Getting to Know the Neighborhood + Settling In

Wow. What a week. 

So I landed last Saturday in the afternoon. I met other students at the airport and was bused to our dorm in the city. After dragging my bags up four flights of stairs, I met my roommate and unpacked my stuff (there is surprisingly a ton of storage space #blessed). Afterwards, the residents in my building went out to dinner with our SRA (Social Resident Advisory). I could feel my jetlag kicking in and went straight to bed after dinner.

On Sunday, the residents of my building went on a scavenger hunt throughout the city, having to go to a supermarket, take the train, and visit touristy attractions. It was a good introduction to our neighborhood and it forced me to familiarize myself with the public transportation real quick (it’s really not that hard once you actually do it). Later that evening, the residents of my floor went out to get dinner at a Chinese takeout booth two minutes away from our dorm. We brought our food back to the dorm and got to know each other.

I am so so so happy about my housing situation. My building (which is a 5 min walk away from campus and is in the heart of the city) comprises of two Living and Learning Communities: Sustainable Living and Social Justice. I am in the latter LLC. My floor is home to 11 other students who are so kind, funny, and passionate. So far, we have done pretty much everything together: we went grocery shopping, we went to get school supplies, we make dinner and eat together, and walk around the city. As someone who loves having a small, supportive community, I really appreciate having a group of people I can rely on.

At the same time, however, I am filled with anxiety about what’s to come. While I love getting to know my floor and dorm mates, when I see crowds of students laughing and talking I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the need to socialize constantly and meet as many people as possible. I think this comes from the fact that I am an introverted person, but also someone who loves to be social and have friends. The two aren’t exclusive, but in order to have some sanity, I need some time to chill. Knowing that I can be quieter and less social than others, I consciously push myself to say hi and meet new people. However, I can find this process exhausting. In order to calm my nerves, I am finding a compromise by reading a book or watching Netflix in our common room so that I am still with everyone but also doing something on my own. 

I also had my first day of classes yesterday. All my professors seem really cool, and I met other students who I look forward to getting to know better. Most of my classes just went over the syllabus and introduction, so I didn’t learn much. To be honest, I’m not a big first-day-of-school person because I like to dive right in. I’m someone who craves routine (blame my sun in Taurus), so it’s hard when I’m in a transition or orientation process because I just want to be settled in already. But, I have to remind myself about accepting – even pursuing – experiences of discomfort during this time because that is the only way to get to know the city and its people. I believe that if I were only to stay within my comfort zone, I might able to explore the city confidently, but that exploration would not be very deep. I don’t want to just skim off the surface. I want to dive deep into Copenhagen life. I didn’t come here to just transplant my life from New York. I cam here to get an authentic experience. 

Since my dorm is in the same neighborhood as the DIS campus, I have gotten to know the city center quite well. Pushing through the cold, I like to spend at least 30 minutes each day exploring the area. I’ve seen Nyhaven (the iconic harbor with the colorful buildings) and the Black Diamond (the Royal Danish Library). Today was one of the rare sunny days, and I took advantage of it by walking 17 stories to the top of the Round Tower (or Rundtaarn in Danish) and to the Rosenborg Castle. From my view at the top of the tower, I took in the red rooftops and impressive towers. I appreciated getting this height, as it allowed to get a better understanding of where I was in relation to the city. Having only viewed the city from Google maps and my view on the streets, I liked having a different perspective. As I looked at the different building types – Gothic, Classical, Dutch Renaissance, Rococo – I remembered what my Core Course Professor had told my class on our short walking tour. She talked about this idea about the fabric of the city. Living near the Latin quarter, I am surrounded by 200-year-old buildings. It’s a neighborhood made from the same piece of cloth. But this view showed me just how many pieces of fabric made up this city, resulting in a harmonious yet clashing quilt.

Views from the Round Tower

Everything is truly breathtaking – but not in an in-your-face kind of way that some cities might impose. Copenhagen, I have found, is breathtaking in its simplicities: the various walking-streets that are a window shopper’s dream, the harmony of colorful houses, and the ways in which socialization in public spaces are prioritized.

I am excited to keep exploring, with Nørrebro and Christianshavn at the top of my list.

Well, I think that covers it for the first week. I’m off to the library where I’m going to get a head start on readings for class on Monday and Tuesday. 

Check out My Photos for more pics of the city!

Until next time,

Anthea

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