My Semester Abroad
It was a Saturday night and I was packing. Like usually when my flights leave early in the morning, I was up all night getting my things together. Very pleased after a great party with all of my friends on Friday and extremely excited about taking on a this new challenge, my feelings were mixed with anxiety and suddenly tears came when I realised that I was leaving for a semester. It was then that I felt like I wasn’t leaving to seek anything that was missing from my life, I felt like I’d have been just as happy staying in Iceland - I guess I would have been, but today, I wouldn’t want to trade those 5 months on exchange for anything in the world!
I guess I wasn’t the only one who felt like this at that time. The day after, I was one of 300 exchange students at Copenhagen Business School, who were all in the same situation – “alone” in a new country, new home, with new people, new cultures, new languages, etc.
I arrived in the afternoon and my Danish buddy picked me up from the airport and brought me to my new home – I was very lucky as I received a room in my most preferred accomodation – Holger Danske Vej. Holger is a beautiful residence in Frederiksberg that hosts single and double rooms and five common kitchens for 60 exchange students. Like all students in single rooms, I shared a bathroom with the student in the room next to mine – I was lucky to have a great neighbour and today she is one of my closest friends. Although living in a residence costs a bit more than renting a studio apartment on my own, many of the precious memories from the exchange are connected to the residence, the people I met there and the time we shared: cooking together, hanging out, hosting parties, watching Prison Break together, biking home from university, biking home from going out ;) ... it was perfect! It was definitely a bonus that I always had to walk through the kitchen, outside again and into my room, as the only common areas we had were the kitchens and we spent a lot of time there!
The day after arriving in Copenhagen, I started a one-week crash course in Danish. Preparation/introduction courses as such are great opportunities to get to know the university, the town, other students! Soon I found myself hanging out with the people from the courses, the ones I met during breaks, the ones I walked home with and the atmosphere in the classes, during evening activities, and in general, was great! I immediately felt like I was home and we all wanted to be there, but had no clue about all the things we were going to experience during our stay! After about two weeks, when we had all been to IKEA and Jysk, people started bringing their own cups to the kitchens, there were candles in most bedroom windows and the bedrooms looked much more “homy” with colourful covers and pillows, and pictures of family and friends from home hung above all desks. It also helped make us feel more comfortable and happy, enjoying our stay to the fullest.
I decided to go on exchange at CBS because I wanted to study at a great, internationally recognised and respected university. Although my studies certainly were important and I learned some very interesting things from courses such as International Management, I learned most from the most random and funny things that happen when you’re living and hanging out with people from all over the world, who have various ideas about how things are supposed to be!
Many of us were living “alone” for the first time and occasional incidences like red socks in the washing machine with previously white, now pink underwear suddenly were not so occasional anymore. We would find ourselves dancing Danish folkdances, pretending to sing with straws as our microphones - not caring at all about what anyone around us was thinking, partying all night long – ending up “kidnapping” Röyksopp or being “kidnapped” by 2ManyDjs, walking around town after partying - to find a bakery that was open at 6 in the morning, turning the bathroom pink - gluing a red lightfilm we found at a concert over our light, naming our bathroom even, leaving each other post-it notes on the bathroom mirror before going to sleep, spending endlessly many walks, as well as long evenings or days in the park, discussing how to make the world a better place, having a little too much ice-cream at the delicious ice-cream store just around the corner - almost daily, biking to Christiania and getting really lost and spending hours to get home – always traveling with a map after that, being more than 10 people in one tiny room - all squeezed together for our weekly get-together of watching Prison Break, eating carrots and popcorn or some exotic candy people had brought from home!
There are many things that I miss from the exchange, I miss the beginning when we were all getting to know each other, the time we spent traveling together, doing spontaneous things together, we seemed like we were one big family, sure there were arguments and some people got along better than others - there were more than 30 nationalities in the house – people from Europe, Asia, Australia and America! Some of our most interesting discussions were certainly about cultural differences and we learned a whole lot about getting along with people from other cultures, of other backgrounds, in all kinds of situations! When we were celebtrating, we all got along perfectly, danced, sang, had fun, and came home to sit in some kitchen, listening to music and talking until early morning. There’s something that everyone should remember when they are on exchange – Everyone is always welcome and the mindset really is: “The More – The Merrier”!
The great thing is that you always have someone to share those moments with and they become memories you cherish together forever!
When we first got there, we had a fairly theoretical lecture about the experience other exchange students had made, discussions about the initial feeling of euphoria, the adjustment period, the culture shock that hits in after about six weeks, and the stable and fun period that follows, the occasional (actually very common!) weight gain, and the perfect final days. They said that we would increase our knowledge, in particular about various cultures and countries, increase our language knowledge, form international networks and last but not least broaden our horizons. Although we all listened, we couldn’t really feel it. Looking back now, I wish I had that lecture - it actually depicted the way things turned out to be.
1. sæti: Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir / Paris, Paris, sjá grein.
2. sæti: Magnús Sigurðsson / á fljótabáti upp Rín, sjá grein.
3. sæti: Hildur Björgvinsdóttir / skógar skrifræðis og pálmatrjáa í Montpellier, sjá grein.
4-5. sæti: Brynja Björnsdóttir / Stúdentaverkfall og skriðdrekaskrúðganga í Grikklandi, sjá grein.
4-5. sæti: Karítas Diðriksdóttir / My Semester Abroad, sjá grein.