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The Home Stretch

I’m writing this a little later than I’d like, but here is a recap of my last two weeks at DIS. I’m currently giving my parents a three-day tour of Copenhagen before coming home for Christmas. Click here for more pictures!

The last week of classes was hectic. On Monday, 12/2, I had my last lectures in Global Economics and Environmental Economics before my impending final exams. I also gave a presentation in my Danish class about the Danish model of education, which is so different from our own. On a similar note, this was also the day that everyone at DIS was able to begin submitting online course evaluations. Evaluation and reflection are important elements of Danish education, so these are extremely important to DIS’s mission. They take them very seriously and even withhold final grades from students who do not complete the evaluations on time.

In that same vein, I attended a Global Economics focus group on Wednesday, 12/4. For about one hour, we met with the program assistant, Julie, and the program director, Susanne, to discuss the good and the bad about Global Economics——how the program could improve, how it reflects (or doesn’t reflect) our economics education back home, how well the assignments match up with what we are learning, etc. This kind of thing rarely happens back home, but it was good to see that DIS is concerned with evaluating its programs.

On Thursday, I took my final exam in Global Economics. I won’t get the grade back for about a month, but it went better than I expected. Immediately following that exam was my final Danish class, where we played pakkeleg, the aggressive Danish version of secret Santa. Suzanne also let us evaluate the course as a group and then left us with some parting words about how DIS is just the beginning of our future…bittersweet, but very true.

Later that afternoon, I began working on my philosophy term paper, which was due the next day. It went pretty quickly, though, because I wrote about something relevant to my interest in languages: multilingualism and its effect on personalities/self-expression. This was also the same day as a huge wind storm, called Bodil, plowed through Denmark. It was an appropriate way to end this chaotic last week of classes.

The first and last snow I saw in Copenhagen

The first and last snow I saw in Copenhagen

On Friday, I awoke to the first snow of the season. It started as sleet and by that night, it turned into real snow and accumulated about 2 inches. Although it hasn’t snowed since, I’m happy to have experienced a small taste of Danish winter.  The snow coincided with my Global Economics farewell dinner at Café Oven Vande in Christianshavn. Every program has a budget for a farewell dinner, which is a really nice way to close out the semester because these are the people with whom you have spent the most time in class for four months. Although it’s uncertain if we’ll cross paths again, it really was a pleasure to meet people from so many different universities with so many different backgrounds and interests.

On Saturday, I treated myself to dinner at a small restaurant in Nørrebro called Grød. This place only sells porridge in many forms, and I had a savory version made with chunks of flæskesteg, or Danish pork roast. This was the perfect way to celebrate the end of classes before delving into finals.

Speaking of finals, I had my Environmental Economics final on Monday, 12/9, which went well, and then I wrote a 10-page ethics term paper in the span of 24 hours. (This is quite embarrassing; I do not recommend this shameful strategy to anyone.) Although the subject matter is interesting——an analysis of the ethical implications of looking at selfhood/personhood from a scientific perspective——I just did not set aside enough time to get the paper done before Monday evening.

In addition to being worth 40% of my final grade, this paper will be graded according to University of Copenhagen standards. That is, a faculty member in the school of theology, chosen at random by the department chair, will read and grade my class’s papers. My teacher, René, will also grade the papers. In true Danish fashion, they must meet on a certain day in early January and reach a consensus on each student’s paper grade before a final grade can be submitted. Nerve-wracking to say the least, but an excellent part of my immersion in another country’s education system.  In case you’re wondering, I submitted it at 3:45 PM on Tuesday, 12/10, just 15 minutes before the due date.

The Black Diamond (part of the Royal Library), where I wrote that term paper

The Black Diamond (part of the Royal Library), where I wrote that term paper

Keeping up my streak of being a good student, I submitted my final Danish paper (in English, fortunately) at 11:58 P.M. on Wednesday, just before the midnight deadline. This was fun to write, though, because it was a reflection on the semester and fit perfectly as the last assignment of the semester. It provided a lot of closure for these four months.

The reason this paper was a bit late was because I spent the morning and afternoon doing sightseeing that I had not done earlier in the semester. I visited Rosenborg (Christian IV’s summer home that is now a museum), the Royal Treasury, Frederiksberg castle, the grave sites of Søren Kierkegaard and Hans Christian Andersen, and had a “snegl” (snail) pastry (think cinnamon bun but 10x better) at St. Peter’s, the oldest bakery in Copenhagen. I also had a roast duck confit sandwich at the glass market near Nørreport station…see my pictures for the deliciousness.

St. Peter's Bakery snegl ("snail"), or cinnamon roll

St. Peter’s Bakery snegl (“snail”), or cinnamon roll

Crowns of the absolutist monarchs located in the Royal Treasury vault below Rosenborg Castle

Crowns of the absolutist monarchs located in the Royal Treasury vault below Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Gardens looking  nothing like it did in August

Rosenborg Gardens looking nothing like it did in August

Frederiksberg Castle…not to be confused with Frederiksborg below

Frederiksberg Castle…not to be confused with Frederiksborg below

On Thursday, 12/12, I was finally a free man. I took the S-train one hour north of Copenhagen to see Frederiksborg Castle in the suburban town of Hillerød. Although I didn’t have time to go inside, the grounds and surrounding lake are amazing to see. The sun even made an appearance for the first time in a few days.

Probably the best castle I saw in Denmark

Probably the best castle I saw in Denmark

I could live here.

I could live here.

The highlight of this day, however, was my first and only sighting of Queen Margrethe II herself outside the Church of Our Lady near DIS! On my way to return textbooks for the semester, I noticed dozens of official-looking cars outside the church. A few steps later, I saw the Queen’s Rolls Royce parked next to the church and got really excited. Seeing the Queen was something I imagined might happen this semester but wasn’t something I seriously pursued. This was just a “right place, right time” moment for me. After about 20 minutes, the Queen’s drivers pulled the car in front of the church, and the Queen came right out into the open for all to see. Several state guests accompanied her (they appeared to be wearing Swedish flag pins), and they paused for press pictures before driving off in the Rolls Royce. This was something I’ll never forget. Only a week later did I find out it was a ceremony for the appointment of several new ministers in the Danish government, one of whom is a DIS teacher!

It's hard to see, but the Queen is walking out of the church on the left

It’s hard to see, but the Queen is walking out of the church on the left

To top off this excellent day, I got to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (aka Hobitten: Dragen Smaugs Ødemark in Danish). It was played in English with Danish subtitles, which was fine with me considering the movie was released a day earlier than in the USA.

On Friday the 13th, I dropped off my faithful bike rental at the shop and then cleaned my room from top to bottom in preparation for my room check the following day. It was surreal to be packing up all of my things because it felt like I had just arrived in Copenhagen not long ago. The next day, I handed over my keys at 10:30 A.M. My visiting family picked me up at 11:00 A.M. and allowed me to stay in their home for one night before my parents arrived the next day (i.e., to avoid moving out of my apartment and then moving into a hotel in one sitting). They treated me to frikadeller, or Danish meatballs, for dinner, and then we watched a movie. (Interestingly, we rented this movie from Blockbuster, which still exists in Scandinavia for some reason. Go figure.)

Despite the East Coast snow storm that threatened to cancel my parents’ flight to Copenhagen, it was only delayed 90 minutes, and they arrived safely at 1:30 P.M. on Sunday, 12/15. Next time, I’ll tell you all about our adventures in Copenhagen!

Comments

  1. Arlene Whalen says:

    We really enjoy all your descriptions and pictures of your adventures in Demark and all the other countries you visited. You are a wonderful writer, and student that anyone could be proud of. Can’t wait to hear everything in person!
    Grandma & Grandpa

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