Oscar: First Impressions

Busy. That’s my first impression of Denmark.

The Copenhagen Airport was packed with people from various countries, speaking all sorts of languages. Even though I am accustomed to different languages, as I speak three languages myself and have lived in two different countries, I was still somewhat unsettled by the foreignness of it all.

My first stop was seven-eleven, a convenience store that sold SIM cards alongside many mouth-watering Danish pastries. After acquiring the SIM card, and calling my parents to let them know that I’m still alive, I exchanged some USD for DKK (Danish Krones) and made my way to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). DTU has an extensive campus beautified by flowers and trees. Being on campus makes you feel strangely calm, as if you were in a surreal rainforest, which isn’t too far from the truth. To say it’s breathtaking would be an understatement.

The first two days were the most challenging. Unfamiliar with the landscape and the language, I struggled to find my way across town. I knew I had to get transportation organised as soon as possible so I spent the weekend (arrived on Friday afternoon) sorting out my Rejeskort (Danish equivalent of the HOP card) and visiting second-hand bike shops, eventually settling on a second-hand bike for less than $200 which is a bargain in my opinion.

On the first day of Introduction Week, we suffered through hours of welcoming speeches from the DTU executives and even worse, a grueling presentation from an Australian cultural expert named Trent. I still can’t decide what’s worse: long speeches or a cultural talk delivered by an Australian. (Just kidding, he was very charismatic)

Here’re some Danish facts that I found interesting:

  1. Divorce rate is 47%
  2. Tax rate is 36% -> 54% (I’m never complaining about NZ tax rates again)
  3. Population size is 5.8 million, but 1.6 million live alone.
  4. The legal drinking age is 16 years old (restricted to buying alcohol < 16.5%)
  5. A crate of 24 beers costs just under $20, which is what you pay for a box of 12 Asahis in NZ

Throughout Introduction Week, I met people from all across Europe, US, Latin America, and Australia. But I have yet to meet another Kiwi. Everyone was assigned a buddy group and this is the group of people I spent most of my time with. 18 people made up the group and between the 18 of us, there are 17 different languages (the only common language between everyone is English).

As I write this at the end of the week, I’m still amazed at how easily we all got along, despite the differences in appearance, language, and culture. This will forever stay with me and remind me of the beauty in uniqueness.

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