Paola, Outbound to Denmark


These last two months in Copenhagen have been unbelievable. It's hard to know where to begin, so I'll just write as things come to me.

Copenhagen is a fairly small city so it's very easy to get around by either walking, taking the train/metro, or biking. They have a strong biking culture here, and it's reallllll transportation- nothing like those leisure bike rides on the beach. People get to where they need to go and they go fast. I've started biking everywhere since I've been here and it's super convenient. Overall, moving from one place to another keeps the Danes fairly active which is great, but in all honesty, it is more physical activity than I am used to so here's hoping I look like a goddess by the end of the year. Also, there is a strong culture of eating healthy home cooked meals and food made from scratch, such as baking their own bread! Danish food is incredible, I'm definitely learning how to cook while I am here.

As I said, Copenhagen is a small city so all of the beautiful tourist sites are relatively very close to each other- you can see everything, such as the Little Mermaid statue, NyHavn, etc., in the span of one-two days! I actually go to school at Gefion Gymnasium which is very close to the city centre and all the touristy areas so I get to see it all with just a 15 min walk from where I am everyday. But don't let this fool you, there are always things going on in Copenhagen! There is a festival or event happening almost every week. It is never boring here. In fact, I am going to a Latin American festival with my exchange friends this weekend. Since I go to school here and live very close by, I like to walk the old European streets of Copenhagen and "get lost" because I see something new every time and add it to the ongoing map in my mind- more and more, I realise how everything in this city is connected! The city of Copenhagen is very artsy, with the Danish Royal Theatre, the Opera House, and more nearby. Being a theatre nerd who loves artsy things, you can imagine why this is a major plus.

Danish people are so kind!!! I felt at home in this country by the second day I was here. My first host family, whom I am currently staying with, is incredible and I don't want to switch. I have two younger brothers- one is 5 and one is 13. If you are going on exchange, pray you get a younger sibling because they are the key to learning a new language. You see, everyone is Denmark speaks perfect English. You'll be able to make friends and bond with people this way initially, but it makes it difficult to learn Danish. However, children typically haven't learn English and they don't necessarily speak complicated or advanced Danish so its perfect to practice and learn! My brother taught me the numbers and colours on day one.

I love my classmates and all the Danish friends I've made here. They genuinely want to know more about me and care about my experience here.

The education system here is very different. The Danish equivalent to high school is called gymnasium. I won't get into it too much, but basically, student choose a "path" , such as science or language, at the beginning of their first year and for the rest of the 3 years, all of their classes are geared toward that path. They take all of their classes with the same group of people who choose the same path. I am in the Language-Spanish class and there is about 26 of us. It is great because everyone is so close; we are all friends because we see each other all the time!

School here gives a lot of freedom and independence to the students. There is no dress code, students can leave the school for lunch, and every single day is different. Every week, a new schedule is published and it tells you what days you have what classes at what time. Classes are 1hr 30min and you never have more than 4 classes a day; often, you will have less. Also, classes can get cancelled so you can just go home or have a free period. As I have had it explained to me by my classmates, the student is responsible for his/her education; you are there because you want to be there so it is your responsibility to go and get work done. They use a lot of technology and computers in class- rarely is there anything on paper or hand-written.

Denmark is amazing and more people should know about it!!! I am so happy to be here and already feel how hard it will be to leave.

This was a basic intro to life in Denmark. Next time, I will be sure to include more specific stories, such as falling off my bike on my first day here.

Have a great day, kind reader :)

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