Traveling to other countries while studying abroad is one of the greatest perks in my personal opinion. Its so much cheaper to buy a plane ticket from one european country to another, than to cross overseas from the US. My mentality going into study abroad was that this was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would be spending this much time overseas with the opportunity to take advantage of this. I knew going into this semester that I would want to be spending a lot of my free time staying in Copenhagen and exploring my own city rather than traveling every weekend, but I also knew that a big part of my abroad experience would be to visit other countries as well and expose myself to as many different cultures, peoples, and climates as I could (because let’s be real here…. Denmark is colddddd).
I had this very opportunity for my spring break in which I split up my week off going to three new places!! I had the chance to go to Belgium, Austria and Spain. My experience was amazing to say the least, and it was the perfect opportunity to visit friends studying in these places and get their inside scoop on the best things to do and see. I enjoyed spending time getting to know these other places and observe the differences between the cultures there compared to back home in Copenhagen. I definitely learned a lot!
There was also a new level of independence associated with all of this traveling, because I had to navigate foreign airports on my own, figure out how to get to my living situations, and tackle all different kinds of public transportation that I was not used to. It was a bit nerve-wracking at some times but left me with a feeling of accomplishment once I had figured it out. My overall experience was positive and I feel like it was a growing and learning opportunity for me.
I would recommend gaining traveling experience as well as taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to be able to go to other places while abroad because it is interesting to observe the difference not only between the US and your country of choice, but also between your country of choice and other european countries! It was honestly quite surprising how different each place I went was from the one before. You will gain exposure to various languages (and language barriers), get to try new foods, meet new people and experience cool landmarks! I will say that the “trying new foods” portion of my traveling experience was definitely the highlight (other than getting to see my friends of course). I can now say with certainty that Belgian waffles, fries, and chocolate live up to the hype (:
I attached some pictures of my experience! Check them out below ↓↓↓
Antwerp train station
Traditional Belgian Fries and Sausage
Me at the Atomium
You guys Belgian waffles definitely live up to the hype
Traditional Viennese meal
View of Vienna from the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral
When you hear about college students what normally comes to mind? I’ll tell you what I thought of before I got to college…. LACK OF TIME! I had always heard that college kids would spend crazy hours in the library studying for exams, and pulling all nighters to finish a paper, and I thought this would be my reality for four years when I got there. I will say that college requires A LOT of work and time, but its not necessarily true that there is no free time!
At least, thats what I thought before going abroad. The amount of free time here though, is incredible. I feel like its a necessity! Obviously no one just goes abroad to take classes, though they are very important. Another major part of studying abroad is being able to explore a new place and immerse yourself in a new culture. If I didn’t have the amount of free time that I do, I feel like I wouldn’t have a chance to do this!
Got to see the lights at Tivoli the other night
I’m one of those people that would rather get up early for class so I can be done early in the afternoon and have time to do other things. I purposely scheduled my classes in this way so that I wouldn’t be stuck in a classroom until late in the afternoon. This was probably the greatest decision I made before coming here! In Copenhagen we lose sunlight around 5 pm (crazy right?) so I wanted to make sure that I would have time to see the city before the sun goes down every day.
I have loved being able to ride my bike to class and then go out and just spend my free time exploring, getting lost and finding myself in the process (:
Found the Danish museum of art and deign after class the other day
There is definitely more free time while abroad than there is back in the states but I also think this is because of how courses are taught here in Denmark. We have mandatory field studies on Wednesdays which is basically a field trip with one of your classes for just a few hours in the morning or afternoon instead of class. The best part? Not every Wednesday will have a field study (aka free day to go do anything)! This really breaks up the week nicely and provides an opportunity to catch up on work or go out and do something new.
I would say the free time while abroad is definitely a blessing because when else am I going to be able to do this in my life? I love that I can find a museum, art show or cafe to go to after class and have the time to really enjoy myself in this incredible city.
Phew! What an eventful week I had last week! It was core course week here in Copenhagen which meant I spent the whole week with only my positive psychology class. We spent the first two days in Copenhagen and then travelled to western Denmark Thursday-Saturday. It was an action packed week full of activities, laughs and good memories and upon reflection I wanted to share one of my favorite things we did.
While in Aarhus we were given an assignment called “random acts of kindness”. Our professor gave each group a little bit of money and told us to go out around the city and commit acts of kindness. The requirements? Some acts needed to be anonymous, some non-anonymous, some with money and some without money.
I was immediately so excited thinking of all the possible things we could do. My group decided to buy a couple bouquets of roses and hand them out individually to random strangers we encountered while walking around the city. It was so much more fun than you can even imagine. To see the smiles light up people’s faces when they were handed a flower was incredible. I found myself smiling the whole time from contagious joy.
It was very interesting to interact with the Danish culture in this way because not every encounter was successful! Some people were skeptical of us trying to give them a flower. In fact, in most cases we had to lead with saying “its free” so people would actually accept the flower and even then some people still wouldn’t take it. That was a bit disheartening, but did not take away from the mutual happiness that was expressed when someone did accept the flower.
I find it a little bit sad that today’s culture perpetuates the idea that nothing is for free and that even kindness comes with a cost. Obviously we were strangers handing out flowers and it is always good to be cautious of strangers but I found myself getting discouraged when people would actually recoil from my outstretched, rose containing hand simply because they did not know me and could not trust my kindness. I hope that one day we live in a world in which people can feel safe enough to accept kindness and generosity from one another without expecting repercussions or something in return.
It was a truly eye-opening experience and I enjoyed learning the value of kindness and how a simple and kind interaction can create gratitude for and acceptance of one another.
Below is a short video of our experiences with this assignment, feel free to check it out!
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Public transportation is a way of life in Denmark and most countries in Europe. For Copenhagen in particular, biking is a huge part of the culture. I knew that I wanted to rent a bike for the semester so I could fully immerse myself in that aspect of the culture here. For the first few weeks I just took the bus and metro so I could get acclimated to where my classes were and just to gain a general sense of direction about the city. This week though, I decided it was time to go pick up my bike! The day I chose was perfect because the sun was out and the weather was warmer than it had been in weeks.
I spent the afternoon after class biking around the city and exploring. I ended up biking along the Nyhavn canal and found my way to the Amalienborg Palace square at exactly 2pm to see the changing of the Queen’s guards. I had wanted to do this but never knew where to go and just happened to bike there. It was such a different perspective seeing things on a bike rather than taking the bus or walking. I got to experience bike lanes and practice using the various hand signals to indicate turning or stopping.
I will admit that I got lost trying to find my way home. I rode my bike all the way across the bridge to the other side of the city and turned a 20 min ride home into and hour long venture. It was worth it thought because I rode along the canal and got to see the sun set on the water. Getting lost on a bike is honestly kind of fun in a way. It’s a face paced environment in the bike lanes and there is not much room for error. Having to figure out how to navigate home in this manner made me really reflect on enjoying what I was doing in the moment, rather than getting worried or upset.
I made it home after a long and intense biking session through the city. I definitely recommend stretching outside of your comfort zone with these types of experiences while abroad. I am enjoying putting myself into new situations and immersing in the culture here in Denmark (:
To anyone reading this that is considering going abroad, first of all I most definitely recommend this even if it requires you to stretch outside of your comfort zone. I have only been in Copenhagen for a few days but I am already in love with the independence and self-reliance that comes with going abroad and living on your own.
I wanted to post about the type of living that I chose for the semester and what I have already learned/am enjoying about it! I chose to live in a residential community which is basically just an apartment that resides in a neighborhood where other Danish people are living. I live on the fifth floor of the apartment building and share a spacious room with one other girl! There are three total bedrooms on our floor along with a bonus room (tv, couches etc..) and a fully equipped kitchen. There are six people on our floor and we all share the common spaces and a bathroom. Here are some pictures of the apartment!
So far I have been having a great time in this living arrangement and have been getting along with my flat mates really well which is super comforting being so far from friends and family back at home. DIS did a really great job matching up personalities when assigning roommates. When we first arrived we went through the guidelines of living in this community and also came up with certain rules for our own floor to abide by so as to keep everyone happy. We talked through the issues that arise when sharing a kitchen and worked out a system for sharing, cleaning, cooking, etc… There hasn’t been a single issue yet and I think that the systems are working really well!
In terms of the independence of living in a residential community, there is a need for cooking. Unless you have the expenses to go out to eat for every meal (most people don’t do this) you are going to have to shop for groceries and teach yourself basic cooking skills, or learn from a flat mate like I did! This kind of independence is actually really fun because I have had to force myself to do things I wouldn’t normally do! Before getting to Copenhagen I had basically never cooked a real meal (mac and cheese/breakfast foods don’t exactly count) but I looked up simple recipes and figured it out myself. Another plus to cooking is you can make healthy alternatives! I often get sick of eating out after a while and crave veggies or lean meats which is why this is a great option. Here is a picture of the first meal I cooked myself!
Figuring out public transportation in a major city like this is also super necessary but fairly easy! I have picked it up quickly and am comfortable riding the bus (as long as my citymapper app is working). I highly suggest going to a city where there is major bus or metro systems as it is so different from Spartanburg and is helpful knowledge to have in the future if you were to move to a city that does require you to know how to do this!
I start class on thursday and am very excited to begin learning and connecting what I learn to new experiences but I hope this post is helpful for those looking to study abroad and trying to figure out living arrangements!
This is totally insane. In two days I will be leaving the US to study abroad in Copenhagen for four months. I mean, I’ve travelled abroad before, and by myself quite a few times, but never for this long.
I am both excited and nervous. I think the pre-departure jitters are starting to kick in as I am currently packing. Man it is hard to stuff four months worth of clothes into one checked bag. I mean look at all of this!
I even had to use those space saving vacuum sealed bags to make room. In my defense, I will be living in an extremely cold country for four months and thick sweaters take up a lot of room (:
I am super excited to be able to go on this adventure. I cannot wait to meet new people, experience a new culture, and have to navigate public transportation in a major city (also a little nervous about this). I’m ready to tackle this test of independence and really delve into the warm, outgoing, and friendly culture of the Danes that I have heard so much about.
I am nervous about culture shock though. I try to tell myself that having travelled before, and already being a pretty independent person will spare me from the brunt of culture shock, but the reality is that I won’t be spared. I will probably get lost in this new city at some point, and I am sure I will experience some kind of homesickness, but this is okay. I have to remember that this whole adventure is a learning experience for me to grow as a person away from the confines of my small Wofford community, and away from the guidance and support of my parents and family. It will be a true living and learning experience. The mistakes I make, the people I meet and the boundaries within myself that I put to the test will all help to determine how memorable of a trip this will be.
I can’t wait to begin my life changing experience in just two short days, and I am excited for the endless possibilities that accompany me as I embark on this new chapter in my life.
Stay tuned for more posts about my experiences across the pond in Denmark!
Vi ses senere! (See you later!)
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