I arrived on Sunday after a busy 4 days in London with Ms. Cat Manning and Ms. Stephanie Sorensen, two friends of mine from Knox. For those of you not familiar with Denmark: it was ranked from 2006-2008 as the happiest place in the world based on health, welfare and the education system. All Danes receive free health care and may go to school for as long as they wish (including graduate programs!) for free. In fact, my host sister Bolette (18) receives a stiped from the government for attending school.
My family is more awesome than I could've imagined. My host mama Susanne just finished her M.A. in library sciences and my dad Morton is a civil engineer. My brother Toby (21) works at Bakken, an amusement park and is getting ready to attend college next year. Bolette just began her last year at Gymnasium, which is comparable to high school in the U.S. They are all rad. As I write this, I'm watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince with Susanne. :)
I'm starting to get my bearings with life in Copenhagen. I can take the bus all by myself, despite the signs and announcements being in Danish! My stop for school is Rådhuspladsen. I also figured out the currency exchange after spending far too much on a chai tea latte. 45 kroner didn't seem like so much until I plugged it into my phone - apparently this is almost $8. Oops.
DIS (abbreviation for the Danish Institute for Study Abroad) sent us on a scavenger hunt around the city for orientation. I saw changing of the guards outside of Queen Margrethe II's palace and Rosenborg Castle, where the royal jewels are stored in the basement. Dogs are allowed in Danish shops and parks, including the royal gardens outside of Rosenborg.
What else, what else? I'm in the psychology program here but I'm taking two gender studies courses - Human Trafficking in Europe and Gender and Sexuality in Scandinavia. I'll be volunteering every week at the SKC, a drop-in mental health cafe open 24 hours for anyone who needs help. My other volunteer opportunity is a 4 day trip to Sweden, where I'll work at the Third European Transgender Council. With my class, I'll also travel to Scotland, Paris and Western Denmark.
As for social life: I have a Danish buddy named Eleni (sort of like a rent-a-friend) who is seriously badass. I'm going to a party with her friends tomorrow night before I head to the DIS opening party at the diskotek. There is an open bar, so I hope my fellow American students don't embarrass themselves. ;)
Later on Saturday, Bolette and I are heading to an anti-racist demonstration where I'll be introduced to her friends. Within a few weeks I hope to build a network of Danish and new American friends. I must also figure out what makes the Danes so happy!
Off to bed now. Friends, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about my semester in Denmark. Godnat!