Thursday, September 6, 2007

First Impressions-delayed

Important Note: My blog posts will not necessarily use correct grammar or sentence I am quite tired of perfecting documents. In fact, I will write these without even looking them don't judge and hopefully they will not be too confusing.

It has now been officially 11 days since I arrived in Copenhagen. Within these short 11 days my mind has experienced many different thoughts, feelings, and emotions. What I write now will probably change again within another week…because soon the vacation will be over and my desires to be back with my normal friends and surroundings will not be met.
When we went downtown for the first time, my first thoughts were that is was nothing spectacular. Yes, it looked different than any other city I had been in, but it still just looked like a city. Big buildings, lots of people walking around, trains, buses, restaurants. However, it was still exciting to explore a city that is foreign, and a part of European history. One main difference is that this city is full of bikers. I took a picture of hundreds of bikes together. If I were in Chicago there would be many cars driving here, and lots of traffic. Here there is no traffic, but walkers and bikers. It is cold also…but it seems the Danes are used to be cold. I walk around hugging myself from the wind, but they go about completely normal. Also, for the most part, besides immigrants, everyone has very light skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. They are definitely classier looking. No one wears sweats and hoodies. They dress very fashionably and black is very popular. Black tights under black skirts and black jackets with scarves is the norm. Whenever I wear my brown wardrobe downtown I stand out.
Restaurants are very diverse…Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Moroccan, Mexican, Greek. When I eat at just normal Danish places, the common food is some kind of sandwich. I have eaten many different kinds of sandwiches, including the traditional smorrbrod (open-faced sandwich on rye with a sauce) around 25krones to 50krones ($5-10). I used to think Starbucks was expensive; a coffee around two dollars, and latte around 4.50. Here, for one black coffee (8oz), I normally have to chuck up 25krones ($5). This is way too much, and it is why I have decided I need my coffee pot sent immediately.
However, what I like about the coffee shops is that they are much more environmentally friendly…as it every shop. For example, to mix sugar and cream into my coffee, they don’t have plastic stirrers, they have little bowls of small silver spoons. When you are down, you just leave the spoon on the counter. The trains are very clean…the streets are clean. People don’t litter…I guess a cultural thing. And bottles can be returned for one kroner.
Like I have read, alcoholic drinking has been implemented through parents and socialization. A Dane I ate with was very confused why the drinking age in the US was 21. He asked if there was any connection with that age, and of course my answer was no. He was also confused as to why we didn’t first begin drinking in homes with parents. The Danes can buy alcohol at the age of 15, and usually begin drinking it in their homes with family and friends. By the time they turn 18, they can order it at clubs, bars, etc. This way drinking becomes not something to consume at parties to get drunk…it is something to complement other activities. Professors (who like to be addressed by first name) also commonly have a drink with their students. My marketing professor has invited us back to his home this week for drinks and conversation. My strategy professor also has an outing planned of the same nature.
School is kind of different for the Danes. They usually attend college for three years, and work for three years in an internship…it is a more real-life approach. For doctors, they go to medical school for 12 years, but after three years, they are already in the hospitals, working as residents and such. Of course, they also do not pay for school, not one penny. In fact, sometimes the government gives them more money, to use on housing for instance.
My mind has already come about one revelation on a train ride home from classes. At first, my biggest fear coming here was meeting enough people to become friends with and go out with. I wanted to see and do everything. But after I realized how expensive it is, and how hard classes will be, I have already changed my approach. I want to be a very focused student, as are most foreign exchange students. I want to focus on my studies and absorb everything I can about international business and communication. Of course, when I do go out, I don’t want to worry about finding other students from DIS, I want to go out with Danes and other people studying abroad. I have already met a girl from Iceland who I enjoyed hanging out with. I like having conversations about each other’s culture and country. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the company of my fellow DIS students, and the US is so big that we too have differences to share. But I have realized studying abroad isn’t a time to meet a million friends and go out every night…it is a time a self-discovery. I am only 20, thus beginning a phase in my life that trying to understand myself becomes a constant thought process.
Though details about my changing thought processes in the last week would make this entry unnecessarily longer, it must be said that each day my mind has already adjusted perspectives of Copenhagen and the people. Soon I will be going on many field studies and trips throughout Denmark, which will be even more eye opening. I still cannot wait until my travel break though because Italy has so much history and sight-seeing. Plus it will hopefully be warmer and less rainy!!

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