Upon first arriving in Denmark, I was greeted with a very American-esque airport and crowds of people bustling about to their destination— a scene quite similar to the U.S. I pride myself on awareness, so I immediately found my exact location, my destination, the path to get there, and the money/ticket I needed for public transportation. As I found these things with ease, I had a sense of belonging, felt comfortable, and could narrowly contain my excitement as I made my way to my new home.
My favorite things about being abroad are the weather, the people, and the opportunities. Since I am an Alabama native, I feel as if I am in heaven because the average high temperature ranges between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit! It is refreshing to look at the Weather App and see I am missing the triple digit heat back in Alabama. The people are my favorite thing about Copenhagen, and it’s probably not in the sense you would expect, at least I didn’t see it coming. I have enjoyed listening to conversations in Danish (I can’t distinguish a single word), people watching (a hobby of mine), and speaking with Danes about their culture, but above all, I have enjoyed the close friendships I’ve made with the people of my program. I have had classes with approximately twenty of the twenty-five other students for the past three years at UA and before this trip, couldn’t have told you more than three of their names much less anything about them. Being abroad and experiencing new things with others allows you to form a unique bond. I have no doubt I will forever stay in touch with my classmates/travel companions even as we make the transition to the professional world in the years to come.
I am taking a UA faculty-led lab while abroad, so the education is the same. However, being in a different country definitely makes going to class much more fun. As my class is only one month long, the work is concentrated. I’ve had to work hard to keep up, but I utilize my abundance of down time on weekend excursions to work ahead. I strategically planned my lab schedule to have four day weekends in which I can travel. The first weekend, our program had a few things planned to acclimate us to our new surroundings. The second weekend, I traveled to Pamplona, Spain and participated in the Running of the Bulls at the San Fermin Festival on my birthday. It was, by far, the most exhilarating experience of my life! It wasn’t preferable, but I ended up doing that trip alone because travel arrangements are expensive last minute. With that said, do not let cost hinder you from the experience of a lifetime. Cut costs by sleeping in airports, taking overnight transportation, and looking for deals online. The journey is half the fun, and the memories are priceless! It is currently the Monday after the third weekend, and I am on my way back from the Arctic Circle. Sure, the train ride was 26 hours one way, but I hiked a Norwegian fjord at 1 a.m. and had an out-of-this-world view of the Midnight Sun phenomenon above the 66th parallel north! Enjoy yourself, and never squander an opportunity to do something amazing!
Hiking at 1am in Narvik, Norway with the Midnight Sun