Suzi from Eastern University spent a semester in Copenhagen cracking jokes with her Homestay, learning Danish, and discovering a newfound sense of independence.
Follow Suzi’s fall abroad, as she reflects on her semester in Copenhagen.
Everybody’s Going Somewhere but Nobody’s in a Hurry
There is nothing that has made me feel as satisfied as walking through the city alone, especially when the sun is shining, and taking in everything around me.
I love the colorful buildings, the canal, the bakeries and cafes, the rush of the bikers, and the slow-busy pace of Copenhagen. Everybody is going somewhere but nobody’s in a hurry. Overall, Copenhagen has just been absolutely mind-blowing. I love it and I’ll miss it.
Connecting while Commuting
On most days, I wake up around 8:30, after my Homestay hosts have already left for school and work, and I get ready and make myself breakfast. I walk ten minutes to the S-tog station and take the B line into the city.
My commute is one of my favorite parts of the day because I get to catch up on podcasts or listen to music while people-watching. There’s something so connecting about commuting with everyone else. I usually try to get into the city a bit early so I can pick up a coffee or pastry before class at 10:00.
Since coming to Copenhagen, I’ve gained more confidence in making decisions and being able to accomplish things independently.
I have two classes and then I’m done by 13:00. I either head back to my Homestay for lunch or grab lunch (either bought or packed) with a friend. I’ll spend my afternoons socially, usually getting coffee, doing homework with friends, or exploring something in Copenhagen I haven’t seen yet. I like to be back at my Homestay for dinner; sometimes I get back earlier so I can cook for the family.
We sit around the dinner table and crack jokes. Then I spend most evenings doing homework on the couch while my host family watches a show. My host dad usually makes tea before bed for my host mom and me, which I think is very sweet.
Crazy, Fun, and Hyggeligt
My Homestay is the best. My entire stay with them has been one laugh after another. Growing up, I always wanted a little brother and now I have two Danish brothers! It’s been crazy, fun, and hyggeligt all at the same time.
Some of my favorite memories are getting Friday candy (a Danish tradition) with my host brothers because they get way too excited, having Thanksgiving with my host family and my friends, watching my host brothers’ handball games, watching Harry Potter together, and decorating our Christmas tree.
The past two weeks have been so full of tears as I’ve prepared to say goodbye. They’re truly the best thing to happen to me in my time abroad and I wouldn’t have enjoyed this experience as much as I have were it not for them.
Learning Danish: In Class and at Home
While learning Danish, my host brothers will try to help me with my pronunciation by repeating a word I said incorrectly and then pronouncing the word correctly – I usually don’t hear the difference! Trying to learn Danish and having my host family laugh at me is part of the fun, though, and the language barrier hasn’t been an issue for me at all.
But learning Danish is hard! I usually feel very confident in my Danish class because I can see that I’m completing the exercises correctly and can actively participate. But there are just a lot of sounds that are difficult to master and I think there’s a very exact way of pronouncing things. When I’m shopping or going to a cafe, everyone speaks English so I don’t have any trouble. However, I have learned to order in Danish.
In my Danish Language & Culture course, it’s been nice to learn about some famous Danes who shaped Danish culture and thought. It helps me to understand why some things in Denmark are the way they are. But I also bring back what I learn to my host family and they can provide more perspective and tell me about their specific experiences rather than generalizing about all of Denmark.
Overcoming the Unexpected
It’s hard to know exactly how I’ve changed over my time here. I know I have, but I expect that to become more evident to me when I return home. My identity has changed in that I feel more American than when I left; as somebody who grew up in Costa Rica and the U.S., I’ve had a difficult time feeling like I belong to a particular country. But, I think I’m coming home having a better understanding of how the U.S. is different and what aspects of it that I’m proud to claim.
I’ve always been a person who shies away from the unknown, but when you live abroad and travel a lot, there are a lot of worries that you overcome. I’ve been able to prove to myself that I can overcome the unexpected!
Coming Prepared & Applying for Scholarships
I’m glad I came prepared and that my finances weren’t a source of constant stress for me. In total, I spent about $2,500, that includes travel, gifts, shopping, coffee, eating out, etc. So, I’m happy to still be leaving with savings in the bank because I planned ahead.
I was also able to afford my time abroad through a generous DIS scholarship. The application process for DIS scholarships was super quick and easy, and I heard back within a few weeks. I received a need-based and diversity scholarship. I filled out a form, wrote a one-page personal statement, and attached my Student Aid Report. Finding outside scholarships was a bit more difficult; I only applied for a Fund for Education Abroad scholarship, interviewed for it, and was fortunate enough to be selected.