Feaven, University of Michigan, spent her summer between Stockholm and Copenhagen, participating in Summer Sessions 1, 2, and 3 with DIS. She shares her reflections on an unforgettable summer and her advice to future students.
If you’re reading this, I will have officially completed my summer abroad in Scandinavia (never did I think I’d make it to this point)! I still remember the days leading up to my arrival like they were yesterday. Fear and excitement combined, I had no idea of what to expect.
10 weeks and 9 flights later, I leave a completely new person. To summarize my entire experience to its fullest would require me to write a book (which I don’t have the time to write, nor you have the time to read). However, here’s a quick rundown of my time abroad, and some tips for future study abroad students reading this!
Work Hard, Play Hard
In my head, I was coming to DIS to get some credits out of the way, and then go back home. However, the learning experience here was something I was not at all familiar with (in a good way, I promise)! The best way to describe it, is that the learning is centered around the students, and not the typical top-down system we’re so used to. Having guest speakers, Field Studies, and Study Tours, I felt truly immersed in what I was learning about, and it brought so much more passion and love for each of my classes (and I never felt weighed down by schoolwork). I can say that these classes are some of the best I’ve ever taken, and it’s another reason why I’m so glad I got this opportunity.
Stockholm and Copenhagen are both so similar, yet so different! To sum it up best, Stockholm has an old town charm vibe, with more of a quaint and calm environment that will have you never wanting to leave the beautiful views. Copenhagen on the other hand is more along the lines of casually chic, with huge shopping areas and a major city vibe. But ultimately, both are very eco-friendly, have lots of water, and an endless list of things to do!
I also got the chance to see how much community and happiness can form within a country through the culture, big events, and comfortable lifestyle — from the Tour de France starting in Copenhagen, to daily Fika breaks, to Swedish National Day, and Midsommar. As I switched from city to city, it was like entering different a different world every few weeks. A little adjustment had to be made, but I’m grateful to have had the chance to live in Copenhagen and Stockholm, and both have a huge place in my heart!
Self-Growth, Self-Care, and Self-Love
Living in a new country — and continent — was not a walk in the park. It wasn’t just a week long family vacation, it was over two months on my own in countries I’ve never been to. There were times of fear, loneliness, and many moments where I wanted to hop on the next flight back home. However, this was a summer not only where I learned things in the classroom, but also built skills and learned lessons that I will remember for the rest of my life.
I’ve grown a new appreciation for independence, and built confidence to go to new places all on my own, and enjoy the time by myself. I started to take more walks to clear my head, and writing journals and blogs help get my feelings out of my system. And I’m now a lover of exploring new places, and the beauty of nature. As I was leaving, I realized how I’ve made it through many obstacles, how I did so many things this summer all on my own, and how much I love and admire the person I’ve become.
To Future Students
Frantically reading through student blogs and binge watching study abroad YouTube videos to prepare for your time abroad? I’ve been there. I understand the fear, I understand the excitement, I understand every feeling in the book. Here are some pieces of advice that I wish I knew prior to coming here, and I hope it’ll help you on your future journey!
- Never be afraid to ask for help! There are so many friendly and welcoming people that made this experience so much better.
- The friends will come in no time, and you are never alone! Everyone at DIS is in the same boat as you, and that shared feeling is what brings people together.
- Be open to trying new things! Whether it be foods, taking weekend trips or random boat rides, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.
- Pack light (I mean it) — you think you’ll need everything in your closet, but you don’t.
- Take care of yourself — there will be highs and lows, and practicing self care before, during and after the trip will help tremendously.
I’m still having to look through my camera roll over and over again to remind myself that I was just in two amazing cities for 10 weeks, because it still feels so unreal! I wish you all the best on your future journeys, and thank you for taking the time to read about my journey abroad!
Learn more about Feaven and Summer at DIS:
>> Read more from Feaven’s summer