Finding routine….and letting it change

“You have to be displaced from what’s comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes.”
-Amy Tan

Routine.

I have always been a creature of routine habits. Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at certain times. Running in the morning. Drinking green tea in the morning. Reading the New York Times while eating breakfast. And the list could go on. But part of moving to a new place, and not just a new apartment or a new US city but a European city, is letting go of the old routine and discovering a routine that fits your changed livelihood much better and, as Ms. Tan says, “see things with fresh eyes”.

It has now been just about three months since I arrived in the land of the Danes, started a new job, made plenty of wonderful new friends, and established a new and exciting and always evolving routine. I must say that the routine is still subject to change – and this is something I am learning how accept (oh, spontaneity!) – but all in all, life is starting to settle down and Copenhagen has really started to feel like home.

Since I have been an abysmal blogger (it has obviously not been part of this new routine which I have established) of late, let me first catch you up on a few essential details of life in CPH:

1. I finally received my Residence Letter from the Immigration Services and was able to register with the Copenhagen municipality. You may ask why this is so essential as we don’t have this issue in the US, but registering with the municipality and getting your CPR number and ‘yellow card’ opens up many many many opportunities and benefits. The most important of which is healthcare – with this yellow card, I am eligible to go to the doctor if anything should happen. I can also get an official cell phone plan, get a gym membership, enroll in Danish classes…and the list goes on.

2. I moved! The first month of my time in Copenhagen was spent in a darling apartment in the northern portion of Nørrebro, one of the neighborhood communicates in Copenhagen. I knew going into it however that it would only be temporary as I had already come to an agreement to move into a room that a previous DIS intern had been renting. This (also darling) living situation is located in Østerbro, another Copenhagen neighborhood known for being quieter, family friendly, and sometimes a little ‘uppity’. Nonetheless, the proximity of my new home to the center of the city is fantastic and I am actually living with another DIS intern who is renting a room in the same apartment. The couple who owns the apartment (which is quite large for being in the city) still lives in the apartment, but our schedules are different most of the time and they keep to themselves and Ashley and I keep to ourselves. We share the main kitchen and bathroom with the couple, but Ashley and I have our own ‘area’ with a ½ bathroom and a kitchenette area. Overall I thoroughly enjoy it :)

3. I got a BICYCLE!!! Yes, I have become a true Dane – even to the point where I ring my bicycle bell to get people to move out of the way and use hand signals appropriately. After spending my entire first month either taking (and paying for) public transportation or walking, my appreciation for the speed at which I can get places is insurmountable. Bike lanes are everywhere and they are, let me tell you, some pretty awesome bike lanes, so getting from point A to point B on a bicycle is très facile. What I have found most exciting is seeing just how much I can carry on a bicycle. I have so far managed a suitcase, a backpack, tote and a grocery bag or two all at once and I found it still quite easy to ride through the busy streets of the city.

4. I have planned and led study tours. While it may sound like life is fun and games here, I have actually been working. Five days a week. And loving it. Part of my job is to plan and lead study tours. DIS is quite unique in that it uses “Copenhagen as your home and Europe as your classroom”. Each student, when they enroll at DIS, chooses a program whether it be Medical Practice & Policy, European Politics, European Humanities, Migration & Identity…and the list goes on. In addition to their core program, they are able to take electives that may or may not be related to their core program course. Either way, as part of their core course, they go on academic study tours to various cities in Europe, depending on what cities can best accommodate the theme of their course’s curriculum. In my case with Medical Practice & Policy, we plan academic study tours to Berlin & Poznan (Poland), Vienna & Budapest, Bratislava & Vienna, and Stockholm & Tallinn. The cities are based on the fact that one is in a country with a well-developed healthcare system and the other is in a post-Communist country with a healthcare system that is just getting ‘back up on it’s feet’, so to speak. So to make this potentially long story short, I have been on the phone with people in Vienna, Stockholm, Tallinn, and Budapest in the attempt to schedule tours and visits of various healthcare settings in each of the cities. Sometimes the success is not so apparent, but when a visit is made – it is so very exciting.
In addition to planning, I get to also lead the study tours. Earlier in September I led one of the Medical Practice & Policy (MPP) tours to Western Denmark where we were looking at how healthcare is provided in different cities and towns outside of Copenhagen. It helps the students to see the Danish healthcare system firsthand.
Most recently, I co-led a study tour to Stockholm and Tallinn with 29 students in tow. We visited a maternity ward, the Swedish Red Cross, an orthopaedic surgery clinic, a family practice and one of the largest hospitals in Estonia. In addition to the academic portion, we also try to make sure the students learn about the culture of each location – so we hiked through the Tyresta National Forest outside of Stockholm, did a Swedish spirits (liquor) tasting, and took a guided walking tour through the Old Town in Tallinn. I must mention that we were in Tallinn to experience their first snowfall, but it really was more of a blizzard, of the year. It was quite picturesque, until it was providing difficulty in us getting to the airport on time for our plane’s departure – it all worked out in the end though. Although it was a lot of work, I thoroughly enjoyed it in its entirety; the whole group felt like a family by the end of the week.
Overall, the hard work is worth it and I am so appreciative of all of these experiences.

5. I am finding time to submit medical school applications. Yes, this is one of the most difficult things I have had to do: try to balance my new lifestyle with sitting and writing essays and various short answer responses. Nonetheless, I am doing my best to get it all figured out and taking it one day at a time.

While those are some of the main aspects of my life here in Copenhagen, there has been so much more and it is nearly impossible to recount every little bit of it as much as I would like to. Every morning, I wake up and fall in love with this city I am living in all over again. I know that I have started to feel this city is my home as upon returning to my cozy room in Østerbro, I realized that I appreciate all that Copenhagen is and was oh-so happy to crawl into my own bed and get back to my Copenhagen routine.

From this point on, I am going to vow to blog more to keep all of you in the loop a bit more. I apologize for this dry-spell, but if you ever want to get in touch – feel free to e-mail me or send me some snail mail! I love receiving both!

e-mail: kilbourz@mail.gvsu.edu
mailing address:
zoé kilbourne
upsalagade 26 st. tv
2100 københavn
denmark

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On short study tour, we munched on our lunch in the shadows of the bridge connecting sjaelland and fyn, two islands of Denmark.

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In Aarhus, Denmark, my study tour group visited the ARoS modern art museum. On top of the museum is this installation, Your rainbow panorama, designed by artist Olafur Eliasson.

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Also on short study tour, we visited a Viking Burial ground where sheep roam the fields.

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My new street (as of September)!

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I got to lead an ‘adventure trip’ where the students (and myself and the other leaders) got to hike around the coast of southern Sweden. We also went canoeing (in the pouring rain!) and rappelling – all which was great fun.

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I am now a champ at rappelling. What a fantastic experience – not to mention it was raining and windy and the waves were crashing against the shore. It enhanced the setting and made us all feel like true Vikings!

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This is the cemetery which my windows look out onto – it is one of the oldest cemeteries in Copenhagen and is kept up just beautifully. It is a wonderful place to run, walk and just wander around looking at some of the century-old head stones.

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I went to a FUN concert! It was a blast!

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As autumn is upon us, which also means Copenhagen’s rainy season, the mornings I wake up to find the brightly colored leaves against the clear blue and nearly cloudless sky, are wonderful surprises.

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Now in Stockholm, on long study tour: this is the inside of the Stockholm cathedral, a plain looking building on the outside, but just gorgeous inside.

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A taste of a little street in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s “Old Town”.

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The study tour group sitting in the remains of a Stone Age hut in the middle of the Tyresta National Forest. Mathias, our guide, was quite knowledgeable on all things related to the forest.

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When in Stockholm, you MUST go to the Vasa Ship Museet where the 17th century ship, recovered from the archipelago waters surrounding Stockholm, resides for all to see and learn about.

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And then to Tallinn…where the Old Town shows remnants of life in the 15th century, life under the power and fear of the KGB, and 21st century modernization. Quite a combination, but a one-of-a-kind experience.

Sunshine and smiles

Though it’s been just under two weeks since I arrived in my new home, part of me feels like I never left in May of 2011. Walking through the city streets of Copenhagen I have reached a point where when I overhear a conversation going on in English, I am almost surprised; my ears have adjusted to expecting the sounds and patterns of the Danish language, though I most often (when I actually mean “always”) haven’t a clue what is being said by those partaking in the conversation. I have, however, acquired an increased appreciation for the power of expression. There are those hand gestures, smiles, frowns, hushed tones, and various other vocal intonations that are universal and can reveal the gist of the recounting being told by one friend to another, or the gentile words being exchanged between an elderly couple.

Not to worry, however, I have been doing things too – not simply observing people.

I was so taken with stand- up paddle boarding that I took advantage of the free trial being offered in the harbor of the Islands Brygge area of the city a second time last Sunday. While the weather was not quite as ideal as it had been on the previous day, I still had a great time (and a great work out). The afternoon was met with sunshine as I met up with some other intern buddies at the Stella Polaris concert taking place in the beautiful Østre Anlæg park behind the National Art Museum. While it was packed with many people, the diverse crowd – infants, teens, university students, middle-age-ers, and retired folk – all enjoyed the “chill” music alike.

Monday commenced the start of my first full week at DIS. Yes, I will admit it is a lot of work, and entails a learning curve so steep, the free-soloer Alex Honnold may think twice about trying to scale such a thing. Nonetheless, I am enjoying the challenge and actually find it quite fun with the constant energy at DIS and the never-ending tasks that need to be completed. The week was highlighted with an “intern barbecue” hosted by the Director of DIS at his lovely home north of Copenhagen which was also attended by the various Program Directors and the administration of DIS, a Science and Health department lunch to celebrate the hard work of the outgoing interns and the commencement of the incoming interns at a fantastic restaurant known for it’s økologiske mad (translation: organic food), and a reception for the 50th birthday of DIS’ facilities manager on the terrace of the main DIS building. All in all it was a superb first full week at work – I cannot find one single reason to complain – even a little bit.

And then to the weekend…. I had been looking forward to this weekend since before I left the US as my host sister from when I was a student here had invited me to her birthday party weeks ago. Starting in the late afternoon, she and her boyfriend hosted a hyggleligt “garden” birthday party in the courtyard of their apartment building. We started with a variety of birthday sweets (carrot cupcakes, blueberry pancakes, strawberry lagekage, strawberry tarte, cheesecake, assorted fresh fruit, amongst many other things) that she had made (yes, she had been very busy in the kitchen) and enjoyed the company of each other. Despite the fact I was the only non-Dane in attendance, I really felt right at home with the family I had spent so much time with in the Spring of 2011. Most of the conversations proceeded in Danish, but that didn’t bother me as I was perfectly content trying to pick out words I recognized and practice listening to the patterns that Danish uses in speech. I do plan on taking a Danish language class eventually, so I might as well get used to it now! The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying each others’ company and playing some games of croquet. Once the sun started to hide behind the surrounding buildings and we got a bit of a child, we moved the party inside where a fabulous dinner had been prepared. The food choices were extensive and delicious – and the company and conversation (even if I couldn’t understand all of it) was equally as special.

Waking up this morning I am pretty sure I had a smile on my face after the previous evening’s festivities. Once again the sun was shining with barely a cloud in the sky (if you must know, that is a rare occasion for Denmark), and so I put my “walking feet” on and explored the city. I made my way to the often-talked-about flea markets where really good clothing, as well as just about anything else you might want, is sold for super cheap prices. Following my “flea-marketing” I meandered back to the King’s Gardens where I took a Sunday afternoon nap in the sun surrounded by many picnickers, croquet-ers, sun-bathers, and those who just wanted to be out of doors and get a good dose of Vitamin D. Laying in the sun and listening to the sounds of the gardens – the birds, the children squealing with joy as they ran up and down the paths, the groups of guys playing intense games of Kubb, the couples enjoying glasses of wine with their picnic hors d’oeuvres – was a great finish to a relaxing, but still busy, weekend. With each day that passes I feel a little bit more of a Copenhagener, and even though there are still some bumps here and there adjusting to this lifestyle abroad, I can’t help but smile every morning when I walk out on to the street and remind myself that I am in Copenhagen. In Denmark. In Europe. I really do just have to pinch myself sometimes.

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The Stella Polaris crowd…

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Science and Health Department: Outgoing Interns, Incoming Interns, Program Director, and Program Coordinators

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A birthday spread of picture perfect birthday desserts.

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The birthday party attendants – enjoying the sun, the food, and each others’ presence.

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The birthday girl clarifying the rules of croquet.

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Wall murals…on my Sunday walk through Cph.

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“The Lakes” of Copenhagen…it is often that there are runners, walkers, and families walking the paths that surround the bodies of water.

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Mural painting – it’s a family affair.

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Just a city scene…

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“Flea Market”…and a good one at that.

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…a walk through the King’s Gardens…

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…more King’s Garden…

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…and just ONE more…with the Rosenborg Castle in the background.

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The bicycle culture starts young here. And to watch them ride WITHOUT training wheels as a toddler is just adorable.

To be welcomed with open arms…

Sitting in my apartment I look outside at the overcast sky on this lazy Sunday morning, a typical weather occurrence in Copenhagen. Alas, the clouds will not sour my mood as I have had a most wonderful re-entry into this hopping but hyggeligt city.

The “welcome board” in the office where I will be working along with two other interns and the Science and Health/Sustainability administrators.

For the newly arriving interns, our training began on Wednesday with multiple sessions on the definitions of our positions, how the Danish Institute for Study Abroad is set up, what work environment we should expect, and of course, and how to work the coffee machines in the kitchen – well that wasn’t an official session, but it is necessary that we learn how to work it – and the list goes on. Our meetings and orientation sessions will continue into the next week or so as we meet more and more of the administration; let’s just say I’ve got my introduction down pat about where I’m from, what school I went to, what I plan on doing with my life and what motivated me to return to the Denmark. Each meeting is sweetened by pastries, muffins, coffee and tea brought in by whichever department is holding the meeting – it is not uncommon to be in a meeting for forty-five minutes or so and then take a break for a, what seems to be, blood sugar boost.

Our orientation was further “sweetened” (moreso metaphorically) with an overnight intern retreat to Mӧlle, Sweden. The incoming interns and any other interns that will be continuing to work through this fall attended the retreat which made the experience full of new introductions and good times to be had. To get to Sweden we took the ferry from Helsingor, Denmark to Helsingborg, Sweden and then drove through the Swedish countryside to an old Scandinavian farmhouse-turned-hostel out in what looked like the middle of the United States midwest (hence their choice of location in the middle of the USA). The drive consisted of many “Awws” as we took in the picturesque scenery of farm animals moseying through their pastures, the smaller farmhouses with fairytale-esque gardens, and vast expanses of fields full of various crop.

The group of interns prior to departing for Sweden – enjoying lunch at Frue Plads.

We spent part of the afternoon learning from one of the veteran interns the nuances of photography, from what ISO means to getting in the proper position to take a picture to making sure there is better light falling on subjects of the photo. Our newly acquired knowledge was then put to the test as we wandered around the nearby village with our cameras in hand, fiddling with the settings along the way. Because we had gone for such a length of time without eating (i.e., like 1 hour) we were taken to an adorable cafe that emulated the quaint and simple Scandinavian ways. We were served coffee, tea, vanilla hearts (their specialty), and cake as we sat cozily in a three-season porch area. After a bit of time outside we headed back to the hostel to (you guessed it) get ready for dinner and more food in the form of a barbecue. As we waited, games of Kubb (the Viking game) and bocce ball were taken up and others sat in the grass chatting away. Dinner was followed by more bonding with this great group of people and bonfire, in which we could make s’mores if we so chose.

Vanilla hearts and coffee on quaint dishware – reminds me of my great grandmother and her (and also my) Norwegian roots.

The grounds of the cafe which served the vanilla hearts.

The farmhouse-turned-hostel with picturesque grounds.

A bunch of the interns…chatting and patiently waiting for dinner preparations to get underway.

The game Kubb (or Viking) – it may just look like a bunch of blocks tipped over here, but it is quite a blast and can be a real nail-biter of a game.

The next morning we awakened to a traditional Scandinavian breakfast of muslix, breads, cheeses, meats, jams, coffee, and tea which provided sustenance for our “hike” to Nimis, an oceanside setting involving driftwood creations which can be climbed on, in and through. The creator of said driftwood sculptures actually started a “micronation” Ladonia of which you can become a member. I have not done so yet….but may end up having dual citizenship in the US and Ladonia by the time I get back home. We explored this “big-kids-playground” for a while (and I even went swimming – a wonderful experience) and then hiked our way back to the bus in order to make it back to Copenhagen by early afternoon for a meeting with the Director of the entire program. Though it seemed like it could have been intimidating, it was not – and it was really great to hear his vision for DIS as well as introduce ourselves and have a sort of dialogue over what our role will be in this upcoming year.

On the way down to the beach via the driftwood climbing structures.

These “towers” were sturdy enough to climb all of the way to the top – what a blast! and what a view!

Though I was close to exhausted I managed to keep up my energy for a fun-filled Saturday in the city. I finally went for a run – something I had been wanting to do since I got here and simply hadn’t had time to do yet – through one of the main parks and saw parts of the city I had not yet seen. This weekend is also Kulturhavn, or the Copenhagen Culture Harbor Festival, so in the afternoon I made my way down there and met up with some of the other DIS interns. We sunbathed at one of the Harbor Baths and then tried paddle boarding (for free!), which was an absolute blast. By the time we had explored the festival a bit more, it was early evening and we decided to head to our respective homes for dinner (plus it started raining). Later in the evening we met up again to head out on the town together in celebration of our first real weekend in Copenhagen.

Kulturhavn – an event in the Copenhagen harbors with many free activities!

I am now a pro paddle boarder – just kidding – but really it is oodles of fun.

Yay for the interns of DIS!!!

And now as I am finally finishing this lengthy post, the sun is starting to peek out from behind the clouds and is therefore calling me to come out and play. I think about it and a week ago I was getting ready to depart the US and journey to this great city. I am so glad to be here and have already met some amazing people who I know I will have a blast with this year.

Copenhagen’s newest addition? MOI!

So ready to travel…if only I would have known what was to greet me at O’Hare…

I think I have a bruise forming in the antecubital region of my left arm. No, I can assure you it is not because of blood draws, or involvement in contact sports – I just cannot seem to wrap my head around the veritable fact that I, Zoe Brigette Kilbourne, am sitting on a couch in a darling apartment in the middle of Copenhagen, and I am not talking about Copenhagen, New York, USA (I couldn’t help adding that after hearing about all of the different “Londons” Nike is highlighting int their most recent Olympic ad campaign). The “is-it-real?-pinch-me” aura is not simply because I cannot believe I am here. In Denmark. In Scandinavia. In Europe. It is also because I had one of the most frustrating, anxiety-ridden, “water-works”-initiating, and just plain weird airport experiences that I have ever had – not to mention I will probably never have one quite like that again. There is so much detail that goes along with the story, but for the sake of rambling on and on, let’s just say that sometimes United States based airlines don’t understand the way of Europeans. The bottom line: said airline almost didn’t let me exit the country (I guess the real problem is emigration, not immigration!). Nonetheless, after a few salty tears moistened my eyeballs and a few tissues were angrily crumpled up and stern words exited both mine and my father’s mouths, I successfully made it to my superbly comfortable exit row (thank goodness for all of that space!) seat where I contentedly read some fascinating articles in the latest New Yorker and Smithsonian magazines, listened to some mellow music in hopes it would lull me to sleep (that idea fell flat on it’s face), and sneaked some peeks at by far the cutest little Danish two year old I think I have ever seen (you will find I may discern obscene amounts of charm in most European Danish toddlers). I also spent a fair amount of time reminiscing the past few days with my family and how much I am going to miss their embracing, innovative and loving presence in my every-day life.

A shout-out must also go to my mother…who was taking this picture. Without this cool family, who knows where I’d be.

Via a layover at London’s Heathrow airport, where I couldn’t help but ponder which Olympians had passed through the same halls just days before, touched the hand railings I touched, and sat in the seats in which I rested, I successfully arrived at Copenhagen’s Lufthavn Kastrup where my most wonderful host mother from when I previously studied abroad and her daughter, and her daughter’s boyfriend, picked me up to transport me to my current living situation . Not only did she pick me up but she also brought me the most wonderful bag of beautiful groceries. I just about started crying again – I was so happy to be amongst my loving Danish family and surrounded by the care and generosity of this culture.

The “velkommen til Danmark” gift of groceries from min fantastiske Dansk mor.

After getting details squared away with the woman from whom I am renting and learning the ropes of the apartment, I fought my fatigue after having only slept three or so hours over the course of 30+ hours, and pieced together a decent meal. I quickly learned to appreciate this new time zone as I was able to watch many of the olympic events LIVE during a primetime hour and did not have to listen to Bob Costas or Ryan Seacrest milk NBC’s olympic coverage with interview after interview after interview.

…and after my first night on my own in a new apartment in a “new” city…

I felt great waking up this morning to the sounds of an awakening Copenhagen: parents calling after their children as they walk to their kindergartens, bicycle bells warning pedestrians to get out of the way, birds chirping as they stretch their wings in the morning sunlight.  Even so, I was a bit groggy-eyed after sleeping relatively restlessly (and a period from midnight to 3 AM where I didn’t sleep at all). Comforts from home revealed themselves as I found my favorite Meijer jasmine green tea stashed in my suitcase and the almond butter I so cleverly packed in my rainboots (who knows when I’d find organic nut butters in Denmark…I had to be prepared!).

After breakfast, my next task was to take a shower. Yes, typically that is easy but in this apartment, I get to relive college dormitory-esque days and trek down an old, creaky, and oh-so-cool spiral staircase to the basement where the shower is located. I could distinctively hear my pulse in my ears as my heart was beating pretty fast – first I couldn’t find the lights in the hall and so used my the light from my phone to guide me down the dark and musty hallway to the “Baderum 1″ (where I did find the light switch), then I couldn’t figure out how to turn the water on, and for a minute I swore I heard another door slam and was convinced I was going to be abducted by “basement ghouls”.

Spiral staircase to basement (also entrance to courtyard)…

After I found the lights…I thought, I should take a picture so people will believe me – the way to the shower.

…the shower room…

The challenge was well worth it as a warm shower did just the trick in refreshing my still-jetlagged self. On my way out of the basement I learned where the lights were in the hallway and will most definitely use them from now on.

My morning passed rather quickly: I walked in the cool mid-morning sun into the center of the city, through various parks and neighborhood squares taking in the city I’ve missed over the past year. I stopped by a Tiger store (very cool discount store that has a little bit of everything) and a grocery story to pick up some necessities I figured I’d need, in addition to a 7/11 where I got a klippekort (transportation card) in case I ever choose to take public transportation (hopefully I’ll obtain a bike soon enough!). A few other highlights: stopping by the Statens Museum for Kunst to visit Helle in the cafe and prove to her I survived my first night by myself AND give her a big hug of course, visiting DIS to introduce myself to some of the administration and meet some of the other interns (I cannot WAIT to start tomorrow :-)), and simply listening to the lilt and cadence of the Danish language as I traipsed through the city.

Feeling extremely accomplished for the morning and listening to my tired feet, I made my way back to my new home and here I am. With a cool breeze coming in through the window and listening to Danish commentators on Olympic coverage and with a content tummy after a nice lunch and afternoon tea, I simply cannot believe I get to call this city home for the next year. I am so thankful for this opportunity and am truly grateful to everyone both in Denmark and the United States who has helped make this transition as smooth as it has been – your help has been most appreciated!

A darling group of children out for a walk with their chaperones – taking a break near Nyhavn for lunch.

Copenhagen is enhancing their Metro system; on the fences surrounding construction zones are art pieces to ensure the said zones are not eye sores.

Looking out from the steps Statens Museum for Kunst toward Rosenborg slot and the Kings Gardens.

Ready….set….fly!

The most consistent question I have gotten the past few days is: “So have you got everything packed?!” I am not sure if it is just a polite question to show interest in the fact that I will be leaving the country for the next year, or if they truly want to know the trials and tribulations of packing a wardrobe suitable for the better part of the next year. Nonetheless, my answer has been, “No.”

Not only do I not want to spend time squishing socks into shoes, or rolling up t-shirts into the smallest volume possible, but the fact of the matter is I don’t plan on having packing take up a lot of time. All I need to do is take the piles and piles of my clothes (which have been organized, mind you), roll them up into vacuum bags, and stuff them in the three suitcases I plan on lugging with me overseas. The other issue is that I am scheduled to take the MCAT [again - yes, this was a humbling realization] two days before I leave, so….most of my time recently has been spent going over the oodles of information covered on this marathon of an exam.

But aside from packing pains, I am enjoying these last few days with my family. “Who would’ve thunk”, as my father says, “that our little Nefertitti (a nick-name harkening back to my neonatal cranial appearance) would be moving to Denmark…to live…for a whole year!?!” We’ve had lovely family dinners on the patio in the warm evening sun, gone out to our favorite “happy hour watering hole” in East Grand Rapids, and had multiple engaging conversations – those of which I will deeply miss whilst abroad. And I can’t forget my pups – I’ve spent some quality time with them too – walking, petting, and spoiling them with treats, etc….

Between my study periods and family time, I have also been searching for those things I didn’t think I’d need for a while after having returned from my study abroad experience: plug adapters, my Danish CPR number, a map or two of Copenhagen to refresh my memory, my DIS student ID (who know’s what student discounts I might still be able to get?), amongst many other things. All in all, I am getting ready…I don’t think I’m all set yet, but I’m definitely getting there. BUT I have to say that I am SO over-the-moon excited to have the opportunity to return to the lovely Danish culture – I cannot wait to see my dear host family, the city, and the people I got to know at DIS when I was there previously.

As for right now, just send me good energy as I a) take this monster test that is pretty much going to determine my future, and b) square everything away as I do the final countdown to my departure on Sunday from O’Hare!!