Last spring, I had the opportunity to spend the semester in Copenhagen, Denmark as part of the CIEE Open Campus program. I had known for many years that I wanted to study abroad in college because I have always loved traveling and had a specific interest in Scandinavia, as that is where much of my family comes from. Going into the experience, I knew it would be life-changing. I thought it would provide an interesting perspective on our lives as Americans that continuing to live in the States would not. And it did. Everyone says that studying abroad is the best thing you can do in your four years of college, and I believed it. However, I had no idea how truly incredible my time in Copenhagen would be.
A lot of Hope students choose to study abroad during a May or June term. This is a great way to do it, especially when one’s major does not allow for much time off campus. For those who are able, I very much encourage a full-semester program. I found that spending multiple months there gave me a better chance to really get to know the city I was living in. For example, I found the coolest restaurant down the street from my school that was owned by a Polish couple who traveled the world collecting recipes. It wasn’t cataloged in any online lists or city guides; it was the type of place you only come across organically. I also love coffee and was able to try out countless cafes around the city which definitely had more options than Ferris, LJ’s and 205. I met people both from Denmark and different places around the US that I have kept in contact with and never would have met otherwise. On the weekends, I was able to find cheap flights and travel to multiple cities and countries around Europe for a fraction of what it would have cost had I been based in the United States. There was something so cool about feeling completely integrated into a new place so separate from all of your other friends and family.
Studying abroad is not an option for everyone, and that is understandable. But for those who can, I fully recommend spending as much time out of your comfort zone as possible. The personal growth you experience is unmatched and the adventures you embark on are something you cannot do at any other point in your life.