Having re-read my initial letter to myself, I look back contently on the semester, knowing that I mostly fulfilled the goals which I set out for myself prior to leaving. With the exception of wishing I had met more Danes, I think I surpassed most of my own expectations going in to the semester. Firstly, I challenged myself to meet new people with an open mind, not sticking to myself, but rather constantly searching for a new adventure or activity with different people. I was worried I would only remain friends with other UVa students, but I instead forged incredible bonds with other DIS students, going on trips all over Europe with them. Furthermore, I am glad knowing that these friendships won’t end with the end of the semester, as I already have plans to visit of few of these friends at Vanderbilt next semester.
Secondly, I was worried I would be judgmental – slow to embrace the cultures and people I visit. However, this simply wasn’t the case. Though I might have been taken aback by certain things, I met every culture with an open mind, and rather than any judgment, I think I saw these new cultures with an awe-struck appreciation for their differences.
Third – I didn’t want to limit myself only to Copenhagen, but wanted to find the balance of traveling elsewhere while still becoming ingrained in the Danish culture in Copenhagen. I believe I spent the perfect amount of time in Copenhagen, becoming comfortable with its culture, while still getting to visit tons of other cultures. Traveling on weekends enabled me to see many major cities in Europe, and I am pleased with how many different places I was able to see, while still being able to call Copenhagen home. Staying in Copenhagen the first month there as well as most of the last month I believe were great decisions, for it let me learn about Copenhagen initially and to then fully appreciate it for the last month there.
Unfortunately, I failed at learning any of the language in Copenhagen, for I found Danish to be incredibly difficult, with sounds unlike anything in English. With that being said, I didn’t put forth the effort I should have, and if I am ever in a foreign place again for such an extended period of time, I will make more of an effort to learn the language. Also, I didn’t expect the language barrier to bother me, and though I could communicate with everyone, it was weird hearing Danish all around me, having no idea what people were saying, yet whenever I spoke, everyone knew exactly what I was saying. This one-way communication eventually bothered me, but I didn’t reach that point until the very end of the semester, and I can only imagine what it would have been like to study in a place that barely speaks English.
Lastly, I think I got out of my classes what I had hoped for. Going in, I was hoping to learn about subjects that interest me, but from a perspective that is different than the perspective I would get in America at UVA. Thus, not only did I take courses in a different area which interested me, I also learned about subjects in my field from a European perspective, which greatly enhanced my understanding of global business.
I can confidently say that this was the best semester of my life and will not be topped, so I find myself sad writing this final blog, marking the end of my abroad experience. Nonetheless, this experience will now forever be a part of who I am, and I am a changed person because of it.