Going into college, I knew that I really wanted to study abroad. At the time I wasn’t sure where or for what, but I longed to be able to experience a completely different environment. While I was also super excited, I was also anxious as I had never traveled abroad yet alone traveled on my own this far. I opted to live with locals over living with other students in the program as I told myself that I was given an amazing opportunity and I wouldn’t limit its potential by staying in my comfort zone.
My first day there was exhausting with the jet lag and rapid introduction to my homestay. I woke up early the next morning to ensure I wouldn’t be late for the orientation. I walked with a bunch of other lost DIS students as we had no clue how to navigate the city. We were given an address for where we were to meet but no instruction on how to get there. At the time it was very frustrating, but looking back, I can see that it made us all more resourceful.
Things that are necessary when going abroad is to be able to be comfortable doing things on your own. While I met many people and also explored with them, it is also nice to take time and explore on my own. It allows you to go at your own pace and do the things you like without having to worry about someone else’s agenda. It also opens you up to talk to other strangers that you otherwise wouldn’t have talked to. Hostels, which can seem intimidating, are a unique experience that allows you to meet other independent travelers. During my stay in one, I met people from all over the world and simply having conversations with them was enjoyable.
While I had a class and internship, I learned a lot just by being in a new place. I was able to see different customs and views on different matters. Simple things like open container laws and younger drinking laws allowed me to see what impact it has on Denmark’s society. Having a drink is more casual and social and as a result, there is also less underage drinking because of it. The various forms of public transportation in Copenhagen also makes it so there is less drinking and driving but also, due to the high number of cyclers in the community, biking and drinking is a bigger risk there. Furthermore, Copenhagen has a large focus on sustainability, and it was refreshing to see how the community there worked to ca
rry on sustainable practices. Denmark is known as one of the happiest places on earth, and from being there, I can see how things like universal healthcare, maternal/fraternal leave and free college education contributes to this. Their sense of security in their education and health definitely has a positive impact on their overall wellbeing, which is something that our system in the United States does not seem to provide for everyone.
From my travels from Denmark to the Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden, I constantly was learning something new simply by exploring their cities. My internship and class helped me develop my entrepreneurial mind and showed me the process of product development but with the addition of my study tour, being able to physically see the process was an unparallel experience. I saw how a company like Spotify was able to start up in a place like Sweden. How Finland takes a large stake in video game development, all things I never really knew or thought of. Ultimately, these experiences expanded my intellectual processing as well as a larger appreciation for different cultures. My learning wasn’t limited to my courses and the other learning experiences are what you make out of it. Personally, I was intimidated at first to go out and try new things in an unknown place, but I highly encourage everyone to be open to new experiences. Studying abroad is something that you should do if you get the chance!