Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve just gotten my computer back! It turns out that the hard drive was dead (so much for the whole indestructible Mac theory…). Anyway, I’m now going to attempt to condense the two and a half weeks since my last entry into an entry of reasonable length. This is sure to be a difficult task, and I will undoubtably leave some things out, but I will give it my best attempt.
Remember those blunders I told you would inevitably occur? They arrived in full force a few days after I arrived. But before I share the tale, some exposition is necessary. I don’t actually live in Copenhagen here in Denmark. I live in a small suburban city called Sovegetslev outside of another largish city called Roskilde to the west of Copenhagen. Normally I bike for twenty-five minutes to get to Roskilde and then take a regional train in to Copenhagen, and I take the same route back. Sounds simple enough right? Well apparently not. As I was trying to get home, I went to the station in Copenhagen only to find that I didn’t see a train leaving to Roskilde like I did on the previous day when my host mom showed me how to get to the city and back. So I called her and she told me that normally the Nykobing Falster train stops in Roskilde so I should just hop on that one. Well, I did hop on that one and in my brand-new-to-Denmark ignorance I didn’t check the list of stops. As you might expect, this train didn’t stop in Roskilde, nor did it stop at the next station, or the next station, or the one after that. As a matter of fact when my saint of a host dad picked me up from middle-of-nowhere Denmark it took us an hour and a GPS to get back to the house. I had ridden the train to the other end of Denmark’s most eastern island. Needless to say, I was rather embarrassed. But the silver lining was that I got to spend some quality time with my host dad and got to know him a lot better on the trip.
The random adventures continued when one day I was walking down the main shopping street of Copenhagen called Støget (don’t even ask me how to pronounce it). I saw a large crowd of people gathering so naturally I stopped to see what was capturing the attention of so many. When I got closer I saw that a section of street was roped off and that there were twenty ceramic tigers sitting in a straight line in the middle of the street. I didn’t find this all that interesting and I was just about to continue walking when suddenly, walking in a perfectly straight line out from the side of the street, came twenty people. Normally, twenty people walking in a line wouldn’t attract much attention at all in a city like Copenhagen, but these twenty were quite unique in such a way that demanded attention. They were completely, totally, unavoidably, shockingly, naked. Then each of the twenty very naked people took their place behind each of the twenty tigers that no one was looking at anymore. Seemingly on cue, they raised the tigers over their heads, held the position for several seconds, and in unison smashed them into oblivion on the ground. This action was met with exuberant applause from the onlookers. By this point, I am utterly baffled. Is this a demonstration of some sort? Are the Danes, a people internationally known for their happiness with their lives and their approval of their government, actually protesting something? Seeking answers to the myriad questions running through my head, I begin to search the crowd for someone who looks like they understand what just happened. As I scan the masses I notice that several people dispersed throughout are wearing matching lanyards so I decided to approach one of them. After a quick conversation where we both spent a great deal of time laughing, the young woman informed me that I had just witnessed the opening of the Copenhagen modern art festival. I am continually amazed by the sorts of things that fall under the umbrella of art. In the end the opening served its purpose; I had no choice but to check out the art festival after witnessing the bomb-shell of its opening. I am very pleased to say that I ended up buying a great piece of artwork at the festival.
As part of our orientation, we were put into large groups which were then broken into smaller groups and sent running around the city to find different common tourist attractions and come back and report to the larger group on what we had found. It was a very informative day because it wasn’t simply a scavenger hunt where you just found the building and went on your way. At each location they had a DIS professor sharing information about the place we had found. I’ve included a video of the professor at the Royal Palace because he was very interesting to listen to and he shared some great insight into why the Danes love their constitutional monarchy so much (it was too long to upload here so I’ve put in the link). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y89qfW7b5H4&feature=youtu.be
Once the orientation for DIS was over, classes started in full force. So far I’ve had human health and disease, medical ethics, Danish language and culture, the neuroscience of fear, and Russia past and present. I haven’t had my impressionism in Paris or my Vienna capital of classical music classes yet, but they will start soon. My favorite class so far is definitely my human health and disease course. It’s basically a miniature medical school class. So far we’ve covered the GI system, the liver, pancreas and gall bladder. I already knew that I wanted to be a doctor but this class has been a major affirmation. I just can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
I just went on the short study tour included in my program this past week. We visited Svendborg and Ribe, two cities in the main body of Denmark that lies to the west of the island that Copenhagen is on. It was very interesting to examine the Danish healthcare system and see just how different it is from our own. The Danes absolutely love their system and it works very well for them. The way the study tours are structured also allows for a good bit of sight-seeing as well. You’ll see in my pictures where we visited a castle with a beautiful garden in Svendborg, and a cathedral in Ribe. The cathedral was particularly interesting because it has examples of each type of architecture that it has lived through, and there is modern art painted on the walls because it was agreed upon that each era has left it’s mark on the cathedral so the modern era should be included too.
I can honestly say that I’m falling in love with this place now. It really hit me one night when I was walking home from a cafe visit with my Danish class. The sun was setting over the region of the city referred to as “The Lakes” and the scene before me was so beautiful I was forced to stop, pull out my camera, snap some pictures, and soak it in for a while. The first picture in the gallery is the best one from that particular night.
Well I haven’t mentioned everything but this entry is starting to get prohibitively long so I’m going to end it now. I promise that future entries will be closer together and shorter now that I have my computer back! Stay tuned.