When I tell people that I’ve already studied abroad there seems to be a mix of reactions: “You’re so lucky!” or “How was it?” or even “Why would you go again?”. No two study abroad programs are the same nor are the experiences from being abroad. DIS is extremely different from the first program I studied with. In London I had an internship and only three classes. Studying with DIS will be purely academic and filled with sponsored opportunities to see and enjoy Europe as a whole.
The advantage of having already studied abroad is that I know some things. Yeah, things. How cool is that? Joking aside, I’m surprisingly not nervous to study in a country with a foreign language and without a friend – I went to London with one of my really good friends and ended up rooming with her – because I’ve already done it. I’ve already made the jump and now all I have to do is learn from it. So here are a few tips that I will be keeping in the back of my mind:
- Say “Yes/Ja” More: This one seems obvious, cliche, and quite simple – it isn’t. There’s a cost to saying “yes” and it can often be difficult determining whether saying “yes” is really worth it. One of the most valuable things I learned while studying abroad is that we all have limits and it is far more important to acknowledge and understand said limits than trying to overcome them. If you agree to go out for dinner every time your friends ask, you may end up in debt by the time you return home. The goal still stands but with a sub-heading: Learn to balance. Being happy and healthy is more important than one more cup of beer or another concert for another band you can’t name.
- No More Temporary Living: When I look back on my time in London, one of my biggest regrets is making my home feel more like a temporary landing. Although I spent four months of my life learning The Underground and exploring the city, it often feels as if I only spent a month, or even less, actually being there. I often think of the fact that I never bought a hairdryer while I was there. Now this may seem like a silly little example with no relation to the actual goal, but look at it this way: I didn’t see the need to buy a hairdryer even though I was going to be spending four months of my life in London. That means I had wet hair every morning I took The Tube to my internship even when it started cooling down outside. Yeah, that’s a lot of days. So how does this hairdryer story relate to Denmark? Well, I’m definitely buying a hairdryer. Beyond that, however, it means that I’ll actually get to know the city, the people, and everything in between. Just because I’m only there for a temporary time does not mean I can’t make it home.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Go Alone: I’ve gotten better at doing things – errands, eating, and so on – by myself. It’s not as daunting as it seems and is a nice way to feel like a local. I’m mentally preparing myself to write all blog posts in cafes or The Black Diamond Library as a way to make sure I accomplish this goal once a week.
- Take More Pictures – Of Myself: I don’t doubt that I’ll have plenty of photos after the semester is over, but there’s a 80% chance I’ll walk away with less than ten of my face. Whether taken on my camera or on someone else’s, I’m making sure I say “yes” to all photo ops. A two for one goal accomplishment! This goal may seem a little self-centered but sometimes you’ve gotta take those selfies.
- Make Connections: Although I had an internship while in London no solid connections came of it. The wonderful thing about DIS is that the professors are professionals currently working in their field. That means they aren’t just teachers but direct links to companies that could be potential future employers. Next semester being my final semester has put me in the mindset that anyone I meet could be a future employer, coworker, or connection to something better.
These goals aren’t just for studying abroad and I’ll be making an effort to keep them with me wherever I go.