After leaving Detroit at 2:40pm on June 1st with my friend Paige at my side, we arrived in Copenhagen on the 2nd at 10:25am. My professors were at the airport to greet my travel buddies and I. We hung out there for a while, waiting for other students to get in from different flights. It was an easy train ride and walk away to our hostel, Danhostel, in Copenhagen. We’re staying right by the water, close to some street venders with fruit and/or beer, shops, and I’m assuming we’re semi-close to an emergency room because we’ve heard multiple sirens whiz by.
It doesn’t feel like it was just yesterday that I arrived here, so much as happened since then, but I’ll start with an event that shook me up on our flight. I sat next to a lovely man who was from Denmark. He told me places to go, places to avoid, he laughed as he told me stories, and wished me the best of luck with all my studies and travels. After some conversation, I put my head against the window and fell asleep. Not knowing how much time had passed, I was woken by a lady screaming, “Help! Help!” as she stroked her husband’s head. I was freaking out because I thought the man was dead as she explained he was “having an episode”. After the flight attendants gathered some nurses that were on board, the man rested in the isle way with a cool rag on his head, flat on his back. I’m still not sure what happened to him, but he was up and talking towards the end of the flight, so I’m sure he was fine. I was shaken up nonetheless.
After the crazy flight and travel to our hostel, we walked around by the river, took some pictures, and really got into the tourist spirit. A sac lunch was provided for us by the hostel. We ended with a beer at a local vender just in time to walk to our rooms and change before dinner. The hostel is nice. Wooden floors, comfortable beds, a bar and ping pong table downstairs, and free wifi. The bathroom lights turn on automatically. Paige and I had a fun time trying to turn them off after the first time we used it haha. They also provide breakfast and dinner for us. We ate some sort of meat pie last night with salad and rye bread. Since we had a long day of traveling, we fell asleep shortly after dinner so we could be well rested before our adventures today.
This morning we woke up, ate breakfast with our group, and walked to a bus stop. The bus took us to the local university here (UCC) where we met with more international students to discuss special education. There were students from Ghana, Turkey, Philippines, and also two from Denmark. There was a lecture and group discussion split by a small break for tea and/or coffee. Fresh fruit was also provided. I was intrigued by the fruit because it looked so tiny compared to the fruit I eat in the US. It made me question the grandness of our food. I was also intrigued by the classroom we were in. There were no lights, but sunroofs instead. The room was filled with brightness, yet it wasn’t that same florescent light I’ve bitched about so many times before and I was thinking, “FINALLY, THIS PLACE UNDERSTANDS WHAT A GOOD CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT IS.” It was rather cloudy today but the room still filled with sunlight. After a short group discussion, we got a tour of the building and were told about how their schooling works. It’s a lot different than ours. They don’t necessarily have to go to high school in order to get into the university. Instead, they can do some other sorts of training, but because of the language barrier, I got slightly confused when they were explained that part. It seems people in Denmark also study the arts more than we do back in the US. It costs a lot of money to go to a university back home, but here, they go for free, and sometimes they even get grants for it.
Although the general education is different here in Denmark, I came here to view their opinions on special education. Like us, Denmark is pushing for inclusion. Unlike us, Denmark doesn’t start school until the age of 6 because they hold the belief that “children should play”. The ladies from Denmark who were talking to us focused on students with special needs who come to UCC, but I cannot wait to find out more about how those students are treated in the younger grades. One lady seemed confused about adaptive skills, like teaching students to go to a store and use real money, or work related skills. She didn’t think that was the teacher’s job, which makes me think that they might not be as advanced as I had thought previous to coming here. In the US, there’s a big push for inclusion, but there’s also a push for teaching adaptive skills so students can thrive once they leave the school setting and live as “normal” of a life as they can. I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings when we head to the Ministry of Education here, which is just a short walk away, next to some outdoor foosball tables (yeah, outdoor foosball tables. Denmark is really cool).
After leaving UCC, one of our professors took us on a walking tour of some of the city. A few of us had seen it the previous day, but it was cool to take it all in again. We ended at a boat tour of the harbor. It would have been way cooler if it didn’t decide to start pouring rain as soon as we left the dock, but we still got to see the sights (and it’s all about the experience, right?). Wet and cold, we got off the boat and walked around some shops before heading back to our hostel. We got some beers from the bar downstairs and played some mean games of ping pong before dinner. Tonight for our meal, we were given a sausage that was a really soft, mushy texture, purple sauerkraut that was sweet, bread, and salad. Speaking of food, today for breakfast THEY SERVED BRIE. I was in heaven. BRIE FOR BREAKFAST. I could die happy just thinking about it. There was also some meat slices, blue cheese chunks, bread, cereal, and apple juice and fruit.
Once dinner was over and we had a short meeting with our professor, we walked down the street to an amusement park called Tivoli, which was, apparently, Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disney World (or Land, or whatever). At Tivoli there is one of those spinning swing rides that goes 800 meters into the air (that’s a little more than 2,600 feet for those of you who dislike conversions as much as I do), so we were walking towards that after we bought some tickets. As we were walking, one of the guys I was with pointed out to me that Steven Tyler was right behind us. I laughed, thinking he was making a look-alike joke, but sure enough, I turn around and there he was! Steven Tyler and his little entourage, walking behind a security guard. I’m with a few girls who are by no means shy…so they ran up to him and were talking and we all got a picture like the good fans we are. Some of the girls even got kissed on the cheek! He ended up riding the swing ride with us. Eight hundred meters up and I could see all of Denmark. The sun was setting, the water was still, and I was semi-nauseous, but loving life.
It really is beautiful here. It’s colorful, with awesome architecture, and the people are all kind (and gorgeous). To quote one of the girls here, “I fell in love five times on the streets…”
Tomorrow brings another day and more adventures. I am beyond thrilled to explore more with this great group of people.