One year ago, I started calling Copenhagen, Denmark home. "New" was the buzzword of the month. Everything was thrown at me all at once - a new family, a new school, a new city, a new language, and new friends. I took all the discomfort right in front of my eyes and turned it into the best four months of my life.
What do I wish I knew before embarking on this journey?
Here are ten ideas to dwell in as your approaching this new season of life!
- Never say no.
"Yes" should become second nature. Whether someone you barely know asks you to join them on a boat ride with other people you don't know, or one of your new classmates asks you to meet for coffee and you think it could be extremely awkward - your answer is YES. Never pass up an opportunity no matter how awkward you may think it will be.
- It's not that hard to make friends.
Everyone is in the same general boat, experiencing the same general feelings. Everyone wants friends!
- Pack right - pack light.
You will buy many things, even if you say you won't.. you will.
Bring staples that can be worn over and over again.
- You will feel homesick, that's just part of it.
Give yourself a few weeks to get acclimated to your new life. Homesickness can be a sweet reminder to call home, but don't let it be a hinderance to your experience.
- Keep a blog, or a journal.
I kept a blog (Blonde Eventyr) for my abroad experience. It was the perfect platform to write and share my weekly life to friends and family back home. But, I encourage a tangible book or journal to write in everyday. Looking back a semester or three years later, it will be a gift.
- Culture shock is a real thing, but also a really beautiful thing.
With new countries, you can expect new cultures. Learn to love the differences.
- Bring over your favorite sweets on the plane, and enough for you to survive the first week.
Europe is wack in the candy department (my own opinion). Keep an emergency stash just in case!
- Go as many places as you can go.
This is your time to view the world as your oyster. Spend the extra money to do something you would never be in the position to do again. Even in the city your living in, try new coffee shops or walk down new streets, get out of a routine.
- Make an effort to make friends with the locals.
One of my great friends I met while in Copenhagen was a Dane. Something would have been missing in my abroad experience without the local flare.
- You will come back home changed after this semester.
The stereotypical expression you hear regarding study abroad is along the lines of, "you will discover yourself." I for one thought that was stupid when I first heard it because I know who I am - I am a daughter of God, who's on this earth to love and grow the Kingdom. That is all still true, however, I found out more about myself regarding the posture of my heart. Be open and expect to be moved in ways you never thought possible.
Coming back to the states after the fairytale life I lived in Copenhagen, I wanted a special piece of artwork to always remember that part of my life adventures. Modern Map Art has prints for all cities and landscapes that pull a room together. I have LOVED my print.
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What do you wish you knew before studying abroad, or entering a new season?
What do you want to know before you embark on your new abroad journey?