Anything but routine

Although we just got back from Core Course Week, it seems silly to say we got back into “routine.” Yes, I did have my typical class schedule, but every week is filled with different things that make it out-of-the-ordinary. First of all, I do want to note that I have officially been in Copenhagen for one month. That’s crazy! The time has flown, and it makes me even more aware of how important it is to enjoy every moment of this semester. Before I know it, it will be May.

I’m actually sitting in the airport in Rome right now, waiting for Emma’s flight to land. Here are the updates I typed up on the plane. I am really looking forward to this weekend in an amazing city!

I felt like the academics for all of my classes really picked up this week. In addition to having little readings and assignments for each class, many of my classes have small research papers due in the next few weeks, especially since we were all just out of school with our core classes. While the work is totally manageable, it was a bit overwhelming on Monday when I realized how much I had to get done before the weekend. Luckily, none of the papers are that long, and I have also found most of the topics fairly enjoyable and open-ended in terms of topics. Once I got into my groove, writing them wasn’t bad at all. For my Core Course Week reflection, I decided to write about the correlation between social networks and well-being.

On Monday after class, it was sunny for the first time in days, so I decided to go for a quick run to clear my head, prepping for a long night of homework. It was an absolutely beautiful sunset, and I ran along the water, which was so nice. It wasn’t even that cold out. Then, I began my papers and homework, and I had a productive evening at home. On Tuesday, I knew I needed to finish the first draft of my research paper on my Core Course Week so that I could have time to edit it before the due date. After working at home while doing my laundry, I walked to the Royal Library, which is often called the Black Diamond because of the small, diamond-shaped tiles that cover all the outside walls of the building. I hadn’t been there before but I will definitely be going back. There are so many places to sit, and whether you want a silent room or a cafe-vibe, it’s a great spot, along with a stunning from all angles of the building. I got several pictures when I took breaks from my paper. After a few hours of focus, I was done with the first draft, and I felt pretty good about it. I met up with a few classmates from Danish Language and Culture to start our first cultural assignment task, which involved taking selfies with a few different statues in Copenhagen and explaining their cultural significance. Our teacher also handed us each a 50 kroner bill to buy coffee with our groups and get to know each other, as well as experiencing the “hygge” Danish culture. So, I also went to a cafe with my group, and we found a cute spot near Tivoli. Later, I had a mandatory housing meeting with my RA’s to reflect on our first month, and it was pretty quick. I did work and facetimed a few friends from home for the rest of the night.

On Wednesday morning, I had my first field study for my Sociology of the Family class, and we went to Blue Planet, Denmark’s National Aquarium. It was a very fun experience. We started by discussing the features of family-friendly spaces, and as we walked through the exhibits, our task was to take note of the museum’s characteristics that made it a good place for children. My favorite part of the museum was walking through a tunnel made of glass, so it looked like I was walking through water. Sharks and other fish swam over my head and under my feet. We also walked through a rainforest, and we got to see a whole tank filled with sea otters, which were SO cute. Another thing that added to my experience on Wednesday is that I got to talking to some classmates that I hadn’t met before. Sociology of the Family is my biggest class here (about 30 students), and we all tend to choose the same seats for each class, so I realized that I don’t know a large portion of people in the course.

When walking to the train station, I struck up a conversation with a girl named Emily, and after talking for a while about our abroad experiences and our respective Positive Psychology sections, we discovered we are both from Great Neck. She had moved away when we were in 3rd grade, which explains why I didn’t know her. It turns out that we were actually in the same class in pre-school! It was such a coincidence. We ended up talking about college, sororities, and people we both know from home, so we decided to get lunch together when we got back to the city. We went to Cafe Flottenheimer, where I ordered an open-faced pesto grilled cheese (yum!) on gluten-free rye bread. It was such a cute place; thanks for the suggestion, Maddie!

That afternoon, I helped clean my apartment with two of my flatmates, as we have a rotating schedule to help with chores such as taking out the trash and washing dish towels. Then, I continued working on papers due this week until dinner. Pernille (my host mom) picked me up near the Round Tower for another fantastic homemade meal at her house. Unfortunately, Oscar had work that night, but Oliver was home. I also got to meet the other DIS student in my visiting host family, Casey. It was so nice to spend time with them. Pernille made cream of broccoli soup as an appetizer, and then we had beat, avocado, and feta salad, along with chickpea sauce over white rice. It was all delicious. At dinner, we discussed more differences between American and Danish culture, and I was also able to show off a few Danish phrases that I had learned since our first meeting. They said that my pronunciation is improving. 🙂 Oliver wanted to know what Casey thought of Denmark so far (it was her first time meeting them), and she brought up a topic I haven’t explicitly discussed yet: j-walking. Casey goes to school in New York City, and she explained that people never wait for a light to cross the street. Instead, in typical American fashion, people rushing everywhere will cross the street whenever they feel like it, assuming cars will stop. Casey said that when she did this in Denmark, she got a dirty look! People here wait their turn. We also discussed more American politics but in the context of how American news is something Danes regularly talk about. I found this a bit surprising, but I guess it makes sense given America’s prominence. After clearing the dinner table, we chatted more over some tea and dessert. Then, Pernille drove us back to the city, and I got myself all packed for this weekend’s trip.

Today in Positive Psychology, we learned about some of the impacts of mindfulness, including different types of meditation. In addition to doing a regular meditation where we focused on our breathing for several minutes, we also did a music meditation. With our eyes closed, Kamilla instructed us to listen to different elements within a classical song, such as the beat or the melody. Surprisingly, I found this type of meditation much easier to complete without distraction. My mind always ends up wandering during meditation on the breath, but it didn’t wander at all during the song. While I’m on the topic of this class, I also found Monday’s lecture particularly interesting. We learned about the connection between the physical body and our interpretation of emotions and feelings, such as pain. It’s incredible that we actually have the capacity to prevent ourselves from feeling pain if we direct our attention to extreme concentration or performance, for example. There’s no doubt that this is my favorite of the five classes I am taking abroad.

I’m feeling so lucky not to have Friday classes this week because it allows me to have a whole extra day in Rome! Here’s to another fun weekend. 🙂

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