Living with a Danish Roommate

Hvordan er det som amerikansk DIS-studerende at have en dansk roommate?
Læs Kylie Mohr’s blogindlæg her nedenunder, hvor hun fortæller om hverdagen og de små øjeblikke, som hun deler sammen med sin danske roommate, Nanna.   

“How was your day?” I chirped as I entered our apartment. My American tendencies urged me to be extra cheery. I couldn’t wait to get to know my Danish roommate.

“Fine,” Nanna replied.

She didn’t elaborate. Was her day really that bad? Did I do something wrong? I paused, slightly thrown off.

Living with a Danish roommate was one of the more challenging, and ultimately the most rewarding, things I’ve done during my year abroad in Copenhagen. I am not used to long silences in my day-to-day living situation, and it took a little while getting used to hearing her and her friends chatter away without comprehending more than a word or two. But now that I know Nanna better and have assimilated into the Danish culture more, I absolutely love having her as a roommate and I’m a huge fan of the Danish roommate program as well. Let me tell you more about what it is like and why I like it so much.

Nanna and I interact a lot during a regular week. In the mornings, we’ll usually talk about our plans for the day while we hurriedly drink coffee and share the bathroom before rushing out the door. We cook dinner together about once a week, but many nights we just share the kitchen. Since we’re both students, we have a lot of things to juggle and Nanna often grabs food after work before coming home.

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Celebrating the 75th birthday of HM Queen Margrethe ll in front of Amalienborg. 16 April 2015.

Since we have hit it off, we have grown to spend more time together on the weekends. I always look forward to doing things with her and her friends and I get really excited when she invites me to tag along.  I think it’s important to remember that as a DIS Danish roommate, you could be a major link to Danish culture for your American roommate. It’s been so nice for me, that Nanna makes an effort to make me feel included. She goes above and beyond and really makes Denmark feel like home.

This semester, we’ve gone out to a sushi dinner, visited cocktail bars and clubs together, made a pancake brunch, saw a movie at the cinema, and biked through the city together more times than I can count. Nanna turned 24 this spring and I was privileged to help put on her birthday dinner in our apartment and meet her family. I even participated in her yearly tradition with her best friend, Elizabeth: they stay up all night, make cake and tea and watch the Oscars! Without Nanna I would’ve never met Elizabeth, another Dane whom I consider a close friend here in Copenhagen.

We’ve made our cohabitation, all about the little things. We help each other out around the house; if I’m doing laundry I’ll throw hers in and vice versa. She thoroughly cleaned the apartment when I was gone at school, so I grabbed her a chai latte to say “tak!” We leave each other little notes and bring each other back treats when we know we’re having a rough week. She never rolls her eyes when I ask her how hot, in Celsius, I should set the oven to bake or the fastest way to get into the city center, even if this did annoy her. And also,it’s not like we spend all of our time together.  Danish roommates get plenty of time on their own, as DIS students have 3 weeks of vacation to travel throughout the semester and often travel on weekends, too.

Some of my favorite moments with Nanna are when we spontaneously start talking about something, like cultural differences between prisons, education or elections, and the conversation just goes on and on. I love sipping tea with her and exchanging perspectives. I’ve learned to slow down and appreciate life more. I’ve also learned that the best time with friends isn’t always carefully planned and orchestrated. We don’t have to “do” anything big, just walking along the harbor is lovely in itself. She’s learned more about American culture and why we act the way we do, while also getting her rent paid by DIS. But it’s not just that. She’s more than just a roommate to me, and I hope I’m more than just a roommate to her, too.

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It’s ended up being the perfect partnership.  I know if I need anything, even a partner to a Danish-only yoga class, Nanna’s there for me.  It’s totally worth any cultural awkwardness I felt in the beginning!

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