As I sit on the train home after an evening spent with my friends Daniella and Luca in ‘our’ cafe/restaurant, I am realising what a special time I have had here in Copenhagen. My time here is quickly coming to an end and so over the past few days I have been thinking a lot about all that I have learnt whilst on exchange. Although it may look like I came here just for fun and games, I actually came here hoping to learn things both at university and about myself and life in general. I can happily say I most definitely have! This list isn’t exhaustive in any means – some things, like how to make lasagna, are a little personal and I would rather not share to the world, but here is a summarised list, in no particular order.
1. How to build a snow man
It snowed the other day in Copenhagen, and whilst I have seen a fair bit of snow in my life time (especially considering I am Australian), I still get really excited when I see snow floating down. Those little white snow flags look so pretty and often to the embarrassment of myself, I can’t contain my excitement. So when it began snowing and there was a (thin) layer of snow covering the ground, I decided it was time to build a snowman! Little did I know, this is much harder then you think. To build a snowman you need to acquire buttons (or blueberries), carrot and when assembling the snowman one must ‘handle with care’. As I discovered, you can’t just shove each body part together. No. Sadly this results in you smashing your snowman to pieces. One must be patient, avoid in coming snowballs and be willing to sacrifice your scarf and beanie so your snowman doesn’t look completely strange.
2. How to make dinner out of seemingly nothing, or the most random array of ingredients. Or both.
Quite often these last 6 months I have come home to a fridge comprising of what seems like nothing. Maybe some potato, a carrot, cheese and lettuce. Yep not much to make a meal. But when the supermarket is far away (ok I admit – it is across the street), sometimes in your desperation to just eat something you somehow manage to come up with a meal. I am not sure if it is because at 9:30pm my stomach isn’t too fused about what I am eating, as long as it is food, or it is my cooking skills, but somehow the meal usually tastes pretty good. It has also made me really really appreciate how nice it is living at home and being able to come home late and night knowing Mum or Dad has already done the hard work and cooked dinner. Thanks Mum and Dad!
3. How to ride a bike in any weather.
Yep any weather! Rain, snow, wind, sun (yes occasionally the sun comes out in Denmark), during the day, at night. Anytime!! Riding a bike is basically how you become Danish when in Copenhagen. They have the most lovely biking oaths everywhere which really make it easy to ride any time. Sure sometimes as I was riding along Ørestad Boulevard (a really long straight street) to come home I would not really have the best time due to wind and rain slamming against my face, almost pushing me backwards. But all in all biking the past 6 months has been such a joy. It really is part of what makes Copenhagen Copenhagen, and even when you are riding home late at night, there are always others doing the same thing. I had to sell my bike yesterday, and I really am going to miss it 😦
4. How to speak Danish.
Well almost. In 6 months I am so surprised with how much Danish I have learnt. Taking classes at uni was definitely a good decision, especially the pre-semester course, but actually I think I learnt most of my Danish from 3 and 4 year olds. Speaking to the kids at Hillsong Kids was amazing. Kids don’t seem to care if you say the wrong thing, and when they only understand Danish, you are kind of force to speak it. I think I have really shocked myself as well, that when sitting around a table with my danish friends, sometimes they would switch into Danish and I would still be able to follow the conversation. I wish I was staying longer so I could become completely fluent, but in 6 months, I am pretty proud of my efforts, especially coming from an english speaking background.
5. All about European geography. Well nearly.
So before coming on exchange I will admit, my European geography wasn’t the best. I may have had difficulties describing where Germany was, let alone Denmark. My friends in Denmark quickly discovered this and so for my birthday I received a map of Europe. Since then my skills have quickly developed, and I can now tell Europeans where random Austrian towns are!
6. How to ride on the right hand side of the road.
When I first arrived I remember being completely confused by all the cars driving on the right hand side of the rode. Each time I would cross the road, I would look the wrong way. Going around round-er-bouts was just completely confusing and doing funny left hand turns the danish way – well that took some getting used to. But now my brain has changed and the thought of driving on the other side of the road is foreign. All those in Australia – watch out on the roads when I first get home!
7. Australian’s are a little weird.
Yep – I admit. We are a little quirky and say some strange things, like ‘capsicum’ and ‘heaps’. But you know what – I love that. I think it is cool that we have weird accents, and come from a land known for its dangerous animals. Being away from Australia has really made me realise what a special place I come from. Nowhere is like it! When I go back home I really want to remember this and really see more of my amazing country. I think it is so easy to want to go overseas and explore other places, but it has shocked me that people from Denmark (a tiny dot on the world map) have seen more of my own country than I have.
8. Winter doesn’t really exist in Wollongong, Australia.
I know we think it does, but 15 degrees doesn’t really count as winter. For me now, that almost seems like summer weather!! When I look at the weather forecast now, if I see anything above 5 degrees I think it is warm. If it isn’t raining, I think it is a nice day. If it is sunny, it might as well be summer. Not to say – I am not looking forward to coming home and having a proper summer again!!!! As nice as snow can be, once it turns to brown mush the novelty kind of wears off. Also with snow, comes cold weather (surprise surprise). Also going for a run wearing leggings, a jumper, beanie and gloves and coming back after 7kms still not hot isn’t really the nicest…Another thing – when it is winter in Europe, you really must allow an extra minutes to allow time to put on all your clothes!
9. Part of exchange includes goodbyes.
No one ever tells you this when you go exchange. Everyone always talks about how awesome it is, but they forget to mention the part about having to say goodbye to all your friends you made whilst overseas. The past few weeks, and the week to come have been full of goodbyes. I know when I leave Denmark on Monday there will be tears. I know I will be a mess. But at least then I know that my time here was worth it. Well I already know that. I am excited for the times I will get to see my friends here again, whether it be in Australia or somewhere else in the world! But the good bye part ain’t fun.
10. My friends and family are AWESOME!!
Ok so I knew this before I came on exchange, but being here has really highlighted even more so. To my friends and family back in Australia, despite me being on the other side of the world, in a completely different environment and timezone, we still have managed to stay in close contact. Thank you for all being so supportive of my trip, and your messages, letters and Skype talks have been really cherished and valued! I have missed each and everyone one of you so much, and am counting down the days until I am back home and get to hang out with you all again.
And to my friends here in Denmark. Wow!! Without you, this exchange would have been not nearly as good. The countless dinners, laughs, adventures around Europe and memories will never be forgotten and nor will you. I think it is awesome that I have made so many great friends from so many different places and that we met in that cool little place called Copenhagen. Also to everyone at Hillsong Copenhagen – you have been my family away from home. Each week I am counting down the days until it is Sunday, and the amount that you guys mean to me is not even possible to describe (that is why it sounds like I am saying the same thing over and over again – sorry). The friendships I made at hillsong are so special to me and I am incredibly sad to be leaving. A special mention to all those who are a part of Hillsong Kids. You guys are the most amazing team of people, who I look up to and you have all taught me so much. Each Sunday serving with you all is the highlight of my week, and I just want to say thanks for being so awesome!! I know I will be back and can’t wait to see and hear all the stories that come out of Hillsong CPH. Make sure you keep me updated!!