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The Expected vs. The Unexpected: How I survived my first week abroad.

View From Round Tower

I had always thought about what life would be like when I went abroad. Looking back, I can now see that many of these thoughts usually surrounded the ideas of: playing tourist in my own city, jetting setting around the Europe on the weekends, and befriending Danish people at every available opportunity.

Now, don’t get me wrong, during my short time in Denmark I have done two outta three of the before mentioned already. Taking a trip to the postcard like spot of Nyhavn (for the obvious tourist photo shoot) and befriending Danish students both in my own Kollegium (residence hall) and out in the city every chance I get.

What I never gave much consideration to I suppose, was all of the other things that I would have to do during my time here, like adult, for the lack of a more creative definition. Since moving in I have had to conquer the tasks of: grocery shopping in a foreign country, taking the bus to and from school with out getting lost (a large feat for someone who is directionally challenged), and discovering the danish version of Walmart (so that I could find a coffee pot to soothe my ever present coffee addiction).

Further more, I even had to go to class, a feat in and of itself. Now, I know many of my family members are under the impression that I set off for Denmark for what could essentially be considered a four month vacation. And if I’m being honest with myself I can’t necessarily say that there is not some truth in that, I am living in Europe for almost half a year, a realization that still hits me with a startling ferocity in moments that I least expecting it.

They all can rest assured however, as I have successfully attended the first of all of my classes that I will be taking during my time here in Denmark. I can also happily report that there is something very interesting about all of my classes here, a common theme if you will. From even just my very first impression alone, it seems that there is something different about this program. I have found that all of my classes are actually filled with teachers who want to teach so that we can just learn.

Now what I mean by this is that, I found when I sat down and thought about it, I mean truly thought about it, I couldn’t think of the last time I went to class with the intention of learning simply for the sake of learning. Since the beginning of high school it has been one class after the other focused on getting good grades, accompanied by outside activities, and the successful completion of nightly homework, all steps working towards building the perfect resume for college.

When I got to college I thought it would be different, that I had done the hard ground work, set the foundations right, and now I could focus on a more purely academic approach to my studies. Still, after time, college became just like high school, one class after the other, focused on passing for the grade so that I could find an impressive internship so that I could get a good job, all the while doing one extracurricular activity after another all for the sake of building a top-notch resume.

So, as you can imagine, when I entered my classes here in Denmark and heard that this would not be the case in my first class of the day I was a little skeptical to believe it. Yet, as I moved my way among through my classes I came to find that it wasn’t just one professor that was making claims for a semester of involved learning, it was all of them. Every single one of them had put participation and effort above test grades and final projects.

And I suppose this is what I found the most unexpected of all.

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