I’ve officially been in Denmark for one month and time is already flying by! This past week was my “Short Study Tour” with my core course. We spent three days traveling throughout southern Denmark and northern Germany, visiting different places. Below is a brief update on my past week and overall thoughts after one month in Denmark.
Monday: The first half of my week was spent in Copenhagen. Monday consisted of two lectures, one from my professor and another from the executive director of a think tank called “Europa”. Bjarke Møller, the ED, spoke to us about his work, issues facing the EU, and his thoughts on the Trump Presidency. It was so nice to hear from a working professional and debate current EU issues.
Tuesday: Tuesday we visited Danish Parliament and met with a member from the Alternative Party, Rasmus Nordqvist. Fun fact: he was in fashion before he got involved with Government. They are a fairly new party and only make up 5% of Parliament, but they are a very interesting party to follow. Their core focus is on environmental issues and they are a very honest group. It’ll be interesting to see if they grow at all over the next few years.
After our visit to Parliament, I went to meet up with my visiting host family for the first time! My visiting host family consists of two parents and four adorable children. We started off going to their youngest son’s circus performance at his school. It was the CUTEST thing I have ever witnessed. They were dressed up as animals, clowns, muscle men, ballerinas, and acrobats. After the performance, we headed to their house where we had dinner with the entire family and my host dad’s parents. Everyone was so incredibly nice and welcoming, I couldn’t have asked for a better evening.
Wednesday: Wednesday we had the day off to prepare for our travel portion of the week. My friend Taylor and I got our Wednesday cinnamon rolls, booked our flights to Naples for spring break, and got some work done!
Thursday: Thursday we left Copenhagen bright and early at 7:45 to travel to Southern Denmark! We visited two companies, Green Energy and Danfoss. To be completely honest, neither were relevant to my core course on the EU but were interesting nonetheless! At Green Energy we learned about the concept of District Heating. District Heating is using already generated energy (such as garbage disposal) and using it to heat an entire area. The Danes use this system a lot and believe it is the most efficient way to heat homes. At Danfoss, we learned about the company and its mission to produce sustainable and efficient tools in the heating, cooling, and infrastructure sector. Not the most engaging presentation, but I learned a lot about the company.
We then headed out to dinner for a beer tasting! This was definitely the highlight of the day because A) free beer and B) it was the first chance our class had to really bond together. We got the opportunity to get to know each other and our professors in a relaxed setting, which was so refreshing. I think these social outings with the students and professors definitely helps develop a more comfortable and open classroom setting. I no longer feel intimidated by my professors and even have some inside jokes with them! Dinner ended up lasting three hours, with everyone laughing and chatting.
Friday: Friday we began our journey to Germany! Our first stop was in Kiel and we visited their Parliament. We met with a member of the Green Party and had the opportunity to learn about the issues currently facing their area of Germany.
We then arrived in Hamburg and visited Denmark’s General Consulate to learn about German – Danish trade relations. We then had two hours of free time to explore the city. My friends and I got cupcakes, walked around, and enjoyed the sun! We ended the evening with a class dinner. Dinner consisted of slabs of meat, sausage, and potatoes. Looking back, I don’t think any of us had veggies the entire three days. Needless to say, by the end of this trip my friends and I were craving fruits and veggies.
Saturday: We only had one activity planned on our last day and that was a boat tour of the Port in Hamburg. This was super fun and informative, as we got to learn all the ins and outs of the shipping industry.
I’m now recovering from a long three days with a latte and friends at one of the many adorable cafes in Denmark. So much has happened within this past month and while there have been ups and downs, it’s been such a great first month. I’ve met so many incredible people, been challenged both academically and personally, and have visited so many amazing places. It’s so refreshing to leave the Smith bubble and experience a completely new setting. Stay tuned for more updates in the following months!