Last time I posted, I had just been gearing up to travel to London and then onto Copenhagen, where I’d be spending the next five months, a few days later. After the *big reveal* (seeing Denmark for the first time) and a few weeks of settling in, I most definitely have some updates, observations, and general thoughts I’d love to share.
London was, in one word, a dream. It was one of the most smoothly-run vacations I have ever experienced, since let’s face it––traveling can be unpredictable! Aside from the initial jet lag, the trip was essentially everything I could have asked for and the most perfect welcome to Europe. My family and I experienced mainly rain-free weather, and all our food was incredible (the rumors that London doesn’t great food are completely untrue––just do some research!). Not to mention, we had one of the most amazing and interesting high tea experiences; just off Regent Street is Sketch, a famous tea restaurant with the most adorable and whimsical decor. It was the most unforgettable experience. I will ditch tea for coffee any chance I can get, but our time at Sketch seriously made our trip. If you want a unique and somewhat untraditional English tea experience with the tastiest food, book a reservation at Sketch and show up hungry!
For the remainder of our stay, we primarily stuck to the tourist-friendly list I spoke of in my last post that consists of some favorite parts I remember about London. To top it off, everyone was so incredibly nice and open to answering our millions of touristy questions. I am surely looking to return in the spring for some sunnier degrees and to explore some of its endless hidden gems (returning to Sketch doesn’t sound so bad either!). I am a city girl at heart, and London has the most unique combination of urban energy and historical charm. There is really nothing like it.
Coming off of a near-perfect trip, the transition to Copenhagen was a bit of a contrast. My CPR card, a Danish residence permit, took almost five hours to obtain. The following day, the wait time to obtain my residence hall keys was around two hours outdoors. My first week in Denmark seemed like a lot of inefficient back-and-fourth trips filled with confusion and a lot of wait time, whereas my friends’ transitions to DIS, the other popular Copenhagen abroad program, was clearly mapped out and perfectly organized. However, I was lucky enough to have a solid “home base” as soon as I came to Denmark, as several Wisconsin students and friends from high school had already been in the city for a few weeks.
After a week of tying up loose ends, though, I finally “opened my eyes” to the city. With much of the stress that comes with transitioning and adjustment out of the way, I was finally able to see Copenhagen for what it is: a diverse, scenic, clean, safe, high class, well-organized, impeccably well-run city, influenced by nature, heathy living, and a happy way of life. Each day, small aspects of Danish life make it easy to see how it is the happiest country in the world. In one word, I can best describe Copenhagen as livable. The food, whether it be the wide range of fresh, healthy meals or the duck fat fries and Swedish meatballs, is all incredible. The public transportation is clean and organized, and has been my primary way of getting around since biking in a new environment is initially intimidating. In the few short weeks I’ve come to explore it, I’ve never felt more safe, comfortable, and even healthy in such a short period of time. Scandinavia sure has it figured out.
I can’t wait to continue exploring my new neighborhood, hopefully experience some sunny skies soon, and—though it seems like I just settled in—start traveling as soon as possible. In fact, I have trips to Budapest, Paris, and Rome planned for the upcoming weekends. This whirlwind of adjustment and unfamiliarity has quickly transformed to a sense of peace and even belonging. Undergoing this transition has done nothing but confirm the assumption I already had, that my semester abroad will soon turn into one of the best experiences of my life. Here’s to five months of exploration, learning experiences, and Danish pastries!