The first 6 days

Well, it’s Tuesday afternoon, so come tomorrow I’ll have been here exactly a week. A lot has happened since I arrived, and it’s been a whirlwind. Sometimes I feel as though I’m in way over my head and wonder, “what was I thinking, coming this far from home for so long?” and other times I’m so excited to be here and try to relish the experience as much as I can! So let’s see, since I have so much to update and I’m too lazy to write out long paragraphs, I’m going to resort to what I call the “bulleted-list” update. The text will be fragmentary, but no less informative! Without further ado…

  • The flights over here were very smooth and for the most part uneventful. I enjoyed listening to the control tower channel on my first flight (United 241) and watching movies and looking at the moving maps and exterior cameras on the second flight (SAS 926).
    • The Airbus A330-300 is a quiet plane. I thought it was similar in size to the Boeing 777, but much quieter.
  • It was raining on the day that I first arrived, but I was so excited to be here that I didn’t care!
  • I was picked up at the airport by a fellow classmate, Barbara, whom I met on Facebook a year ago. She was really nice and got me set up at my room at the dorm! I’ve also been to her house for dinner and met her family! 🙂
  • I pretty much spent the entire first day here sleeping. I was exhausted!!!
  • I foolishly left the textbook I had bought for my Interaction Design class at the airport in Copenhagen. I’ve checked their lost and found online each day and so far it seems to have fallen off the face of the Earth. Maybe someone stole it. Sigh. A new copy will be pretty expensive. I had bought it prior to coming here to SAVE money. Sigh.
  • The dorm is pretty interesting. There are some similarities with the dorms back at UNC, but they are also different. The good thing is that we have private rooms and private bathrooms, and the shared kitchen facilities are very nice. The beds can double as a sofa. My room did not have a desk at first, so I had someone from the hall help me bring one in (a girl who lives 2 floors above me was giving hers away and thus offered it to me). It was a trip and I’m still sore!
    • Another thing – there is no separate shower area in the bathroom. It’s all one space. Very interesting and I’m still trying to get used to it.
  • On Friday, RSLIS had a nice orientation for the new international students. We had lunch in the school’s canteen and went on a tour of the building. Then they took us on a wonderful tour of Copenhagen’s canals. We got to ride on a boat and everything! I really enjoyed it! After the tour, we had dinner at RizRaz, a Mediterranean restaurant, and then went for some drinks after dinner. I had my first (and most likely last) beer. I will stick to soda, wine or the sweet stuff, like daquiris and margaritas. It was great meeting my classmates and everyone was really nice! 🙂
  • The past few days I’ve been exploring the city, getting acquainted with the Metro system (it’s soooo organized and efficient here), getting my CPR number (sort of like social security. It’s required in order to have a doctor, sign up for a library card, cell phone plan, etc).
  • I went on another boat tour because I had forgotten to bring my camera to orientation. I put the pictures from that tour on my Flickr gallery (linked in the previous post).
  • The weather’s been really nice! I’m also surprised at how diverse Copenhagen is. I see people from lots of different nationalities. It’s great!!
  • Sometimes the culture shock is a little too much to deal with. While I love hearing the Danish language and I know that the official language of this country is Danish, it gets kind of tiring after a while when everything is written in Danish and I can’t even understand simple things, like my cell phone plan’s instruction booklet or preparation instructions on the back of a frozen dinner. Now I kind of have an idea of what it feels like to be illiterate.
    • I’m doing the best I can to adjust, though. I have my Danish-English dictionary and can translate things pretty well (even if it takes forever).
    • Google, Facebook and MySpace all recognize that I’m in Denmark and have adjusted their interface languages to Danish. I’ve resisted the urge to switch them back to English…it’s a good way to pick-up some Danish vocabulary. Also, most people here do speak English. I always ask them if they speak English first, though, just because it seems a little rude to automatically assume that they do.
    • I envy people from countries where English isn’t the official language. Most of my classmates speak at least two languages. I only know one. I wish American schools made it a requirement to gain fluency in at least 1 other language besides English.
  • Grocery stores operate differently here. You have to pay to use a shopping cart (but you get your coin back in the end). They don’t provide nice big bags (you either bring your own or buy some at checkout). I learned this lesson the hard way and ended up having to carry quite a few items back to my dorm in tiny clear plastic bags. Next time I’ll remember to either bring a backpack or buy a few bags to reuse each time I go to the store.
  • The city and metro are both relatively clean! It’s amazing!
  • People ride bikes here. At home, I’m always complaining about bikes on the road when I’m driving, and about nearly getting hit many times on the UNC campus by some fool on a bike. But here…bikes are treated like cars! There are separate wide bike lanes, and when you cross the street you have to watch out for both cars AND bikes. Plus, there are even traffic signals specifically for bikes! Drivers look out for bikes before proceeding. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!
  • I’m not fully adjusted to this time zone. When it’s midnight here, I feel like it should be about 6 p.m.
  • It’s going to take a while for me to get used to thinking in terms of Danish Kroner. For example, when I see that some item costs 100 Danish Kroner, I immediately think, OMG, so expensive! In terms of US dollars though, 100 Kr is around $19-$20 (give or take a few cents). The general rule of thumb is to divide the amount of Kroner by 5 to get the approximate US dollar amount. 500 Kroner is roughly $100 USD.
  • Classes start tomorrow! I’m both excited and nervous about it. We’ll see how it goes!

So far, Copenhagen is a great city and it’ll be interesting to see how I feel about this trip several months down the road!

That’s all for now. I know it’s a lot, but I had a lot to get caught up on. The next entry will consist of actual paragraphs, I promise. 🙂

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