I cannot believe my abroad experience is officially over tomorrow. It feels like just yesterday I was hopping on the wrong metro trains, walking into the wrong classrooms, and asking people what “skol” means (it means cheers!). Looking back, I am amazed at how much I have truly assimilated into the Danish culture in 4 quick months. I find myself picking up trash on the sidewalks, walking the extra 10 minutes rather than waiting for a bus, and truly incorporating “hygge” into my daily life. I hope I never lose the Danish side of me I have picked up while being here. My favorite part of abroad was not the partying, the traveling (although there were definitely highlights), or the shopping, but it was being around the Danes who inspired me to live the healthiest lifestyle I’ve ever lived. I am going to miss being surrounded by the friendliest people in the most beautiful city I have ever been to.
As my final blog post for the semester, I want to reflect on how my abroad experience has introduced me to sides of myself I didn’t know existed. I have always thought myself to be an independent person, but my independence was never truly put to the test until coming here. While I came with friends from college, I still felt as though I was alone navigating an entire unfamiliar city. Everyone reacts to this change differently and independently, and I remember being so scared my first month here. I was scared that if I were to focus all of my attention on living in the moment in Copenhagen, I would inevitably fall behind in all of the responsibilities I still had at home or at school. Abroad has taught me that you’re always going to be pulled in different directions and have lives with other people and in other places that’s different than what’s right in front of you, but it is an utter disservice to yourself to ignore the moment at hand by worrying about what you can’t control in the present. As time went on, I felt myself slowly loosening my grip on my life back in the states to the point where I was able to align my abroad life in a way where it benefits me both here in the present and for the future.
Another monumental discovery I made while being abroad is that no one knows what they’re doing. I used to feel so intimidated being in a setting like the metro filled with young professionals who seemingly have a perfect life, have a perfect job, wear the perfect outfit and make it all seem so effortless. I have met so many different people abroad, and the more I have real conversations with real people, the more I realize that we are all more similar than we are different. We all are just taking life day by day, hoping that the decisions we make now will make the future a little easier. The same goes for my other friends abroad. It is easy to compare you’re experience with other peoples and think you’re living totally crazy, opposite lives, but as we opened about our personal experiences, there are common denominators that every person abroad shares. Everyone is experiencing something new without a road map or any idea of how to do it; were all just figuring it out as we go.
If you were to ask me one synonym to the word “abroad”, I would say “freedom”. I experienced a version of freedom for the first time leaving my family and going to college 3 years ago, but the freedom I have abroad is incomparable than to that of college. Apart from school and classwork, the rest of the day is yours. I am used to having a completely booked schedule, filled with club meetings and sports practices. My daily life abroad could not have been more opposite than mine of college. I learned that when given the freedom to do whatever you want without the approval of anyone else, you figure out what you actually want to do. I found I love going to museums, finding new cafés, going to nature reserves, going to a bar with my friends, finding new running routes in the city and I even picked up my first book I read for pleasure in years. When you have all the time in the world to do anything you want, you naturally gravitate towards the things that bring you joy, and those are the things that make you you. I am also going to desperately miss being in the heart of a city with transportation to go anywhere in under 10 minutes so close to my apartment. Driving a car and having a minimum 15 minute car ride to anywhere I want to go back at home will be a major culture shock I am not looking forward to.
With all of this being said, there are still so many more things I have learned about the world and about myself during my time abroad. I mentioned in my second blog post ever that life is constantly changing and to open that change with open arms, and I think abroad was the change that I needed in my life.