On my first day of classes, my professor (for Cultural Diversity & Integration) asked the class to reflect on our “first 24 hours” in Denmark. According to him, these hours are crucial for defining your experience in a new place. What stands out? What is shocking? What is different? I realized that my first 24 hours set an incredible tone for my future here. With that, welcome to my first 24 hours…
Hour 1: 12:00
I just landed in the airport. I am exhausted. I completely slept through watching the Northern Lights as we passed over Iceland. As I walk through the airport, I am confused as to why I don’t go through customs (I quickly learned that this was because I went through customs in Iceland). I wait for my luggage. I see an American student shove some Danes out of the way to grab his luggage. I cringe internally. Immediately, I’m embarrassed to be American. I see a Joe & the Juice in the airport, which I thought was an NYC cafe line (my host father later told me it was created here in Denmark). I grab my luggage. I walk to the hotel across the street where DIS is currently stationed to help students to their housing. For some reason, American students have difficulty operating the swivel door. There is a long line to go through the door because the swivel door is so complicated.
Hour 2: 13:00 (Danes use 24 hour time)
I walk into the hotel and am greeted by (extremely nice) DIS staff who walk me upstairs to the “homestay” area. I am informed that this is where I will have a short orientation about my homestay and then meet my host family. I am so tired. I receive a packet containing my Danish SIM card and DIS ID. I am shuffled into a room where I meet other homestay students. We exchange contact information and chat about how difficult it is to pop out our USA SIM cards. I am finally able to insert my Danish SIM card (***it is so important to remember to unlock your phone’s SIM card before coming to Denmark, it is really such a hassle… so do it). I eat a banana (they are much smaller here) and a granola bar (which was honestly the best bar I have ever tasted).
Hour 3: 14:00
I am waiting for my homestay family to pick me up. Students’ names are being called to meet their families. I am so tired. I almost fall asleep on a wooden table. I sit on a couch while I wait for my host family to pick me up. I like watching families meet their exchange students. It is so cute, like puppy adoption day (but humans).
Hour 4: 15:00
My host family picks me up! They are so nice! Kim (my host dad) drives us back to Espergærde which will be my home for the rest of this semester. Pernille (my host mom) tells me to sit in the passenger seat to look out as we pass through Copenhagen. Rose and Salma (my host sisters) also sit in the backseat. I am no longer tired. Copenhagen is so beautiful– people are biking and walking everywhere! The streets are so colorful and lively. We drive along the beachfront, and I see beach volleyball courts set up and people taking walks (even in Winter).
Hour 5: 16:00
We arrive home. The house is so close to the beach and the forest! My host family shows me my room (which is in a guest house)– it is so hygge. Once I drop my suitcase off, I walk into the main house, which is the coziest, nicest home I think I have ever seen (this is now the most hygge place I have ever seen). There are low lamps that light up the kitchen and living room, artwork everywhere, pillows, a fireplace, and so many candles. Wood paneling is a feature of their house, and it somehow smells cozy, too. We sit around the dining table, Salma lights the candles, and the cat joins us as well (I am obsessed with their cat, Mille). The fireplace is lit. Pernille brings over tea (also the best tea I have ever tasted in my life). Suddenly, my host dad walks in with cake (I didn’t even realize he left). We sit around the table and eat it. This is what life should always be like, I think.
Hour 6: 17:00
I unpack and marvel at my new room. I was worried about feeling scared, out of place, and alone, but all I feel is happiness and excitement.
Hour 7: 18:00
We eat dinner. It is Danish lasagna (I add Danish as an adjective because it is not quite like the carbo-dairy-food-coma-inducing-questioning-if-you-are-lactose-intolerant lasagna that I’m used to in the US). The food here is so good.
Hour 8: 19:00
We play card games and doodle after dinner. I feel at home already. The lighting is perfect. Everything is calm.
Hour 9: 20:00
I go to bed (extremely early because I finally realize how tired I am).
Hour 10 – 22: 21:00 – 9:00
Hour 23: 10:00
I wake up. Breakfast is just as cozy as all of yesterday was. The coffee tastes better here too. I have toast with butter and avocados. It is a slow morning, and we spend it all together. It is a comfortable, slower pace of life than I’m used to. I begin to wonder why life back home isn’t like this. Why can’t we all slow down and appreciate the small things? I think I will like it here.
Hour 24: 11:00
We are leaving for my first castle soon. Kronborg (aka Hamlet’s castle!). The car ride is peaceful. I don’t feel jet-lagged; I think I am in sensory overload (in a great way).
And, with that, my first 24 hours comes to a close.
TLDR: My first 24 hours in Denmark was hyggeligt to the max, and I love Mille the cat.