I’ve been back from Copenhagen for a couple of weeks now. I started my summer internship in the property industry in London the day after I returned, so I’ve been pretty busy. But when I get some free time, I like to reflect on my year abroad — what I enjoyed the most, the challenges that I faced, what I’ve learnt, and what I miss.
One of the things that I enjoyed the most was to study for the sake of learning, rather than being driven primarily by results in exams. My year abroad didn’t count towards my final grade and I only had to pass. Without the obligation to get the highest possible grade, I chose courses that interested me the most and I applied myself to my studies, because I wanted to, not because I felt that I had to. As it turned out, I did much better than the minimum that was required of me.
The freedom to cycle around the city is something that I will miss. People who cycle in the city of London are taking their lives into their own hands. Until this ‘cycle utopia’ becomes a reality, cycling in London remains dangerous. But in Copenhagen, you don’t have to compete with fierce traffic, because the roads have segregated cycling lanes, and there are bike stop lights with intelligent timings. These combine to make a safer experience for cyclists.
Efficient public transportation is another thing that I miss about Denmark. Now that I’m working in London over the summer, I have become a part of the rat race, and I commute into London. I have found that there’s almost always some delay or cancellation that affects my journey. It’s not perfect in Denmark, and my notion of the stereotypical Germanic efficiency in Denmark was put to question on my first day in Copenhagen, when my train from the airport was delayed, but disruptions seem to be far less frequent over there.
One thing that I won’t miss about Denmark is the cost of living. It was bearable, and I managed fine as a student. However, I like being able to eat at restaurants occasionally without having to douse myself in water to extinguish the hole burnt in my pocket.
As for the biggest challenges that I faced, that’s a tough one to answer, and I’m not even tying to be ironic. I feel like I adapted well to life in Denmark. It’s not too far from home and the culture is different, yet familiar. But it would be a lie to say that it all went perfectly, and sometimes I felt like an outsider, which I was, in the literal sense. Being away from friends, family and loved ones could be difficult at times. However, I consider myself to be a pretty independent person, and I like to think that I handled it well. And without sounding too clichéd, it’s the challenges that make us improve – I’ll spare you an inspirational quote.
These were some of my reflections on my year abroad in Copenhagen. I have a couple more articles to write about my time in Copenhagen, before I hand it over to the next generation of the University of Leicester’s study abroad student bloggers.