I remember the first few things that popped into my mind when I thought about Copenhagen as my study abroad option - the picture-postcard Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid statue, and the best restaurant in the world. I googled photos and YouTube videos about Copenhagen hungrily before and after my application to the program, and pictured myself walking on one of the gorgeous cobblestone streets - and they were gorgeous, and I did visit all of the sights I had on my “Places to Visit in Copenhagen” list, but of course, the photos and videos are just that - images on a screen. To me, study abroad is all about that experience that encompasses everything I saw in the images but even more outside of the frames.
As an international student from China, Copenhagen was my second study abroad experience. I remember the excitement and my adventurous side soaring after I landed at the Copenhagen airport and all the anxieties and nervousness that hit me a few hours later. In my DIS student blog, I wrote on the weekend after that very first week: “In my imaginary world, these waves of emotions would melt away after that first night, and leave only happiness and laughs and positive thoughts from that point onward. But the waves, just like any other waves, ebbed and flowed within the past few days. The good news is – we get through them, and as the days of this first week passed, I could feel myself steer my boat with a steadier hand, and a sense of pride and confidence that was new to me even after my first study abroad experience in the US.”
Yep, the waves continued to ebb and flow during my semester, hitting me especially hard in mid-October, when my entire personal backpack, including all my personal documents, laptop, wallet, and more was stolen on a train in Paris. The waves hit when I felt that my host family and I weren’t the best match in the world, and when I ran back and forth between several different government agencies and police stations in a morning’s time, trying to replace my documents faster so I could still go on the Long Study Tour with my core course. But when these waves ebbed… There were the brilliant pink and gold sunrises between my class building and one of my favorite cafés in the city, lighting up the long nights that Copenhagen has in winter times; My friend and I were eating mouth-watering cinnamon rolls while walking down a cobblestone street, more beautiful than the Google pictures; I was sitting on “The Swing Carousel” in one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and one of my favorite Copenhagen attractions Tivoli, laughing like a three-year-old while the snow was flurrying down my face and neck while we were flying, and the gorgeous Christmas trees, thousands of twinkling lights and the entire cityscape in the night were right below our feet…
When I think back to all these moments that have now forever become part of me, good and bad, I know this is why I have chosen to study abroad. Because when I was abroad, even the lows turned out to be experiences that lifted me up - “Getting Robbed in Paris” has now become one of the most captivating stories from my semester abroad, and a chapter of my global adventures I hope I can continue to write; I have gained valuable interpersonal skills, learned how to express myself more clearly, and how to seek help when needed.
Now that I’m back on campus, sitting in my familiar room in my familiar surroundings, everything from my semester abroad has grown more vivid in color and the moments, good and bad, radiate sunlight at me from a rose-tinted window. I feel them, in the back of my mind, as I fold up these memories to adjust back to campus life, calling me out to my next adventure.
(To see more of my study abroad stories in Copenhagen, Fall 2022, jump to my DIS Copenhagen student blog!)
Yuhui "Hidy" Li '23
Program: DIS - Semester in Copenhagen
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Term Abroad: Fall 2022
Ware College House
Major: Anthropology & Psychology
- International Peer Mentor
- First-Year Advising Mentor (FAM)
- Harbaugh Club