Some questions can only be answered by experience. Google street view can only tell you so much about a commute. Video calls can only introduce you to a person in certain ways. A course syllabus can’t teach you what a full classroom will. Reactions and feelings and priorities are subject to change – and no matter how much preparation and speculation goes into the gear up to go abroad, some things will only be revealed with time.
We’ve compiled excerpts from fall 2022 Student Bloggers, sharing what they hoped to learn and experience coming in, and reflections on what they found as they depart from their Scandinavian semesters.
Ben, Northwestern University, DIS Copenhagen
In preparation for departure, Ben acknowledges the uncertainties of the time ahead, while feeling ready to tackle whatever it might be.
“Even in the face of forgotten luggage, daunting language barriers, and intimidating first impressions, I feel more confident than ever. That confidence assuages my fears and reminds me of what I’ve known since I enrolled: I’m in for the semester of my life.”
Julia, Bryn Mawr College, DIS Stockholm
Prior to her time in Stockholm, Julia lays out objectives for her semester; from learning a new language, to learning to know what she doesn’t.
“I’ll set a goal for myself, one which becomes more important in this world with each passing day: epistemic modesty. I know a lot, but there is a lot that I don’t know, and there is a lot that I don’t know that I don’t know. I hope to cultivate such an outlook throughout my experience abroad, and let it bring me to consider new ideas and understand ’other people to a fuller degree.”
Kayara, Smith College, DIS Copenhagen
Kayara sets up to get to know all sorts of things during her time abroad – including a new version of herself.
“I want to explore Copenhagen, Greece, and Amsterdam, but what I want to explore even more is myself. I want to get to know Kayara. I want to see what she’s like when she’s completely out of her element and has to figure it all out. … I can’t say I’m not a little bit nervous. What is unfamiliar is thrilling and fresh and frightening and and scary all at the same time. When I think about it, however, the rollercoaster of emotions is what makes stepping out of your comfort zone even more worth it.”
Charlotte, Northwestern University, DIS Stockholm
A month into the semester, Charlotte reflects on her experience; what she’s learned so far, and what she wants to prioritize going forward.
“It’s okay to not know how to navigate through all your competing wants. And you’re not alone in feeling stressed out. There is a lot to figure out – being in a new country with limited time to do the bazillion things on your bucket list or simply, just getting adjusted and finding your routine.”
Ruisi, Parsons School of Design, DIS Copenhagen
Ruisi studied abroad for the first time at age 13 – back before she even departed for Denmark, she gives tips on how to approach living in a new place “alone”.
“You will find your ‘allies.’ There are 7 billion people in the world. You will most definitely find someone who will light up your match, even 10,000 miles away from home. Well I did, many.”
“Be adventurous and unafraid. People keep telling you to explore out of your comfort zone. How? It sounds simple but takes effort to try, and over time it will become a habit that will bring you lifelong memories.”
Nissa, Oberlin College, DIS Stockholm
Midway through the semester, Nissa shared tips on what to do when everything isn’t always picture-perfect.
“Being abroad does come with its challenges. But use your support networks both in the US and in Stockholm, and try to find ways to actively improve your situation. They aren’t going to be 100% effective, but they can help.”
Hidy, Franklin and Marshall College, DIS Copenhagen
From her departure gate at the København Lufthavn, Hidy contemplates the semester she’s leaving from.
“These past few months kind of feel like a dream, which is also the first word that springs to my mind when I’m trying to sum up this semester abroad… But when I think back to the small details of the semester, I found my feet back firmly on the ground again, because many of them are so warm and vivid in my mind, it’s like I could reach out my hand and hold them like a little jar with a candle in it (which is also one of the hygge elements I’ve seen around Copenhagen).”
Ellie, Wesleyan College, DIS Stockholm
Ellie shares whether or not she fulfilled a goal that was titular to her blog: Finding Fika.
“Did I find fika? The short answer is yes.
But so much more than that – I found myself. This semester has shown me so much about the world and my place in it. It was truly the best few months of my life, and it flew by so quickly.”
Read more student tips for your time abroad: