This trip already began with an expensive surprise: overweight luggage = additional $100 USD. My 1 free checked in luggage was 7kg over the limit. Since I got to the airport late, I was worried about missing the flight so I readily agreed to pay the extra fee. Other than the unfortunate added cost, getting to Copenhagen was granted a smooth process. I flew through TAP Air Portugal with a 2 hour layover in Lisbon, Portugal. Waiting to go through securities at the Lisbon airport changed my fantasy of classy Europeans. I always felt ashamed about how Asians never understood the meaning of waiting in ‘lines’. Today, I realized that no one else follows this concept either! This is my first time travelling with a layover alone. I was nervous about losing my luggage lost which thankfully didn’t happen. I was weirded out at first on how I got through the baggage claim and exited the airport without the need to show my passport to the Danish officer. Although I never figured out why it worked like that, I was reassured it was okay to enter the country without first getting a stamp. Right out the Arrival area, I was greeted by DIS staffs who told me to head to the Hilton Hotel. On my way there, I was already randomly approached by a friendly Danish resident who eagerly offered help since I probably looked lost. My New Yorker senses kicked in and I cautiously held onto my luggage as this man conversed with me.
After going through a short orientation session, other DIS students and I waited in a room for our host families and roommates to pick us up. It felt like we were children waiting after baseball practiced ended for our parents to pick us up and hoping we’re not the unfortunate ones to be left behind. My host dad and sister came to pick me up after many of the students were already identified with their family. When I first saw them, I wasn’t sure how I should greet them. If I was still in Brazil, I’d give them hugs and kisses. What do Danes do? I went for the safe handshake since I was under the impression that Danes are not normally the most touchy feely people.
On my way home, I saw where the nearby train station was. It looks like a 2-3 minute walk to the station and another 20-30 minute ride to Copenhagen station. Getting in the house, I was immediately greeted by my host mom and host dog. Taking a tour around the house, I see many decorations from different styles of design. The house gave a warm vintage feeling. My small cozy room is on the first floor.
Although today is my first day there, I’m already experiencing many cultural differences. I think what I’ve learned today already trumps all the differences I’ve identified in Hong Kong and Brazil. Danes are very environment conscious people. Energy and water conservation is heavily practiced in the household. Tap water is drinkable water; don’t waste it to flush excess water down the toilet. Danish toilets have two flush options, both uses significantly less water than American ones. Danes are also very aware of what the eco-friendly options to simple housekeeping items such as using greener options to wrap lunch. My host family also has their own little green house with some home grown vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, beets, string beans, and tomatoes.
My first Danish dinner with my host family was a very healthy one. Everything was boiled and lightly salted. The potatoes taste very different from what I’m used it. They don’t have that fluffy texture; they more or less reminded me of some sort of beets. Since bread is expensive in Denmark, my host mother makes her own. Again, it has a very foreign texture. Overall, the meal tasted similar to certain American dishes. Danish sweets, on the other hand are much more different. My host sister excitedly insisted for me try these fish-shaped licorice gummies that they called ‘salted fish’. The Danes are big on licorice, a taste I’m not sure if I’ll grow onto. She also offered me her favorite chocolate, Anthon Berg Marcipan. The chocolate coated this filling that reminded me of coconut shreds. I like how it wasn’t too sweet.
The living conditions this semester is going to be a challenge, a fun challenge for a city girl like me. My home is surrounded with trees and wildlife. I thought my host sister was joking when she said there’s a door in the backyard to the forest. There literally is a door to the forest. I’m excited to explore the close by wildlife and surrounding lakes. However, getting past the spiders, other insects, and snakes would be my first obstacle.