Blog 1

Hello from Copenhagen, Denmark! My name is Sara Patel and I am a rising junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Medical Humanities here at Boston College. This summer I am taking a 4 week course entitled Public Health in a Global Society in Copenhagen! Over this month I am going to share my experiences in Europe and hopefully convince you readers to also travel abroad!

When I first landed in Copenhagen I was so surprised by how clean the streets were and how many people were on bikes and carrying out a very active lifestyle. The food has been amazing so far with such fresh seafood, delicious Danish hot dog stands, and the most famous food in Denmark, Smørrebrød (open face sandwiches). It is easy to find different cuisines, especially Japanese as the light dishes are similar to Danish ones. The public transportation in Denmark is impeccable. I have been taking the metro to class every morning and feel like such a city girl.

The only problem is that Copenhagen tends to be a pretty expensive city due to their taxes being so high. The Danes pay high taxes for the benefits of free healthcare, education, and a lot of financial support when in economic distress. Taking this class actually in Copenhagen has been so beneficial because I am able to witness all of these benefits and not only read about them. The Danish really prioritize an active lifestyle. An example of this is with biking. Biking is a huge part of Danish culture and the city has made accommodations for this activity, building bike lanes almost the size of the car lanes, adding bike rails over stairs, and including many bike racks outside, available for parking. There are so many comparisons that we have made so far between the healthcare system in the US versus Denmark. In Copenhagen health is not a goal but a means to enjoying life. 

The benefit about taking an actual class abroad is the field trips that we get to go on! So far we have gone on a canal tour throughout Copenhagen, took a cooking class on how to make a traditional Danish dessert called Flodebolle, made a trip to the United Nations, toured the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, and we have many more coming up. All these activities were so local and things that I would not have gone to if I were not in the class. There are only 11 of us students so we have gotten really close and explored on our own as well. 

Last Friday it was 78 degrees (very hot in Copenhagen) and so we decided to follow what the locals did and took a dip in the canals which connect to the Baltic Sea. The ledge of the canal was fenced off for swimmers and inside were people of all ages tanning, swimming, and jumping off a huge diving board. The water was freezing but felt refreshing and soon our bodies were so numb to the point where swimming around was fun. That was probably one of the most local things we have done so far other than watching the opening ceremony of the Tour de France. Yes, the Tour de France starts in Copenhagen (I did not know this). The Tour starts July 1st but I am currently on a plane to Italy for the weekend, so sadly will be missing it. It was still very special to cheer on all of the bikers as they rode across the bridge to Tivoli Gardens, a big amusement park, which is the starting point. We also took the public transportation bus to a city close by called Reffen which previously used to be an industrialized area but was reclaimed by foodies. There were tons of vendors selling street food with live music and a great view of the sea. 

While on this side of the globe, most of us have decided to take a weekend trip to various European countries. I am currently going to Rome, some are going to Amsterdam and others are going to Stockholm. If you decide to go abroad I recommend doing this but also exploring your city. Last weekend we explored around Copenhagen and confidently got situated where we were. We also celebrated a local holiday called Sankt Hans, which is a day in which the locals set up big bonfires and light them to “get rid of witches”. It is a celebration that takes place to mark Midsummer Eve and reel in the summer. I attached a picture of this! No wonder the Danish are so happy, they let out their bad juju! Walking around the city helped us feel like we were finally a part of the city, minus knowing the Danish language of course. Cannot wait to explore more, but for now, farvel!