Vi Ses, Danmark!

The time has come! It is officially my last week in Denmark (I am posting this now about a month after drafting this post, but I still wanted to get it up). I knew that once Easter break ended in April, time would really start to fly. My classes are all done, I am looking towards one more final exam, and I am squeezing in every last moment to be with my friends and enjoy beautiful Copenhagen in the spring time. We are celebrating our semester by renting a GoBoat to ride on the canal, and attending one last FC København football game.

Looking back at the semester, I am more than content with how everything turned out. My living situation, my study break travels and my workload helped me to grow and learn one way or another. I’ll take this last blog post as a way to reflect on everything that has happened, and what has made my semester abroad so special.

My Living Situation: Nimbus Kollegium

Living in a kollegium worked well for me. I got along with my roommates, was able to make some friends in the area, and commuted into and out of the center of Copenhagen very easily. I think that my favorite part of living in the kollegium was getting to know my local roommates, Katja and Tarek. Katja is from Norway and Tarek is from Denmark. Not only have they both become my friends, but they have helped me overcome hiccups and have given me advice throughout the semester. We have enjoyed dinners together and listening to each other’s stories, laughing and learning about how different our lives are. I highly encourage trying to live in a kollegium so that you can meet some locals and international students!

Visiting Host Family

My visiting host family turned out to be one of the highlights of my semester abroad, as well. We were very communicative with one another. We have a facebook group chat, which includes my visiting host dad, Per, his daughter, Frederikke, and his daughter’s boyfriend, Jonas. Although I have only been able to see them about four or five times this semester, everything I did with them was so memorable. I have gone over to their house three times for dinner, one of which I brought my sister and best friend to while they were visiting. Per was an amazing host for all of us, and really left a mark on their visit.

Study Break Travels

During the first long study tour break, which was at the end of February, a few of my friends and I scheduled a trip to Lisbon, Portugal, and Malaga, Spain. This trip worked out well because none of us had been to these two cities. One of the most important tips I have for planning study break travels is to PLAN! We sat down as a group two or three times to figure out flights, costs of flights, housing situations, locations of housing, and activities that we could pre-book. For example, we booked a sunset cruise in Lisbon, as well as a food tour with a local. Having these guided activities gave us a schedule for each of our days, kept us busy, and really helped us get to know Lisbon in such a short time.

This trip with my friends was truly one of the best trips of my life. Being in Europe, in general, with your good friends is fun in itself. However, when you get to travel together, laugh about the ups and downs of travel, and really get to know one another, it is a whole new experience.

My Workload

The classes I took this semester were Ice Cores and Ice Ages (my core course), Environmental Policy, Danish Language and Culture I, and Immunology. Immunology and my core course were the heavier of the four courses in terms of work load, while Danish and my policy class were on the lighter side. I do think that this course load was the perfect balance for me because I never felt hunkered down by my schoolwork, but I never felt like I had nothing to do.

My Personal Growth

I can confidently say that I feel much more independent after this semester abroad, for a multitude of reasons. First, my living situation really pushed for my independence. Without a host family, I had to learn how to cook on my own, get myself to and from the city, and really take initiatives to go explore Copenhagen. I also really had to be “my own mom”. When things went wrong or I got sick, which did happen after my trip to Greenland, it was up to me to determine how to handle the situation. I guess you can say that this is similar to what you would experience as a college student in general, but there’s an added layer of complexity when you are in another country.

Biking in Copenhagen: I did it! I knew that at the beginning of the semester, in the cold and rainy days in January and February, I would not be encouraged to go biking. However, I held myself responsible for getting a bike once I returned from my Greenland trip at the end of March. I kept to my word and rented a bike from Swapfiets. Biking in Copenhagen at first was definitely daunting. I had to get used to biking close to other people, using hand signals, and biking with a purpose (biking is really a form of commuting here, it is not really for leisure when you are in the bike lanes). It only took me about two or three bike rides to really get comfortable with these conditions. Now, I bike whenever I can. Biking in the city truly gets you acquainted with the layout of the city, lets you see areas you wouldn’t have seen if you stuck to the metro, and gives you an inside scoop on how Danes go about their biking commute. Even if you are not sure if you want to get a bike or not, I would encourage it. Also, a little secret is that sometimes the metro is not the most reliable form of transportation. There was one morning that there were severe delays. When you have a bike, you always have a back-up ride to class! Although I got mine for the last month and a half of my semester, my bike has been one of my favorite things to have here.

Finally, traveling on my own with my friends was truly a big step towards independence. It was lovely being able to figure the ins and outs of traveling with people by my side. Now, I do not feel as daunted to travel Europe on my own. I know what to look for when looking for housing, how to utilize public transportation, and how to plan activities.

Published by Erika Sipos

Hi Everyone! My name is Erika Sipos, and I am currently studying abroad in Copenhagen with DIS. I am studying Biology and Environmental Sciences, and I am in the Environmental Science of the Arctic program. I am excited to let you all in on my semester in Denmark and am hoping you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing.

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