel break at the end of October, and the rest of the semester is already coming into focus. Not to mention Carleton New Student Week is happening across the Atlantic. Before I get too far ahead of myself, though, I should fill you in on the happenings of this week so far.
Monday was a relaxed but long day since my first class wasn’t until 11:40 but I had Applied Psych in the evening until 7pm. Normally on my late mornings Charlotte and I have a nice breakfast together, but she was at work so I had a quiet morning with my cornflakes. My first class was Danish, which is beginning to get a little more challenging. The first few classes we were just going over basic phrases like “What is your name?” and “Where do you live?” but now we are getting into grammar and more complex vocabulary, and it’s a bit intimidating. Being the easily excitable nerd that I am, I practiced some Danish last spring, so I was familiar with basic questions as well as numbers up to 20, so I didn’t have to practice those things very much. Now that we’re moving beyond those early bits, though, I’m realizing that I will actually have to practice and study if I’m going to do this whole “learning Danish” thing. Apparently I’m not doing too badly, though, because we had a numbers competition, testing our knowledge of numbers 0-100, and I was one of the four winners. Unfortunately our prize was licorice candy, which seems to be an acquired taste, because I couldn’t handle it, and neither could most of my class, but the Danes love it.
After class I went to the library to find a movie I was supposed to watch for my Adolescence in Northern Europe class. The DIS library is pretty small (about the size of my elementary school library, plus some computers and a lounge study area) but it does have some great film rooms. To get a film, you just have to give someone in the office your student ID card, then you can go through a door and across a hall to the film rooms. There are two–one that’s bigger, and more like a small theater, and a small one with just a couch, some chairs, and a big flat screen TV. I chose the smaller one since I was by myself, popped in the movie, and curled up on the couch to watch it. Overall a very pleasant viewing experience. The movie was called Råzone, and it’s about some Danish teenagers who get out of control and things turn out badly. It was pretty much like American films of the same genre, but luckily not as intense as I expected from the warning our teacher gave us beforehand. It was a nice way to spend a Monday afternoon, and I sort of wished I’d had popcorn to munch on. That evening, Applied Psych class was actually pretty fun. Our teacher is pretty eccentric, and she gets really into what she’s saying, which is good for a class so late in the day. We were discussing narrative therapy, and we even got to try it out by doing roleplays in groups, with one client, one therapist, and one observer. I was the client, the one thing I didn’t want to be, but it was actually pretty relaxing just telling someone about my life and having them listen to me. Between that class and my positive psych class, I’m getting pretty used to this feelings-validation thing.
When I got home, my host parents had leftovers from dinner waiting for me. Charlotte described it pretty accurately as “Asian food made Danish” since there was meatballs with curry and rice. Curry = Asian. Meatballs = very Danish, not Asian. Despite its incongruousness, it was actually quite yummy, and it felt very hyggeligt to be sitting on the couch with my family while they watched the Danish version of Survivor and I ate my dinner. I definitely do not regret doing the host family option. The more I hear about other living situations, I am so glad I get to come home to a cozy family waiting to hear about my day over dinner.
Tuesday was pretty bland, just classes as usual. Every early class day I am struggling more and more to pull myself out of bed. As glad as I am to have a routine and feel comfortable in my environment, I kind of miss the days when jetlag, excitement, and nervousness made lack of sleep a secondary concern. I’m getting really good at sleeping on my morning train, and sometimes on the afternoon one too. Those naps help a little bit, but I should probably just start going to bed earlier…
Tuesday night I also went to a BLUS (basically an LGBTQ student organization in Copenhagen) event that I’d been invited to by Adda and Anthony from my buddy network. Originally Jenn was supposed to come with me, but about five minutes after my train left Hillerød I got a call from her saying she wasn’t going to make it. She’d realized she forgot her transportation pass and had luckily gotten off the train before it became a problem. You can get on the train without a ticket but if you get caught when they do their occasional inspections you have to pay a large fine. So basically she was stuck somewhere between her house and Copenhagen, and she’d bought a ticket back home but she lives beyond the S-tog area so she has to take the regional trains, which come much less often. Anyway, I was left to ride my train with the prospect of going to an event alone where there would be more Danes than DIS students. Obviously, it turned out fine and I ran into some other DIS people there and it was pretty fun. BLUS has a bunch of events planned for the semester, mostly on Tuesdays, that I may go to although probably not too many because I don’t like missing dinner at home. It was a fun way to hang out with a mixed group of people, however, and I ended up riding part of the train home with a Spanish guy we met who was pretty nice.
This morning I had my second field study, this time for my Positive Psych class. We met at DIS in the morning then walked to Parliament, at Christiansborg Palace (yes,the Danish Parliament is in a castle) where we met with Peter Juels Jensen, the education spokesman for the Liberal Party. I was expecting it to be a somewhat formal and serious event, but he was actually pretty funny and had some very interesting things to say about Danish happiness, the education system, and other political issues. We also got a great tour of Parliament, including some fancy meeting rooms, Peter’s office, and of course the room where all the action happens. Other than the fact that it was a castle, it seemed a lot like our American government buildings, except with much older decorations, more eccentric paintings, and a lot less security.
On the way back to the train station, I was absolutely starving, so I stopped for my first Danish hot dog, or pølser. There are stands all over Copenhagen, and they come in several different varieties, so I just went for the most basic since it was my first time. This one didn’t come with a bun, but it was a long (bright) red sausage with delicious mustard and ketchup on the side. The stands had been tempting me for a while, so I was excited to have an excuse to finally try one. Just as I suspected, it was super yummy, and now I’m really excited to try some different varieties with more toppings. I’d been planning to walk with it to the train station, but as soon as I got my food it started pouring out of nowhere. So I ended up eating my fast food like the Danes do, standing by the cart under the overhang to avoid getting soaked.
After my snack I had to hurry to the train station because today I had to register with my local kommune (municipality) to get my Danish CPR card so I can live here non-illegally and get benefits like free Danish healthcare. Charlotte was nice enough to pick me up from the train station and take me to the kommune because it’s way out on one side of town, and somewhat difficult to get to if you don’t have a car and don’t know the way (i.e. if you’re me). Registration was actually very easy, and quite different from my experiences at American DMVs. We had to take a number, but there were very few people there, so we only waited about a minute. At the desk next to us, a little girl was getting her first passport which was super adorable because you could see how excited she was to sign her own name for her own official passport. On the way home, we also stopped at Føtex, which is a bit like Fred Meyer or Target, only Danish so much much smaller. It’s fun for me to go to Danish grocery stores, especially because I’m not buying my own food or anything. I am always immediately tempted by all the candies and chocolates because for some reason foreign candy always seems that much more delicious. Plus kinder chocolate is just great. Luckily the high prices always keep me from even touching any of it. I think I’ll be in trouble as soon as I visit a country with even slightly cheaper prices.
Tonight I was able to hang out with my host family a little more since I don’t have any homework due until next week after my study tour. Charlotte and I might make cupcakes together sometime, because she has a cupcake cookbook but Danes don’t really have cupcakes, only muffins. As someone who loves cupcakes (pretty obvious given my recent blog theme change) I’m very excited to make them from scratch. Maybe I’ll even show them cupcake cones, though that might be too much to handle. At dinner we discussed Christmas traditions, which is getting me really excited for Christmas even though it is still a few months away. Since they don’t have Thanksgiving in Denmark, Christmas spirit starts in full swing in November, so it won’t be too long. I told them about eggnog, and I think the girls thought it was a pretty strange idea, but maybe I’ll make some for them this winter. After dinner, Cille, Nanna, and I took Maggie for her walk, which was really nice because we never really get a chance to chat just the three of us. Then we all played a family game, Ludo (kind of like Sorry or Trouble), and had some delicious apple streusel muffins Charlotte made. The game was very competitive, but it went on for a long while, so eventually we called it quits, and we each claimed to be the winner. It was one of the most hyggeligt nights I’ve had so far and it was a great last night before my first overnight trip.
[Pictures of above events coming soon!]
(About the title of this post: during the game Cille was swearing a lot and getting very angry when she would lose, and her parents were not too happy about it, so they asked me about nice ways to swear in English. I mentioned “gosh darn,” “fudge,” and “fiddlesticks,” which got transformed to “fish and chips” as they were all trying to pronounce it. One of those had to be there moments, but it was pretty hilarious.)