After finishing my first session here at DIS, I have just about three more weeks left in Copenhagen before I ship out to Stockholm. My journey from the United States to Denmark has been a relaxing and easy transition. It is remarkable that even rainy spring days here only seem to drizzle. Copenhagen is just starting to open up with indicators of the Scandinavian summer- tiny sweet in-season strawberries, Flying Tiger sunglasses perched on top of heads, and gymnasium students dressed in all-white drinking near the harbor. It’s been a great time for students like me to be introduced to study abroad.
I just finished my first course with DIS called Food and Identity. My last post featured a description of the course and featured the story of my fantastic experience with foraging. Food and Identity held one more surprise for me since then – a trip to Amass, the Michelin Green Star restaurant with incredible success due to its sustainability efforts. Here in Copenhagen, I have found that I don’t have the exact insecurities about studying abroad that I thought I would. I am not homesick, I’m doing well with budgeting, I seem to have a good study/extracurricular balance. I think my biggest challenge has been comprehending the opportunity that DIS has really given me. I have felt this sincere desire to take every opportunity here as the first and only time I would probably get to ever experience it. Going to a Michelin star restaurant, nonetheless as part of a class? In what world would I ever get to do that again?
It feels distinctly unreal. It is difficult to form words about my time here so far. When I am asked by someone back home “What have you been up to?”, my mind takes a leave of absence. As if I could find a way to share the memories I have made here when they seem so remarkable that I question if they have really happened.
I felt like that at a meet-up that DIS and the Copenhagen Fulbright center held for current Gilman scholars and visiting alumni who are in Denmark for a climate seminar. It was incredible to meet other Gilman students who are here at DIS over the summer. One girl and I bonded over our reliance on the cheap options at Copenhagen’s 7-11s (which are extremely updated and not to mention cleaner versions of the 7-11s in the States). We talked about the decently inexpensive sandwiches there while the catered mixer we were at served beef tartare and caviar.
This kind of dichotomy of class and upscale living between my experience as a low-income scholarship student and the Danes who surround me has been something I have just had to adapt to as I have made my way through the past three weeks. Usually it has been a bit of a hassle. But that night, it was fun. It was like it was prom night and we were marveling at the venue. It seemed a bit immature but I took a video of two girls and I eating the caviar as we just could not get over that they would have that. I am sure that the proximity to the sea makes roe more of a common ingredient for Danish cooking but coming from the Midwest like me? There would be no way for me to have that kind of access to food like that – except for my time here.
I suppose that experiences like that would be what I look forward to most for the next months. Those moments where I get almost giddy with being able to tangibly experience the world around me. While I have written about food extensively in my past two posts, my appreciations lie in other forms as well. I recently went to Tivoli with a couple of new friends. We tried to be cost-effective so didn’t buy ride passes, instead mostly just putzing around the park. But it was glorious to just walk around aimlessly for a few hours on a nice day instead of spending all day trapped in queues. Some ice cream and a nice walk will make any day a good day for me.
I anticipate a lot more exploration in my remaining time here at DIS. In a few weekends I will be volunteering at Roskilde Festival, the largest music festival in the Nordics. As the station manager of my university’s radio station (and someone who has never been to a music festival), I am sooo looking forward to being able to camp out and see how such large scale music productions happen.
I also will be in France and Belgium soon for my study tour as part of my Postcolonial Europe: Narratives, Nationalism, and Race class. We will be touring Marseille and Brussels and will be visiting multiple museums while there. I have done some research in Postcolonial Studies and hope to use this class to help with my senior research project for my International Studies degree. Even though it comes back to my academics at school, an opportunity to study the subject in France and Belgium on top of Denmark- wow. A lot to look forward to!