This post is mainly dedicated to those future DIS students wanting to learn more about Signalhuset Kollegium. There isn’t much info online about the place in blogs or otherwise, so I thought it would be best to provide a sneak peek for next semester’s residents and beyond.
But first, here is a quick recap of the past week. On Tuesday, I attended my first of three beer tastings for the semester at Nørrebro Bryghus, just 10 minutes from the center of town. On my way there, it started to rain, but the sun appeared just in time for me to witness a perfectly formed double rainbow; I felt like this guy.
Anyway, the 20 or so students who signed up for the class had the opportunity to see the brewing equipment and get a short lesson on how beer is actually made. Afterwards, we had 4 samples: a wheat beer, an amber beer, a stout, and a really strong one that looked like a wheat beer but tasted sour (in a good way). Picture of that one below.
On Wednesday, I had a full day of field studies. At 8:30 AM, my Danish class watched the Oscar-nominated movie A Royal Affair, which tells the story of the love triangle between King Christian VII, his English wife Caroline Mathilde, and the king’s advisor Johann Struensee. Although it was in Danish with English subtitles, it was a really good film. Plus, Suzanne, our teacher, provided fresh bread with jam, butter, and coffee. After the movie, we walked about 10 minutes to Christiansborg Slot (“Palace”), the current location of Parliament but formerly the actual castle where the events of the movie took place. We had a 90-minute tour in the footsteps of these historical figures, which was a perfect example of the way DIS combines classroom learning with real-world applications. Plenty of photos below. After that, I had a painfully boring field study in my Environmental Economics class that went from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM…at least the morning went well.
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. I’ve already mentioned a few details about my living situation here, so I’ll be brief. Basically, Signalhuset is an apartment building. It was originally intended for families, but the cost forced the developers to convert it into student housing. So, each room contains a kitchen, living room / dining room, two bathrooms, and four single rooms in addition to a balcony that runs the length of both sides of the building. There is also a laundry room on the ground floor for which each resident receives a laundry card/stipend for the semester. Rooms are typically rented out individually on a rolling basis, so students can have multiple male or female roommates over the course of their stay at Signalhuset. For example, my roommate Christian is a grad student who has lived at Signalhuset for 2.5 years. Every semester, he gets three new randomly assigned roommates.
Signalhuset is one of the International Kollegiums that DIS uses for housing. There are 11 DIS students living here (a relatively small number compared to other kollegiums), but none of us live in the same apartment so that we all experience some degree of immersion. Of the 288 residents, 80% are not Danish. So, I’ve had the chance to meet people from Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Scotland, England, India, and Spain just to name a few countries, in addition to some other Americans who are not studying at DIS. For some reason, a lot of them come from California…it’s a joke among the non-American residents that all Americans live in California. The apartment-style living and the building-length balcony definitely encourage socializing among the residents. There is a Facebook group where people will post invitations to room parties, soccer games, movie nights, etc., that anyone can attend. Signalhuset has a common room that can be rented out for kollegium parties as well; my SRA, Jonas, who also lives here, is planning to have one sponsored by DIS at some point this semester.
Signalhuset is incredibly convenient in terms of its location. Located in the newly developed neighborhood of Ørestad (OO-uh-stahd), it is a five-minute walk from the metro AND regional trains, one of which goes to Sweden. There is also Field’s Mall across the street and a Netto (a cheap grocery store) one stop over on the metro. My commute to DIS is less than 30 minutes, which includes walking to the metro, taking a 12-minute ride to Nørreport, and walking to class. The only drawback to living here is that there is barely any night life in this part of Copenhagen; there are few restaurants, clubs, bars, or tourist attractions other than the mall. Seriously, it’s a ghost town every night of the week. This is only a minor inconvenience because the metro brings you right into the heart of Copenhagen, where all of the fun stuff can be found.
IMPORTANT NOTE: One of the most confusing things about receiving a housing assignment at Signalhuset is your room number. DIS sends it to you ahead of time, but it makes no sense. For example, mine is 11A, 3 tv., C. So, here’s the answer to the riddle (click here first for a floor plan that makes this explanation more visual): 11A (or B, C, etc.) is the BLOCK (aka elevator/staircase tower) of your apartment. Each block has an elevator and a staircase that require a fob for access. On each floor of the block, the elevator or stairs bring you to a small room that has two doors facing one another: one “to the left” (tv., a Danish abbreviation) and one “to the right” (th.), from the point of view of the stairs (from the elevator, right and left would be reversed). So, “3 tv.” means “3rd floor on the left.” Finally, each apartment contains 4 single rooms labeled A, B, C, and D. Thus, my single room is Room C. For the even-more-curious, the photos of Signalhuset online where you see a bunch of colored panels and glass doors are actually the doors of single rooms that cannot be accessed from the balconies; apartments can only be accessed via the block towers, and it’s considered rude to walk along the balconies between rooms because you’re invading people’s privacy (i.e., you could look right into someone’s kitchen or single room, depending on which side of the building you’re on). This unspoken rule is pretty much suspended on Friday and Saturday nights when people host room parties so that people can move between rooms more quickly.
In short, if you are assigned to Signalhuset for your semester with DIS, consider yourself lucky. And for those dying to know what the apartments look like, fear not: below are a bunch of photos of my room (freshly cleaned so as to look presentable).