Summer in Copenhagen, Part 3: Housing & Internship

“The city of Copenhagen is a walkable, bike-friendly haven offering a network of pedestrian streets and wide, devoted bicycle lanes.  In the pedestrian only sections of town, people dine in the streets as performers play the violin or sometimes the accordion nearby. The city is equipped with excellent public transportation via buses, metros and trains. After a short period of feeling puzzled by the pace of boarding and alighting, I soon became comfortable utilizing the metro to get from my apartment outside of the city itself to class and work.” (Excerpt taken from last week’s post, “Summer in Copenhagen, Part 2: First, to Vancouver!“)

My apartment was organized for me by DIS and was in Signalhuset Kollegiet, a student housing complex just outside of the city.  My quickest link to the city was the Ørestad metro station, about a 5 minute walk from my room. Once on the metro, it was about a 10 minute commute to Nørreport Station, and a 10 minute walk to the DIS classes.  Although there were housing options closer to the city center, I had indicated preference for my own room and to be housed with international students as opposed to strictly US students. The 3 other students sharing the 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment  were just finishing up their spring semesters when I came in for the summer — and boy was it apparent! On my  first day in Denmark, my RA walked me to my apartment and her jaw dropped. It was definitely finals time. Finals have a  tendency to exacerbate Murphy’s Law… After an hour of cleaning, I was happy that I did indeed have my own room to curl up in. The night however was fleeting, as I was soon greeted by my first summer Danish morning. 4:30 a.m.: Hello sunshine.

On that first full day after arriving in Copenhagen, DIS held an orientation in an old warehouse in the paper district, PapirØen. All the summer students gathered to learn about Danish culture, listen to live performers and then embark on a scavenger hunt in small groups around the city!



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As we shuffled through the streets searching for riddled destinations in bewilderment, we stumbled across a few of the intended sights, including the home of the Danish Royal family, and Rosenborg castle. The Rosenborg castle was built by King Christian IV in the early 1600’s and is surrounded by the King’s garden, a beautiful greenspace intended for the enjoyment of the people.

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After navigating through such a beautiful combination of stimuli my first week in Copenhagen, I found the building for the start-up class I’d enrolled in with Professor Karim Jabbar, right in the heart of the city. During lecture, I learned that based upon my resume and cover letter, I would be working with him and his partner Deanna MacDonald at Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration, on a sustainable development project with the 100% renewable energy island of Samsø and with the City of Copenhagen.

Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration, BLOC, is a start-up in Copenhagen, operating with a mission to “advance responsible technological development to address the complex global challenges facing humanity and our planet.”

BLOC develops use cases for distributed ledger technologies in order to create a secure, trusted and accessible digital foundation that will aid sustainable development. A key tenant is the mission to improve accessibility and transparency of critical infrastructure – basic assets and objects that are considered essential for the functioning of the society and economy, such as water, energy, agriculture, public health, financial systems.

Three current and key project focus areas of BLOC include:

  1. Transport and Logistics, addressing supply chain finance, carbon and emissions reporting and aimed at fostering frictionless and accessible global trade.
  2. Energy Systems, focused on distributed electricity generation, transmission and distribution, and vehicles for financial investments in renewable grid infrastructure.
  3. Agriculture Systems, addressing production and consumption, supply chain finance, standards and certifications, transparency and co-operative ownership models.

Before the end of May 2017, I had started working at BLOC, located in the Copenhagen Fintech Lab. The Fintech Lab is a co-working space for startups, situated in Christianhavn. There I met CEO and co-founder of BLOC, Deanna MacDonald — an inspiring woman and entrepreneur with a passion for sustainability, social justice and technology. She is a Canadian living in Copenhagen, with a Master’s degree in international business and politics from Copenhagen Business School.

As Deanna and I discussed current and upcoming projects, I realized I had just entered a very fast-pace world in which the projects were being designed and augmented on a day by day basis – sometimes even in the course of a high-level conversation. My excitement for the summer could barely be contained as I realized that I could directly help craft what we were doing and how we would do it.

(Check back next Tuesday evening for more!)

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