I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write this blog post. I’ve been thinking about how to condense everything I’ve learned from studying in Denmark and put it into one post. I’ve learned much more than cultural differences between Denmark and the U.S.; studying in a different country has taught me about myself.
I have learned that I’m capable of much more than I thought. Growing up in the suburbs, I never used public transportation. In Copenhagen, I was bicycling to the train station and using the buses, trains, and the metro. The first day I arrived in Copenhagen, I was so nervous about transportation. What if the trains were delayed? What if I missed my train? I didn’t run into those problems because I always left a lot of time to get from one place to another. Copenhagen also has a very efficient train system. Living in a different culture requires you to adapt to the food, language, and social customs. At the folk high school, I had to eat what the kitchen prepared us, people spoke Danish around me all the time, and there were parties every other week. Even though I was immersed in this culture, I didn’t completely adapt. Some things never change. I never liked the pickled herring, I never got used to the weird “d” sound in Danish words, and the drinking culture was not my thing.
In a different culture you learn what you need to do to thrive. In Denmark, where there were weeks of grey skies and days that ended at 3:45, I needed to use a daylight therapy lamp. I needed to spend more time outside for my mental health. What helped me get through these days was the community of friends in my housing and in my classes. That was another thing I was nervous about on the first day: making new friends. You definitely need to keep an open mind about people. I became friend with people with very different beliefs and personalities. There were many like-minded people as well.
Here’s my advice to you:
- Every day is different. Look up from your phone. Take out your earbuds. You will notice something you didn’t notice before. I passed by the same statue–the Lur Blowers–on my way to classes and I didn’t notice it until a month in.
- Take different routes through the city. Try to be more flexible and say “yes” to more things.
- Explore the neighborhood you’re in. The little town of Roskilde is a hidden gem. It is a wonderful place to wander.
- You don’t have to go to the major touristy sights to get a good grasp of Denmark. I never saw the statue that inspired The Little Mermaid, but I don’t feel like I missed out.
- Keep a journal or photo diary or something you can look back on.
- Don’t get bogged down by homework.
Thank you for reading my blog!
Please reach out to me if you have any more questions about DIS in Copenhagen. Even though this will be my last post, I’m not done talking about my study abroad experience.