This is the second in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Denmark program this summer with Professor Michelle Janning. This blog post is by Nancy.
I haven’t done too many bold things in life but writing (or typing for specificity sake) this blog post while on a moving charter bus is really something. This is me defying my motion sickness tendencies to deliver the content you are hopefully here for.
After already being in Denmark for an entire week we have *mostly* settled in. A few people are currently sleeping on the charter bus and I want to say it is due to the three-hour trip we are making to a town called Kolding (pronounced “cawl-din”) in central Denmark as opposed to jet lag. For the next three days, we will be meeting some Danish people such as Anna, a current high school student, and visiting several locations like a design kindergarten (still don’t know what this means) and the LEGO House! Kyle is super stoked for the latter location…
The first week at Denmark has been quite an interesting experience to say the least. For instance, I’ve learned that public transportation is so much more reliable than it is in America, particularly in Los Angeles. Last summer, I had an intern friend joke that nobody walked in Los Angeles out of choice and I can’t say she was completely wrong. Danes get around in a manner that significantly differs from the way Americans do. It’s a fair portion of walking and using public transportation— bus, metro, and the S Tog (train)— but an astounding amount is biking. I wonder if people ever forget where they parked their bike or if there is a speed limit for how fast one can cycle down the road. One of my biggest pet peeves are slow walkers so I’ve found myself frustrated a few times within this past week with fellow pedestrians. There really is no in between in Denmark, people either walk slow or bike as if they were competing in the cycling marathon that happens every so often in Walla Walla. It surely doesn’t help that the streets are extremely narrow; granted, the bikes parked on the sidewalk are ridiculously space-consuming.
An overabundance of bikes is made possible given the type of road infrastructure. Picture a standard street in America, sidewalk for pedestrians and a lane for normal vehicles. Now add another street-like path to this visual. That path, typically wider than the actual sidewalk, is around the entire city; people like myself could forget about this feature, though. Funny story, on Saturday my roommate Kaima and I were in route to meet up with fellow classmates at the Church of Our Saviour in Christianshavn to make a trek to the top of the tower. I had hopped off the bus and waited for Kaima to also follow suit. However, she didn’t budge from her seat so I tapped on the glass window (very antithetical to the Danish logic of not calling attention to oneself) yet that was a futile attempt because everybody but her turned my way. Mind you, the entire time I had been standing in the bike lane, a sure way to ask for a deadly sentence. I’m still here typing so I’m obviously not dead; I simply learned that standing there for a second or two minutes too long prompts to getting scolded in Danish by cyclists. I used my non-existent language skills to brush off the comments (or insults). Swerving skills were on point!
I’ve been eating a ton of bread and cheese… and ice cream. This is definitely not a complaint, quite the contrary. I’ve never enjoyed bread and cheese this much; super glad that I’m neither lactose or gluten intolerant in times like these! My parents don’t need to know that I’ll have to recuperate my bank account’s balance this summer due to the ice cream I’ve been consuming since being here. On a completely different note, if you ever happen to be in Denmark and need to go work out don’t go to the “gymnasium”, that’s actually not a gym by American standards but an educational facility. Tina, my host mom, looked very befuddled when I inquired whether she attended her dance class at the gymnasium located a few minutes from the house. In retrospect, I can now chuckle at that conversation.
Hydrate or die-drate. Here’s a dilemma: you can only choose one free service, is it water or is it health care?