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University of Missouri

Settling in as a tourist

Filed in Blog, Denmark, Smith Family Scholarship by on June 5, 2013

Everyone dreams of a study abroad experience where they immediately become one with the culture. I, too, held this belief until it was shattered upon my arrival in Copenhagen.  As soon as the bus dropped us off in the middle of Copenhagen, we were escorted to our residential community. This turned into a challenging experience as it was cold, rainy and very difficult to drag six weeks worth of luggage through the narrow, cobblestone streets. After I unpacked and tried to settle into my room, we were taken to the nearest grocery store. When I walked in I was overwhelmed to say the least, because all of the labels were in Danish. Fortunately, the locals were very friendly and helpful in pointing me in the right direction for my basic food needs. The assistance I initially received gave me hope that I would soon get over my jet-lag and begin enjoying Copenhagen.

I was woken up by the sun rising at 4:30 in the morning on my first full day in Copenhagen. Even though I was tired this was a very welcome surprise, as Denmark receives about 18 hours of sunlight during the summer months. Today we had a DIS-sponsored “amazing race.”  I found this to be very enjoyable because it gave me a great sense of where everything was in Copenhagen and also allowed me to see many of the beautiful landmarks of the city. It was almost as if I was able to get these generic things out of the way to make room for further and more in-depth exploration in the following six weeks.

As we got into our first full week of class, I started to feel more comfortable and was able to get into somewhat of a routine. As part of this routine I try to take a run to some of the many local parks around the city every day. On top of giving me a great sweat, I find these experiences to be a great time to reflect. On these runs, I really enjoy watching the local Danes in the parks on the beautiful summer days. Each and every inch of grass is covered by people of all ages relaxing and enjoying the company of one another. I think this is something that I would like to work on, personally. Too often I am running from one meeting to the next and too worried about exams or classes to even appreciate what is going on around me. Year after year, the Danish people are rated as the most happy people in the world. After observing and conversing with them, it is really quite simple why they get so much enjoyment out of their life: It is because they appreciate time spent with people they care about. I think if this is the only thing I can learn from my study abroad experience, it will be incredibly successful and help me attain more enjoyment from my life.

With the first two weeks under my belt in Copenhagen I am beginning to feel the transition from a tourist to a local. As this transformation continues, I will continue to learn more of the culture and be able to extract more insight from my experience.  So far my time spent in Denmark has been wonderful and I look forward to traveling to other countries in Northern Europe in the coming weeks.

Below are just a few of the many beautiful pictures I have taken so far.

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