I have arrived safely! A big thanks to my Mom and Dad, and Amanda and Erica for dropping me off at the airport. My travels went extremely well as I arrived in Copenhagen on Monday around 10:25 a.m. I walked to my flat from the Metro stop Forum, and proceeded to meet my landlady Lizzie, who is an older Danish woman who gives lectures in the town about the history of Copenhagen. She made me an “authentic” Danish lunch consisting of Smørrebørdsmad - a Danish delicacy consisting of roast beef, rye bread, onions and horseradish. The bread is first covered with a thick layer of butter, as almost every small sandwich made in Denmark includes a good layer of the fat. The portions are very small, but high in calories. Coffee and Danish butter cookies concluded the meal and I took a nap to prevent jet leg. That evening she made me Frikadeller, or Danish meatballs, serve with boiled potatoes and spinach. Everything was very good.
Danas Plads 10, 1915 Frederiksberg C - and my new "old" bike
On Tuesday morning I went early to the Danish Immigration Service to square away an issue dealing with my VISA, and then I walked about an hour around Copenhagen to find my school for orientation. I immediately grew fond of the school and the place that I will be studying over the next 5 months. The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture was founded in 1754 and is one of the world’s oldest schools of architecture. Currently, the school is located in Holmen, the former dock area of the Danish navy in the historic centre of Copenhagen.
That evening all the international students (I still can’t get over the fact I am considered an “international student,”) went out to eat and then drank some beer in a plaza. On the street…in public…with many other Danes doing the like. I couldn’t believe this. Turns out, you can also “drink and bike,” as it is not uncommon to see Danes riding their bikes and drinking beer at the same time.
Wednesday was the first official opening day of the school, which included a speech by the Headmaster and music by the Nightingale String Quartet (since this is an academy of fine arts, the talent of the student musicians was amazing.) Everything was in Danish, so I looked forward to the moments when the string quartet played. Following the opening ceremony, lunch was served in the “Kantinen.” It’s similar to a dining hall, but different in regards to culture. The Danes are very soft spoken and relax, so it was a great introduction to the school and culture that I will be much embracing over the next short months. Beer was served at this lunch, provided by the school. It was only 11 a.m. So here's the schedule I hope to get use to: breakfast at 8, coffee/tea around 10, lunch in the Kantinen from 11-1, and then coffee/tea again around 3.
The Kantinen, probably going to be my favorite place in Denmark...
After our two hour lunch break and drinking some Carlsberg, I went to meet with my Department. I am studying in Department 1: Architecture, City and Landscape. Most of the lecture was in Danish, but at the end the international students met with the professor to answer any questions. This is forcing me to pick up the Danish language fast. The Department does something very unique in terms of design education. All grade levels in the department - 1st years to 5th years meet together the first week of school and are split into groups to work on a fast-paced, one-week project. So I am currently working with a group of Danes to design a landscape in southern Copenhagen called Ørestad. Our discussion is this upcoming “Torsdag“, or Thursday.
This is the main auditorium where the final critique will be in January.
After class on Thursday, it was evident that I needed to get a bike. I was relying on walking and public transportation to get around the city, which I concluded was ludicrous. It cost me 23 dkk, or Danish kronner to ride the metro one-way (about 4 USD), so I decided buying a secondhand bike was the way to go. I spent much of the evening looking at bikes and finally found a decent one for 1000 dkk. That amount alone I would have spent one month using public transportation. Brett Seelman on a bike is very interesting. I haven’t been on one since my youth, but I am finding out how much more efficient your transit is and how much more one can see by riding a bike.
On Friday, I met with my group in the morning and we worked throughout the afternoon (only after tea and a decent lunch break) and then we ended with Fredag Bar, or “Friday Bar.” Because the Danish students don’t pay for education or healthcare (similar to other European nations) and get a stipend of 4,800 dkk a month (about 815 USD), they purchased some beer and we sat outside the school and enjoyed each other’s company. I went grocery shopping thereafter, had no idea what I was purchasing or where it was from (as most of you know, this was hard for me), and then headed back to my flat on bike before heading out.
I apologize that this is the first blog since I have departed the States, but they will be coming more frequently as I have caught my ground and I am enjoying the city very much.