It’s been exactly a week since I returned home from Denmark and I’ve finally had time to reflect on my semester abroad. It felt so strange walking into the chaos of JFK airport (it really made me miss how orderly the CPH airport is!) and hearing everyone around me speak English with American accents. Being in Europe for four months has made me more aware of the good and bad things that make home unique–the massive size of the U.S., the pervasive inequality, the unreliable public transportation (I never understood why Danes complain about their public transportation system–it works so well!), the diversity of NYC that I missed more than anything else, and so much more.
While it’s nice being back home, I really miss Copenhagen 😦 My last week there was a whirlwind of final exams, papers, goodbyes, and last-minute packing, leaving me with little time to reflect. Thankfully, I have this blog to help me process my thoughts and feelings about the past four months!
It’s okay not to be happy all the time
There’s so much pressure to feel like you’re having the time of your life every single day of your semester abroad, but that’s just not realistic. I had many amazing, memorable experiences over the past four months, but there were also times when I felt sad or isolated. Despite what my Instagram feed and other blog posts depict, most days were quite “average”–I would go to class, do homework, eat dinner, and do other “everyday” things. It’s important to remember that while you will have many opportunities over the course of the semester to have the time of your life, it’s unrealistic to expect to do so every day. And that’s completely okay–don’t let the pressure of social media make you feel like you aren’t studying abroad the “right” way.
Work-life balance is important
After an incredibly stressful fall semester, I was so eager to get away from Smith and be relieved of the constant pressure I feel when I’m on campus. While studying in a different country came with its own challenges, I definitely experienced a healthier school-life balance in Denmark. Of course, there were times when I was stressed out about papers and exams, but I also made a more conscious effort to make time for relaxation, fun, and hygge 🙂 I think living with a host family helped with this–I rarely did homework in the evenings this semester because that time of day was dedicated to dinner, conversation, and watching TV or a movie together after dinner.
Overall, I’m so happy I decided to study abroad this semester. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to live in such a beautiful city for four months, travel around Europe, meet so many great people, and experience immense personal growth. I also want to give a special shout out to my host family–thank you for giving me a home in Denmark and teaching me more about Danish culture than any class could have.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the past few months. While my posts only scratched the surface of my time in Denmark, it has been so nice to have a space to reflect on my experiences. If you are a prospective DIS student, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions 🙂
For the last time, vi ses!!!