Into the Semester

Is this the end of touristing? I’m wrapping up my second week, but it was really a week of firsts: the first weekend under my belt, the full week of school, and the first week where I had real shampoo all seven days (finally!). Amidst the settling in and laying down a schedule, there was real time to see more here and move past the TripAdvisor list.

Last weekend, for instance, our kollegium held a welcome party and I got to make my first late night 7-Eleven run. On Sunday, I took the metro out two stops (another first) with some new friends and spent the day wandering through a truckload of visual art at the Statens Museum for Kunst, aka the National Gallery of Denmark. 

The Statens Museum for Kunst collection is sprawling and we got through as much as we could. We saw the contemporary Danish artists, the surrealists, the post-impressionists and expressionists, and Danish and Nordic artists from the 1700-1900s, just to name a few. I was struck by Danish artist Per Kirkeby, a geologist-turned-painter who does layering and visual explorations that mimic natural earth processes and movements of culture. Other Danish painters I wrote down in the notes section of my iPhone were Asger Jorn and Jens Søndergaard from the 1900s, and Julius Exner’s paintings of Danish life in the late 1800s. We left with the sky a true purple and walked through Torvehallerne, the glass market, on the way home, ogling at the teas, wines, pastries, candies, dried fruits, and tacos filling the stalls. I picked up two packets of shin ramen for 25 DKK. We all have our needs.

The week was a trial run for the semester’s schedule. I know now when to leave for my classes and how to get to them without a map. I am starting to get a sense, too, of when I’ll be getting home; which days I’ll have time to eat relaxed dinners or grab tea at the Paludan Bogcafe after class, and which ones I’ll want to hole in for a quick patched-together meal. I know when I have to do the biggest bulk of work (Mondays and Fridays), when I should ideally facetime people in the U.S. (Saturday or Sunday afternoon), and when I’ll do my laundry (Monday morning). 

The pearl of my week was Wednesday. DIS reserves Wednesdays for field study trips, where our classes venture out into Copenhagen to learn on site. I had my first field study with my core class, Polar Biology, at the Botanical Gardens. The lawns were a lovely, drenched green on a cold and wet day, and we saw Arctic plants that have adapted to extreme conditions, pulling their leaves in small and condensed around a single root. 

After the field study, I hopped on the 5C bus with a friend from my kollegium and we spent the afternoon in Nørrebro, a creative and cozy neighborhood about three miles from the city center. We detoured through a huge playground, went past countless cafes, beer bars, bike shops, graffitied walls, and browsed a clothing boutique that we couldn’t afford and a dollar store that we could. In a slight disturbance to the peace, we stumbled into a church that had a small youth group in session, and later rode on a small public zip-line. Towards the end of the day, we worked in a coffee shop, Original Coffee, until the true night fell and made the world only distinguishable by lamposts and blinking signs. Then it was back on the bus again, going over to the DIS activities fair to see options for student and community groups.

With the week past, I’m getting a bit of a cough and a sinking feeling in my head, and so I have grand plans for a slow weekend. In these first two weeks I’ve had an uncharacteristic drive to see it all, which has helped me acclimate to the culture and the city. It’s good to follow your excitement to capacity, and it’s good to take a Sunday off. In the same way, it’s good to eat a hearty salad for dinner and it’s also good, sometimes, to eat an entire Ritter Sport chocolate bar in one meal. (They were 14 DKK; it was out of my hands). Balance is a good idea. This is how it always is, at the fullest age of your life. The week, in summary, was chock-full and wonderful.

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