down the stairs i go

I’m finally here, and it feels surreal.

After a long flight yet smooth travels, I arrived at CPH at 9 AM on Saturday. With a few DIS students, we waited for our host families to pick us up. Being nervous, anxious, and tired was not a great combination for a first impression, but I made the best of it. My host parents, Kenn and Lisette, picked me up around noon, and we went right to the girls’ handball games. Talk about being thrown right into the swing of things! Having heard what handball was but not remembering much, I did not know what to expect, but it was surprisingly fun to watch. The girls, Freya (13) and Anna (11), were very shy when I first met them at handball, as I would be if an American student was living with my family for 4 months. They are starting to warm up to me though!

Sunrise on my last flight to Copenhagen [Perfect beginning to a new adventure]
After handball, we drove home, and I was able to see what my home would be for the next 4 months. I live in a small apartment on Islands Brygge, right off Københavns Havn, only 20 minutes from the center of Copenhagen. The main floor consists of the kitchen, dining room, living area, and bathroom. Upstairs is where the three bedrooms are. Anna and Freya share a room, while I have my own room.

Kenn and Lisette decided to make flæskesteg, a Danish roast pork recipe, and potatoes for my first dinner with them. Kenn explained that flæskesteg is usually eaten for Christmas dinner, so now I can say I have experienced a Danish Christmas dinner. . . in January! After dinner, we watched the handball game that the Denmark national team was playing in, but I didn’t make it until the end of the game before falling asleep.

Even after lying about whether I am an early or late riser [I said I was an early riser!] on my housing application, THANKFULLY my family enjoys sleeping in on the weekends! We all slept in on Sunday after a long activity-filled Saturday. After enjoying a nice breakfast with the family, consisting of bread and homemade strawberry jam, we walked into the center of Copenhagen to find where my classes would be. This brings me to the title of this post that you were probably a little curious about!

Let me explain . . . right before we were ready to leave to find my classes, I was walking down the stairs to put my coat and shoes on, but instead of walking, I FELL down the last 6 or 7 steps. What a great first impression!! *insert laughing crying emoji* They are wooden stairs, and I must have slipped from my socks. Let’s just say, I have held onto the railing ever since. P.S. Dad, maybe that is a sign we shouldn’t put wood stairs in our house!

Anyways, after we found my classes, Lisette, the girls, and I walked down the harbor to a mall. On our way to the mall, we saw people who were jumping into the harbor [it was 25 degrees!] and then going into a public sauna that is inside a trailer. Not sure I would want to try this! We ate lunch, at none other than MCDONALDS, which let’s be clear, I did not decide on! We walked around the mall for awhile, and eventually went home to start making dinner and getting ready for the long week ahead.

View from the bridge of Københavns Havn [the buildings are on Islands Brygge where our apartment is
mandag —

With the start of orientation, I was anxious to meet other students as well as the students living near me in my homestay network.  We started the day off with an orientation at the Circus Building, where I met a few girls who were all coincidentally living in homestays as well.  After orientation, I had my housing meeting with my homestay network, which is a group of other students living in a homestay near me on Amager (pronounced ‘Ama’).  Finally, I went to pick up my books for the semester.  I had an obnoxious amount of books to pick up! Who knew these next 4 months would consist of learning as well?!

tirsdag —

On Tuesday, we had our DIScover Copenhagen session.  We split our homestay network up into two groups and did a scavenger hunt around Copenhagen to various sites.

Our first stop was Trinitatis Church.  It was beautiful inside, and the DIS faculty member shared a lot of interesting background about it.

Inside Trinitatis Church

Next, we were sent on our way to Rosenborg Castle, which was built by King Christian IV as a country summer house for the royal family in the 1600s. Interestingly, this castle was far out into the country at the time when it was built, but it now lies in the midst of the city of Copenhagen.  After learning about Christian IV and his many architecture projects, we were off to Christiansborg Palace.

Beautiful view of the Rosenborg Castle

Christiansborg houses the Danish Parliament, Supreme Court, and Ministry of State.  The palace was first built when Christian VI was King.  Apparently, the King of Denmark must alternate between the names Frederik and Christian, which must be confusing at times, at least in my opinion.  The original palace of Christiansborg was burned down twice by fires, making this the third and current palace.

Christiansborg Palace

Our final stop was Amalienborg, the home of the Danish royal family.  On our walk there, we walked down Nyhavn, which is the harbor with the colorful building.  We arrived at Amalienborg right in time as the soldiers and band were marching down the street right behind us.  The changing of the guards ceremony takes place every day at noon, and we had a front row view during the whole ceremony.

Colorful buildings along Nyhavn
Front row view during the changing of the guard ceremony at Amalienborg
Changing of the guard ceremony at Amalienborg
Sculpture of King Frederik V on horseback at Amalienborg

After our scavenger hunt, my group went to Studenterhuset, a student union for students of the Copenhagen universities and DIS, for some coffee and croissants.

onsdag —

Wednesday was the day of my DIS core course academic orientation.  In the morning, I went to the “How to Go Out in Copenhagen” session with a friend. . . Sorry Mom. With almost 4 hours until our orientation, Kirsten and I found a cafe to have coffee and eat lunch. We did a little shopping at the shops in the center of Copenhagen, and eventually made our way to our meeting.  At the orientation, I was able to meet my instructor and classmates in my section.

First of many lattes at Joe & The Juice

torsdag og fredag —

I had my first days of classes, yet thankfully, syllabus/introductions day is still a thing at DIS!  This semester at DIS, I am taking five classes: Immunology, Holocaust and Genocide, Complexity of Cancer, Danish Language and Culture II, and Human Health and Disease: A Clinical Approach.  I am extremely excited about all of my classes, especially the Human Health and Disease class because it is focused on medicine and its clinical perspective.

weekenden —

On Saturday, I was scheduled, along with many other DIS students, to go get my Visa taken care of.  Since we were really close to my neighborhood, I took a few friends to Andersen Bakery just down the street from my apartment because Lisette told me it was one of the best bakeries on Islands Brygge.  We enjoyed a latte and pastry before we all parted ways.

Classic latte and pastry picture [I promise you will see plenty more!]
On Sunday, Lisette, Freya, and I went to the Amager homestay network ‘Jump-Start Event’ to get to know everyone and their families in our homestay network.  With lots of cakes and cookies provided, we couldn’t say no!  After the event, we went to the mall to pick out stuff to make Freya’s confirmation invitations with.  We found a lot of cute crafts/paper, and I think the invitations are going to turn out really nice!

WOW!  Just from writing this post, I remembered what a long first week it was!  Let’s just say, I feel extremely blessed for this opportunity to study in Copenhagen and live with a wonderful Danish family.  Here’s to the beginning of a new week in my beautiful new home.

I am so excited to continue sharing my experiences [successes and struggles] with you.

P.S. SKOL VIKINGS, win or lose!