— Reflections of a Semester Abroad @ DIS Copenhagen/Pre-Departure
Four months ago I got on a plane (or three, to be exact) to travel somewhere I had never been before, to live with all new people, to take classes in what was an unfamiliar culture. Now, I find myself once again struggling to fit the life I built here, in Copenhagen, into a mere two suitcases. How can you pack an experience that has been so much into bags so little?
Often, I think people talk so lovingly about their time abroad that it transforms into almost an unreachable entity. Causing both anxiety and excitement. While it’s not untrue, as my time in Denmark birthed many new opportunities and challenges for me— don’t let it daunt you.
Soon, all the things at the root of your worries will seem so effortlessly normal. I got my commute down pat within two weeks of being here (I could maybe even explain to you what a transportation zone is). Don’t stress too much about what you’ll wear everyday because if I’ve learned anything here, it’s that generally Danes mind their business. They’re more scared of you than you should be by them. Though if you want to blend in, a large colorful scarf and a trench coat all seasons is a must.
I should have not been stressed about meeting new people because the first two weeks abroad is just constantly meeting new people.
I cannot emphasize how many people you will meet, as long as you’re willing to hold the conversation. Using that principle, and the Statistics’ Law of Large Numbers, you are bound to meet some people that you’ll like in the program. Keep an open mind and your social battery charged, many people come abroad to meet new friends just like you. While I still miss my friends at home dearly, there are so many people here that I’ve met these past five months that I appreciate so lovingly— whom I never would have met outside this program. In many ways, they have challenged me more than anything else in Denmark has. I reiterate the idea I faced more culture shock from fellow Americans, than I had from Danes. As I write this in our final week, taking in our last moments together, I remind you to not wallow in sadness for those you miss to the extent it does not allow you to learn about the new people around you as well.
Classes at DIS definitely had an adjustment period to them, but I enjoyed my time during most of them a lot.
For me, classes here were much smaller and more intimate than my classes at home were, and for others, I know it was the reverse. I won’t lie, at times, the amount of group work that was expected was not what I was use to, nor was it my favorite. Many people come to abroad with their own personal goals, which at times may erupt conflicting interests. But, it challenged me to meet new people in my courses. One aspect I loved about my DIS courses was the hands on aspects of learning. Field studies and course travel have been some of my favorite things. Why did the American education system decide to stop doing field trips after like middle school? The immersive experience was much more engaging in my personal opinion. Most of the things that I remember best were from experience rather than lecture. It incorporated more perspectives and broaden my cultural learning. The learning outside of the classroom has been one of the most impactful aspects to my time at DIS.
In many ways, me but five months younger, was very wise. She was (I am) so fortune to be able to have spent my semester all the way across the world. Please don’t forget how much of a privilege it is to be here. I am so lucky. Despite all the mess-ups and FOMO, I had very good reason to remain optimistic about my experience abroad. Perhaps call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. She truly ate with the line, what is life without a little risk? And that’s not to say to go super wild, though it could entail that as well, but for me, my risk was traversing outside my comfort zone. To permanently inking my skin with a long awaited first tattoo or building my rollercoaster tolerance by taking on Daemon at Tivoli, I said yes to things I would have wanted to do in the past yet would have shied away from. There’s truly no better way to be uncomfortable (but in a good way!) than by changing literally every aspect about your life.
I once heard that you never know when you will find your new favorite things.
Wether that be a song, a movie, a person. It’s one of the many motivations for our very existence. I found many new favorite things here. My new favorite study spot is the couch on the fourth floor in F23 in the library (it’s comfortable and has a socket right by it). I love the multi-fruit juice from Netto (in the purple container). Me & my roommate live on ThaiCubes. European Starbucks have a Cool Lime Refresha that hits so different and I will miss my pre-class Norreport Emmery runs too (especially the seasonal fastelavnsboller YUM). The plentiful student discounts have been a massive win as well. Laying in Ørstedparken has become routine in an attempt to soak up any possible vitamin D. I cherish my carefully curated commute playlist. Tuesday nights have become ritualistic at this point. And all the people I have met have made it all worth it.
Copenhagen, you have given me so much. I hold you in such dear fondness close to my heart. You shone a light for things I should express more gratitude for at home as well. I will miss the four months I had the privilege of calling you home so dearly.
With love, to my favorite city in Europe – Kaia<3
(PS. So sorry this post is so far after our final days of the semester. I was both gathering my thoughts and cherishing my last days with people I will miss in my favorite place…. AND THEN I lost my phone in a taxi in Greece😀 Fun fact: Athens houses 17,000 taxis. It had all my photos and part of this blog draft, so excuse my late send off and less than stellar photo options)