My first few weeks in Denmark
After a series of unfortunate events from a delayed Residence Permit to thousands of dollars of last minute construction to my home in the US required to rent it legally, I arrived in Denmark frazzled, homeless, and after the other students attended orientation. I like to be prepared and knowledgeable before I enter a situation. I have been preparing for this move since I submitted my Fulbright application nearly a year ago. Especially since it’s been several years since I’ve been in school read lots of information on the DTU website months in advance of my arrival to avoid some of the confusion in my first week. However, my first week at DTU was still pretty terrible, and I really missed out by not attending introduction week. The biggest problem in my first few days was trying to find my classes. Although the building numbers are a great help, the auditoriums were difficult to find. I looked at maps at the entrances of the buildings hoping to find numbers on the floor plans but only found emergency exits. Even the DTU app wasn’t helpful in finding where particular auditoriums are in a building. After following some other students who looked like they knew where they were going, I eventually found all of the rooms. I also felt ill prepared for some classes because I hadn’t figured out there were reading assignments in the campus portal yet or that some professors use a course web page instead. There was a seminar for learning these things on Thursday evening, but by then, I had already figured it out and caught up on my reading. At the end of the week, I was exhausted and defeated. However, now that I’m a couple of weeks in, I’m really enjoying my classes and DTU. I’ve found a small student lounge that isn’t very crowded, has a microwave, and has cheaper coffee. :) I can now successfully navigate to all of my classes and labs. Now that I’m caught up on the reading, the lectures don’t seem like Greek anymore, and I can complete the homework assignments and labs without as much help from the TAs, and I can ask more compelling questions. I even started on my first group project. I’m also excited that I will have my own apartment soon. For most of the summer, that was a major cause of stress for me. However, I’m really glad about the way things turned out. AirBnb is expensive, but I have a wonderful host who has been incredibly helpful in transitioning to life in Denmark. I learned about proper table manners, how to live without air conditioning, drying clothes on a line, and what all of the settings on the appliances mean. These seem like little things, but with everything else that was going on, it was nice to have someone I could ask. Having a host has been a great learning experience about how Danish culture, politics, and social structures work. I’ve met many of the neighbours through him and had several animated but friendly political discussions. His opinions closely matched the travel guides and classes I took before arriving in Denmark, but it was still nice to get the insider’s perspective. He was as nice and welcoming as everyone I have met so far. I took some Danish classes at the Danish American Center in Minneapolis before I left the US, but I’m not very good or confident in my ability to speak Danish. I also feared to be the ignorant American who can only speak English. I’ve found that not to be the case, though. With every store, I go into or person I speak with on the phone, everyone is happy to help me out and speaks wonderful English. As I transition to my first apartment this week, I feel prepared. I have an idea how the transit system works and where to go to school. I will need to adjust my schedule now that I’ll be living further away, but I can manage with changes in small increments like this.