In my last weeks abroad, I was asked some interview questions by the DIS Copenhagen Media Team. I wanted to share my reflections and answers here.
1. What is your class schedule like? Could you just give me an overview of your average day? ?
I’ve been quite fortunate with my class schedule. On most days, I wake up around 8:30, after my host family has already left for school and work, and I get ready and make myself breakfast. I walk ten minutes to the S-tog station and take the B line into the city. My commute is one of my favorite parts of the day because I get to catch up on podcasts or listen to music while people-watching. There’s something so connecting about commuting with everyone else. I usually try to get into the city a bit early so I can pick up a coffee or pastry before class at 10am. I have two classes and then I’m done by 13:00! I either head back to my homestay for lunch or grab lunch (either bought or packed) with a friend. I’ll spend my afternoons socially, usually getting coffee or doing homework with friends, or exploring something in Copenhagen I haven’t seen yet. I like to be back at my homestay for dinner, sometimes I get back earlier so I can cook for the family. We sit around the dinner table and crack jokes. Then I usually spend my evenings doing homework on the couch while my host family watches a show. My host dad usually makes tea before bed for my host mom and I, which I think is very sweet.
2. How has your identity evolved this semester? Do you think you’ve grown? If so, how?
It’s hard to know exactly how I’ve changed over my time here. I know I have, but I expect that become more evident to me when I return home. My identity has changed in that I feel more American than when I left; as somebody who grew up in Costa Rica and the U.S.A., I’ve had a difficult time feeling like I belong to a particular country. But, I think I’m coming home having a better understanding of how the U.S. is different and what aspects of it that I’m proud to claim. I’ve also gained more confidence in making decisions and being able to accomplish things independently. I’ve always been a person who hates taking risks and shies away from the unknown, but when you live abroad and travel a lot, there are a lot of worries that you have to overcome. I’ve been able to prove to myself that I can overcome the unexpected and I hope to enter into other chapters of my life with less fear.
3. I loved your post on affording a semester in Copenhagen. Could you touch on that? What was the process of applying for scholarships like?
In terms of finances, I’m glad I came very prepared so that it wasn’t a source of constant stress for me. In total, I spent about $2,500, that includes travel, gifts, shopping, coffee, eating out, etc. So, I’m happy to still be leaving with savings in the bank because I planned ahead. People aren’t exaggerating when they say that Copenhagen is expensive, but it’s worth it. I think you just have to come prepared. I was also able to afford my time abroad through a generous DIS scholarship. The application process for DIS scholarships was super quick and easy, and I heard back within a few weeks. I received a need-based and diversity scholarship. I filled out a form, wrote a one-page personal statement, and attached my Student Aid Report. Finding outside scholarships was a bit more difficult; I only applied for a Fund for Education Abroad scholarship, interviewed for it, and was fortunate enough to be selected.
4. What has learning Danish been like? I loved the line “ in my Danish Language & Culture class, I learn about Danish culture in theory while my homestay is Danish culture in practice.” Could you expand on that?
Learning Danish is HARD! I usually feel very confident in my Danish class because I can see that I’m completing the exercises correctly and can actively participate. But when I try speaking Danish to my host brothers, they laugh a lot! There are just a lot of sounds that are difficult to master and I think there’s a very exact way of pronouncing things. Grammatically, it’s easy and quite similar to English. But the pronunciation is a whole different story; my host brothers will try to help me by repeating a word I said incorrectly and then pronouncing the word correctly– I usually don’t hear a difference! Trying to learn Danish and having my host family laugh at me is part of the fun, though, and the language barrier hasn’t been an issue for me at all. My host family’s English is excellent, including the boys. And when I’m shopping or going to a cafe, everyone speaks English so I don’t have any trouble. However, I have learned to order in Danish and can go through checkout in Danish!In terms of the culture aspect of my Danish class, it’s been nice to learn about some Great Danes, famous Danes who shaped Danish culture & thought. It helps me to understand why some things in Denmark are the way they are. But I also bring back what I learn to my host family and they can provide more perspective and tell me about their specific experiences rather than generalizing about all of Denmark.
5. What have been some highlights from your host family?
My host family is the best! My entire stay with them has been one laugh after another. Growing up, I always wanted a little brother and now I have two Danish brothers! It’s been crazy, fun, and hyggeligt all at the same time. Some of my favorite memories are getting Friday candy (a Danish tradition) with my host brothers because they get way too excited, having Thanksgiving with my host family and my friends, watching my host brothers’ handball games, watching Harry Potter together, and decorating our Christmas tree. The past two weeks have been so full of tears as I’ve prepared to say goodbye. They’re truly the best thing to happen to me in my time abroad and I wouldn’t have enjoyed this experience as much as I have were it not for them.
6. What have been some highlights from studying in Copenhagen in general? Some moments that have stuck out?
There is nothing that has made me feel as satisfied as walking through the city alone, especially when the sun is shining, and taking in everything around me. I love the colorful buildings, the canal, the bakeries and cafes, the rush of the bikers, and the slow-busy pace of Copenhagen. Everybody is going somewhere but nobody is in a hurry. Some other highlights include traveling independently and seeing new cities, the Wine Tasting Club I joined on Tuesday nights and found very good friends in, and my favorite Emmery’s cinnamon roll with chocolate (so good!). Overall, Copenhagen has just been absolutely mind-blowing and I love it and I’ll miss it.