1. Coming back is harder than leaving
It is a jarring social experiment to transplant yourself into an unfamiliar place where you have no connections. Constructing a network from scratch can be intense.
However, it can be even more jarring to then have to leave behind what you built, especially at a point in time when things are beginning to feel routine and familiar. While home will always be there, there is a certain melancholy in leaving an exchange.
2. Nothing brings people together like food
No matter where you’re from, everyone shares a connection to food. Naturally communal dining is an integral and celebrated aspect of the student exchange experience.
From taco Tuesdays, to pancake Sundays, to flødeboller and flæskesteg, my exchange has been punctuated with group dinners, which have been a wonderful element of my time here.
What I’ve come to realize is that when you make food for others, you’re sharing more than a meal but a little bit of who you are and where you’re from.
3. You’re going to have unexpected adventures
There was a point this week when I was sitting in a decked-out massage chair, which resembled something out of a sci-fi film, in the eclectic cube shaped house of Ingvar Cronhammer, (a contemporary Danish artist who looks like a bad-ass version of Santa Claus) thinking to myself how life can be stranger than fiction.
I had just gotten a personal tour of Cronhammer’s work, “Elia” in Herning, a towering dome structure that shoots fire and attracts lightning.
I even got to go inside the goliath sculpture and hear my voice echo about. Cronhammer is the uncle of one of my classmates. Part of the beauty of an exchange is that it opens you up to experiences you would never have imagined.
4. It will change you
The travel bug is contagious and incurable. Living in a foreign country for any length of time will change you. One of the challenges of an exchange is returning to the life you left back home.
It’s an adjustment to go back to business as usual when you’re different inside. However, this is a good thing. After this exchange, so many of the internationals (including me) have a newfound drive to chase further adventures, and to see new places. Getting out into the world makes you realize how big it is and how much there is yet to see.
5. The semester is over, but the experience isn’t
While it’s improbable you will stay in contact with everyone you met during your stay, chances are some of the friendships you forged during your time abroad will last for years to come.
Now that the semester is over I have many plans to travel the world and stay with some of the wonderful people I met during my time in Denmark. From Lebanon to New Zealand to California, there’s a bed waiting for me.
I’ll miss you Aarhus, till we meet again.
Start your application for exchange today!