The following post was written by a few of our Student Bloggers: Sarah, Helen, Jane, Elyse, and Adam, who are wrapping up their spring semester at DIS this week. Find out why they are going to miss their study abroad experience, here!
As our semesters come to an end, all of us current students here in Copenhagen are starting to have mixed feelings. Maybe we are ready to go back to where we came from, to our friends and families and home universities, but there will be so many things to miss from here as well. We as DIS Student Bloggers decided to look back at our experiences in Copenhagen, and talk about what we will miss most from our time with DIS!
1. Copenhagen’s Old World Vibe and Architecture
Everything in Copenhagen almost seems like there was a grand master plan and all the buildings were designed to fit in with one another. From the color scheme, down to the brick and style of buildings, it’s not only been culturally and personally fulfilling, but aesthetically as well. The multiple churches with spiral towers add to Copenhagen’s old world nature and homey appeal!
2. The People We Live with
The complete strangers we moved in with a few months ago are now our favorite people, and we don’t want to think about leaving them. Not only have they made special occasions like birthdays and holidays memorable, but they’ve also had the ability to make ordinary weekdays exceptional. It’s the little things, like having your favorite dinner waiting for you after a long day of class, helping your host siblings with their English homework, or having serious conversations as you do the dishes after dinner. It’s the best possible way to end your day every day, and it’s always hyggeligt. They’ve completely helped to shape our study abroad experience, and we wouldn’t change a moment of it.
3. Biking Everywhere
Sure, we may have seen our lives flash before our eyes the first time we pedaled in the bike lane and Danish toddlers passed us, but we’ve become accustomed to this new way of getting around anywhere we want. Once you learn the rules of the road, it’s the best possible way to see the city. You don’t have to wait for the train anymore, you get a little fresh air every day, and it makes you feel better all those bread and pastries.
4. Traveling Alone
When you start traveling by yourself, you feel out of your comfort zone, yet in tune with yourself. You confront strangers to find a secluded wine bar in France, struggle with Google maps to find an Airbnb through a hailstorm, and perhaps take a two hour stroll from Firenze to the Tuscan countryside in order to see the sunset. We can’t make this stuff up! When you travel alone, you are your own best resource and sometimes your only resource. But you learn about your internal pace, your own true interests, and the brilliance of the unknown – and we are glad we don’t have to miss this, but can take this with us when we get back home.
5. Our Core Courses and Week-Long Study Tours
The ultimate in experiential learning. Traveling to a location in Europe that corresponds with academic interests, while learning from a professor who’s a professional in his or her field, with destinations ranging from London to Sarajevo to Istanbul… It’s almost too real.
Beyond getting to see more of Denmark and Europe through our core class, and truly bonding with others who share our interests was definitely a highlight of DIS. From going out on Saturday night in Reykjavik to walking along the banks of the Danube, our classmates made the experience memorable.
Read about Kaylee’s short study tour with the International Business program here and Eric’s week-long study tour with the Sociology program to Istanbul here and here.
6. Saying What You Mean
The Danes are all about skipping the small talk. They’re blunt, honest, and are all about quality over quantity. If you make a true Danish friend, you’ve made a friend for life. Expect to dive into any and all topics when conversing with the Danes and to be presented with definite and sometimes divisive opinions. Generally, Danes also feel comfortable with the gaps in a conversation, where we Americans often feel the need to speak to fill silence. Once you get into a close group of Danish friends, be prepared for the conversation to flow while you also have small breaks to gather your own thoughts.
Here’s Jane, having dinner with the Danes at the popular spot, Copenhagen Street Food! Read more about befriending Danes on Jane’s blog.
7. Looking like a Dane
After four months of living abroad in Copenhagen, nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment when people ask for directions around the city or speak to us in Danish right away. It’s sort of like being accepted into the club. But maybe we act a little more Danish than you realize!
8. Appreciation for Nature
A subtle, yet incredibly important aspect to Danish culture has been the general population’s appreciation for nature. During the spring, it is often gray and overcast making the sun a treat. When we do get a sunny day, Danes flock out into the streets and head to the parks, canals, squares, and cafes with outdoor seating with friends to soak it all in. They leave their indoor hygge, for an even better one with fresh air and sun!
9. Quiet Transportation
One characteristic of the Danish public transportation system is it’s respect for silence. Most people tend not to speak on the train, going so far to even include a quiet zone. Some would find this odd, but we have found it to be a small joy where you can have this short time period during your commute where you can expect to be completely alone in a public space, to be left with your thoughts, and just enjoy the ride.
10. Always Learning Something New, and Talking About Absolutely Anything
It’s easy for a lot of people to think that studying abroad means that you are just taking a break to travel, but DIS offers an experience that combines learning both inside and outside of the classroom, with “Copenhagen as your home, Europe as your classroom.”
You’ll have conversations about anything and everything, from LGBTQ rights to race and color. You’ll converse with Danes, DIS students, the people you live with, or with strangers you may have just met. Regardless of the circumstances, you learn to articulate your opinions in all different spaces and with all different people.
The last five months in Denmark have brought us so many different experiences, but we will all miss the many ways that Copenhagen has made itself feel like home. From our first Carlsberg to mastering biking throughout the city, our time abroad has been unforgettable. Tusind tak, Danmark!