I’m sat at my favourite coffee shop near my Airbnb in Copenhagen and, like the sappy, cliché and hopeless romantic gal that I am, I figured this would be the ideal time to update you all on my first couple of weeks abroad. I’ve got a lot to say (as per usual) so saddle up, folks.
In the days prior to leaving Canada, I felt a bubble of confusion looming in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t fear and it wasn’t anxiety but it wasn’t entirely excitement. Of course, I couldn’t wait to finally be in Copenhagen but I was confused about what life would be like here. It’s difficult to predict 6 months of your life in your home country let alone in a country across the world. You’re quite literally displacing yourself on purpose with the hopes of learning something along the way. The flights went well and my travel experience overseas went, in my opinion, close to perfect. Suddenly, I felt a lot less confused.
The morning after I landed, I debated staying in and catching up on sleep. As I turned over in my bed to face the window, I caught a glimpse of the city and within a couple seconds, I was out the door and on my way to a coffee shop. Funny enough, that coffee shop is the one I’m sitting at today; Coffee Collective. Before I knew it, it was three hours later and I was lost somewhere in Nørrebro. I had thoroughly researched this part of the city for months prior to arriving and I found myself mesmerized at every restaurant, park and building I recognized from Pinterest like Jæggersborgade, Coffee Collective, Mikeller & Friends, Stefansgade and basically everything. At that point, being lost was the least of my concerns.
I spent my first day roaming the city with my jaw dropping increasingly quicker with every corner I turned. That would usually be followed by a quick “oh my god I look like such a tourist but what the hell everything is beautiful???”.
That being said, I’m glad that I spent the first couple of days in Copenhagen exploring alone because I got to take everything in at my own pace. Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t love exploring with my friends (obviously), but I got to see Copenhagen for the first time the way I wanted to see it, which was slow and stopping every couple of steps to stare at things. I understand the appeal for solo travel now, and trust me, I’ve already begun thinking about a solo trip. Ouuu juicy.
Travelling with friends is like shopping with friends. When they can’t find anything they like, they’re all like “I want to move onto a different store” but you’re all like “pardon you, I haven’t hit the sales section yet”. So I say, as often (and as safely as you can), explore places alone. You don’t need another person to validate an experience but it is of course, fun to explore with other people.
By mid-week, I was full of energy, despite being severely jet lagged. I was hopping on and off busses, chasing as much sun as I could– considering it gets dark around 4:30-5pm here– and stopping at shops with Wi-Fi so I could find my way back. Every time, I found it more and more exhilarating. Bored is not a feeling I’ve felt here, thus far. Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible to be bored here (which has been a debatable statement amongst the Danes I’ve met).
The reason I came to Copenhagen a month early is because I enrolled in a Pre-Semester Danish Language course offered by the University of Copenhagen for exchange students. I figured if the Danes (and most humans on Earth) have to endure learning English, then it’s only fair that we put in the effort to learn their language, considering this is their home. I have to say, it’s been both difficult and hilarious to listen to native English speakers trying to mutter an ounce of the vowel “ø”. It has quite possibly become my favourite pass time.
We spend about three hours a day (9am-12:30pm) in a classroom learning Danish, and the rest of the day we have to ourselves to explore Copenhagen. At some point in the day, you can usually find me in a coffee shop people watching or strolling through the Strøget with my friends trying to find food.
If you’re coming on exchange to the University of Copenhagen and debating whether or not to enrol in the Danish Language course, I think you should absolutely, 100%, for sure enrol in the course. Not only have I had more time to settle into Copenhagen and get my bearings straight, but my classmates have quickly become great friends. So much so that within a few days of meeting each other, we were going out until the wee morning hours in Copenhagen and even hopped on a train to Malmö, Sweden for the day.
I’m sure you’re curious about the night life in Copenhagen. Trust me, so was I. Do the Danes go hard? Are they more relaxed about partying? You hear so often about “hygge”, but how does one party and “hygge” simultaneously? The answer, I’ve discovered, is suck it up and chug it up. Bar hopping and drunkenly chatting up new people on the streets is the most exciting part of nights out here and more often than not, people will be happy to have a conversation.
On our first night out in Copenhagen, we stayed out until 4:30am and we were no where’s near shutting it down. The club was packed. Waiting for the bus at 5am, I was excited to be guaranteed a seat. I forgot that the busses ran 24 hours here (amazing) and consequently, the bus was packed. My walk home was accompanied by at least four groups of friends also stumbling home together. Even more exciting is the fact that I have yet to be catcalled (alone or with friends) or be made uncomfortable by someone (alone or with friends). I feel so safe here and it’s only reinforced my realization that I could not have picked a better city to go on exchange.
My thoughts so far
I am, for lack of a better phrase, f*cking in love with this city. Everything about Danish culture, their optimism and collaborative perspectives makes living here a dream come true. The coffee, the beer, the smørrebrod, the people, the buildings, the history, it’s all I’ve ever wanted and it’s getting a little difficult not to wipe the smile off my face (which I’m sure make it’s very evident that I’m not from here).
I’m excited to keep you all updated. And if you didn’t already know, I have decided to make the questionable decision to start a YouTube channel! Hahaha, yes.
And with that, I leave you with this cheezy entry I (somewhat) drunkenly wrote in my journal sometime this week:
“I wish I could talk to 13 year old me and tell her that the future is so much more fulfilling than high school ever was for her. I wish I could tell her that her wanting to travel was never a means to escape but a means to learn. That her independence is beautiful and not at all lonely and that sitting at coffee shops isn’t boring because for her, all it means is a chance to just be still”.