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Notes from Abroad: Details of a day in Denmark

Notes from Abroad: Details of a day in Denmark

By David Hoyt

8:00 a.m. I get on the train for a short ride into downtown Copenhagen. Although I’m glad to be living in a city for a change, I miss being within walking distance of Peirce and class.

8:20 a.m. The train was running late, so now I have to hurry to make it to my first class. The trains here aren’t always on time, and are often covered in colorful graffiti.

10:30 a.m. As usual, my Danish professor is chatting aimlessly instead of drilling us in the language. Since January, I’ve been introduced to the letters ?, ? and ?, and have learned that the word for “food” is spelled “mad” but pronounced “mel.” Thankfully, my Hans Christian Andersen class gets to study the fairy tales of Denmark’s favorite son in English and not in the original Danish.

11:30 a.m. Finished with my morning classes, it’s time for lunch. Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so this means a lot of sandwiches made at home, or maybe Chinese takeout once in a while ラ from the little food stand just down the street from S?ren Kierkegaard’s birthplace.

1:15 p.m. My last class of the day is Danish Politics and Society, in which we learn about Denmark’s famously generous welfare state and the famously high taxes that go with it. A $20/hour minimum wage and all-encompassing social services may seem alluring, but this comes at a steep price: I can’t even buy a latte for less than $8, partly thanks to the 25% value-added tax on every purchase.

2:45 p.m. After class I go to the library and work on homework, but this usually doesn’t take too long. Although the Danish Institute for Study Abroad has a reputation for good academic standards compared to other programs, it’s still less work than Kenyon.

4:00 p.m. I do some planning for a trip to Norway during an upcoming week off. The semester is structured to allow plenty of time for travel, both individually and on study tours.

5:00 p.m. I ride the bus home, and on the way pass through N?rrebro, a neighborhood that’s become known as the “N?rrebronx” due to its rising (but still low by American standards) levels of gun violence and gang crime.

5:30 p.m. When I enter the apartment, my three Danish roommates are not there, having gone to protest cuts to the student stipend system. This program effectively pays students to go to college (which is already free, of course). Considering how expensive Kenyon is, it’s hard for me to sympathize with their complaints about relatively minor cuts to what seem like generous benefits.

8:00 p.m. After dinner, I remember that tomorrow I have a field study at the Danish parliament, the Folketinget. In a country of only 5.5 million citizens, the politicians are a lot more accessible, and the Folketinget security is pretty laid back. In addition to the field studies, our program spent a week in Brussels visiting European Union headquarters, and at the end of the semester we’ll partake in a model European Council simulation. Fellow Kenyonite Leland Holcomb ’14 and I will be representing Poland, while Nikhil Idnani ’14 mans the Czech Republic and Ally Bruschi ’14 runs the show as Germany. The high number of Lords and Ladies on my program is a reminder that, even on another continent, you can never truly leave Kenyon behind.

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