Five months in Copenhagen
Naturally, nothing was how I had imagined. When I received the confirmation for my Erasmus placement in Copenhagen almost a year ago, the next five months played out in my mind in high definition. I would end up speaking fluent Danish, I would party until I dropped, I would meet a gorgeous Dane and get married (after all, they all have children so young)! Five months later, I took stock. I still barely had the confidence to order a coffee in Danish, I had been to three parties, and I had fallen in love with a guitarist from London who sent me romantic postcards at first and then stopped returning my calls after I proposed.
I found my intellectual home in Copenhagen. I was in the fifth semester of my Bachelor’s course in political science, but I only attended lectures for Master’s students at the University of Copenhagen, because they were the only ones given in English. It was great. My intellect was challenged, my English was improved, and I had the opportunity to develop my intercultural skills. I lived with a Danish student, and my best friends were from Ireland, Finland and Germany. I could not have wished for a more diverse group of people to discuss the real impact of the euro crisis with.
I did most of the organising for my exchange semester myself. It was not always very easy, but it set me up well for the months that followed. I met new people in Copenhagen, but I also learned to enjoy my own company – and to make do with five hours of sunshine a day. I learned how to cook, too, and how to sing along to Danish chart music.
When I talked to people from Germany and Austria, I realised what it means to be Swiss. When we talked to Americans and Chinese, I realised what it means to be European. Some of us had been abroad before; others were away from home for the first time. We all learned to a make a new start.
As we talked, we became aware of what a privilege it is to study and think about things. We learned that questions, answers and the yearning for knowledge are not limited by national borders. And we all agreed that we have a duty to use the knowledge we gain to make the world a little better.