Now that I’ve written about my whole exchange semester, I’m taking this blog in a brand new direction. I’m still paying for this domain and stuff, so I figured I’d better keep writing. Exciting, I know. Anyways, here’s my first post in a new series featuring reflections on my time abroad and some sweet travel tips.
It’s no secret that I thrived in Copenhagen. I had easily the best semester I’ve ever had (personally, not academically). But what made my time there so special? It was a combination of many things for sure, but I’m going to try to distill it all into a clickbait-y listicle. So here are 10 things that surprised me at least a little bit by just how much I loved them. This list is by no means exhaustive of course, so don’t get upset if I didn’t add something that you think I should have.
Of course, I was in Denmark to take classes and learn things. So naturally they took up a lot of my time. And while I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with my specific class selection, I really did enjoy the Danish system of learning. I can’t tell you how nice it was to not have to worry about exams like I did in law school back in the states. In Denmark there is no curve, so you’re not competing against every other person in your class worrying about them knowing ever so slightly more than you. The lack of a curve alone did wonders for my mental health. Combine that with research and paper focused exams instead of having 3 hours to regurgitate as much legal analysis as possible like we do in the US and you have a surprisingly great semester learning things for the sake of knowing them and not for the sake of a grade. I wish school in the US had been more like school in Denmark, to be honest with you.
I wasn’t expecting to love living at Tietgenkollegiet as much as I did. As a 26 year old adult woman, I wasn’t necessarily sure if I would be too old to be living in a dorm. However, I truly lucked out. I had a great Kitchen full of wonderful and nice people, some of which were the same age as me. Honestly, living at Tietgen was one of the best things about living in Copenhagen for me. I spent so much time just hanging out, spending entire weekends on the couch watching Bake Off, and attending some interesting parties. Plus, I met Katie at Tietgen so obviously it was a great place. Tietgen really was a second home to me and I was very sad to leave. It holds some fond memories.
This isn’t necessarily super surprising. We all know I love mass transit. Riding a train/metro/bus is just much less stressful than driving and trying to find parking. Plus, it’s so much better for the environment. What was surprising was just how easy and ubiquitous public transport is in Europe. I can literally count on my fingers the amount of times I travelled by car. It was glorious. Too bad we can’t have nice things like that in the US.
This goes hand-in-hand with public transportation. I love walking not only for all the reasons discussed above but also because it’s great exercise. It was nice to know that I was walking off all of the pastries I was stuffing myself with. Plus, walking is so convenient. There’s nothing better than walking for 5 minutes from your house and encountering a grocery store or the metro or literally anything else. If I walked 5 minutes from my house in the States I wouldn’t even leave my neighborhood, let alone encounter anything useful. I just hate how spread out everything is. I miss walking.
I think I’ve said this before but, if not, I really do love grocery shopping abroad. You can tell so much about a culture based on what foods they eat. It’s at the same time familiar and different. There’s always something interesting to find. Plus, it seems like the grocery stores in Europe had fresher food (seriously the baked goods were incredible!) and the prices were way more inexpensive than in America.
Perhaps my favorite thing about my local grocery store was the weird bargain aisle they had. I never knew what I was going to encounter there. It was like a treasure hunt and the prize was candy or sauce.
In case you can’t tell, I love food. A lot. So of course I loved the snacks in Europe. I’m not sure if I was imagining it, but I swear that everything tasted better than their US counterparts. Even the potato chips were the best I’ve ever had. I definitely had a day or two where I ate an entire bag on my own. Basically what I’m saying is that I ate way too many snacks, chips, candy, etc. during my time abroad which is only kind of a surprise.
Pastries & Coffee
This is the last fully food-related entry, I promise. I loved the coffee and cafes in Copenhagen. They were super cute and cozy. Plus the coffee was always top notch and the pastries were spectacular. Particular highlights include the espresso ice cream from Coffee Collective, the giant cinnamon snails on Wednesdays from Skt. Peders Bageri, and the julelattes from Espresso House.
This may surprise you but as a Floridian I hate hot weather. Feeling like you’re melting all the time just isn’t for me. With that being said, I once almost died in a blizzard so I don’t particularly care for snow. Luckily, the climate in Copenhagen was perfect for me. It was cold but not snowy and it was perfect for me. I was surprised by how much I thrived in the cold, given that I haven’t really spent much time in it. I thought that it would be a struggle with my thin Floridian blood but I surprisingly found that my blood thickened up quickly.
Christmas in Europe
The nights are long and the days are dark but Christmas completely makes it worth it. Everything is decorated with lights and the festive feeling is contagious. Christmas in the States just doesn’t compare. We don’t really have pedestrianized downtown areas that are full of decorations, Christmas markets, and mulled wine. Sure people decorate their houses in suburbia, but the feeling is not the same at all. We’re just too spread out for a cozy holiday feeling.
Europeans are so stylish. Shopping in Denmark was a treat and I bought some really cute outfits. I absolutely loved wearing sweaters and coats and, my favorite European fashion staple, black tights under everything. I just felt like I dressed better when I was living in Copenhagen.
So there you have it! 10 surprising things I loved about my semester abroad. I enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce about the good times. Thank you for joining me! Look out for more fun posts soon.