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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.