After arriving in my flat with only the things I could get on the plane, It quickly became evident I would need a lot more than I thought. I was one of the lucky ones – a lot of exchange students slept in their jackets on the first night and froze. The spare blankets in the lounge were great, but I still felt a little but icky not having sheets. How very precious of me.
What I didn’t anticipate was needing to get kitchen utensils and crockery. The first time I went to go make myself something to eat, one of my Danish flatmates was in the kitchen. When I found the cutlery draw he was incredibly quick to point at that actually it was his cutlery but I could borrow it this time. He pointed out the cupboard of things that everyone shared, which had a manky plastic spoon, a cheese grater and a lemon squeezer. Excellent, more money to spend.
We have had a number of lecturers talk to us about the Danes and their mannerisms/characteristics and all of them have pointed out very clearly that the Danes seem very brusk and unfriendly at first, but once you have broken the ice they are your best friends. This has been true with a number of people I have met. In fact, once you get them talking it is really hard to shut them up! Particularly when there is a drink in hand.
When I was at one of the flats, it was almost quiet and awkward as we first arrived, but once the Danish guys we were drinking with had cracked open a beer and were on to a topic of conversation they knew about, they were the chattiest boys I had ever come across. In fact, when it was time to leave and catch our bus to Uni for the International party we were late for, we struggled to find a pause in conversation to actually get out the door!
Unfortunately I don’t seem to have broken the ice yet with my flatmates. Probably largely due to the fact we never seem to be home at the same time. I have met/seen 4 of the potential 12, but it is exam time for some and holidays for others so everyone is either away or keeping to themselves. The flat has all the hints of a social place – table tennis table, bar, fairy lights, loads of photos on the walls – but the lounge is all but empty.
Upon talking to other students, it does, however, appear to be well against the norm that everyone has their own cutlery and cooking utensils stashed away in their own locked cupboards. Nonetheless if that’s the way the flat functions, I really didn’t want to be the girl who waltzes in and uses all their stuff, pissing them off before we have even got to know each other.
So high on my agenda was getting the ever-growing list of household items I would need. The thought of spending money on things I would need to throw out in 5 months pained me a little bit, but hey it had to be done.
I didn’t know when I would get a chance to shop, as our Orientation/Introduction programme was pretty packed in the first few days, but within a few minutes of meeting most people the lack of sheets and blankets was a hot topic of conversation. Next thing I know I have organised a group outing for at least 12 others that afternoon to Ikea. Bit of a turnaround from feeling all lonely the day before!
Whenever I am somewhere new, I like to make sure I know exactly where I need to go – that I have checked the map and I’m not wandering off in to the unknown with no plan. It seems that that attitude isn’t universal as a lot of people were willingly following me on my quest for the giant blue holy grail! But after a long bus ride and a bit of a hike we made it.
I was absolutely astounded by just how cheap the place is. I had been to Ikea in Australia, but it was a whole new level in Denmark. Probably due to with the fact we are so close to Sweden, but that’s just a guess. The most bizarre thing though, is that there are a million and one variations of the same thing that only differ very slightly, and yet can have vastly different prices. A blue towel of the same size and thickness was 10 times the price of a white one, for example.
It took a good bit of searching to find all of the vastly cheaper items (they were hidden on bottom shelves and in bargain bins in funny locations), but in the end I had a duvet, pillow, full set of sheets (we all bought the one ugly pattern that wasn’t selling), towel, tea towel, coathangers, hand towel, mug, plate, cups, cutlery, knives, set of three pots, can opener and some plastic containers that can double as bowls for about NZ$70. After that I didn’t feel so bad about having to buy so many things. The most expensive item was the pot set, at about $15! There were also a tonne of amazing and novel items, but I tried my best to restrain myself to those few (mostly) essential things. It was also incredibly fortunate that IKEA prefers to communicate its products with pictures as there were no english descriptions whatsoever.