I am so sorry to have been absent for the past few weeks, things have gotten crazy around here and I’ve been pretty busy. When I last wrote, I said that I would be going on my Long Study Tour with my core course in the end of October. My class focuses on Modern European History so we headed to Warsaw and Berlin.
We all met at the Copenhagen Airport bright and early at 6 am. We took the quick flight to Warsaw and hit the ground running with a walking tour around the city. We were able to see a lot of the Old Town and areas that were particularly relevant during Nazi occupation. After our tour we headed to the POLIN Museum which is the museum of the history of Polish Jews. We had a wonderful tour guide who shared with us the history of Jews in Poland hundreds of years before the Second World War. It was extremely eye-opening to learn about the history of Jews in this region before the Holocaust.
The next day we went to Treblinka, the extermination camp that killed an estimated 900,000 Polish Jews. It’s hard to put into words what it was like to be there. Our guide showed us where and how Jews were brought into the camp. Upon entering, most only had a few hours left. We had a debrief afterwards to discuss what going to the camp was like and how our class’s focus of competing narratives plays into the narratives we hear today.
On our final day we were able to meet with a PhD candidate who teaches law and history at the University of Warsaw. He gave us some insight on the current political situation in Poland and how this government has been shifting the narrative surrounding Polish involvement with the Holocaust. In the afternoon we met with a Polish journalist, reporter, and political activist who helped us further understand Poland today.
We woke up in Berlin the next morning and had another walking tour of the city. We were able to see parts of the wall, the Brandenburg Gate, and other sites throughout the city. For lunch, we ate on top of the Reichstag building. There were incredible views of the city and the meal was amazing. After lunch we had a little free time so my friend and I raced over to see the East Side Gallery. We then headed back to meet up with our group for a canal tour at sunset.
The following day we started off by going to the Jewish Museum. It was so interesting and one of the most well thought out museums I’d ever been to. Afterwards, we broke into small groups to go to different museums. My group went to the Topography of Terror which is free to visit and is situated at the same spot as the former SS and Gestapo headquarters. I also went to the DDR Museum which highlighted what life was like in East Germany after the war. It was interesting to see but very overcrowded.
On our final day we made our way to the villa where the Wannsee Conference took place. The Wannsee Conference established the plan for the mass extermination of Jews across Europe. We were all surprised to see that the villa was in a residential neighborhood situated on a lake. There was such a juxtaposition between what was planned inside and the surrounding area. After that we went to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. The camp was an all male camp and housed Jews, Soviet POWs, homosexuals, and antisocials. Again, it’s hard to put into words what it was like being there.
That concludes my Long Study Tour. It was a whirlwind of emotion and activity. It was so cool to be able to see the sites and places that I’ve learned so much about in history classes. To learn about the current political climates in both Poland and Germany was also very interesting. After heading back to Copenhagen we are more than half way through my time abroad which is crazy! But, I’m looking forward to the upcoming weeks here.
For the past ten days I have been traveling around Europe. All students at DIS have their core course which they travel with for one week in October. I travel with my class at the end of October so I had this past week off. Me and a few of my friends decided to take advantage of our week off, as many DIS students do, and spend the week traveling. I was able to travel to Prague, Budapest, and Madrid.
Our first stop was Prague. My friend and I left Friday morning since we don’t have classes. We got to Prague, checked into our hostel, and hit the ground running. One of my best friends studied in Prague last fall so she shared a ton of suggestions on things to do and see. We walked across the Charles Bridge and explored a few different churches along the way.
The next day we braved the horrific rain and cold to see the Lennon Wall and Prague Castle, which isn’t actually a castle but a church. The wall was fun to see but in all honesty, a lot smaller than expected. Nonetheless, it was cool. We all were exhausted and decided we needed a hefty dinner so we went to a place serving only lasagna. It was amazing. Truly a comfort food that all of us have missed dearly.
The next day we walked to the main square and climbed up the Astronomical Clock Tower which had incredible views of the city. We then sampled some Czech specialities including fried cheese. It was different than mozzarella sticks as it felt a lot less greasy, but was basically the same thing.
We woke up in Budapest the next morning after catching a flight late Sunday night. We all were a bit tired and decided to have a chill day. We went to the thermal baths which were quite the experience. Beautiful, slightly gross, but still pretty relaxing. At night we went on a cruise down the Danube and got to see Budapest illuminated. The Parliament building was particularly beautiful.
The next morning we hit the ground running. We got to see two phenomenal views of the city. One from the top of a hill and the other from the Basilica. We then made our way to Buda Castle which included more lookout points and a stunning church. We continued to walk around, ate some amazing tacos, and finally ended up at the Parliament building during golden hour, pretty perfect.
The next morning we went on a chairlift ride up the side of Buda Hill. We took the bus which was easy to navigate and got to the base of the hill with few expectations. We were all blown away by the beauty and views of what was around us. Living in a city definitely makes you appreciate the stillness and peacefulness of nature. We all took in the view and the changing leaves before heading back down.
The following morning I left bright and early to meet up with two of my friends in Madrid. I nearly missed my connecting flight but eventually made it and enjoyed a late lunch with them. We then went to find the famous churros at Chocolatería San Ginés which were so good, I really liked the chocolate dip. We went to El Retiro Park to watch the sunset before enjoying a tapas dinner with more friends.
The next morning we went straight to the park to row boats around the little pond. It was definitely more of a challenge than GoBoating in Copenhagen, but we managed. We then went to explore the city and get lunch at this taco place. The tacos were to die for and were only 1 euro. Coming from Cope, this was insane. We explored the Prado Gallery and did a speed tour of the Masterpieces. We then went to watch the sunset at another beautiful lookout.
On our final day we went to a flea market and then got brunch at a cute Australian/American cafe. We had to rush back to the AirBnB to change and pack. Our ten day adventure had come to an end. It was a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t change anything. It was an absolutely amazing time. The people I got to share it with were even more amazing and helped make this magical trip possible. Now back to Copenhagen and school for two weeks before heading out on my Long Study Tour which I will share more about soon. Until then!
One of the coolest things about DIS is how they utilize Wednesday’s. You might be thinking how can Wednesday’s be that cool? Hump day?? Let me explain. Wednesday’s at DIS are fully devoted to field studies (a cooler version of field trips you would take in elementary school). Each class has two field studies throughout the semester that relate to a topic or theme of the class.
Over the past two weeks I’ve had three field studies. The first one was for my class Partners and Rivals: US EU Relations. We visited the Danish Foreign Ministry and got to talk with some Danish diplomats about Denmark’s relationship with Russia and its involvement in the Arctic. The discussion of Russia was particularly interesting because Denmark has to take a dual approach to their relationship. This means that Denmark must strongly condemn Russia’s bad actions (confrontation, misinformation campaigns) while also talking to them due to their interconnected commercial interests and presence in the Arctic. The visit was very eye opening and something I never would have gotten the chance to do elsewhere or on my own.
For my next field study my core course class and I visited the Danish War Museum. We had a wonderful tour guide who was basically a walking encyclopedia of the history of Danish military history. We walked through Danish military history from the 1500s to the present day. Denmark has surprisingly been involved in quite a few wars. The Kingdom of Denmark used to include Norway and a portion of Northern Germany. Over the years Denmark has lost a lot of land which is an often discussed topic here.
My final field study was with my Anthropology of Food class. We ventured to the Coffee Collective to partake in a coffee tasting. After learning about the process of ethically sourcing coffee and the different types of beans, we got to smell and taste the different coffees. I love a good cup of coffee, but honestly don’t think that much about where is comes from. However, I must admit there was a big difference in taste between the supermarket variety and Coffee Collective’s coffee. It was really interesting to learn about the lack of transparency in the coffee industry and how Coffee Collective is challenging that.
Outside of my field studies I visited Frederiksborg Castle with my visiting hosts. I got to explore with them as my tour guides. This made the visit pretty special. I also went to La Glace with my friend and her grandparents. La Glace is a famous cake shop in Denmark is known around the country. The Queen has all of her cakes made here. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. This was some of the best cake I’ve ever had. The pictures do not do it justice.
A little background on the week before I get into what we did: Every student at DIS takes a Core Course. Throughout the semester you have two weeks fully devoted to your core course, Course Course Week and the Long Study Tour. My core course is called Competing Narratives: Modern European History which looks at the way history is remembered in different places and by different people.
For Core Course week we spent two days in Copenhagen before embarking on a three-day trip to Sønderborg, Denmark and Flensburg, Germany.
Our first day in Copenhagen consisted of a tour in the morning and movie in the afternoon. Our tour focused on the Jewish history of Copenhagen and Denmark. Our guide, Charlotte Thamay, was amazing. She guided us through some central parts of the city before taking us to The Copenhagen Synagogue. I didn’t know this prior to our tour, but the synagogue was attacked in 2015.
Charlotte told us about her family’s connection to Danish Jews fleeing Denmark during the Second World War. Her dad and grandmother went to Sweden along with thousands of other Danish Jews while her grandfather stayed behind to free his cousins. He was caught and sent to Auschwitz. He later died during the death march that the Nazis forced the remaining prisoners to do nine days before the Soviets came to liberate Auschwitz. Charlotte was also at the synagogue during the attack in 2015. Having her as our guide made the tour a lot more special.
That afternoon we watched a movie,Germans & Jews, which looks at the way both Germans and Jews have learned about the Holocaust and Nazi rule in Germany. A huge part of German remembrance actually came from an American miniseries, Holocaust which aired in 1978 and was shown in West Germany. After years of not talking about it, the younger generation then began asking questions after seeing the atrocities portrayed in the film. Germany was then forced to reconcile with its past.
On Tuesday, we started our day by visiting Grænseforeningen. The point of this visit was to better understand the relationship between the German minority in Denmark and the Danish minority in Germany and how they have found their own cultural and national identities. Prior to taking this class I didn’t know that the border between Denmark and Germany had changed as much as it had. Most recently, it shifted following the First World War due to the Treaty of Versailles.
Later in the afternoon we visited the National Gallery/Statens Museum for Kunst and took a short tour around the Danish Golden Age collection and learn about how Danish national identity was formulated during the first half of the 19th century. The paintings helped me gain a better understanding of Denmark in the early 1800s.
We departed for Sønderborg at 7:45 on Thursday morning. After setting our stuff down at the hostel we went to Museum of Sønderborg Slot. The museum, which is a former castle, sat right on the water. We had a guided tour which was extremely helpful because everything was written in either Danish or German so we basically stood no chance of understanding what was going on.
On Friday we went to Frøslev Internment Camp. The camp was used to hold Danish Jews and members of the Danish resistance party during the Second World War. The camp now doubles as a school. All of us found this pretty strange and after our visit we discussed these feelings as a class.
In the afternoon we made our way to Flensburg, Germany. Flensburg used to be part of Denmark until 1864 when Denmark lost 40% of its land following the Second Schleswig War. In Flensburg we visited the Maritime Museum which looked at Denmark’s role in the slave trade and the production of sugar and rum. It was very interesting to hear how the Danish slave trade is remembered since it differed a lot from the United States. In fact, until about a decade ago, Denmark’s role in the slave trade was not taught in schools.
We decided to stay in Flensburg for the evening and went on an impromptu tour of some historic sites that existed during the Second World War. Using a 1970s map our professor led us around the hilly streets and showed us the building where Jewish people could secretly worship, the place where members/followers of the Nazi party would burn books, and where the former SS station was.
The next day we visited the Battlefield of Dybbøl and Bildungsstätte Knivsberg Kulturhistorisches Zentrum (Knivsberg Memorial Site of German Minority). The battlefield is where the Battle of Dybbøl took place. We have talked about extensively about the battle in our analysis of the Second Schleswig War. This battle was the most defining and catastrophic for Denmark. It was really cool to see where and how the battle was fought over 150 years ago.
We ate at the Bildungsstätte Knivsberg Kulturhistorisches Zentrum (Knivsberg Memorial Site of German Minority). They served us lasagna for lunch and everyone agreed it was probably the best meal of our trip. There’s just something about lasagna. We got a tour of the grounds and learned about how the center works as a place for the German minority in Denmark to discover and learn about their German ancestry.
After arriving back in Copenhagen we were all exhausted. But, our trip was well worth it. To see so many of the places we’ve been learning about was really valuable and made what we’ve been discussing easier to understand and visualize.
This post has been a bit lengthy, but I hope you all enjoyed learning about Core Course week here at DIS and if you have any questions feel free to write in!
This past weekend I spent some time exploring Copenhagen. I don’t have classes on Friday and I’m trying to take full advantage of this luxury while in Copenhagen. My friend and I decided to go on a little walking tour of some places we haven’t seen yet. We started off by going to the Botanical Gardens. Though it was a little overcast, the gardens were beautiful.
After the gardens we headed over to the glass market, Torvehallerne. We decided to get smørrebrød. This was my first smørrebrød experience in Copenhagen and it did not disappoint. Mine had slamon, eggs, and asparagus. We walked around the market a little more and looked at all the amazing food each stand was selling.
We then headed over to Amalienborg which is the home of the Danish Royal Family. We watched as the guards changed posts before quite literally stumbling upon a beautiful church. We think the Queen was married here (after more research I found out she was not married here and the church’s name is Frederik’s Church). It’s really amazing what you can discover just walking around the city.
That night a few of my friends and I decided to indulge in a nice Italian dinner at a place called Mangia. After getting caught in another massive rainstorm (refer to this post to hear about the first time this happened to us) we made it to the restaurant. We quickly realized we were the least sophisticated people there and spent the majority of the time laughing at ourselves. The meal was absolutely amazing and if you ever find yourself there I highly recommend the Plin Al Burro E Timo (aka the best ravioli I’ve ever had).
I spent Saturday morning wandering around The Copenhagen Lakes. These are four lakes in the middle of the city that are surrounded by paths for walking or running. The weather was perfect, high sixties and sunny, and so many people were out and about.
That evening, my friends and I rented a Go Boat for an hour. This was a magical experience and by far one of my highlights. We brought some snacks and drinks and cruised around the canals. We had some close calls nearly running into two much larger boats, but it was so much fun.
On Sunday Lucas, Amanda, and I headed out to The Corner which is a cafe attached to the restaurant 108. I’m not lying when I say this was some of the best food I’ve had while here. We were all in shock. We got strawberries and bread with butter and cheese and wow, so simple but so good. The pictures below don’t do it justice but I had to include them. We then headed over to Broens Gadekøkken. This outdoor food market was similar to Reffen but on a smaller scale. We got burgers from Gasoline Grill which lived up to the hype.
After this stop we went to explore Christiania. None of us had been yet and felt like the only people who hadn’t seen it. Christiania is a commune that was created in a military area in 1971. From my understanding, the area is somewhat ignored by the government which is how the commune has been there for nearly 50 years with little turmoil. I didn’t get any pictures since you’re not allowed to take them in some places and got nervous (lol). I’ll do better next time.
That evening I was able to relax a little before making dinner with my housemates. The communal kitchen in the RC is really nice for cooking with other people which can be a lot of fun. We all sat around and chatted for a while afterwards.
Overall, it was a wonderful weekend in Copenhagen filled with lots of adventure and laughs. Pretty perfect if you ask me. Coming up we have Core Course week which I’ll be talking more about in my next post.
This week marks my third in Copenhagen and the time is already flying by. Classes are starting to pick up and I’m getting into more of a routine here. I’ve been exploring Copenhagen with my new friends and getting to know my area better.
I’m really enjoying my classes so far. In addition to my core course (Competing Narratives: Modern European History) I’m taking Danish Language and Culture, Partners and Rivals: EU-US Relations, and Anthropology of Food. My classes are all taught from a European/Danish perspective. This has been really eye-opening and is a huge benefit to studying abroad. Danish Language and Culture has been the most challenging as the Danish language is not an easy one to learn. Basically half the letters in each word are silent which makes for an interesting experience trying to pronounce. But, it’s been a good challenge.
Last weekend I ventured to Malmo, Sweden. Malmo is a short 30 minute train ride away and was right on the water. The weather was beautiful and we spent time walking around the city and parks and even ventured over to the beach. Malmo is very serene and quiet. I also tried a Scandinavian specialty: pickled herring! I honestly loved it and definitely want to try more foods local to the area.
The next day we were blessed with another gorgeous day. We decided to go to Islands Brygge to take advantage of it. Islands Brygge is a about a 10 minute walk from DIS and is basically a swimming area in the harbor. There’s a platform that you can jump off of which was a ton of fun. I highly recommend this, especially when the weather is nice.
This weekend while exploring Copenhagen my friends and I climbed up to the top of the Church of Our Savior and explored the grounds of Rosenborg Castle and The King’s Garden. The Church of Our Savior involved a steep climb up. But, the views were amazing, a full panorama of Copenhagen, well worth the climb up. Rosenborg Castle and The King’s Garden were beautiful. There was so many people laying and hanging out in the grass enjoying the sun and soaking in the last few days of summer.
I also met my visiting host family for the first time. This was a highlight of my trip so far as I was able to go to their house for dinner and spend the evening hanging out with them. I took the train to get to their town. This was slightly chaotic as I haven’t taken public transportation yet. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the right train and then couldn’t purchase a ticket. All worked out and after asking a Danish woman for help I made it! I’m really looking forward to spending more time with them over the course of the semester and learning more about Danish culture. We also enjoyed a hygge moment with tea and flødeboller (a delicious Danish sweet) after dinner.
I must point out a few food excursions I’ve had. My friends and I recently went to Reffen, which is an outdoor food market with tons of food stalls. I had an amazing chicken gyro and will most definitely be returning to try something else from the plethora of options it has. I went to Paludan Bogcafe and tried the smoked salmon sandwich which had come highly recommended. It lived up the hype and also came with a serving of potatoes!
The Copenhagen Food Festival is currently going on, and my roommates and I decided to grab dinner there. We all got sushi, but with a twist. Instead of importing fish, the sushi was made with cod and trout. It was delicious and cool to see how local resources were being used in foods that typically need ingredients imported. Last, but certainly not least, Skt. Peders Bageri. A short walk from DIS this place is known for its cinnamon rolls. They were delicious and only 18kr!!!! A true steal here in Copenhagen.
Right now the weather is starting to change and temperatures are dropping. I’m also trying to avoid the sickness that every DIS student seems to have (fingers crossed). Next week we have Core Course Week which is a week fully devoted to our core courses. We spend a few days in Copenhagen and a few days traveling learning more about the region’s unique history. That’s all for now!
I have officially begun to settle into my new home, Copenhagen! After a long travel day and little sleep I felt slightly delirious landing in Copenhagen. But, I was so excited to finally be here. After lugging all of our suitcases through the streets, my group made it to our housing. I am living in a central location close to DIS. I was the first of my roommates to arrive and was shocked by how big our room is. I spent the next couple hours unpacking and awaiting the arrivals of my three roommates.
The next morning, Sunday, I woke up and went to Next Door Cafe to get a latte with my roommates before heading to our housing information tour. The cafe was so cozy and smelled amazing. The food and drinks all looked good. At our housing tour we met our Community Advisor (CA), Amanda, who is similar to an RA. She and Henrik (our handyman) went over some specifics of the new home and explained how to do laundry. This was quite shocking to us Americans as one load of laundry takes roughly two and a half hours to wash.
Monday morning we walked to the Royal Danish Academy of Music for the opening ceremony. The ceremony was accompanied by music and laughs. Afterwards we walked through Østerparken. The park was gorgeous and so close to our apartment. I will definitely be returning. We went to Torvehallerne which is a glass market full of different food, coffee, and drink stands. There were beautiful flowers and fresh produce outside. We sat outside and ate breakfast before walking around the area.
The next day we went to Nyhavn, the famous street with colorful buildings lining the side of the little canal. It was a beautiful day so we decided to take a boat ride to see the area and some of the beautiful Danish architecture. When we got on the boat it was clear skies and sunshine. This ended about 10 minutes in to our hour long ride when a downpour emerged from nowhere. Our boat had no cover and within minutes we were all soaked. None of us thought it was necessary to bring a rain jacket or umbrella and we quickly learned that it was. We then had to make the trek back to our apartment looking like we just showered with clothes on and getting looks from everyone that saw us.
Over the next few days I’ve continued to settle in and get ready for our first day of class on Thursday. I’m looking forward to getting into a routine and starting class. Until then, hej hej!
In less than 48 hours I will be en route to Copenhagen, Denmark for my semester abroad!! I am SO excited, a little bit nervous, but mostly excited. I’ve spent the past week slowly starting to pack and prepare for my four months abroad. My room is currently buried in clothes as I try to figure out what I actually need and really don’t need. I am a horrible over packer so this has been quite the challenge. All packing aside, I am so excited to see and experience what this semester has to offer!
For me, the application process started last November and it’s crazy to think that after all the planning, it is finally time to go. I’ll be taking four classes while in Copenhagen, all of which sound very interesting. One of these courses is a core course. Every student at DIS takes one. My core course is called Competing Narratives: Modern European History and aligns with my history major at DePauw University. I also signed-up to have a visiting host family. Since I’ll be living with other DIS students I figured it would be a great way to experience more of Danish culture. I’m looking forward to getting to know Copenhagen and exploring Europe during my four months.
Late Friday afternoon I will be headed out on a flight to Amsterdam before making the connection to my final destination, Copenhagen. From there, I’ll go to my housing to meet my roommates and get settled in. I’m living in a Residential Community (RC) for the semester. My RC is located very close to where all of our classes are and is in a central part of the city. Over the weekend I’ll be unpacking, meeting new friends, and (hopefully) beating jet lag. Orientation starts Monday and then our classes begin a few days later. I am so grateful to have this opportunity and cannot wait for the adventure to begin!