Hello, my name is Mrunal. Wait, let me break that down for you — mru (like brew with an m)-nahl. The weird combination of the consonants m and r throws most people off when they first hear it. I am a junior at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities pursuing a neuroscience major with a minor in computer science.
The purpose of this blog is to document my experiences during my semester abroad in Denmark and to reflect on them. Being just three days away from my flight to Copenhagen, this post is a small introduction of who I am and why I chose to spend the next four months in the cold and dark yet the happiest country of Denmark.
I grew up in an Indian immigrant family in a small town in Indonesia. It was a bold move for my parents to move away from their families to an unknown country and they have not looked back. They have spent over two decades as immigrants in Indonesia, hence, my childhood was mainly in Indonesian culture combined with Indian values taught in the house. Coming to Minnesota after high school and leaving the safe cocoon of my parents’ house changed my life. It helped me understand the difficulties that my parents might have gone through and supplemented to my multicultural upbringing.
Traveling, it seems, runs in the blood of the Zambres.
Since I was already studying abroad (out of Indonesia), doing a study abroad program was probably at the bottom of my college wishlist. Coming across the DIS program was a chance event. Its neuroscience classes aligned very well with my curiosity about the human mind. Hence, the idea of taking classes in a different country while living amongst the happiest people on earth led me to take up the DIS Copenhagen program for a semester with the choice of living with a host Danish family. I have been reading The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell lately in the hope of learning something about Danish culture. Russell does a great job of portraying her experiences in a satirical way and I am looking forward to comparing my experiences with hers.
This past month has been a rollercoaster of emotions. It was hard saying goodbyes to some of my dearest friends in Minneapolis although I know I shall see them once I am back. I currently am in the mother country — India where my entire family including my parents and brother came together for the first time in over two years. With constant reminders from relatives to stay safe in the new country, it is hard for me to absorb the fact that this journey that I started planning some nine months ago is only three days away from reality.
I know I will have a lot more to write about in my next post once I have conquered my anxiety of making my way from my homestay to the DIS office on the right train and learning a couple of Danish words (GoogleMaps has been a great friend — 11/10 recommend to every human on earth). So I’ll leave you here with a photo of my dad surprising me with this shirt when I landed in India (my dad is funny sometimes):