Now that my time in apartment 311 is coming to an end, it’s hard not to think back to where it began. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting in Texas trying to pick which sweaters to pack, anticipating living with strangers, and contemplating moving across the world. I’ll never forget the overwhelming excitement I felt getting off the plane in the Copenhagen airport, walking into the apartment for the first time, and introducing myself to all of my roommates who would soon become some of my best friends.
Since I can remember, I had always looked forward to studying abroad second semester of my junior year of college. I had only dreamed of the places I’d visit, the friends I’d meet, and the experiences I’d have. Now that all those experiences are merely memories, it’s hard not to be sentimental about leaving the foreign country that I now call home.
No one wants to hear me ramble about how much I’m going to miss Copenhagen for an entire post. Instead, I figured I’d circle back to my first post and share some of the things I’ve learned out of the classroom in the last four months. While studying abroad in Denmark is a different experience for everyone, here were some of my main takeaways.
- Find comfort by yourself: It’s not like a college campus where you walk around with your friends in between classes. The city of Copenhagen is huge, and everyone has entirely different schedules. I found that being by myself in a coffee shop or on the bus was actually sometimes more enjoyable than being around tons of people I knew.
- Find a balance between documenting and experiencing: I know, I’m one to talk. I take a million pictures and blog about every trip. However, I tried to keep my phone use on trips to a minimum and only for documentation purposes. In terms of the blog, I found it to be a great post-trip way to remember all of the experiences I had the weekend prior. While not everyone needs to have a blog, I’d recommend keeping a journal or even writing a few notes on your phone about the ups and downs of every trip.
- Always say yes to plans: I didn’t make any memories when I went to sleep early or spent all day in the apartment. The best way to meet new people and have fun experiences is to be spontaneous and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
- Stay organized: Being across the world trying to balance school, travel, entirely new surroundings and people is no easy feat. My laptop always had both homework and trip calendar tabs open at all times. I used time in airports do finish last minute homework, and I would always make sure to get home relatively early on Sundays so I would be well rested for the school week.
- Public transportation is your best friend: Contrary to my previous beliefs, public transportation is actually the easiest way to get around most new places. Taxis are expensive and sometimes hard to find, so hopping on a metro or bus is usually the best option.
- Anything made for the general public can not be too hard to figure out: This is my new life motto. As a pretty sufficient 20-year-old, there is not much that I am incapable of (even across the world). The biggest challenges I faced were language barriers, but that’s why google translate is such a beautiful thing. As long as I had a charged phone, there was no language out of my reach. In terms of public transit, if you can follow your phone’s directions and read a few signs, you’ll be totally fine.
- Adopt as much of the Danish lifestyle as possible: It became very obvious that I was a foreigner when I would wear ripped jeans in freezing temperatures, ask cashiers how their day has been, and sit in the front row of the bus. It is only when I started adopting some Danish mannerisms and styles that I felt like Copenhagen was truly my home. This is not to say that I lost any of my American culture (or accent). I just found life to be a lot easier when my pants didn’t have holes in them and people didn’t give me a second look walking down the sidewalk.
- Don’t take a second for granted: The days go slow but the months go fast. Four months seems like a long time, but I feel like it couldn’t have gone by any quicker.
Copenhagen really did turn out to be the study abroad location of my dreams. Despite knowing little to nothing about Denmark before moving there for a semester, I could not think of a better place to spend four months. The scenery was beautiful, the classes were exceptional, and the people were perfect. While I definitely missed everyone from home, I’m finding the concept of returning back to the US rather challenging. I am a born and raised Texan, an Indiana Hoosier, and now a Dane at heart. They say all good things must come to an end, but this might be the toughest ending yet. I just know this will be the time in my life that I talk about for the rest of my life. Tak for everything, Copenhagen, and hej hej for now.