Brief Reflections from Core Course Week:
- This is the absolute best week to bond with your Core Course. I now love every single one of my classmates and look forward to seeing them in class. Extremely bonding experience 10/10. If you haven’t made many friends since arriving/had a hard time doing so, this is a great place to get to know people and spend time with them.
- Tip: Go explore the town after hours (aka during free time) with classmates.
- There is more free coffee than free water in Denmark.
- The German-Danish border shop is where Danes buy cheap things in bulk– namely candy and party drinks.
- Very few women in rural cities of Denmark.
- Learned how to play Stumps (???). (I hit a hammer into a nail in a stump).
- Netto is great for snack food. To Go food isn’t the best here. Ostepops are the best snack food ever. And RisiFrutti.
- Pack extra layers. Then, pack more layers after that. It is (extremely) cold in February.
Long Reflections from Core Course Week:
Day 1 & 2: Copenhagen, Denmark
On the first day of Core Course week, we had a brief introduction, then jumped right into a
Guest Speaker from the Trampoline Huset (https://www.trampolinhuset.dk/). I really enjoyed hearing about the work the Trampoline House has provided the refugee population, as well as the community they created (which aligns perfectly with my course, Cultural Diversity and Integration). Following this time, we took a quick lunch break in Nyhavn, where I tried a waffle on a stick! We walked over to the Border Union and heard from another guest speaker shortly afterwards.
On the second day in Copenhagen, my class split into groups of four and were assigned a neighborhood to conduct research in. With my group, we were assigned the city square near CPH train station and asked about 12 people 3-4 questions: Are you Danish? Do you believe there is a shared Danish culture? If so, what is it? Are you proud to be Danish?
While I would love to provide an extensive list of all my reflections from that extremely informative and enjoyable experience, I will have to write a midterm paper very soon about it, so I will refrain from sharing details for my own sanity (comment below if you would like a quick summary of this report).
My group took a nice lunch break at Men-O Ramen (very delicious and highly recommended) and we split up before hearing our final speaker of the day and watching a movie.
This ended the first two days of Core Course Week in Copenhagen…
Day 3: Christiansfeld, Denmark & Sønderborg, Denmark
On Day 3, I awoke bright and early (5:30 am) to catch a train to then catch my bus at 7:30am. We bussed for about 2.5 hours before arriving in Christiansfeld, Denmark to explore the Moravian town, now an official UNESCO Heritage Site. Following this, we had a long lunch of smørrrebrød and cakes, then hit the road again to check into our hotel and visit the Deutsche Museum (German Minority Museum in Sønderborg).
After the museum visit, my classmates and I went to dinner at a brewery in town, where we all ordered a flight of Danish and German beers. While at dinner, we had the bright idea of heading to the beach afterwards (in the dark). Though freezing, it was one of the highlights of my Core Course Week. (I was living the European-Indie-Coming-of-Age Movie lifestyle for a second).
Day 4: Sønderborg, Denmark
We stayed in Sønderborg for all of Day 4. We heard from a German Minority community leader who leads the German newspaper in Southern Denmark, then headed to a guided tour in the museum of Sønderborg castle featuring an exhibition on the Danish-German border. Lastly, we headed to an art museum featuring some Danish-German art and had a guided meditation lead by our professor. The views from the day were lovely, as was dinner later in the evening.
Day 5: Flensborg, Germany
On our last day of Core Course week, we packed into the bus to visit Dybbøl Mill bright and early (8:30 am). We had a nice (wide angle) sunrise photoshoot. From there, we began the journey to Flensborg for a hike across the border. The views were amazing on the way there, but mostly we were all thrilled to take a bit of a rest on the 30 minute bus ride. Stepping out of the bus on the Danish side of the border, we watched as a man took a morning dip into the ocean. The freezing ocean. Baffled at this and freezing our ***** off, we began our arduous journey walking over the border. Despite my anxiety about the cold and odd amount of hills in this part of Denmark, the hike was fantastic in the morning. It took about 45 minutes to hike across this path (which was originally utilized by smugglers). We were never stopped by the border patrol. I was shocked by the experience, especially as it related to border crossing as I know it in the US, specifically on our southern border. We literally sauntered across the border and arrived in Germany, no questions asked, no screening needed, and no random assumptions made based on our appearance. Thus began a series of strange(ish) events.
Our first event in Flensborg was our walking tour. We were a bit early, so we hung out around the old city entrance. I wandered around with a couple classmates attempting to find a public bathroom. Once we found one, I was shocked at the amount of trash, graffiti, and general uncleanliness that appeared just 1 mile across the border. This only continued. The walking tour consisted of beautiful buildings and places, but the trash and graffiti followed. Political stickers and posters covered street lamps and buildings. There were more Danish flags than German flags in the streets.
We stopped at a brewery for a very nice lunch– I tried schnitzel, fried potatoes, and German Cola! Before we returned to Copenhagen, I wanted to buy some German candy for my host sisters, but almost every shop only carried Scandinavian candy (I was not expecting this). Finally, I found some and headed back to meet my class.
While trying to leave Flensborg, we accidentally found ourselves amidst an anti-vax rally. The police were covered from head to toe in black, guns tightly held to their bodies, wearing helmets that were so structured and intimidating, they looked a bit like Storm Troopers. It was pretty frightening to see the sheer amount of people and police in the streets of what I thought was an unassuming place (as an American). Of course, the people were peaceful and we made it to the bus safely.
We crossed the border without any delay (the border agent simply asked who our bus driver was and let us pass). On the way home to CPH, I tried Danish McDonalds (7/10– got a happy meal, it was alright for McDonalds standards).
Overall, it was a great experience: the people, the views, and the food were the best parts.