— Copenhagen, Denmark
(11th – 17th, May 2018)
In March earlier this year, my professor urged us to apply to participate in the Copenhagen Youth Fashion Summit – the world’s leading event on sustainability in the fashion industry which was taking place two months later in May. No one in my class really showed interest, but me being someone who never declines an opportunity to travel and engage in such events, I applied… and got accepted along with two of my friends! I had no idea whether or not i’d actually be able to go considering the lack of time I had in saving up but confirmed my attendance in the program anyways (you know, just incase).
Couple days later I received a surprise in the mail – a scholarship that would potentially cover my round trip flight from Hong Kong to Copenhagen – as well as the news that our accommodation would be covered by SCAD, something that I was so grateful for considering the expensive hotel and AirBNB rates in Denmark. Having all this happen made it much easier for me to convince my parents, and so a month later I packed a light hand-carry and took off to the Nordics.
After a short layover in Helsinki, I arrived in Copenhagen during a rainy night on the 11th of May and by the time I reached our AirBNB after a 15 min walk from the Norreport metro station, my luggage and I were drenched. Anywho, we were staying at a spacious, newly-furnished apartment in a great location so it didn’t take me long to forget about my soaked self. The next day, the weather was pleasant with some sunshine and a cool breeze so we took off for some sightseeing. Our professor lived in Copenhagen for ten years, so we were really lucky to have him take us to all his favourite places and give advice like a true local.
Over the next few days that we had before the youth summit began, we tried covering as much of the city as possible:
- Rosenburg Castle Gardens – also known as the ‘King’s Garden’, it is the most visited park in central Copenhagen, tracing back to the 1600’s. Designed to feel like you’re walking through a Renaissance era, the garden is lined with rows of sky-high trees.
- Gothersgade – one of the main and most popular streets of the city that is lined with cute cafes, al fresco restaurants and Scandinavian shops.
- Nyhavn – One of the most iconic spots known for its colorful buildings and boats that line the canal. Grab some pizza and sit by the port as you pray that you don’t get attacked by a seagull or hit by a tourist’s selfie stick.
- Ofelia Plads – Walk to the end of Nyhavn and you’ll reach this relaxing square-like area. Admire the glass architectural structure above you and just chill out.
- Amalienborg – Experience royal history by heading over to the palace where one of the world’s oldest monarchies live. I’m not a fan of history myself but it was a beautiful sight regardless.
- The Little Mermaid – I personally couldn’t see what was so spectacular about this bronze sculpture that sits on a rock for which people from all over the world fly to visit. But if you enjoy artwork and fairytales – this is definitely an iconic one inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the ‘Little Mermaid’.
Other things I did during my stay outside of the Copenhagen Youth Summit involved trying Nordic noodles that weren’t in any way Nordic, lazing on grassy parks by the bridge during sunset, stepping into cool Scandi shops, admiring the country’s sustainability efforts, devouring warm churros and waffles and so much more…
Travelers, take note:
- There are more bicycles than cars, I felt like I had a higher chance of being knocked down by a cyclist over a driver – so watch where you’re going on the streets and make sure you’re not walking on a cycling path
- Danish apartments don’t have air-conditioning or fans.
- They also have an absence of curtains, or very minimal, sheer ones that allows plenty of natural light into the home
- The only personality a house can have is white and airy. With high ceilings, white walls, no extra furnishings or colorful home decor, Danish apartments are extremely spacious and airy with plenty of natural light and uber minimal + chic.
- Don’t try to pronounce Danish words – you’ll just embarrass yourself.
- Nyhavn might sound like ‘Nai-Haven’ but is actually pronounced ‘Nu-Ha-Un’
- Don’t overuse the infamous ‘Hygge’ term if you don’t even know what it really is / means
- Carry change around and buy your bus/metro tickets beforehand
- If you decide to cross the Oresund Bridge over to Malmo, Sweden – don’t forget to carry your passport/ID with you because they’ll check (I forgot mine and got sent back from the border :-), yay me)
- Turn off your google maps once in a while and get lost in the city, you’ll always find your way back.
Stay tuned for a separate post on my experience at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit if you’re interested in fashion & sustainability!