It’s been a week since our classes ended. My flight leaving Spain isn’t until May 17th, so I’ve got another ten days or so until I head home. I have, of course, taken this free time as an opportunity to do some last minute traveling while I’m still here in Iberia.
These first few days off I’ve spent with my mom, who’s come to accompany me in my travels. This is her first time in Spain, so I’ve been taking her on a “highlights” tour of Spain–Madrid, Cuenca, Valencia, and Barcelona over ten days.
I would miss the exchanges and the international master students. I am repeating myself here from a couple posts ago. But again and again throughout the semester I would be glad to study among people who have lived absolutely incomparable lives. Meeting people who are completely different from each other has been the most valuable and unique thing about HEC. (I would like to be more specific here, but it would take too long to describe this international mix phenomenon)
I have been home for nearly a week now, and have had time to reflect on my semester abroad. I arrived in JFK with mixed emotions- sad to be leaving my home and new friends in Barcelona, but excited to come home to the things I am used to. I wondered around JFK, killing time before my connecting flight, feeling a sense of relief that the voice over the loud speaker was talking in English, I could read all of the newspapers and magazines, and prices were in dollars. It was refreshing to walk into a store and not have someone glance at my hair color and height (I am six feet tall) and immediately know I was a tourist.
I’m leaving tomorrow!!! How scary is that? It feels like these four months absolutely flew by and I haven’t quite wrapped my head around the fact that I’m actually going home. My bags are packed, my room is clean, and I had my last dinner with some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of spending four months with. I’m excited to go home and see my family, sleep in my own bed, and get into a routine; however, I’m not so keen on leaving Copenhagen. I’m not sure the next time I’ll be back and I feel like I’m scrambling to say goodbye to everything I love so much here.
My semester abroad in Copenhagen is coming to an end. With only a week left, I am turning in my final projects and taking my final exams. One of my classes was revolves around an internship with a start-up in Copenhagen. My final project for this class requires me to reflect on my experiences with the internship. When starting to brainstorm, I have realized there are many differences with this internship than any of my past internships in the United States. For example, the power distance was very different. My boss, Inger, spoke with me like I was an equal, asking for my advice and thoughts on different projects. Our conversations were very casual. In my past internships in the United States, the power distance was much greater and I would never have been so informal with my boss. Inger also gave me more responsibility in a short amount of time than previous bosses. She gave me full rein of their social media accounts and didn’t ask me to get posts approved by her before putting them up. This made the process go a lot faster.
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.
It’s truly remarkable to think about how much knowledge I’ve gained from my short semester abroad. From traveling, learning languages, taking courses and gaining friendships – the experience was well worth its cost. Although I miss Europe, it’s refreshing to be back home and have life be a bit simpler for awhile. I no longer have to think about different currencies, language barriers, international banking fees, etc. Shortly after landing at JFK airport, I bought a snack at the airport and I was literally calculating the math in my head to figure out the Euro to USD conversion until I realized that my transaction was already in USD and should remain that way for awhile. So, the simplicity factor is what I’m most happy about returning to, however, traveling throughout Europe at free will is going to be something I’ll miss until I return back to it.
I am on the way back from northern Spain where I spent the last few days exploring San Sebastián and Bilbao. My 5 hour train is taking me through the Spanish countryside, allowing me to enjoy the beautiful scenery of this county that I have called home for the past few months in between my quick naps (because if being abroad has taught me one thing it is how to sleep on any mode of transportation). This trip marks the end of my travels within Spain but I am lucky enough to have one more trip planned to Croatia before I leave Madrid.
Looking back on this semester, I have come a long way since I arrived. Before I traveled to Italy, I was admittedly terrified. I had never traveled so far on my own, my language skills were poor, and I lacked confidence in my ability to overcome the challenges to come. I experienced homesickness, FOMO, loneliness, and got miserably lost in every country I visited. I also made a new best friend from Peru, speak a significant amount of Italian and Spanish, gained confidence and independence, and opened my mind to the perspectives of people from all over the world. Above all, I have matured significantly this semester. The academic obstacles that felt impossibly heavy last semester, now seem trivial compared to the problems facing our global community. The anxieties of graduating and finding a place in the “real” world seem less urgent. I am confident in myself.
Spending a few days in a foreign country versus spending two whole weeks or longer makes a huge difference in how well you can get a feel for a country’s culture. Obviously only two weeks is not nearly enough time to learn how people anywhere truly live, but a recent two week trip through Indonesia – the longest I’ve spent in one country in SE Asia besides Singapore – hugely lit a passion in me to continue traveling and learning.