I am excited and at the same time nervous starting off my semester in Copenhagen. It is T minus 2 days to lift off (Yes, I will occasionally have cheesy lines on my blog). It is now Wednesday and my flight departs on Friday evening. This whole week I have been getting ready for my 4-month stay in Copenhagen. To be honest, I have been very nervous about my upcoming study abroad experience. I have been nervous since the day I got accepted into the program. However, since I am highly trained procrastinator, I have pushed all thoughts about Copenhagen to the back of my head. Although I was not consciously thinking about my upcoming study abroad journey, my subconscious has been ruminating over it, which has led to my heightened anxiety. I knew sooner or later I would have to wrap my head around the fact that I would be living and studying in another continent for 4 months!
I am a Kenyan citizen studying at Villanova University which is located in Pennsylvania. All my family is back at home in Kenya, and I have been in the U.S for almost 3 years. Technically my 4-year college experience in the U.S already counts as studying abroad. Now I’m doing it all over again in Denmark! I’ve been nervous about it because I just feel like I have settled into a routine here in the U.S and I’m about to disrupt it by studying abroad. I love routine. I love knowing what I’m doing, where I’m going, where I belong. I know I have to get other the initial hump of culture shock and eventually I can settle into some form of a routine while in Denmark. Don’t get me wrong I am truly excited to be studying abroad in Denmark, I can’t wait to have some of the famous street food I’ve heard so much about. I’m also excited to be living with my assigned host family in Lyngby. They have already introduced themselves and I get such a positive vibe from them. Plus, they have a sleigh dog, and they live next to a water body. I love being by the water! Although I am excited to be going to Denmark, I find it helpful for me to be honest with myself and work through my anxieties.
So this is what this post is mostly about. What anxieties do I have and how am confronting them? One of the major concerns I have is the weather! I have lived in a tropical climate for 20 years and have been through 2 winters so far. I think I have packed enough sweaters, coats and long sleeved shirts, I guess I’ll know when I get there. I have also carried vitamin C and D tablets to boost my immunity.
I am also concerned about how I’ll manage my finances. I have always worked on campus for my stipend. I had an internship this summer so I was able to save up some money for my stipend, I also had to borrow some money to top it up. I’m really looking forward to traveling to other countries so I hope I’ll be able to manage my finances so that I don’t run short halfway through the semester! This semester will challenge me to really take responsibility for my finances. I’ve decided to bring a small notebook which I’ll use to budget and record my expenses. This I hope will prevent me from overspending.
I’m also anxious about what my experience will be as a black female in Copenhagen. I watched a youtube video of another student of color who said that apart from some few microaggressions she didn’t experience overt discrimination. Hearing this alleviated some of my anxiety. Ultimately, I am heading into Denmark with an open heart and mind with no preconceived assumptions. However, this does not mean I’m being oblivious of the reality of being a POC.
Phew! Now that my concerns are off my chest, I want to talk about the things I’m excited about! I’m excited about the classes I’ll be taking at DIS. My core course is Game Development. I’m not an avid gamer, actually, I just started playing MarioKart this winter break. I want to challenge myself in an area I’m completely a newbie in, and see what I can create. I’m also taking other fun classes like Innovation through Design and Photojournalism.
Again I’m excited to meet my host family. I have a younger sister back at home who is 8 years old. My host couple also has a son who is 8 years old so I’m excited to be a ‘big sister’ again. I also can’t wait to travel to explore Denmark and other countries in the Schengen region. I plan to go to the Netherlands, France, Sweden and hopefully Spain and Iceland if I’ll be able to. I’m also eager to meet new people and form new connections. I look at life as a collection of stories. Our stories are intertwined with other people’s stories. I can’t wait to hear new stories from the people I meet and interact with at DIS and Copenhagen in general.
All in all, fears and anxieties are a normal part of life. Especially when undertaking big projects. However, the point is not to let them drown out the joys of living, learning and exploring. Oooh one last thing I’m excited about is posting Instagram photos with the caption #Hygge