After being home for a couple of weeks and reflecting on my experience with all of my close family and friends I can honestly say it was life changing. I traveled to 10 countries in 4 months and got to see some of the most beautiful sites. I also met unbelievable people and friendships that I will cherish for a lifetime. It is surreal to think this all happened in only one semester and I feel so blessed every time I think about it. First I want to thank my parents for allowing me to go on this adventure because it wouldn’t have been possible without their support. They are truly amazing and have allowed me to explore the world far more than they both have. I am also extremely thankful to UVa and the Comm School for setting me up in such a great program and allowing me to take my classroom overseas.
I honestly can’t believe my time abroad is coming to an end. I have one week left in Copenhagen and it is surreal that I have been living here for 4 months. I think I am ready to go home, but not ready to leave this amazing place. Of course I am excited to see all of my family and friends but I am also sad to say goodbye to all of my new friends here in Denmark. It is crazy to think that in 4 months I have made such lasting friendships and I cant believe that I might never see some of them again. Obviously I will stay in touch with them, but we will never have the chance to live together for an entire semester together again. We’ve shared so many incredible memories together, and it is sad to have to say goodbye so soon. I am also having a hard time letting go of this new home I have created here in Copenhagen, and the community I have immersed myself in. A community I have come to deeply appreciate through the horrible accident that has just occurred. No one could have imagined such a horrible thing to happen to two of our own in this DIS community but when it did we all looked to each other for support. I have found myself having conversations with my new friends far deeper than some that I have had with friends from home. The boat accident really shook the community and it truly showed how great this community is. I am so thankful for this amazing experience to have brought me together with all of these amazing people.
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.
My experience abroad has certainly changed me as a person. As I have outlined in my previous blogs, this experience has taught me to be more independent and has made me more adept at handling stressful/challenging situations. It has also made me more worldly. This comes not just as the result of having seen many countries, but because of the people and cultures therein. I recall my favorite trip to Morocco, where the most beautiful 3-climate zone vistas were contrasted by stark poverty. If you had asked me prior to going on this trip whether the people of that country were wealthy, I would have been able to tell you that they weren’t. However, there is something to actually seeing for yourself the conditions in which the rest of the world lives. In this way, my abroad experience has not so much changed my perspective on the world as it has developed it. Relaxing here in the U.S.A., I have a renewed sense of the blessing that I have been given.
I am now just two days away from going home, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. About a week ago, I thought I was ready to return to America, as I had spent long enough here to get everything out of the experience that I had wanted coming in. And though I still believe that for the most part, and I am still more excited than ever to see my friends and family, I’m starting to reconsider how “ready” I am to leave. First off, some people have already left, and I don’t think it fully hit me that I was actually leaving until a few close friends left and I realized that I may never see them again. Obviously I will stay in touch with them, but we will never spend an entire semester together again as we did this semester. I’ve shared incredible memories with those friends, and it’s odd having to say goodbye. I initially thought of my friends and family as only in America, but I now realize I also am a part of a community here in Denmark, and I’m not ready to say goodbye. Furthermore, a tragic accident happened a few days ago on a boat, the same boat that I had been on just a day before, and it really shook the community here, including myself. However, it also made me all the more aware of how great this community is and how close we’ve become, as we mourned the losses of two fellow students. I had friends who I had never met prior to this semester, and I was now having deep conversations with them, turning to them during that hard time, again making me realize how close I had become with them. We’ve already planned trips to visit one another, but it won’t be the same as spending a semester together in this place we now call home, a bond we will forever share and will be hard to replicate again.
This is my last weekend in Copenhagen. I can’t believe how quickly this last month has gone by. I’ve been spending my last few weeks preparing for finals and exploring outer Copenhagen. I recently visited North Zealand which is an area north of Copenhagen with castles, museums, and other cool sights. Some pictures are attached below.
I really appreciate the opportunity I had to explore Copenhagen. As I go through my final week abroad, I will spend time revisiting my favorite places and reflecting on my experiences. I plan to make a scrapbook of some sort to organize some of my pictures and souvenirs.
After ~4 months of studying Danish, I’ve recently experienced some sort of breakthrough in my ability to understand the language in my daily life. Simple tasks like reading signs or responding to salespeople no longer seem out of my range of capabilities, which goes a long way towards making me feel less like an outsider here in Denmark. I think a big factor in my increased comfort with the language has been turning on Danish subtitles when I watch Netflix – although I’ve heard many stories of people learning English by watching American television, I was surprised to find how helpful this small change actually can be.
Spring has sprung in Copenhagen…or not. After a teasing weekend of temperatures in the upper 50’s, we have plunged right back into the misty 40 degree weather that seems like it may never end. I am very aware that there are a dwindling number of weeks before I have to leave this city, but it’s hard to see and do everything I’ve been putting off in the hopes of better weather that may never come. I have seen how different the city is when the sun is out – it seems that everyone emerges from their hyggelig apartments to bathe in the sunlight like cats, and there’s a palpable sense of joy in the streets. I worry that the weather may not improve by the time we have to leave, and that we may end up slinking out of the city with our heavy jackets on rather than reveling in a few last days of freedom after we finish finals.
Well the end of the end of my semester here in Copenhagen is coming to an end and I can’t believe I only have 2 weeks left. I can’t believe it has flow by so quickly. This past week I got to be a tour guide for my family who came in town to visit. Although I was still a little under the weather, it was really fun to show them this place that I now consider home. It made me realize how comfortable I’ve become here and how I have truly adjusted my life to a new place. I made sure before they came to have a list of all my favorite things to do and plan for us to see it all. Copenhagen isn’t that big so it wasn’t hard to fit in to the 4 days they were here and it ended up being the perfect amount of time.
Well I still haven’t gotten on a bike since my last blog. My fears have definitely kept me from doing this but I am determined to get on one before I leave. I just can’t believe I only have one month left. It is unbelievable to me how fast the semester has flown by. This month especially has been crazy for me.