Alexandra Whittaker – Copenhagen

As the summer comes to an end I’m starting to think more and more about my move to Denmark. I’ll be moving to Copenhagen to study Literature and experience some Danish culture. Even though it’s such a big change and adventure I’ve not thought too much about it, partly because it still doesn’t seem real. Part of me expects to be heading back up to Edinburgh this September; I suppose the reality won’t hit me until I’m there and being run over by hundreds of bikes and gorging on pastries.

It’s good to know where I’m going to be living in Copenhagen, as I know many exchange students haven’t been told yet. When I was applying for an exchange I got in contact with a girl from the Literature department who had studied in Copenhagen the previous year. She informed me that there was limited housing in the city, especially in student dorms, in fact most exchange students would be placed within a family home and rent the one room, which could often be awkward as you never really feel ‘at home’. Therefore I decided to begin looking for my own accommodation with a friend who is also coming to Copenhagen. The university website had plenty of information in aiding our search and soon enough we had a lease signed. There are housing associations within the city which work with the university and with the students, so you can bypass the university and apply directly to the housing association, which is what we did. The one negative is that the flat is unfurnished, which can be off putting for exchange students, but the rent is cheaper than anywhere else in the city so it pays off. There is an Ikea close to the city centre and you can rent bikes with wagons to get your stuff home…. or a taxi might be a wiser idea.

 This summer I’ve been working in a guest house in Iceland where we regularly have Danish guests. Icelanders use the Danish word ‘ligeglad’ to describe Danes. It roughly means ‘happy-go-lucky’ and relaxed which I now have firsthand experience of. Every Dane I have met this summer as been friendly, cheerful and worry-free (quite a contrast to the Germans on holiday, who need to know what, where, when and how… days in advance).  I’d also have to agree with the Danish word ‘Hygge’ which the Danes use to describe themselves – cosy, warm, friendly and lovely. The Danish guests are the only ones that have forced kisses and hugs upon me at check-out time. After my experience this summer, I’m really looking forward to the change of environment and being surrounded by ligeglad, hygge people.

 Being in Iceland this summer has been a good preparation tool for the move. Not just to get me used to Viking references and a funny Nordic language but because so many Icelanders choose to study and live in Denmark, it’s been a great way to learn tips and phrases. The chef at the guesthouse lived in Alborg for a few years and speaks fluent Danish, although he’s not taught be much apart from the hilarity of hearing famous movie quotes in Danish; ‘Houston! We have a problem’ looses much of its drama when it becomes ‘Kobenhavn! vi har en vandrædegang!’

 Let’s hope there’ll be no ‘vandrædegang’ in 3 weeks time when my feet land on Danish soil for the first time.

Categories: Copenhagen, Denmark

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