Lolz I already have lots of homework and I’m already using blogging as a form of procrastination! This feels familiar.
~Bullet Point Updates~
- After dinner on Monday, I gave my family the gifts that I brought! I brought a pencil case full of supplies for Frida and Mathilde, some candy, a copy of my favorite game ever (Set duh. Plus it’s all shapes so no language barrier!), and a scrapbook of pictures from home. The girls LOVED the pencil cases and I have never seen anyone as excited about colorful paper clips as Mathilde was (and that’s coming from me, the queen of getting excited about school supplies). They’ve both been using the pencil cases at home and school too (and even left their name tags on which was super cute). The family also ate all of the candy that night so I guess they liked it (Side note: People here are REALLY into candy. I’ve already been to the candy store twice. And it’s not just the kids either – my host dad always fills two bags when he takes us. And then when we get home, everyone gets a bowl and dumps the entire thing in there and just eats all of it, which is so funny to me because I like to save mine and eat a few pieces a day.) They also like games a lot more than my family (they have a whole closet full) so they’re really excited to learn how to play Set. But their favorite part of the gift was the scrapbook. Pro-tip for going abroad: if you have a host family, DEFINITELY make a little scrapbook because it’s actually a really good way to talk about where you come from. Totally worth awkwardly making it on the plane while fellow passengers look at you and wonder why you’ve chosen to do arts ‘n crafts on a trans-Atlantic flight. My entire host family just sat around the couch for an hour asking me about the pictures (Mathilde was so excited about prom lol). It was also cool because when the host grandparents visited later in the week, they wanted to look at it too. It was really interesting to make because I felt like I was trying to create a little cross section of my life/America. Anyway tl;dr the gifts went pretty well for me buying them blindly.
- It’s so much fun to come home from classes and have a warm ~hyggeligt~ house to chill in/family to chill with. Most of the days this week, I got home around 5 and helped my host mom cook dinner/stood around the kitchen and talked. After dinner, we usually just sit around together on the couch and watch TV/everyone kinda does their own thing so I’ve been reading, filling out my planner, knitting, and doing other fun and exciting party activities. I like this life.
- On Wednesday, the neighbors came over and they were really nice. They have two kids, and the 7-year-old barrels in, sees me, and yells “HELLO.” And then the 10-year-old comes up to me and is like “Hello Sami, I am Madeline.” It was really cute. They were also really impressed because I said “Ja, tak” at dinner, so I’m really killing this Danish thing.
- On Thursday after dinner, Frida gave me a mini Danish lesson. First, I learned how to say “Jeg bor i Lyngby, med fammilien Herforth på Jaesborgvej i nummer firetyve” (nailed it). And then she quizzed me on all of the numbers and it was really hard. Morten really wanted me to stand up in Danish class on Friday and show off (classic). I feel like all of the host families are competing to see whose student can speak the best Danish. After the Danish lesson, Frida showed me the things that she crocheted, and I showed her my knitting, and then we just worked for a while and talked.
- On Saturday, it was Laila’s birthday! I made her a little card and tried to say happy birthday in Danish. Tried is the key word there. In the morning, we had a huge and delicious brunch during which we put chocolate slices on bread and ate a lot of pancakes and bacon. Also yo the pancakes here are so bomb – they’re thin like crepes and you sprinkle them with sugar (unless you’re Frida in which case you put bacon) and roll them up and eat them. In the afternoon, Morten’s parents came over and they were really cute. I introduced my self like I had learned in Danish class on Friday (“Jeg hedder Sami”), and then Grandpa asked me where I was from which was perfect because that’s pretty much the only other thing I learned how to say! (“Jeg kommer fra USA”). Good times. It’s also very cool being able to practice my Danish in an utterly non-contrived setting. While they were here, they asked me a lot of questions about the US and wanted to talk to me about challenges in discipline and pedagogy in the education system. You know I had fun with that one. Morten and I also had a nice conversation about Denmark’s role in WWII and how false beliefs affect history. I also bonded with Grandma over knitting. I love this place.
- In addition to these nice ~intellectual discussions~, we also ate a large dessert before dinner and it was the most delicious dessert I’ve had in a while (which is saying something because we had cake cones with homemade butter pecan ice cream before I left).
- I’ve been writing so much about homestay that you forgot I go to school here too, huh? Yeah same.
- The first day of orientation was Monday. I made my first friend at the train station because we both jumped when the train rail sparked and figured we were both nooby DIS students. My commute to DIS is super easy (10 minutes walking, 20 minutes on the train, and 10 minutes walking to DIS).
- First we had an opening ceremony, which I thought was going to be really boring, but ended up being the party of a lifetime because they brought some “famous” Danish band called CHINAH out after every speaker. It was pretty hilarious because literally every time they’d be like “…And now it’s time for more music!” Apparently they won the Danish equivalent of a Grammy, but I asked my host family about them and they had no idea what I was talking about.
- After the ceremony, I went with a few people I met to the Studenterhuset, which is basically the student center for KU and DIS since we both don’t have campuses. Plus with your DIS id, you can get a discount on all the food and drinks. (Side note: I feel like such a baller paying for food here because the coins are worth so much more, so you can literally pay for lunch with like 2 coins.)
- The next activity was DIScover Copenhagen, which was a scavenger hunt around the city that was disappointingly non-competitive. We went to a few tourist-y places in Copenhagen, where DIS faculty were waiting to tell us a little story about the place. My favorite part was when we went to the Queen’s Palace, and instead of telling us ~fun facts,~ the faculty there just argued about whether or not the queen had sold out and become too isolated from the citizens.
- After DIScover Copenhagen, I went back to Studenterhuset with some people who live in my homestay network (the area around Lyngby) and ate our cute packed lunches. Packing lunch here is really fun because you get a piece of bread, and then just fill it with whatever’s in the fridge. On Tuesday, my host mom made these really good fried meatballs and she made so many of them that I had enough to put one in my sandwich for the rest of the week.
- On Tuesday, we basically just had a lot of meetings about transportation and textbooks and living in a homestay.
- On Wednesday, we had our academic orientation. Which was my favorite (of course). We got to meet everyone in our core course, which was fun because I love geeking out with other education nerds. It was especially cute to watch the people who didn’t have education programs at their school getting really excited about meeting other people who loved teaching as much as they did. And to top off the hype, we got free chocolate muffins. We also got to use markers and chart paper, and did some ~active learning~ so I knew I was definitely in the right place #elementaryeducation
- For the last hour of orientation, after some nice team bonding activities, we got into groups and had a preliminary discussion about diversity in education and it was great. It also made me glad I took Cultural Diversity in American Education last semester because I am SO READY AND HYPE for this class.
- One of the girls in my core course is a full-year student, so she told us about this bakery that sells “snails” (don’t worry they’re just cinnamon rolls) for half price on Wednesday. So of course we went there.
- We then went on a facilities tour, but got bored about halfway through, so I went with a girl I met in my core course to meet her friends who are living in a residential community (fancy word for dorms). We explored the city for a while, including this cool castle/park area, a church, and one of the KU buildings that I’m like 99% sure we weren’t supposed to be in. We also went back to the bakery so that everyone else could get a half-priced snail. During this bakery excursion, we also learned that a lot of us like Hamilton and fangirled over LMM, so overall it was a successful trip.
- On my way back, I ran into a girl who lives a few train stops down from me, so we commuted together and walked around the Lyngby area for a bit. There’s this really cute main-strip-Solano-Ave type of deal that’s about 3 minutes from my house, so I’m really excited to check out the cafes and restaurants around there.
- Thursday was PRACTICUM ORIENTATION which means I GOT MY PRACTICUM PLACEMENT! Wow so excited ok. I’ll be spending every Thursday this semester at Norrebro Park Skole with a 6th grade classroom. According to Heidi, who is one of the CDD professors, it’s a new practicum site in a lower SES area, which will be so interesting. It’s also surrounded by a park, which they use for ~educational activities~ I’m so hype about this practicum because we actually get to spend the entire day there, which means it will be a lot more like being a ~real teacher~.
- Anyway, at practicum orientation, we learned about the Danish school system, from birth to adulthood, which was great and I took a ton of notes. Some fun facts:
- Parents get a “child check” until the kid is 18; aka people here get paid to be parents, so having kids isn’t too much of an economic strain. And if the kid goes to university, the child check goes to THEM once they turn 18, aka you get paid to go to college. Also tuition is free so there’s that.
- Compulsory schooling here is ages 6-15. After that, you either go to “high school,” which is very confusingly called “gymnasium,” or you go to vocational school. Until age 6, you go to “kindergarten,” where you work with pedagogues who are specially trained to work with young children.
- Contrary to popular belief, teaching is not a respected position in Denmark. Sounds familiar.
- After we learned about the Danish school system, met the other people at our practicum site, and talked a little about what we’re going to do there, there was a CDD social. I forgot to mention that this whole orientation took place at this place called “The Bastard Cafe” (lol), which is like a board game cafe with literally THOUSANDS of games for you to play. They also provided free muffins, unlimited tea, and this bomb ginger beer. Anyway, during the social, we played this game called FUNemployed which is kind of like Cards Against Humanity except more fun. It was also pretty hilarious because everyone not in the CDD program was in class on Thursday and we were drinking ginger beer and playing board games.
- After like 6 hours in The Bastard Cafe, we were finally free. My friend and I went on a (fairly unsuccessful) hunt for college-ruled notebooks and ended up going to Tiger and buying more unnecessary goods (sounds about right).
- Ok I only had one day of classes so this section might be shorter. Maybe. At 8:30 in the morning I had European Urban Design Theories. It was ok. More on that later.
- Right after that, I booked it to Danish Language and Culture, during which we practiced saying some difficult Danish sounds and learned how to introduce ourselves in Danish.
- After class, I looked over some of the reading I had to do and realized that a lot of he articles for my urban design class were fairly dense theoretical readings. And that most of the people in that class were actually architecture majors. So after some deliberation, I decided to switch that class with one called Learning in Scandinavian Classrooms, which, as you might have guessed, is way more my style. I wanted to be ~adventurous~ and try out some new electives, but I also really like education, so.
- I’ve done the readings for Children in a Multicultural Context, Artificial Intelligence, and Danish so far and they’re all really interesting. So I’m really excited about my class schedule now.
- Last section woooo. On Friday after class, I had to go to immigration services to apply for my residence permit. It sounds fancy but basically it’s just so that you can get a CPR number, which gives you things like library access and free healthcare. You know, casual.
- I somehow picked the slowest line at immigration services, so it took forever. But I ran into another friend there, who lives in my homestay network, and we found our way back to Lyngby (and only got on the wrong train twice). We went to a cafe called Emmery’s on the main strip and did some homework. I think that was the first time it hit me that I actually have to be a normal student here too. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. I just forgot. It was also v cool because while I was sitting there reading about Early Childhood Care and Education in Denmark, there was a really cute mom and kid just chilling in the cafe reading a picture book. Which is like, the perfect representation of this whole lifelong and informal learning philosophy. Studying abroad is cool.
- On Saturday, I met up with a group of people who live in my homestay network for lunch. It was good because it’s actually fairly difficult to meet people when you’re living in a homestay (as opposed to the dorms or apartments where other DIS students live). We ended up going to this pizza place, which was decent, and I got some bruchetta med ost (with cheese – thx duolingo).
- On Sunday, we had an actual organized event for the people living in my homestay network. It was in Holte, which is a few stations over, so I was supposed to take the train and then transfer to the bus to get there. So I took the train and everything was fine and dandy, but because it was the weekend, the bus was coming in like 30 minutes intervals. So I just walked like 2 or 3 kilometers to the event. Good times.
- At the event, we did a few ~teamwork games~ and ate cake. One of the challenges was the Towers of Hanoi problem, so I got to show off my CS2201 logic skills.
Lol that got a lot longer than anticipated. tl;dr – I really like my homestay family and I got through orientation ok and I’m excited about classes and I have some friends. Hopefully I’ll have fewer updates as my routine settles in but you know how things are.