Are you ready for it? You’ve imagined studying abroad in Copenhagen since first-year at UVA, and now it’s finally happening! Before you embark on the journey, I’m going to document some pre-departure thoughts, which hopefully will help ease some of the late-night questions of “am I prepared enough?”, “will I enjoy the culture?” or “how will I like my roommate?”
Don’t lose sight of your goals
You’ve always wanted to live in a city, and even though Charlottesville has plenty of activities, there are some things that can’t be found outside of Copenhagen which you need to make the most of.
You’re finally on your way. A decade ago, you promised yourself that you would never leave your house. A year ago, you promised yourself that you would never leave the country. But, against all internal odds, you managed to convince yourself to leave the country, and your lifelong home, for 4 months to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have confidence that you’ll learn more than you ever have about cultures across Europe, and come back with more than a few stories to tell!
What are your top three goals for your semester abroad?
Congratulations! You’ve already made it through five semesters overseas in Charlottesville and you’ve even survived your first semester of ICE – though at times you doubted whether you would make it out in one piece! Two and half years as an international student at UVA have flown by and you can now confidently say that you have experienced some of the best years of your life. However, now that you’ve said your temporary goodbyes, you are ready to write an entirely new chapter. Next Chapter: Return home to Copenhagen for a single semester in order to chase your ultimate dream. Playing professional soccer.
You just love it, don’t you? The feeling of adrenaline rushing through the body as you frantically attempt to pack an efficient yet complete luggage just 5 hours before your flight. Hopefully, you didn’t forget anything important like contact lenses, legal documents, or soccer cleats … but if you did, no worries, it’s not like that hasn’t happened before. It’s been a while since you last went to an unfamiliar country for an extended period of time, so let’s use your unnecessarily long route from Foz do Iguaçu to Copenhagen, with layovers in São Paulo and London, to make sure we know what we want to achieve abroad!
I hope you are doing well as you read this post study abroad. It’s me, who can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because he’s dead.
Ok on a more serious note, and hopefully the only Taylor Swift joke I will make in this blog, I hope that you enjoyed yourself. If not, well that’s not ideal. Anyways, we’ll start with refresher of what your goals were before you were in Scandinavia, and the Copes of Hagen.
Dear Future Self:
My top three goals for my semester abroad are to experience new cultures, to learn about international business and how it differs from American business, and to make friends with students at McIntire who I haven’t interacted with yet, as well as students from other universities.
I hope to learn about Denmark’s role in global business. I have read that Copenhagen is an important destination for real estate investment in Europe, mostly because of its attractive location. I have some interest in real estate but would love to learn more about it. I would also be interested in learning about how Brexit continues to affect business in Europe.
Chicago: Days before I leave
Well, I leave tomorrow. I have slowly started packing. And by packing I mean accumulating various clean or dirty clothes and assorted knickknacks in a central location near my suitcases. The rest of the day will consist of laundry, folding, organizing and making the crucial cuts of what I won’t actually need.
While the feeling of leaving to a foreign country for 4 months hasn’t really hit me yet, I am definitely ready to go. Most of my friends from home have already left for school or are at their various study abroad locations around the globe. It is talking to them in Barcelona, Madrid, London Ect.. that has made me really excited to leave the states.
As you get ready for your four month long trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, its important that you take the time to reflect upon what it is you hope to gain and learn from the experience, what you aim to accomplish, what you already know about Copenhagen and what you hope to discover more about. Four months is a long time to embrace and familiarize yourself with an entirely new environment, so you must approach your experiences in Copenhagen with a mindset that will allow you to gain the most from your time.
Before planning which items I should place in my suitcase, I have begun to consider my top goals for this semester abroad. Prioritizing and articulating three things that I hope to accomplish will help ensure a rewarding experience. First, I plan to have at least two meals with local Danes. I know through DIS there exists a way to have a Danish family take in a student for a night and cook dinner for them. I really hope that I take advantage of this opportunity to get to know a Danish family, see inside their home, and learn what they make for dinner. I will also satisfy this goal through meeting up with a family friend. Growing up, I spent many summers in the backyard pool of my grandma’s neighbor. It turns out that that this family, the Simmensons, are from Denmark. They are thrilled about my upcoming adventure, and they have connected me via email with their daughter, Kia, who now lives in Copenhagen. I want to make meeting her and her family a priority of this semester. It would be great to get a second perspective on the inside lives of local Danes.
2018 is going to be a big year. It will include, of course, four months in Europe, but it will also include a new job in a new city and the first half of fourth year. In the wake of New Year celebrations, it’s only fitting to identify some resolutions. My top three goals for my semester abroad are closely interwoven with my New Year’s resolutions and include the following: 1) Travel as much as my bank account will allow and explore all that Copenhagen has to offer, 2) Get to know people from Denmark and from other American universities, 3) Practice being present. Living in a different country will undoubtedly be exciting and fun, but I’m guessing that it will by no means a glamorous experience or a nonstop adventure. It is still real life, after all. Therefore, I’m trying to manage my expectations and embrace the amusing and unexpected challenges that being a foreigner will surely bring.