- Artificial Intelligence is pretty fun. We just sit around for three hours and talk about state spaces and breadth-first vs. depth-first search algorithms. Apparently our final project is to build a model of a robot that carries stuff around in a hospital. Despite being unclear if I had the proper qualifications for this course, I was able to explain the answer to the challenge on the first day of class due to the handy dandy algorithms documentary I watched over winter break. I also told one of my classmates about the algorithms documentary, and he seemed pretty excited about it, but he might have just been being nice. My professor brings his electric kettle and tea and a nice assortment of cookies during every class, which more than makes up for the fact that it’s a three-hour class.
- My Learning in Scandinavian Classrooms professor, Heidi, is the bomb.com. She does lots of cool research in education and randomly brought us cake last class while we discussed the importance of student feedback in effective teaching.
- I am surviving in Danish Language and Culture, largely due to my host family who makes it their goal to teach me all of the material before we learn it in class so that I can show off. I am getting better at pronouncing the r sound but it is still v difficult. Vowels are getting easier. Ish. Sometimes I can read short sentences through the power of limited vocabulary, inference, and cognates. The other day when I said bye to my Danish teacher, I was like “Vi ses, tak for i dag” and she was like “Selv tak” so I had a “full conversation” in Danish. And then when guests came over on Friday night, they asked me if I speak any Danish and I was like “Jeg taler kun lidt dansk.” I also learned how to properly do skål (cheers) – you have to look around and make eye contact with everyone while nodding slightly which is slightly uncomfortable but it’s fine.
- Yeah this gets its own section because I LOVE PRACTICUM. I’ve gone twice now and it will easily become a highlight of my entire study abroad experience.
- My mentor teacher, Mette, is actually so cool that I would probably be scared of her if she weren’t so nice to me. She is super organized and put-together, but also incredibly friendly and loves to answer my millions of questions about Danish education. Like she is so on top of things that I am never confused about what’s happening or what the schedule is or what I should be doing.
- It’s a good thing she’s so organized though because the way that Danish class schedules are set up is super complicated, and she’s in charge of organizing it for all of the 6th grade. Fun facts:
- There’s no set schedule for what classes happen when, or for how long, or with what teacher. The only constraints are things like lunch time, and the quotas for how many hours need to be spent in each subject. Like if Mette decides that the Danish class needs to run long so they can do a special project, she just builds that into the schedule, and whatever gets cut as a result will get made up later in the year. This is v confusing to me, but also seems like it makes the teaching process much more organic than it often is in upper grades.
- Each teacher stays with his or her class for a couple of years, at least. Mette has been with her “homeroom” class since 3rd grade, which I think is such a good way to build relationships (and a cool reward for the teacher to see students grow).
- We have two “interns” (aka student teachers) in my class too! So there are a lot of people helping out for a 25-person class.
- On my first day, the class was doing skits based on the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas about this kid during WWII. Even though they were working in Danish, the kids’ English skills were really impressive, and a bunch of them wanted to read me their skits in English so that I would know what was going on when they acted them out.
- During “media/IT class” (yes we will be learning Scratch when I have my teaching block), the kids are working on presentation about 80s musicians, which is HILARIOUS, because these 12 year old Danish kids will get up there and start talking about the life and music of David Bowie and George Michael.
- Today, we had English for the first block, during which the kids were writing essays about A Walk to Remember. Yes, that one. They apparently read the book and watched the movie, and this was their final project on it. This was a fun challenges for me because 6th graders have so many great ideas, but don’t think that they do, so they don’t write them down and look at Hitler parody videos on YouTube instead of working. But when I sat them down and asked them to talk to me about their observations, they were WAY more insightful and analytical than I think they realized. This one kid was moping around because he was stuck on the last question (which was to give his opinion on the movie). He just wanted to write that he hated it, but when I pressed on him to give me some justification, he actually had some very interesting insights about character development and pacing. Sometimes I think they have all these great thoughts, but aren’t experienced enough to know which of them they should actually write down – which makes 6th grade a really rewarding grade to teach because you get such tangible successes.
- According to Mette, the kids refer to me as the “English girl.” I also told some kid to sit down and get to work, and he did, so I have some authority too. Haha got em.
- The other day, I showed Mathilde and Frida how to find stickers for their laptops, and they really had a field day/spent hours looking at stickers. In return, Mathilde got me addicted to this phone game called Episodes which is like a choose your own adventure book, but digital.
- Frida got a new computer today and was so excited about it that the second I got home, she ran into the kitchen and was like “MY PC IS HERE.”
- The girl who lives next door, who was sort of shy at first, has fully embraced me and told me all about her love of cute animals and her piano recital and her school presentation on optical illusions. And then we spent like an hour looking at optical illusions.
- On Friday, we had guests so Morten made these super delicious mojitos.
- On Sunday, Morten and Mathilde and Frida introduced me to their favorite game, Partners. It’s a lot like Sorry, but there’s a cooperative element to it which makes it a fun ~bonding~ game.
Fun (yeah I do that too)
- I have planned SO MUCH TRAVEL that it’s sort of stressing me out, but that’s fine. It’s pretty funny because I sincerely planned not to travel thaaat much because I like being a homebody, but also I started booking flights and got excited and then my friends started planning trips, so here we are. Places I am now going:
- Western Denmark with my core course
- Hamburg with Erin and Catherine
- London with my core course
- Brussels with Zack
- Madrid with Zack
- Seville and Barcelona with a new friend and also to visit Patrick
- Edinburgh with Isabelle to visit Rachel
- Florence and Venice with Rachel and Isabelle and maybe Patrick
- Places I still wanna hit are Berlin (which is Mette’s favorite city in Europe), Paris, Prague, and Athens, but we’ll see how it goes.
- On Friday night, Claire and I went out to experience the ~Cope Nightlife~ which was a pleasant surprise in that it wasn’t too crazy. I got a cider from the bar as my first drink because lol @ beer.
- On Saturday, I went with some friends to Fredriksborg Castle, which is the home of the Danish Natural History Museum. It was pretty sweet, even though the train was under construction so we had to take the togbus, and then we went to wrong way, and Eli almost got sick because he was riding backwards the whole time. My favorite part of the museum was 100% this room with a slippery floor, on which we pretended that we were ice skating.
- Also, Laila calls this her castle because she grew up right next to it and used to pretend that she lived there, which is pretty cute. While I was there, I learned a lot about kings and slightly over-the-top artwork.
- On Monday night, Claire and I went to this recreational ultimate frisbee practice, which ended up being fairly rigorous and super fun. By some stroke of luck, I actually did okay at throwing both forehand and backhand, so they tried to teach me to do an overhand toss. It was going pretty well until they realized that I was stepping with the wrong foot in the wrong direction because I was just treating it like throwing a softball. Sounds about right. The good news is that softball came in handy when I was trying to catch overhand tosses, because it goes up like a fly ball and you actually have to track it pretty accurately. It was cool though because I realized that I hadn’t been part of a sports practice that I wasn’t coaching since like, senior year of high school, and I kind of missed it. We also met some really cool people – yay new friends.
- On Tuesday evening, I went with Natasha and her friend Amanda to see Hidden Figures and it was SO GOOD. I don’t even like sitting through movies and I actually enjoyed every minute. At dinner after the movie, we realized that we all like Hamilton/musical theater so we geeked out about that for a while and then made plans to go see a ballet for Galentine’s Day, so pretty hype about that. Side note – there seems to be a disproportionate number of Hamilton fans here. Not that I’m complaining or anything.
- On Wednesday, I didn’t have class or a field study or anything, so Isabelle and I went to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which was also v cool. They have a really interesting exhibit there called Cells, which plays on the idea of a a cell as the basic makeup of life and also as like a prison cell. Good stuff #art. They also had a lot of art with faces, which is my favorite kind of art.
- Today after practicum, I went with some people I met at frisbee to a rock climbing gym called Blocs and Walls (cute right?) and bouldered for a few hours. V fun and totally worth the complicated bus trip with like three transfers to get there.
tl;dr – cope is very busy but also very fun.