It’s so hard to believe that I have officially been in Europe for almost two months and in Copenhagen, Denmark for about a month and a half. The past few months have been a whirlwind of preparation for the semester and now that I’ve finally settled into my new home I’m happy to say I truly love it here. My semester will be spent in Copenhagen, Denmark where I study at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). I have been lucky enough to come to Europe with my best friend, Lauren Oldani, and on August 1 we said goodbye to family and friends for the trip of a lifetime. Initially I was very wary of such a long journey to Copenhagen but was pleasantly surprised to find the eighteen hours fly by without too much trouble. In fact, an Ol’Ag Class of 1964 sat behind us on our international flight. Before we knew it our time in Europe had begun! The profound idea that I had left my friends, family, dogs, routine, and comfortable life full of familiarity for a semester of unknowns was mind blowing to me. Just the thought that I would not set foot back in the US and be surrounded by everything I have always known was initially hard wrap my mind around. Even though I have been lucky enough to experience very little homesickness there at moments in which I still can’t believe that I am living in Europe, navigating my way through this once in a lifetime experience.
Something that Lauren I have said since we decided to study abroad was that we wanted to travel as much as possible this semester. In doing so we planned to arrive in Europe four weeks before CBS required and did a short backpacking trip. After a quick night in Copenhagen, Denmark we started our first journey by flying to down to Barcelona, Spain. This literally being within the first forty-eight hours of leaving home so both of us were a little slow to start our explorations. I had relatively little jet lag but was still very unfamiliar with such new surrounds. Immediately after arriving in Copenhagen and then Spain we were surrounded by unfamiliar faces, different languages, new smells, seemingly a different world which I have been able to assimilate into pretty well. After a few days in Spain we moved onto Italy where we traveled to Rome, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Florence. If I could pick my favorite destination of these two weeks it would have to be Cinque Terre, an area along the Mediterranean Sea full of picturesque views and endless hiking trails. Sadly, the vacation had to eventually come to a close but the sadness was nothing compared to the excitement I felt as we were finally making the transition of moving to our new home away from home.
If I had to summarize Copenhagen Business School in two words it would have to be both HELPFUL and ORGANIZED. This school has such a phenomenal exchange program! A very large portion of the school is full of exchange students and the majority of Danish students have already done an exchange or plan to do so in the future. From the moment I arrived back into Copenhagen I was met at the airport with my Danish buddy who attends CBS and was there to show Lauren and I the way to our dorm, which would have been a disaster otherwise. I think the buddy program is such a wonderful element of CBS exchange because this gives an instant connection to the Danish community. For example, not only was Emelie able to help with any initial questions I may have had but also gave me tour of the city and even cooked us dinner amongst many other things. CBS did a wonderful job of organizing two weeks full of activities and helpful orientations for all the exchange students. The first week was optional as many had not even arrived to school yet but for those who were here like me I attended a Danish crash course packaged with many social events. The Danish language is not one you can pick up easily, it is so very different than the English language that even with the crash course I am still having trouble reading signs, directions, etc. Luckily the people of Denmark can almost all speak perfect English so even as it may be a bit unnerving to not always understand what is going on around me I can usually find someone who can help me. This week was also full of nightly social events such as a trivia night, bingo night where I was able to meet tons of new friends, some of which I have continues to stay close with since that very first week. When preparing for this semester I was told that the first two weeks after your arrival are the most important as this is the time when you will be the people whom will becomes your niche for the semester and in reality that has been very true for me. My advice for this is to stay open minded and meet as many people as possible. After having such an amazing first week in Copenhagen I was happy to began the official introduction week at CBS full of daily orientations about classes, exams, info about the campuses, and more social events in the evenings that led to meeting even more students. This week was spent learning everything about CBS and at night attending meet’n’mingles, an international buffet, a lake party with our buddies, and a Mardi Gras party to close the week. I believe that the amount I learned and the number of people I met during my first two weeks in Copenhagen is an ideal first representation of how great the CBS exchange program is.
While staying in Copenhagen I live in a dorm called Kathrine Kollegiet or as we lovingly refer to as KK. Housing in this city is a premium, it is both very hard to find housing and extremely extremely expensive to live here. In fact its one of the most expensive cities in Europe budgeting on necessities has become something I’m slowly learning to cope with. Luckily Lauren and I were able to find our way into a dorm about 10 minutes from campus where we share a room that is surprisingly spacious. Our dorm is diverse and has students from literally all around the world. I feel like I have definitely found a great group of friends in this building as we are all having these new experiences together which has brought us all together very quickly and I have grown close to some already. Something I do recommend to anyone planning to study abroad is to live in some type of student housing, it is such a great way to meet other students and really gives a sense of community in a new and unfamiliar place.
School has been in session for almost a month now at CBS and it sure has been a new experience for as it is quite different than at Texas A&M. Classes generally only meet once a week for almost three hours at a time, many of classes are actually only run for half a semester. CBS works on a quarter system so classes generally run from September-mid October, mid October- December, or the whole semester. For instance I currently have three classes that go the whole semester and one that will begins in the middle of October. One of the largest differences in school life here is no attendance policy, quizzes, homework, or even routine tests; your ending grade in the class is based upon the final exam. Personally one of my biggest stressors of this trip has had to cope with the idea that one assignment will determine my outcome of each class no matter how many classes I attended. Hopefully as long as I keep up with the endless amounts of readings and attend each class this won’t be a problem I have to face.
As I stated earlier, one of the biggest goals of this semester is to travel and experience as much as I can in these few months. Only having class Monday afternoon, Wednesday, and Thursday I have already have had many opportunities to restart my European travels! Since school began I have journeyed to:
– Malmo, Sweden
– London, England
– Dublin, Ireland
– A weekend trip around Denmark sponsored by CBS
– Prague, Czech Republic
– Munich, Germany
Travel is something I have always loved and each new place I see opens my eyes to newfound cultures, people, and endless other things.
When my weekends aren’t spent traveling I find myself wondering the city of Copenhagen. I can already tell that once my time comes to an end here I will have fallen in love with this city. The city is beautiful as it boasts such a European feel from the buildings to the people you find on the streets. Danes are very warm and inviting people in this well run city. You can get to anywhere in the city by either taking the metro or biking. This is a very efficient and environmentally friendly city where the majority of people bike to work, school, seemingly anywhere. You are probably more likely to be hit by a bicyclist than a car, they are very aggressive and wont’ hesitate to let their frustrations be known. At this point I have not purchased a bike as many of my friends have as I have become quite accustomed to using the metro that runs 24/7 and can get me anywhere I need to go.
My short time in Europe has already been filled with traveling, new friends, new experiences, and so much more that I’m overly excited to keep the semester going and discover what the next few months have in store for me. Even now I can’t believe how fast time has flown past my very eyes and before I know it the semester will almost be half over. These past two months have already let me experience a different world than I formerly knew in Texas and I can’t wait to form new memories that will last me a lifetime.
Until next time!
Days in Europe: 61
Countries visited: 8
Aggies met in Europe: 3