I have only a week and a half of my DIS semester left before I head back home. Sometimes it hits me how long I’ve been here, but at the same time it feels like the semester is just starting. I finally met all of my professors in person just this last week and all the other students from the US arrived in Denmark just a couple of weeks ago. So in that sense it does feel like the semester has just begun even though at the same time we are all preparing for departure.
This semester has been both so challenging while at the same time being incredibly rewarding. Looking back on it, I think it has been a growing experience like none other. Coming to a locked down Denmark in the middle of January without any of the other Americans in my program was really daunting. There were times when I was shocked at how out of place and removed I felt from anything familiar and without any kind of support system to fall back on. I had to make my own way, literally and figuratively. As time went by I slowly began to settle into life here and make it my own. The cold Danish winter has now turned into a warm green spring. Foreign buildings and sights have become familiar. Biking around the city which I once found intimidating has now become easy. I can understand some Danish spoken words in passing. I have made Danish friends and now made some new American friends. I have developed a routine, while at the same time life seems like it’s constantly changing. In some ways it feels like after moving to a foreign country in the middle of a pandemic and in the dead of winter, I can do anything. I know I will apply what I have learned here to new experiences going forward.
Here are some highlights from the past weeks:
One of my favorite takeaways from this experience has been the chance to build my own relationship with Denmark. I grew up visiting Denmark, but only on short term vacations. Going abroad here and not being allowed to leave Denmark has allowed me the time and space to really explore the city and the country for myself, make friends here, and build my own association with Denmark. I now understand so much more about where my family is from and where my Dad grew up. I can speak to my family in Danish and understand them culturally much better than I did before. These lessons are invaluable and I am very grateful to have been able to have the experiences that I have had this spring. I am just wrapping up my last classes now, and I am looking forward to a last week in Denmark spent enjoying springtime in the city with new friends and old.