Week 1 – Copenhagen Reflections

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Week 1 Completed in Copenhagen:

Week 1 of my summer abroad is officially in the books. I am currently writing this blog attached to the wifi of the largest Burger King I have ever been in, located in Copenhagen Airport. I am waiting to board a plane en route to Edinburgh Scotland where I will spend week 2 on my study tour. I am currently taking a course on Biomedicine and Drug Development.

Having only spent 7 full days in Copenhagen, I wouldn’t begin to claim that I have gained a full understanding of the “Danish way” or that I have even developed my full opinion of the city. However, after a week of observing the commuters, cafes, and canals of Copenhagen, I have formed some opinions.

An initial bias I came into Copenhagen with was my loyalty to the transportation system in the U.S. Going to school at UC Riverside means that I often make trips via train back and forth from L.A., inorder to visit family. After years of train, subway, and bus rides, I didn’t see much room for improvement. That was until I rode the metro in Copenhagen. I was skeptical of how much better the famed public transportation could be in Scandinavia … it’s unequivocally better. The straightforward layout of routes combined with the overall cleanliness of the stations, subway cars, and the punctuality of the trains already sets it apart from the U.S.’s mediocre attempt at efficiency. I look forward to getting back to waiting for late trains.

Yet, my praise of the transit system in Copenhagen comes with a criticism of the car culture in the city. The population’s overall disdain for cars is apparent. Having spoken with multiple Danes about their dislike of cars, their feelings towards cars might be best described by an architecture tour guide’s words “I would love to live in a city for people, not for machines, imagine that.” An avid enjoyer of car culture and a motorsport enthusiast, the outright slander against cars was painful for me to hear. Yet, the overwhelming amount of bike riders is a marvel to watch. Never before have I seen thousands of bike riders bullying cars to squeeze, as they pedal their entire families over the cities’ bridges. Obviously, there have to be car drivers in the city in order for there to be cars, which means I was probably talking to too many commuters, many of which would most likely happily trade in their commuter card for a set of wheels. Nonetheless, with many more bikers and metro-goers, there’s obviously a dynamic of wealth set here, embodied by cars.

I will close out my first blog with some rapid-fire takes; many that may very well change by tomorrow.

The food is, obviously, very delicious. The smorrebread, the most famous of Danish dishes, does well to represent the quality of the cuisine in Copenhagen. This includes the hotdog stands. As for the snacks, there really isn’t much of a comparison to the states. With a surprising amount of 7/11’s dispersed throughout the city, the snack variety of said locations pales in comparison to their American counterparts. Snack game weak. The running routes around the city are perfect as bridges and crosswalks flow well to not interrupt a runner’s pace. Early morning runs have always been a highlight of my day, but I truly believe some of my most unforgettable memories made so far have taken place during a morning run. Famed for what I had heard as a pristine city, there was more trash in the streets than I thought there would be, still not nearly as much as L.A. Lastly, the grocery stores have a metal gate that only opens one way. In order to enter the store, a customer must pass through this metal gate which only opens one way. Once inside the only exit is by way of the checkout line. I cannot imagine what America would look like if every grocery store had a physical mechanism to prevent you from leaving unless you purchased something. Tak!