Why I Needed to Go Abroad

Ah, goodbyes. They’re literally never easy.

Actually, I started writing this (am currently writing this? time doesn’t exist), my Farewell Blog Post, about halfway through the semester. Sure, I’ll add to it and edit it as I near the end, but it suddenly dawned on me that with all of the travel and finals and such that loom in the distance, I might not be able to give this final post the time it deserves.

So I gave it two months. Sound fair?

Basically, going abroad is quite possibly the best, or most important, decision I’ve ever made. For a lot of reasons.

It’s similar to how I felt when I first went to Vassar – I had grown up and lived in the same town (Knoxville, TN) for my entire life leading up to college. Jumping from the nest and moving to Poughkeepsie, NY, proved to me that I could exist without my homegrown creature comforts, that I could survive without having my mom in the next room.

Going abroad is like the amplified version of that, except harder and with more context.

Long story short, I didn’t have a great summer. Or, I guess I should say I had a summer where I learned A LOT. I had an amazing job, but the summer was marked by an apartment flood, living on my own for the first time, going to the ER, a breakup (shout out to everyone with the pre-abroad breakup), and general loneliness and unhappiness and stress. I finished my last day of work at 6pm on August 16th and got on a flight at 11pm the same day. I came to Copenhagen not having had a break for about three months.

And truly, it made the transition easier. I had gotten through all of that, so what’s moving to a new country? It’s a new start, a new opportunity, a breath of fresh air.

Coming to Denmark, completely separate from everyone I knew and loved from back home, taught me to be my own person. I knew no one here, had no idea of what was to come, and had to solve my own problems because my parents were no longer in the next room, or a three hour plane ride away – they were across an ocean, a We Will Only See You When We Plan And Budget To distance away.

I didn’t need a break before I came to Copenhagen, because Copenhagen became the time I needed to recover and grow and learn.

In four months, I’ve crossed things off of my bucket list that I had always assumed I would never check off – or at least I would have to wait until I was 40 with a stable job and disposable income. The Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, the Harry Potter WB Studio Tour, Ireland, Edinburgh, a Cher concert (ok..I could have done that in the US…but I’m still gonna count it! it was important!!) – things I did so simply and so casually this semester that I once thought wouldn’t even be possible.

And, in four months, I learned more about myself and my life and my future than I ever have in one semester of high school or normal college.

I learned that I can survive as a Media Studies major in a class full of Computer Science majors. I learned how to travel by myself, and how to do it in an efficient and (slightly) cost-effective way. I learned how to balance my life here with my life back home, making new friends while keeping the ones I already had. I learned how to quickly adjust to European public transportation. I learned how to say “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” and “I love you” in Danish.

I learned that in the winter, the sun will set at 4pm, if not before. I learned that Scandinavia does cinnamon rolls very well. I learned that literally everywhere in Europe had better hot chocolate than anywhere in the United States. Also, cheese. Cheese is better over here.

I learned that four months is both the longest time in the world and no time at all. This semester has gone by quicker than I could have ever imagined, and yet I feel like I’ve lived in Denmark for years.

I learned that your heart can be torn between two places at once, that you can be so excited to go home and yet so sad to leave. I learned you can have two homes. I learned that the people back home who want to stay in touch will, and they won’t forget about you unless they choose to.

I learned how to trust that life will turn out okay, even when you’re thrown into a completely new and different and scary and wonderful and terrifying experience.

I would not trade this semester for the world. I feel like I’m going back to Vassar a different person – wOw StuDy aBrOAd ChaNGeD Me – and I’ve had experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And it’s important to note that a lot of people say abroad changes them, and say it in a way of superiority, that they now have a “worldliness” that they have achieved with their privilege of going abroad. I am so, so privileged to have had this opportunity – and I have changed in a very personal growth type of way, bettering myself to myself, not bettering myself in comparison to others.

I, personally, needed a complete separation from my life back in the US to understand myself as fully as I do now. My new confidence is palpable, both in my abilities and in myself as a person.

So, with that, farewell. If you want to keep keeping up with me, my social media links are over there —> somewhere. (Keep up with me on social media to see my eventual Denmark-themed tattoo <3)

Jeg elsker dig, København. Tak. Hej hej.

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