Keeping things fresh

I’ve been here for just over a week, and I’m already noticing the awe I felt simply looking around as I walked down a street turn into the regular feeling of walking to class. The excitement I used to get while walking a few blocks away to Netto for groceries is starting to feel more like a task that I need to complete, instead of like a fun walk through the city. Although I still love everything about my environment and romanticize it at any chance I get, I know theres more than what’s just around me and I want to have that feeling of excitement over something new as much as possible. One of my favorite bloggers once wrote after she moved to New York that as things grew to feel familiar, she tried to do one new thing a day that excited her to ‘challenge’ the familiar. Although I’m only a week in, I’ve decided to attempt to do the same thing- no matter how small that thing may be- in an attempt to never get too comfortable.


My ‘new thing’ this past Friday was visiting an outdoor bar with my roommates in a neighborhood about 30 minutes away by foot. Any visit I’ve had to a bar here in Copenhagen has been filled with new experiences, as I’ve found the locals are not only very open with a little alcohol in them, but also very excited to talk to an American. But, even the bars by my apartment have grown to feel familiar after just a few visits. The walk there was an experience in and of itself, as the furthest I’d walked in the city at night was a few blocks away to get shawarma (a Middle-Eastern dish and popular night food, which is common practice to get after a night out in Denmark). I took in all the lights and characters of the city as we walked and eventually arrived at our destination. The area was filled with outdoor tables covered by tents to shield us from the extremely likely chance of Copenhagen rainfall (which we were eventually thankful for), and lit by fairy lights. Everyone was packed shoulder to shoulder at the picnic tables, so conversation with those around us was inevitable. One particular conversation that stuck out to me was with a 23 year old Danish student who just got back from a study abroad trip in South Korea. After telling him I felt like I stuck out as an ignorant American, he laughed and said, “if I can make it a summer in South Korea, you can make it a few months here!” He, too, arrived with no prior knowledge of the local language or area and left with an endless amount of stories to tell and memories to look back on. The night was filled with similar conversations, and we eventually made it back home after some night food at Burger King.


The view from outside Christiania.

I’m embarrassed to admit I slept until 1 p.m. on Saturday. Although I’m trying my best to adjust to a normal sleep schedule here in Copenhagen, I’m learning the adjustment is definitely a walk- not a marathon. After my friends and I all woke up, we decided to make our way over to Freetown Christiania, an intentional community and commune in an area about twenty minutes from my apartment in Copenhagen. My Danish professor mentioned how much she loved the lively atmosphere of the area, but didn’t go into much detail of what exactly it was. The basic description I’d heard through the grapevine is that the people of Christiania live freely and sustainably through things like meditation, minimalism, art and acceptance. My friends and I decided to walk again to the area to take in the new areas of the city on our way and took the time to talk about other things we hoped to do during our next week here. The first thing we noticed when we arrived was lots of vibrant graffiti all over the entrance to the inner village, and lush plans and trees growing all around just inside. There were many little stands to buy things around the pathways, and I took the time to look at jewelry while my friends continued on to the clothing and handmade pipes. One interesting thing I knew before arriving to Christiania is that you are not allowed to take photos. This was so intriguing to me! A section of a major city that governs itself, that doesn’t allow photos, but is a recommended place to visit by professors and community advisors at DIS- what could possibly go on in there? Basically, it seems it’s just people living their lives without the influence of technology. Yes, there was the use of cannabis, which I’m sure is a big factor as to why they don’t want photos shared around, but it also seemed to me to just be an area of people enjoying themselves. Laughs, music, animals and relaxation were seen all around and it seemed to be a place that people went to just exist. Once we felt like we’d seen all we had the energy for, we made our way back home. I plan to visit again soon and plan to do more research before that to give a better description of the intriguing area.


I woke up Sunday feeling a little bit exhausted from all of the social interaction I’d had over the past week here, so I decided to spend the day with myself doing something I knew I’d enjoy: thrifting. I’d always heard about Copenhagen fashion and how great the vintage stores were and that I was going to love all of the shopping here, so I decided to see what it was all about. After entering my first store, it was absolutely clear that all the rumors were true. Every single item I found in all of the stores was incredible- it was like a dream come true to me. I left home with the goal of finding a vintage crewneck, but ended up trying on at least twenty things that weren’t vintage crewnecks. Jeans, coats, t-shirts, leather pants, jackets- these stores literally had it all. If I was rich and had a few more suitcases to bring home, I probably would become their most valuable customer in these next few months. Despite this, I stayed true to myself and didn’t buy anything since I didn’t find exactly what I set out to get. While this was super fun for me, only three vintage stores were open as late as I was out on a Sunday, so I still have more to go to when I need another ‘new thing’ some day in the future!


These ‘new things’ were all relatively big, but I had a lot of time to spend without classes over the weekend. With five hours of classes today, my ‘new thing’ was just going to a new coffee shop close to campus before class. As a DIS student, I get a discount at Next Door Cafe, and it’s only about a five minute walk from any of my classrooms. This little coffee and breakfast joint is below street level and off the main streets of Copenhagen. The best description I can think of for what I thought when I first entered this cute little cafe is ‘witchy and fun.’ The walls are filled with different shaped mirrors and quirky paintings, and the tables are filled with a bunch of little trinkets and covered with a clear plastic sheet so you can look through at them all. When I went to order my oat milk latte and asked how many shots came in each size, the barista happily told me as many as wanted went in whatever size I wanted, all for the same price. “It’s all about you!” he said with a smile that showed me he wasn’t being at all cynical or sarcastic- he was genuinely trying to make this a great experience for me. I left with a small double shot oat milk latte and only spent 30 kroner with my DIS discount, which is equivalent to about $4.75. With how happy I was with my experience at Next Door this morning, I’m thinking my ‘new thing’ tomorrow might be to get one of their croissants for breakfast.

Published by hawkelki

Hi! My name is Ellie Hawkins, and I’m currently a senior at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. I’m studying abroad at DIS Copenhagen for the Fall 2021 semester and am so excited for all I will get to experience.

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