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Time Flies When it Never Gets Dark

June 30th, 2019

As I prepare to leave the wonderful city of Copenhagen this week, a place that I have begun to affectionately call Cope, I am astonished at how quickly this incredible summer has passed me by. You think that summer break flies by at home? Wait until you spend a summer in Denmark! Copenhagen is truly a city that never sleeps; the sun rises at four 0’clock in the morning and doesn’t set until nearly eleven o’clock at night, and even then there is a beautiful glow preventing the sky from becoming completely dark. As I reflect on my time studying in Denmark, I thought it was important to share a few main takeaways, advice that I wish I could have been given just six short weeks ago when I arrived:

 

1. It’s okay to get lost

I’ll be honest, this was probably the most stressful thing about my entire experience here in Copenhagen. My class was about 30 minutes away from where I lived, and the daily commute consisted of a mix of walking and taking the metro. The metro system here in Copenhagen is incredibly efficient: the trains come every 2-4 minutes and are almost always on time. This also means, however, that it is incredibly easy to take the wrong train, something that I have done countless times and usually when I was running late. Oh, and did I mention the whole not knowing a lot of Danish thing? I’ve got some key words and phrases under my belt now, but I probably looked like a lost puppy for the first several days I was in the city! But you know what? I survived! Every wrong train was an opportunity to experience a new place. Every misread Danish street sign was an opportunity to practice my abhorrent Danish pronunciation. Who knows, you might even find a cool windmill like this one.

2. It’s okay to be a tourist

Once I got to Denmark, I discovered this stigma among students who were studying here: whatever you do, don’t act like a tourist. It was a rule that I followed for a couple of weeks, until I realized that I was missing out! I wanted to see the city, to learn about the history, and of course, to take some beautiful pictures. I decided that I would sign up for that walking tour, I would spend an afternoon in the natural history museum, and I would buy some things in the tourist shops. I may be a student here, but who knows when I’ll be able to come back?! My advice? Take the picture. Try the food. Enjoy the city. Below is a picture I took when I stumbled across some in-ground trampolines at the canals, and you can bet that this touristy picture is one of my favorites.

3. It’s okay to step out of your comfort zone

I’ve talked a lot in my previous blogs about how Copenhagen as pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone to its limits. I’ve grown in ways that I couldn’t even have imagines a month ago. If I could travel back six weeks, I would tell myself, “You’re in a new place, it’s okay to try new things!” It wasn’t until a few weeks in to my stay that I began to say “yes” to the curious food, the spontaneous day trips with local Danes, and even the free swing dancing class offered every Thursday night (now THAT was an experience). Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about saying “no,” wanting to stay in, or simply wanting to take it easy. It’s okay to be scared or nervous. There have been days where the only thing that I’ve needed is a good nap. I’ve learned to remind myself, however, that I rarely regret trying something new, but I almost always regret not trying it in the first place.

 

My time in Copenhagen has truly changed me as both a student and as a person. My independence has been tested, my worldview has expanded, and I simply can’t believe that it’s almost over. When you study abroad, remember that every moment is fleeting. Don’t be afraid get lost in a beautiful city, to look like a silly tourist trying to take the perfect picture, or to eat that new street food you’re scared to try. One summer simply isn’t enough, but it’s one that I will remember long after I return home.

-Jacob


Jacob Furry is a sophomore Trustee’s Scholar at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in music education along with a psychology minor. Jacob will spend the summer abroad as a Gilman Scholar in Copenhagen, Denmark with the DIS Copenhagen program studying multicultural and special education.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Summertime Celebrations

June 26th, 2019


I’m nearing the end of my incredible month and a half in Denmark, and have had some unforgettable experiences here in Copenhagen. One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had took place this past Sunday, June 23rd. It was the Sankt Hans Aften, otherwise known as the Summer Solstice. It celebrates the night of the 23rd as the shortest night of the entire year, meaning that Sunday I enjoyed almost 19 hours of sunlight! I’ve gotten used to the sun shining through my window and waking me up at 4:30 in the morning, and Sunday was no different. The Summer Solstice here in Denmark is heavily celebrated, so as students in Copenhagen, we decided to participate as well!

Our day started early when we decided to take a boat on the beautiful canals of Copenhagen. Denmark is incredibly trusting of its residents, so after we paid for the boat, the dock workers simply told us to enjoy our sailing and be back when we felt like it! To say the least, it’s definitely a culture that I could get used to.

Pictured below is a view from our boat. The canals here in Copenhagen are an incredible tourist attraction, but we were proud to feel like locals as we casually cruised down the water of inner Copenhagen. We brought snacks on board and played our favorite music for what seemed like hours. It was during this experience that realized how much I’ll really miss this beautiful city after I leave in just one short week. 

After our lovely sail through Copenhagen, I spent the day relaxing and working on homework from my classes. As the last week quickly approaches, I have a few final papers due, but our excursion into the canals was just the motivation I needed to get things done!

I mentioned before that the Summer Solstice is celebrated far and wide across Copenhagen, and this occurs as a city wide gathering to officially mark the end of the longest day of the year. On Sunday night, my Danish flatmates and I all walked to Frederiksberg Garden, a large park area just outside of Copenhagen’s center. To be honest, I expected a celebration a bit like our Fourth of July parties…but boy was I wrong! There was music, dancing, and food for what seemed like miles. I had never seen so many people in one place, each wearing a huge smile. Below is an image I shot from where I was camped out on the grass, and you can see just a glimpse of how many people were there to celebrate the solstice.

My favorite part about this experience, and the memory of it that I’ll hold with me long after I leave, is how it allowed me to feel a part of this community. Denmark has such a rich and interesting history, full of unique traditions like this one. At this gathering for the Summer Solstice, I didn’t feel like a tourist or a foreigner. Sitting there talking, laughing, and singing with local Danes as well as other American students made me feel a sense of belonging. I was incredibly worried at the beginning of this study abroad experience that I wouldn’t find a place where I fit in. It’s a scary feeling, especially in a new country, but I can proudly say that I haven’t felt it while I’ve been in Denmark. It’s definitely felt like home, which will make it that much harder to leave.

-Jacob


Jacob Furry is a sophomore Trustee’s Scholar at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in music education along with a psychology minor. Jacob will spend the summer abroad as a Gilman Scholar in Copenhagen, Denmark with the DIS Copenhagen program studying multicultural and special education.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Homesickness and Hygge

June 11, 2019

As I’m writing this post, I’m sitting on the docks of Nyhavn here in Copenhagen, Denmark on a beautiful sunny day. I’ve been here three whole weeks (WOW!), and as much as I hate to say it, I think that I’m getting a little homesick. This was expected – I’ve never been out of the United States before and this trip is most definitely testing my independence (as in it is forcing me to have some) – but I still feel a bit guilty. “I’m surely enjoying myself,” I say, “why am I even a little homesick?!”

Docks of Nyhavn, my absolute favorite place in Copenhagen!

For anyone who reads this, I want you to know: becoming homesick is completely normal. There is nothing to feel guilty about! This study abroad experience has put me so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t even see it anymore, and while I miss my dog, my family, and definitely my own bed, it’s amazing to see how much I’ve grown in such a short amount of time.

One thing that has kept me grounded is how friendly and hospitable everyone here in Copenhagen is. Sure, customs can be different and there is often that ever-dreaded language barrier, but I can proudly say that I have yet to feel isolated. Just this morning, as I stumbled through a greeting and a thank you in Danish at our local grocery store, the cashier simply smiled and helped me to correct my pronunciation. In trying to buy a bus pass to explore some more of this city, I was having difficulty figuring out the ticket machine. An incredibly friendly station employee (who probably could spot me as an American from a mile away) walked over and graciously helped me get to where I needed to go. Little things like these cause me to reflect and realize how incredibly lucky I am to be here in this fantastic city.

The Danish have a word here that reflects a concept they try to live by: hygge. It’s difficult to fully explain in English (believe me, many have tried), but the closest I can get is that it’s a feeling of being comfortable and content. Many might say it’s enjoying the simple things in life. It’s a concept that English doesn’t have a single, holistic word for, but the Danish might be on to something, as they’re often quoted as the happiest country in the world!

Those little moments that I mentioned earlier put a smile on my face and gave me relief in my seemingly constant nervousness and anxiety about being so far away from home for so long. Since first coming to Denmark, I’ve learned to sit back, relax, and appreciate and enjoy every moment that I can, even those that make me uncomfortable. To illustrate this, I’ll tell you a story:

Every morning, I take the metro to class. Earlier this week, I got on the wrong train…and it was raining…and I was convinced I would be late for lecture. Pre-study abroad Jacob would have panicked in ways you might not even begin to imagine. I was by myself, without wifi, and was reminded at every turn that I still do not speak Danish. After spending a moment to take in my surroundings, I realized: what better learning experience is there than this? I was suddenly in a part of the city that I had never been to before, and guess what? It was unique and beautiful. As the rain began to slow, I looked up and saw this gorgeous building…

I snapped a picture, took it all in, and confidently asked the nearest Dane for directions to Nørreport, the neighborhood where my classes were located. Much to my relief, she spoke English, and much to my surprise, I was right on time to class. If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that my independence can always be stretched, and only good things can come from that. I may miss home, but the experiences that I’m having here cannot be replicated back in the United States.

Everyone will be pushed out of their comfort zones sooner or later, but Denmark has taught me that those experiences need to be embraced and appreciated just as much as the comfortable ones. Feel the rain, look at the beautiful buildings, and strive to be content in discomfort. That’s hygge.

My advice? Take a page out of the Danes’ book and bring more hygge into your life, you might be surprised at the ways you grow.


Jacob Furry is a sophomore Trustee’s Scholar at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in music education along with a psychology minor. Jacob will spend the summer abroad as a Gilman Scholar in Copenhagen, Denmark with the DIS Copenhagen program studying multicultural and special education.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Copenhagen, Here I Come

I can’t believe it! The time is finally here. In just 24 short hours I will be embarking on a journey that I couldn’t have imagined just a few short years ago. To say that I’m excited to be living in Copenhagen, Denmark for the next six weeks would be a gross understatement. As I type this post, however, I’m feeling nervous and anxious in more ways than I can count. I’ve only flown domestically a handful of times, so I’m not sure what to expect when it comes to an international flight. What if something is wrong with my booking? Did I bring all the right documents? What if there’s traffic on the way to the airport? Will I miss my flight!? Did I even remember my passport!?!

(That last potential crisis was, fortunately, averted…thanks mom)

While many of these are admittedly unnecessary concerns, that just seems to be the way my brain operates. To combat this I simply try to remind myself that no matter how overwhelmed I may feel right now, I know that it will all be worth it the second I touch down in Copenhagen. I just can’t wait to try foods I didn’t existed, to learn things I didn’t know I needed to learn, and to take a million and a half pictures. I may be anxious, but it’s a good anxious. I have no doubt that this study abroad experience will change my life in ways I can’t even begin to think about. To conclude this opening post, I’ve included my favorite picture of Copenhagen that my study abroad provider, DIS, concludes all their emails with.

 

 

Pictures like this make me giddy with anticipation, and I can hardly believe that I’ll be standing there in just a day and a half.

 

-Jacob


Jacob Furry is a sophomore Trustee’s Scholar at the University of Missouri- Kansas City majoring in music education along with a psychology minor. Jacob will spend the summer abroad as a Gilman Scholar in Copenhagen, Denmark with the DIS Copenhagen program studying multicultural and special education.

Disclaimer:  Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Ramadan Abroad

Amazing view from Christiansborg Palace

As Ramadan knocks on the door, cities worldwide light up and prepare for the month of fasting, but in Copenhagen life goes on as it normally would.  Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar – it’s a time of fasting for Muslims. During this time food and drink are not allowed to be consumed from dawn to sunset. During the fast, we are not allowed to eat or drink anything. For me, during the summer back home, the fasts last for only 14-16 hours, but in Denmark, the sun sets close to 10 pm and rises at 4 am. That’s 20 hours of fasting during the hottest summer Demark has ever experienced.

When I applied for my study abroad program I didn’t really take into account that I was going to be spending Ramadan abroad, on my own, in the land where the sun never sets. I was really nervous about having to walk everywhere in the hot sun and I thought I was going to miss out on a lot of activities because of my lack of energy.

While traveling, it’s easy to become dehydrated when you’re not fasting, and even easier to do so while fasting. I made sure to hydrate plenty during the evening. I also made sure to take things slowly instead of trying to see all of Copenhagen at once. I realized that six weeks was more than enough time to sightsee and I made it a goal of mine to go sight-seeing at least three times out of the week and to do at least a couple of activities throughout the week. This allows me to enjoy my time without feeling drained. Fasting during my study abroad trip has definitely made this experience better.


Ruweida Kulane is a freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and Entrepreneurship. Ruweida is spending the summer abroad with DIS Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark as a Gilman Scholar.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.