The middle of my exchange is probably the point at which my housemates and I entered into what can only be called, a complete state of panic. We miserably realised we only had 3 months left in both each other’s company and in Copenhagen, a beautiful city filled with even more beautiful people (honestly, I was informed about the genes of the Danes but you have to really see it to understand).
By this stage of our exchange we had originally promised ourselves that we would be completely fluent in Danish (impossible), marathon runners (laughable) and were still planning on going home with some savings (unrealistic). Regardless of these failed goals, I wouldn’t have had my exchange any other way, except maybe extending it for a year.
Exchange goes painfully fast and my best advice to you is to waste no time. I have found the Australian and American students on exchange are particularly keen travellers and take any opportunity for a weekend away. This has been one of my favourite things about a European exchange, everything is so close! We recently had our mid semester break so I organised a trip to Italy with some friends – I adore my holidays at home to Pt. Elliott (missing that bakery) but there is something amazing about Italy, Germany, London etc etc being only 2 hours away by plane! Whilst the mid-semester break allows you to have a good 2 week holiday it is also incredibly easy to do fantastic weekend trips. An added bonus is that you are surrounded by travellers who are just as keen to jump on these opportunities as you are.
To avoid making another blog post where I just rant about how much I love it here and don’t want to go home (so easy to do, trust me) I will try and lay out some advice that I would like to have been given in preparation for exchange:
- Save as much as you can, particularly if you are coming to Copenhagen. I am talking bring lunches to uni, catch the bus instead of driving, don’t visit Argo on the Parade twice a week. Why? Because I promise you, you will want every penny. Copenhagen’s shopping is something that has to be seen to be believed. There is a pedestrian shopping street with the most incredible stores and on top of that there are weekly Facebook events for some private designer sale on in some amazing location. ALSO, the food. Just accept the fact that you’ll be rolling home because the Danishes and pastries are something you cannot pass up.
- Don’t over pack: My siblings warned me, but I still proceeded to pack my black heels and enormous bottle of shampoo and conditioner that I was just CERTAIN you couldn’t get in Copenhagen. I was so wrong, everything you desperately think you need from home you can get abroad (minus vegemite, you have to bring that). Also those heels have been collecting dust since I arrived. The beauty of exchange is you can go out in a t-shirt and jeans because that’s the only thing that everyone has!
- Say yes to experiences: Whether its buying a bike (this a must in Copenhagen) or going on a spontaneous weekend away, you will get so much more from exchange if you go out of your comfort zone.
If you are on the fence about doing an exchange, talk to anyone who has done one and they will convince you. It is an experience that is too easy and available to do while you’re young and studying. Living overseas with a bunch of young people proves more difficult to commit to both financially and career-wise once you leave university. So, apply! I am already considering trying to do a second exchange!