My love for Copenhagen

For the first couple of months, yes MONTHS, I was struggling to settle in to Copenhagen due to a load of things. Everyone needs their own time and has their own ways to get comfortable in a new place. But now that my semester is almost over (which is unbelievable), I can now look back and reflect on how much I have come to love Copenhagen and all it has to offer.

I can almost pinpoint the exact moment I realised how lucky I am to be studying and living in Copenhagen. On Saturday, March 23rd around noon I was standing at the arrival doors in Copenhagen Airport waiting for my dad to emerge from the doors. I was so so SO excited to see him for many reasons including being very homesick, but also because I wanted to show him my home for the semester. I was feeling very proud to have this place to show him. I knew my way around pretty well (which is quite impressive considering how bad I am with directions) and wanted my dad to love it too.

Over the next two weeks I got to show my parents around my second home and even explore some new places that I had never seen before. Every moment we spent exploring I couldn’t get over how beautiful and special Copenhagen was to me.

Now, with a little less than a month left in Copenhagen, I’m already starting to feel sad about leaving this place (but of course happy for the semester I got to spend here).

A few of the aspects I have come to love most about Copenhagen are…

  • My host family
  • The location I live in: it’s close to three beautiful parks and the train station (HUGE perk)
  • Beautiful green spaces
  • Blooming flowers
  • The recent warm weather
  • Being so close to water
  • Walks with Molly
  • Talking with Victoria
  • Spending time with Ida
  • Cafes (but you already knew that)
  • Dessert pancakes
  • Playing card games with Ida & Victoria
  • Colourful houses & buildings

This post is short and sweet, but I really love talking about how much I love Copenhagen. I can’t wait to fall even more in love with the few weeks I have left and leave with a lot of fond memories of my new home.

Hej hej,

Carolyn

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A quick Paris getaway

One of the best things about studying in Europe is how easy (& relatively cheap) it is to travel to other places in Europe. It’s easy to justify a two day trip to nearby places for a hundred dollar plane ticket and a little more for an Airbnb. Lucky for me, I do not have any classes on Tuesdays this semester (I know, weird day) and I didn’t have any field studies on a particular Wednesday when my mom was visiting me, so we packed our bags on a Monday night and flew to Paris for a quick mother/daughter adventure!

My parents came to visit me in my temporary home over Travel Week 2 and neither had ever been to Europe before(!!!!!) Their trips only overlapped for about a day which meant I got to show Copenhagen TWICE. My mom and I had just finished up with a packed weekend of exploring Copenhagen and I returned to school on Monday, but after my classes ended, we finished up packing, headed to the airport, and arrived at our cute little hotel around midnight.

We decided to start Tuesday off with quite a challenge: climbing Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Neither of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into, but the view from the top was definitely worth it. After we climbed back down lots and lots (and lots) of steps, we roamed around for a little before heading into a cute little restaurant to get some lunch.

Later on we went on a canal tour on a Seine River Cruise (which is almost 500 miles long!). We got to see many of the famous landmarks in Paris including a close-up view of the Eiffel Tower. It was kind of surreal seeing it in person for the first time after hearing about it and watching it in so many other things.

During the river tour and braving a few of the elements, we walked through the Tuileries Garden and then made our way up Avenue des Champs-Élysées. It started raining pretty hard on our way to the Arc de Triomphe so we made a pit-stop at an adorable café to warm up with some hot chocolate.

When the rain lightened up a little bit, we continued on our way to the Arc de Triomphe and stopped in a few stores along Champs-Élysées including a HUGE Adidas store that I could’ve happily spent all my money in.

After wondering in and out of stores, we finally arrived at the magnificent Arc de Triomphe. We stood across from it for a while and just watched all the cars push their way around with no particular traffic pattern. Then we walked underground to get beneath it which made us feel so small.

Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower…

It was so incredible to take it all in and walk all around it. Before we went up to the second landing in it, we went and got dinner at another cute restaurant.

By the time we got up to the second level, the sun had set and Paris was completely lit up by all the lights. All we could do is just walk around and try to take in every detail so we could remember the amazing views for as long as possible. We went around to each side and tried to point out what we had seen that day.

After extending our time up there for as long as possible, we decided it was time to head home, BUT just as we were walking out from the bottom, the Eiffel Tower started sparkling. It was the perfect way to end our first day in Paris.

We only had about a half-day on Wednesday to get the rest of our must-dos done. We started our day at the beautiful Saint Chapelle which first opened in the year 1248!!! Although it suffered a lot of damage during the French Revolution, it is still decorated with some of the original stained glass.

Following the Sainte Chapelle, we walked to the Louvre. Fun fact: the Louvre is the world’s LARGEST art museum. And large is an understatement for this place. The museum is so overwhelmingly big that I would highly recommend doing some research about the exhibits and layout before going. My mom and I didn’t have a plan prior to going but we still enjoyed walking around and reading about all the different types of art.

Of course we went to go see the Mona Lisa (along with probably more than 200 other people). The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo de Vinci in 1503 and now hangs in its own room at the Louvre protected by its own bodyguards and encased in bulletproof glass. After seeing this painting in person, it made me wonder why it is so famous and although I’m still confused about all the fascination, the painting does have quite an interesting history.

Our favourite part of the museum was exploring the moat that surrounds ‘The fortress of King Philippe Auguste’ (AKA The Louvre). He ordered a wall to be built around to protect Paris against the threat of invaders from England. The entire fortress was surrounded by a moat (which we were standing in) and fed by the waters of the Seine River. That is a very brief and not all encompassing history of where we were standing, but nonetheless, amazing.

After the Louvre, we found an adorable Italian restaurant where we enjoyed a salad and pizza before heading back to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris to see the inside. As our last stop, it did not disappoint. From the size of the cathedral to the stunning stained glass to all the little architectural details, it was absolutely breathtaking.

If you know me or my mom, you know the adventure couldn’t have stopped there. After what we thought was the perfect mini-trip to Paris, we got ticketed on our way into the airport for not having the right ticket for the metro. It was an honest mistake and I didn’t even think that we might need to buy another to get to the airport, but it successfully changed my mood as we headed home…

To add to that, getting through security at the Paris airport was crazy, but we made it home safe and I got my mom to the Copenhagen airport on Thursday morning. All in all, a very memorable time spent with my mom (and dad) that I will forever cherish.

Hej hej,

Carolyn

Travel Week Part II: Helsinki, Finland

The second part of our Study Tour is in Helsinki, Finland. We had some cold weather coming our way but also a lot of unique company visits. After the plane landed on Tuesday, we had time to get dinner on our own and explore a little bit.

On Wednesday, instead of visiting a company, we got together as a class to get an introduction to what we would be doing on Thursday afternoon. We got a little background on some start-up companies based in Helsinki then broke into small groups based on which company we were most interested in interviewing. My group is going to a company called Slush who main purpose is the facilitate meetings between the founders of start-up companies and investors.

After collaborating with our groups for a while, we got ready to go on a walking tour of Helsinki. The weather was cold so I wore lots of layers, but at least the sun was shinng. Our tour guide took us all around Helsinki and inside some seemingly random buildings like a library, a music performance building, and where the main newspaper is written. We also got to see the beautiful Helsinki Cathedral and the central marketplace.

Later that evening we got ready to go to the sauna in Espoo, Finland. The place is called Green Window Oy and DIS classes have been going here on their study tours for over a decade. When we got there, our host and the owner of Green Window, Pekka, was not at the house yet, so we all went down the pond to explore a little and the water was frozen over so we got to walk on it. When Pekka was back, we returned to the house and had dinner there. They made a mushroom soup with mushrooms from the forest for the first course. Then we had reindeer with mashed potatoes for the main course. The meat honestly wasn’t bad, but it was really bland and tasteless.

After dinner was over, the girls in the class got to go in the sauna first while the guys went to a cabin to talk with Pekka. For those who haven’t heard of the Finnish sauna experience, I will tell you a little bit about it. Traditionally, Finns go in to the sauna nude (with just a towel) no matter who they’re with but we could wear swimsuits if we wanted. We started in the sauna which was off the side of the dock. To warm it up, you throw a ladle of water on this hot rocks. Once you are hot and sweaty enough, you go down the dock and climb in to the water. The water is obviously freezing, but honestly once your body is in it doesn’t feel that bad. Then you climb back out and return to the sauna to get warm again. As soon as you feel ready, you do it all over again. The first time was kind of a shock, but after that it becomes easier and you are able to enjoy the experience. It felt amazing to splash the cold water on your face or just stand in the water for a few seconds while looking out at the forest behind you.

We had about 90 minutes to go back and forth between the sauna and the water. Then we showered and traded places with the boys. In the red cabin with Pekka, we got coffee (with some vodka…) and cinnamon rolls. Pekka spent the next 90 minutes talking to us about a variety of topics from the meaning of life to politics to love to climate change. We also got to learn a little about his life. He spends about 300 days every year in the forest for a minimum of four hours. It was incredible to be able to listen to Pekka speak about what he has learned and seen and experienced during his life.

If you want to read more about Green Window Oy, you can go to his website, and if you want to read about Finnish Sauna Etiquette, you can go here. If you have any questions about this experience, feel free to me send me a message through the contact page.

On Thursday, we had a company visit in the morning with Microsoft. The office building that they are in now used to belong to Nokia but Microsoft has since bought them. During our visit, we attended a presentation about Microsoft as a business in general and Microsoft in Finland. Andreas, our presenter, told use quite a bit about the business model and mission of Microsoft in Finland. After the presentation, we got a quick tour of the office space which is made up of collaborative spaces where teams can meet and open spaces for people to work. There are no assigned desks or areas for anyone. Employees are free to move around as much as they want and choose from many different rooms. For the final part of our visit, we returned to the conference room we were in to test out some virtual reality glasses and play a game on Jackbox.TV.

Later in the day, we traveled with our small groups to visit the start-up companies we chose on Wednesday. Once my group got to Slush, we talked with the COO and Head of Talent about where the business started and how it has evolved. The environment was super laid back and the office was one big open room. We took off our shoes right when we came in and walked over to some couches to have our conversation. It was really cool to hear about where their journey with Slush started, how they have valued their time with the company, and their goals for the big event in Helsinki which takes place later this year. Click here if you want to read more about Slush.

On Thursday evening, we had our last group dinner together at Salutorget which included three courses: some sort of grain salad, beef and cheesy potatoes, and a truffle with a cold purple pudding like substance (if you can’t tell, I actually have no idea what anything really was, but it was all delicious)!

Our last company visit for the week was with UPM Biofore which is a Finnish forest- based industry company focused on finding sustainable solutions that replace fossil-based materials. UPM operates in several business segments including biorefining, communication papers, energy, plywood, raflatac, specialty papers, and more. During our visit, we got a quick tour of the headquarters and an introduction to some of the every day products their materials are on. After the tour, an employee from the Strategy Department gave us a presentation about the different sectors of the business, their strategy, and what makes them unique as a company.

Following the UPM visit, our class had a group lunch at Skiffeer Viiskulma where we were served lots and LOTS of pizza. We had a few hours before we had to leave for the airport, so we time to ourselves to explore Helsinki. A few of us took a ferry ride to a nearby island called Suomenlinna. The sea fortress was built on the island in the mid-18th century when Finland was still a part of Sweden.

After taking the ferry back to the harbour, we had a little time left to go to Allas Sea Pool which has a sauna, an outdoor heated swimming pool, and a swimming basin with water directly from the Gulf of Finland which feeds into the Baltic Sea. We knew from out sauna experience a few days ago to sit in the sauna until we were really hot then head down to the heated pool. None of us wanted to jump in to the water from the sea that day…

At 18:00, we headed for the airport to catch our flight back to Copenhagen. When I arrived back at my homestay, I was greeted by (a very excited) Molly!

Travel Week is one of the aspects that makes DIS unique compared to other study abroad programs. I am so glad I was able to visit Riga & Helsinki (two places I probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise) to learn about various business that operate there and experience the culture as well!

Hej hej,

Carolyn

Travel Week Part I: Riga, Latvia

I had an early wakeup call on Sunday the 3rd, but for good reason! This marked the beginning of my week-long Study Tour with my core course, European Business Strategies. Our section was traveling to Riga, Latvia and Helsinki, Finland. When I signed up for classes, this was the only section with available openings, so I was a little bummed because the other two sections were going to Germany and the UK. But as the semester has gone along, I am thankful I ended up in this section because I would not have traveled to either of these places otherwise. Things always seem to work out for the best!

Our first stop was in Riga, Latvia…and Riga decided to give us some not-so-great weather for our stay. After checking into the hotel, a big group of us headed out into the rainy weather to goto Centrālais Gastro Tirgus, a big marketplace with lots of food choices. We headed back to the hotel for a guided tour of Riga. During the tour we experienced wind, rain, and snow! The tour was beautiful though (lots of pictures below). Riga has a lot of rich history in it’s buildings and it was amazing to learn about. We were lucky enough to stop about mid-way through the tour to warm up in a cafe with coffee and hot chocolate (thanks DIS!!!).

For dinner on Sunday, we went to Ala Pagrabs Folk Club. We were all a little worried that we were going to have actually folk dance, but they only asked for a few volunteers. The folk band came out before dinner and put on a super cool show for us. They told us about the history of folk dancing, some of the traditions, the meaning of their clothing, and more. When their performance ended, the food started coming out. We got to try a few different dishes including a tomato and cucumber salad, roasted potatoes and vegetables, and chicken wrapped in bacon and pork. And for dessert….FRESH FRUIT! (Check out my Instagram to see videos of the folk band and some of the music we heard!!!)

Monday started with a DELICIOUS breakfast at our hotel. There were so many options it was hard to fit it all on one plate. After breakfast, we took off for our first company visit at Latvijas Banka. Once we had all been checked in, we went into what they call “Money World.” First, we listened to a video called “Fairy Tales About Money” and received some important advice: “Money without work is just an illusion.” After the video ended, we got to explore “Money World” where we could learn about ancient money, cash and non-cash money, the European Economy, Global Finances, and Monetary Policy. When we got all the way through “Money World,” we got to hear a presentation entitled “On convergence, steroids, and storms.” I thought it was as interesting as the title.

Later in the day, we visited Latvijas Balzams which is the largest alcoholic beverage producer in the Baltic states and is headquartered in Riga. During this presentation, we learned about the history of the company, their success since starting, and how they manage their brands.

For dinner on Monday, we went to Melnā Bite. We got served multiple courses, and I was skeptical about more than one. The ones I was brave enough to try were pretty good…it’s hard to remember all the names, but the main course was potatoes and slow cooked beef cheeks. A few of the courses are pictures below! Would recommend if you ever have the chance. After dinner, we all went to the Sky Bar in the hotel and got a great view of Riga.

Our last stop in Riga was on Tuesday morning at the Laima Chocolate Mueseum!!! Anyone that knows me knows I have the BIGGEST sweet tooth ever, so this place was a dream come true. We started the tour by drinking a cup of dark chocolate from the chocolate fountain you see in the photo below. While enjoying our chocolate, we learned about the history of the company. We got to address our own chocolate bars to someone we love 🙂

After the tour of the museum, we got to to make our own chocolate!! Everyone got an apron and hair then we got started creating our own chocolates! We had lots of ingredients to choose from to put inside the chocolates or sprinkle on top. Once we created our four chocolates, we got a cute little box to put them in and a colourful ribbon to tie around it.

Our next stop is Helsinki, Finland which will bring many more cool company visits and cultural experiences!

Hej hej,

Carolyn

A two-day guide to Brussels

Sorry for the lack of posts lately…school has been busy the last two weeks, but I’m excited to share about my weekend in Brussels from March 15-17th.

In the afternoon on Friday, my friend Paola and I (Victoria was meeting us a little later) took off for Brussels, Belgium for the weekend. Once our plane landed, we struggled a little bit to figure out the transportation to our Airbnb, but once we got there we were greeted by the nicest host ever! He gave us a little tour of his house and an extensive list of the sights we should try to see while we were there.

When Victoria got to the Airbnb, we went out to dinner at a local restaurant and split a bunch of different dishes so we could try everything! Later that night, we went out to explore a little and stumbled upon Grand Place which is the central square of Brussels. It was truly magical (especially at night).

On Saturday, we got up early for a full day of exploring! Our Airbnb was a little outside of Brussels, but it was the perfect place to start for our self-led tour. We got breakfast at this cute cafe that was close to our Airbnb then rode on some electric scooters to get to the Parc du Cinquantenaire. We started at one end and walked all the way to the other. Along the way, we stopped to pet some dogs and talk to some of the locals about their favorite spots.

Next, we headed to Leopold Park which is very close to the European Parliament Building. We walked around the House of European History for a while then we had lunch at Cafe Belga. We all split two types of pasta and got famous Belgian fries from a food truck after.

Throughout the day, we stopped at a few different cathedrals to see the architecture on the inside. Of course we had to stop to get a Belgium waffle (with chocolate syrup) from a Waffle Truck. While we ate out waffles, we did some people watching at Place Royale. Towards the end of the day, we stumbled upon the Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral. Both the inside and outside of this cathedral were absolutely beautiful.

At night, we went to Bright Brussels, which was a famous lights festival that was going on for just that weekend. There were about 10 different spots around the main part of downtown Brussels that had a lights display happening. We were so glad that we got to see it!

On Sunday, we got up early again to make sure we were able to see everything we wanted to! First, we took the train to the famous Atomium. We didn’t pay to go inside, but just seeing it from the outside was so cool. The Atomium has quite a neat history if you’re interested…

From the Atomium, we walked to find somewhere to eat for lunch. Again, we stumbled upon this cute little sandwich place. Victoria and Paola ordered a sub from the small shop, and as we were walking away, the man who made the sandwiches came out after us and gave us some type of warm bread (kind of like a naan bread) for FREE! This was definitely a good start to our day.

Our next stop was the legendary Mannequin Pis. Then, we went to the Choco-Story Museum (wouldn’t necessarily recommend but we got a few pieces of free chocolate). We spent a lot of time at Grand Place (which is the place we got to see at night on Friday). It was just as magical in the daylight. I can’t quite explain the feeling I got from being in that square, but I was honestly taken back by how beautiful it was. While we were walking around the square, we saw an artist who was selling drawings that he has done of the square. Victoria and I were both sad that we weren’t going to be able to buy one because we didn’t have enough Euros, but to make a long story short, an incredibly nice man gave Victoria 20 Euros to buy one because they had the same hobby of collecting these drawings. Victoria was able to buy the one she wanted, and the artist allowed be to buy one with the Euros we had left. We were all blown away by these acts of kindness…we talked about it for hours.

Before heading for the airport, we got some lunch at a cute little pasta restaurant and (of course) got another waffle. Getting to the airport was a little stressful, but we made out flight and returned safely to Copenhagen.

We experienced a lot of genuine kindness in Brussels during the weekend and were very lucky with all the experiences we were able to have. We could not have had better weather or a better weekend!

Thank you for the memories, Brussels!

Hej hej,

Carolyn

Core Course Week

From February 4th through the 8th, I traveled with my Core Course for Core Course Week which is a three-day Study Tour in Denmark (or a neighbouring country) and a two-day seminar in Copenhagen related to our Core Course curriculum.

My core course is European Business Strategies and for the first part of the week, we traveled to Western Denmark. Later in the week, we returned to Copenhagen to hear from a former employee of Maersk and visit Carlsberg Brewery.

This was such an incredible opportunity to learn about Danish Companies and the structure of a variety of businesses here in Denmark.

Check out some of the highlights below!

Monday:

  • We left Copenhagen in the morning and headed to Aarhus for our first visit at Jysk
  • At Jysk, we got a presentation about the company’s atmosphere and their strategic positioning within the market
  • After the presentation, we went to a nearby Jysk store to look around and think about what we just heard
  • Then, we went to go check in to hotel and got to explore Aarhus for a few hours before dinner
  • We had dinner at Italian restaurant and were served lots and LOTS of delicious pizza

Tuesday:

  • We had breakfast at hotel, loaded up the bus, and walked to the Aarhus Art Museum (this museum is well known for the exhibit Your Rainbow Panorama ‘Your Rainbow Panorama‘)
  • Our next visit was at Blue Water Shipping in Esbjerg
  • Once we arrived, we toured the harbour on the bus then got a presentation from Claus about the various business segments of the company and a new project they are working on
  • After the visit, we checked into hostel and went to dinner at Flammen

Wednesday:

  • We had breakfast at hostel then headed to our visit with Viking Life Saving Equipment
  • We got a tour of where some of their products are made and then went to a presentation given by Elizabeth, who is a Global Marketing Communications Manager, about the structure of the company and the products they offer their customers
  • On our way home, we stopped at Nyborg Destilleri for lunch and a tour of where they make their whiskey (plus we go to try some!)

Thursday:

  • We meet for a few hours in the morning to hear from Adrian, a former employee of Maersk, about how strategies can fail for companies and how it is essential to implement a sustainable strategy for long term success.

Friday:

  • We met at Carlsberg Brewery and got a tour of Carlsberg City while learning about the history of the company
  • After the tour, we heard from Charlotte, who is a Brand Manager for Craft & Speciality Beers, and got an introduction to the project we will be working on towards the end of the semester

Hej hej,

Carolyn

Happiness & hygge

I knew studying abroad for an entire semester was going to be a challenge for me. Of course it’s an incredible opportunity, and I’m SO thankful and blessed to be able to spend a semester in Copenhagen, but being away from home and the people I am most comfortable around is difficult for me. Comfort zones are definitely a thing and I have been pushed way way way outside of mine (for the better). I may have cried a once or twice and called my parents a few too many times…but I am taking it one day at a time and focusing on the happy moments I am having with my host family, new friends, and myself.

25.01.19 – This Friday had quite a few happy moments. The day started with Victoria bringing me breakfast in bed which is already a good day in my book, but it got better. I didn’t have the one class I usually have on Fridays, so I got to just hang at home. There was a handball game at night (Denmark won) and during the game we had hot dogs for dinner (a very American food, but somehow better in Denmark). This wonderful day ended with some delicious dessert pancakes, that I hope we have again soon, and a sleepover with Ida!

26.01.19 – This snowy Saturday started with my favorite thing ever: FRENCH TOAST. I had my mom send me her recipe for french toast because I was lead chef on these. We also had eggs, toast, bacon, sausages, and coffee. I was very satisfied after this brunch. Later on in the day, Ida, Victoria, and I went to a nearby park and I took lots and lots of pictures of them. We warmed up afterwards with some hot cocoa topped with whipped cream made by Lena.

27.01.19 – Sunday was a big day in Denmark because it was the Handball World Championship game (Denmark vs. Norway). To celebrate, Lena’s parents came over to watch the game and then we had dinner after the big win.

28.01.19 – I remember being so tired this day, but I’m happy I pushed through that and decided to go to the Handball World Championship celebration at City Hall. It was such an awesome experience to see thousands of people gather to cheer on the Handball team. My friend and I only got to the square about 15 minutes before it was scheduled to start, yet we were able to get pretty close. By the time we wanted to leave, we struggled to push through the enormous mob of people that had gathered behind us. Thankfully, we eventually got out.

29.01.19 – For those who don’t know, I applied to be an Official DIS blogger this semester (hence, the blog), and I got one of the positions! We had the orientation meeting on this Tuesday to get some tips and tricks for our blogs. Plus, there were pastries so that always calls for a smile. (Check out my official DIS Blogger Badge at the bottom of my blog!!)

30.01.19 – Skt. Peders Bageri is a bakery in Copenhagen that is famous for it’s mouth-watering onsdagssnegle (a cinnamon rolls whose name literally translates to Wednesday Snails). I got up early to get one with Victoria, and it definitely lived up to the hype. Later on, Victoria and I met Troels to go visit Lena at her work. She is a chef at a tech company, and a team of them cater meals to the staff at the company everyday. We got there for her lunch time so we could eat with her and meet her coworkers. This happy day continued when I got to go watch Ida’s ballet practice. I couldn’t understand a word the teacher was saying, but it was so fun to watch.

31.01.19 – Thursday’s happy moment was some hygge time with some friends at a local bar. It was such a chill atmosphere with aesthetic surroundings to just sit and chat with friends.

02.02.19 – This Saturday included one of my favorite adventure so far! Victoria, our friend Paola, and I went to Torvehallerne (AKA The Glass Market) and walked around for a few hours. The market has two buildings and an outdoor area filled with lots of food, drinks, and random shops. We all wanted to try something, but we didn’t know what to get so we tried to check out every place there (and take all the free samples we could find). We finally settled on getting three empanadas to split. On the way out, we also got two chocolate frogs. Later on, Lena’s friend Ann came over for dinner with her daughter and two host students. It was so fun to chat with them and see how their experience has been so far. Dinner was delicious (obviously) and we had cake for dessert. It was honestly one of the best cakes I’ve had in my entire life – no exaggeration (see below for a mouth-watering picture).

03.02.19 – Sunday was a very chill day, and I got to choose what was for dinner. I chose tacos!!!! They were absolutely delicious. After dinner, I talked with my parents on FaceTime (hi mom & dad). Then I packed for Core Course Week which will be my first time out of Copenhagen!

Not specifically mentioned, but lots of hygge time in between all of this! Mostly cards with Ida and Victoria, but also movies, after-dinner conversation, and more!

You’ll hear from me soon with some details about Core Course Week which includes travels to Western Denmark.

Hej hej,

Carolyn

Kaffe, kaffe og mere kaffe

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE any type of coffee or espresso drink. Lucky for me, Danes also love their coffee, so I fit right in. I’ve decided to keep a running list of the cafés I try and my informal review of them (which will probably mostly be all positive).

  • Studenterhuset: This was the first coffee shop I went to here! I’ve only had the regular coffee but it was really good (especially after some milk and cream). DIS students get a membership here during the semester, so it’s a good place to get a cheap(er) drink and hang out. It has two floors with a winding staircase and lots of seating. Plus, the chocolate croissants are delicious 🙂
  • Next Door Cafe: Almost literally a hole in the ground, BUT super cute on the inside. The tables have a glass layer on top with unique mementos underneath like postcards, stamps, event flyers, a DIS student ID (whoops), etc. Lighting is not good for homework-doing and there is not a lot of seating, but it’s good if you’re just looking for a place to drink some caffeine, eat a snack, or chat with friends.
  • Coffee from home: Ok…not a coffee shop, but in an attempt to not spend all of my money on lattes this semester, I make coffee almost every morning at home and take it to-go. My host family makes their coffee with a french press from IKEA (just like the one I own). I’m not a fan of straight black coffee so of course I add milk (oat milk when we have it <3) and sugar
  • Emmery’s: I want to say that this is kind of like Starbucks of Copenhagen (along with a place called Espresso House). I see these coffee shops all over the city center and around where I live. When I went, I got a latte and it was decent but nothing special in my opinion. The shop I went to was nice and bright, had lots of seating, and some yummy looking pastries. Good place to get some work done between classes!
  • Café g: We had an event organized by DIS for our all the host families and students in our housing network here, and I’m so glad I got to go because not only did I get a FREE latte and chocolate cake, but they were so good. Definitely the classiest coffee shop/restaurant I’ve been to so far, and the best part was I didn’t have to spend a krone.
  • Café in The Royal Library: When Victoria and I ventured to the Royal Library (aka Black Diamond), we did not have coffee at home so I bought a latte here. Probably overpriced for the size and quality, but it was a cute little open cafe with lots of seating and light.
  • Tak for Kaffe: So, the day I went to this coffee shop I woke up late for my class because I didn’t hear my alarm. I got ready as fast as humanly possible and sprinted to class because attendance and participation is taken very seriously at DIS and in Denmark in general. I’m not usually one to be late so I was freaking out. It all turned out ok though, and my professor was very impressed with how quickly I got to class….not exactly brownie points but I’ll take it. After my two morning classes, I have a little break and I was still very flustered from my morning so naturally I decide to treat myself to a latte. This coffee shop was adorable – one of my favorites so far. Not a lot of seating, but very bright and reasonably prices lattes (plus I’ve heard you can get a large cup of coffee for a good price, so I’ll be back).
  • The Little Yellow Cafe Bar: I left the house early one morning before my 08.30 class so I could stop at this coffee shop which is steps from DIS. I didn’t get to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere, but the latte was really good and reasonably priced. Overall, it was a cute, quaint place that I would love to go back to so I can sit down and enjoy! UPDATE: I have gone here so many times since I wrote this…probably in my top 3 favourite cafes that I’ve been to. The lady and man that are always working are so nice and accommodating. Great lattes and mochas and yogurt!
  • 7-Eleven: Kind of regret going to this one because I KNEW the coffee wouldn’t be unique or super good, but 7-Eleven’s are everywhere here (and substantially nicer than the typical 7-Eleven in the United States), so if you are in a pinch and need caffeine, it’s not the worst ever but certainty not the best.
  • Buzz Kaffebar: I’m considering this one an honorary mention for right now because I didn’t actually order any coffee or food (I had already drank two lattes this day…), but the inside was adorable and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. It was small and a little cramped but a decent amount of seating considering. I definitely want to go back to try a drink!
  • Skt. Peders Bageri: Uh okay, I didn’t get coffee here, but I went here on a Wednesday because they sell a special cinnamon roll called a onsdagssnegle (which translates to “Wednesday snail”) and it was INCREDIBLE. You can either get a sugared or frosted one, and I decided to get the sugared. Definitely will be going back on a Wednesday, and maybe I’ll try the coffee too…
  • Coffee Industry Sweden: I got a small latte (obviously) and it was AMAZING – another one of my favorites. Also, the inside is the cutest ever! It has 2 floors, lots of seating, nice music, and cute signs everywhere. Good place to go between classes or to get work done! UPDATE: Got a blueberry muffin here once…and it was legitimately one of the best muffins I’ve ever had

There are lots of places I’ve heard of and seen that I want to try, but I’ve got lots of time for that! My wishlist right now includes: Democratic Coffee, Joe & The Juice, Lagkagehuset, and Mad & Kaffe

Add ons (11.2.19)

  • Joe & The Juice: I went here on a weekend to get some homework done. In terms of the “homework doing” environment, it isn’t great because of the low lighting and loud-ish music (the playlist was incredible though). I mostly went here to try their juice though and I wasn’t disappointed there. Instead of the typical latte, I got a juice called ‘Pick Me Up’ with raspberry, banana, and apple. It was delicious and I want to try more of their juices in the future, but it is on the pricier side.
  • Lagkagehuset: I got a pastry here (no coffee 😦 …maybe next time) and sat at a table during my break between classes. All the pastries looked so good – it was hard to choose which one to get. There was lots of seating and light, and it is very close to DIS which is always a plus!

Add ons (21.3.19)

  • Espresso House: I have 6 words for you…LARGE LATTE FOR 35DKR UNTIL 10:00! A small miracle for a latte that *almost* resembles the size of an American large latte. There are lots of them around the city. Cute atmosphere with good coffee
  • Cafe Fiol: This place is the definition of hygge (very, very cosy). Cute little multi-level place with lots of seating. Close to DIS and Nørreport Station. Smoothies are SO good and an iced latte is on 35 DKK (almost unheard of). Good place to chill or get some work done…but not many outlets

Hej hej,

Carolyn

The start of a semester

“Scandinavia as your home, Europe as your classroom.” This simple phrase represents the entire DIS program and some of the things I have to look forward to this semester. I’ve been hearing and reading the phrase so often in the past few months that I was incredibly excited to start experiencing it. Thursday marked the first day of class, and just a few minutes in to my first class I was already able to see what a unique learning experience I will be getting in the next four months.

For those who aren’t familiar with DIS (which I’m assuming is most), it is a non-profit study abroad foundation which runs programs in both Copenhagen and Stockholm. Most of the classes are taught by professionals in that field of study, so they really are the experts on the topic you are learning. Throughout the semester, you not only learn from the faculty in the classroom, but also through Field Studies and Study Tours. The Field Studies are experiential learning opportunities that take place on Wednesdays around Copenhagen. (For example, this semester I am in a Sports Economics course and for one of the field studies, I get to attend a soccer match later in the semester and learn from some of the professionals who help run the organization — pretty cool, huh?) The Study Tours are another type of learning opportunity where we travel around Denmark and Europe with our classmates from our Core Course (which is the specific academic program we enrolled in when we picked our classes). I can’t say I completely understood how the program worked when I decided to apply, but I am so SO happy this is where I ended up.

A picture from my walk to class on Thursday.

I had three classes on Thursday (European Business Strategies, Meaning of Style, and Danish Language & Culture) and one on Friday (Sports Economics). They were mainly just focused on introductions of the professor, ourselves, and the course material, buuuuut I got a fun surprise in my Sports Economics class…

My professor, who works for Sport Event Denmark and is a specialist in bidding for and organizing sports events, gave everyone in the class two free tickets to attend a Handball game on the upcoming Sunday at Copenhagen’s newly built Royal Arena. Handball is a HUGE sport in Copenhagen and the Danes are even more excited than usual about it right now because the World Championship game (which Denmark seems to have a good shot of playing in) is taking place at the Royal Arena.

Then, after class on Friday, I headed back home to say goodbye to my host family for the weekend. They were traveling to see family in Western Denmark. The weekend mainly consisted of homework and hanging out with some friends.

Later on Sunday, Victoria and I met up with some of the girls from my Sports Economics class and went to the Handball game. The two teams playing in this game were Japan and Angola. Angola ended up pulling out a 32-29 win.

The game was just two quick 30-minute halves, and after it ended, Victoria and I headed to a social event for all the students in our homestay network. The event was held at a cute little café called Café g. We sat and talked to other host families and students for a short time while enjoying some coffee and delicious cake (pictured below). Then, we took the train home and waited for our host family to come home to eat dinner.

I was out of the house early on Monday morning for my 08:30 class and about midway through the lecture snowflakes began to fall outside the window. Something about Copenhagen snow if more beautiful than any other snow I’ve seen (and trust me, I’ve seen a lot of it). As I walked outside to my second class, the snow just kept coming down and it continued until the evening. After I got back home from class on Monday, Ida talked me in to playing cards with her until dinner instead of doing my homework (it didn’t take much convincing). Playing card games has kind of turned in to our nightly routine, and I LOVE IT. We both make a lot of funky noises and laugh a lot while playing — just ask Victoria.

Tuesdays are going to be my happy day during the week because I have no class, so I can do whatever I want (which today ended up being sleeping in until 10:30). Victoria made us eggs and toast for breakfast (how lucky am I??) and then we headed to the infamous Royal Library, AKA The Black Diamond. We had heard about its the stunning architecture and beautiful views, so we decided to go check it out. On our way to the library, we walked past some incredible buildings that I couldn’t help taking pictures of…

The Black Diamond definitely lived up to the hype. It is HUGE and includes a café (where I got a latte), six floors, and countless places to study. Victoria and I went in to one of the old reading rooms to get some work done. This room was extremely quiet (you could hear a pin drop), so OF COURSE I had to sneeze obnoxiously loud and have it echo for what felt like minutes. I tried not to look up, but Victoria said people were staring. Fortunately for everyone else, we didn’t stay too long, but I still got some cool pictures!

Hej hej,

Carolyn

P.S. Good luck to all my friends back in Madison who started their semesters today!!!

Getting settled & orientation

On Friday, January 12th, I spent the morning getting everything in order and fitting as much as possible in my suitcases. Around 14:00, I said my last goodbye to my dogs and then my dad, mom, sister (Kim), and I took off for O’Hare airport in Chicago. As we stood outside the TSA line, it didn’t take long for the tears to come. I’m so used to being less than 90 minutes away from my parents so imagining 4 months without them felt unbearable, but after some comforting words and big hugs, I was able to really begin my journey.

The first leg of my flight was from Chicago to Zürich which was expectedly long and surprisingly sleepless. During the flight, I watched three movies to pass the time (including Ocean’s 8, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Notebook). As the flight neared it’s end, I saw the point where the sky changed from night to day which was an incredible site.

The second part of my flight was from Zürich to Copenhagen. This flight was quick and I spent most of it reading. Once it landed, I went to get my checked bags and walked over to a hotel across the street with some other DIS students. As I was picking up my arrival folder, my host family was already there waiting! I met Victoria (the other American student living in my homestay) and my host family (Troels, Lena, and Ida).

Side note: I think I have the picture perfect host family. They live in Østerport in housing for military families (which is so close to the city center) because Troels is in the Royal Guard (…and he also skydives in his free time?!?!). My host mom, Lena, is a pastry chef at an IT company, makes excellent food at home, and is so so kind. Ida, my 11-year-old host sister, is absolutely adorable, speaks incredible English, and loves to have Hygge (which is a Danish word meaning a feeling of coziness and creating a warm atmosphere) time at night which so far has been spent watching TV and movies, eating candy and ice cream, and playing cards. Plus, they have the cutest little dog, Molly, who loves to snuggle (we’ve already taken two naps together!).

We arrived back at their house around 16:00. I spent some time unpacking my suitcases ( and for those who were wondering, I was able to narrow down my shoes to ~only~ 6 pairs!!) and setting up my room which I share with Victoria. After unpacking and relaxing a little, we ate a delicious dinner. I went to bed nice and early after over 24 sleepless hours.

On Sunday, I woke up for breakfast at 09:00 but took a short nap right after the meal was over. Later in the day, my host family walked me to the train station and taught me how to get to and from DIS. I am really, really bad at directions and remembering street names, so I’m sure the first few days of class will be an adventure, but hopefully I’ll know my way around by the end of the semester (not a very ambitious goal, I know). After learning where a few of the DIS buildings were, we decided to walk back home. I saw the infamous Nyhavn, the IT company where my host mom works , and Amalienborg where the royal families’ houses are located.

On Monday, it was the first day of the DIS welcoming events! Victoria and I got up bright and early to go to the opening ceremony which was in the old circus building. We were welcomed to the DIS program by the DIS Executive Director Malene Torp. Throughout the ceremony we heard music from Elisha, a rising pop star in Copenhagen, and got some words of advice from DIS alumni. Following the ceremony, we went to pickup our books for classes, learned about campus layout from a DIS student who is here for the entire year, went shopping at Normal and Flying Tiger (two stores with a variety of some unique items and some normal items). Our last adventure this day was getting our phones set-up with our new SIM cards and buying a data plan. By the end of our day near the DIS campus, we had experienced quite a mix of weather: rain, snow, and sunshine (but this seems like the norm for a day in Copenhagen). After dinner back at our host family’s house, Victoria, Ida, and I ran to the store to get ice cream and a Danish snack called flødeboller, which is essentially a chocolate covered marshmallow treat. We enjoyed these treats while watching A Star is Born (in English).

Elisha performing at the DIS Opening Ceremony

On Tuesday morning, Victoria and I attended our housing session to meet other students in homestays around where we are living. As a group, we discussed what our expectations we for the semester, what we think our host families are expecting from us, and how we can get the most out of this incredible experience. We also talked through some previous difficult situations that DIS students and host families have dealt with and how we can approach the situations in the best way. Between our housing session and some informational talks that were being given later, Victoria, me, and two new friends walked to The Little Mermaid statue. It was a long walk in some not-so-pleasant rain, but definitely worth it! We all got a few pictures with the statue and then took the train back to DIS for the informational sessions. I attended two sessions including “All Things Food” which as you can probably guess was about the most typical types of foods eaten in Copenhagen, the cost of eating out, the Danish names for staple foods, and how to food shop on a budget. Later that night, we ate a delicious chicken curry dish for dinner and (of course) ended the night by playing cards.

The Little Mermaid Statue
Playing a card game that Ida taught us!

Wednesday started with my academic orientation for my core course this semester which is European Business Strategies. The meeting was at a cute café called Studenterhuset and to my delight, there was free coffee and chocolate croissants (YUM). I got to meet a few people in my core course and learn about what we have in store for the semester. After the meeting, I spent some time at the café reviewing my syllabi for my classes. Thursday is the first day of classes and I have a early start (08:30), but I can’t wait to experience to DIS study abroad classroom experience!

Here’s a cute picture to leave you with of my host family’s dog, Molly ❤️.

Hej hej,

Carolyn