- What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?
I am gluten intolerant and have a bad reaction when I am exposed to wheat or
gluten. This worry was compounded with the usual worry that one cannot speak
the local language. In the first few weeks of my program in Denmark, you go to
a language class and learn Danish. This helped me when I was shopping to find
foods that were safe for me to eat. Additionally, many people speak English and
I was able to ask them for gluten-free options. I was able to do this in most of the
places I traveled to as well.
- What do you wish you had done to better prepare before going abroad?
This isn’t totally related to preparing for going abroad, but I wish I trusted my
instincts in myself before I over pushed myself early while abroad. I am more of
an introvert, so I need time every now and again to relax and decompress. As
an exchange student, you feel the need to do so much and savor as many
experiences as possible while abroad. Some of my best times were the simple
days I just lived my life and enjoyed being in a new place and experiencing a
moment I could not otherwise. This goes for visiting other places, I loved my
travel experiences but after a while, I realized I could not travel every weekend
and realized that is fine for me and what I wanted in my time abroad.
- What were your favorite classes abroad? How did they compare to UCSB?
I loved all of my classes abroad. Each class had a special thing; my social
psychology class had a group bring cake or sweets every week, my societal
anthropology class had a lot of friends from my language program, and my
medical anthropology class was nice because it is a class that is not offered
very often at UCSB. Denmark is on a semester system and I liked that because
we had more time to read the material and get to experience a topic. The
campus is spread all over the city and is an easy bike ride between the different
colleges. All of my exams were papers due at the end of the semester, which
meant I needed to be better at time management while abroad.
- What is one of your best memories from abroad?
One of my best memories is my week-long trip to see my family and Danish
friend from high school. One of the reasons I went to Denmark is the previous
family and friend connections I had. I was able to meet my Danish family who I
had never met before and it was amazing to meet my friend again after his
exchange to our high school. It was great to live with actual Danish people and
experience the culture more firsthand.
- What was your biggest challenge abroad?
A major challenge for me in Denmark was taking on the responsibility of being a
full adult. I cooked most of my meals, planned my schedule for my
responsibilities for my classes, and figured out what I wanted to do or
experience in my free time. This was my first time being so far away from my
family that they could not help me if I desperately needed something. It was a
difficult process for me to change the way I plan my life because school was not
my main focus and I had more choice in how I spent my time.
- What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?
It is very easy to get around in the city. I bought a bike and was able to explore
the city by riding around. I usually took my bike to class everyday and it was
only a 15 minute ride. The bike lanes are protected and raised in some places. If
you don’t like biking, the buses and metros are a great way to get around the
city quickly. I liked that I could bring my bike on the subway (s-trains) when I
was exploring outside Copenhagen. I also used the subways to explore the faraway
castles in the outer city.
- Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience.
I did not intern, volunteer, or research while abroad. Many intern or research
opportunities are done through the university for credit, and I wanted to take
actual classes while abroad. I had friends who volunteered at the local student
coffee house, music festivals, and in other community organizations or worked.
- What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?
Due to my eating restrictions, I could not eat many traditional Danish foods. A
practice that I loved while abroad was people eating bread and jams or
chocolates for breakfast. There are also so many pastry shops or sections in
supermarkets. It was normal for people to order desserts in cafes for breakfast
with their coffee. I found a gluten-free bakery near my university which I got my
sweets from. I just loved the local tradition that people had no shame in eating
sweets all the time.
- How have you changed since your time abroad?
So much has changed about myself since my time abroad. As I have said I have
become more comfortable with myself as a person, and have become more
confident. From the challenges I have experienced, I have a stronger sense of
self-reliance and flexibility in my approach to new problems. I also loved the
challenge of living in a new city and finding my own way and want to keep
finding new ways to push my comfort zones. After coming back from my time
abroad, I felt like a new, better person.
10. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?
My most simple advice, GO FOR YOU. I picked a country where I knew I would love the weather (especially the cold in the early months), the people, and the
history/culture of my new home. Denmark may not be the right choice for you,
and I am not offended, but create the journey you want to experience when you
go abroad. Find the place where you will have the most amazing new and
unique experiences which you can carry with you for the rest of your life.