My Summer Abroad Reflections
This is part seven of my summer study abroad series! Follow along this summer as I post about my travels in Sweden and Denmark while I study in Stockholm and Copenhagen through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS).
You’ve probably heard anyone who’s studied abroad—whether it’s your parents, your siblings, your friends, whoever—say that it’s a life changing experience. It’s such a cliche; I’ve probably written it on this blog without even thinking too much about it. However, upon further reflection, I’ve realized I’m very much the same person I was in May, before I came to Europe: I’m still remarkably short, with a great love for coffee and baked goods, a great fear of sticking my foot in my mouth, and a complete disinterest in sports. I have a lot of funny, anxiety-inducing, and incredible stories and I’ll never be able to look at certain things, eat certain foods, or wear certain clothes without being reminded of this summer. But I’m still me.
The biggest change since studying abroad is my perspective. I imagine when I get back to New York, I’ll go back to drinking my iced coffee, eating my bagels, and making the occasional small talk with a stranger. However, I won’t forget all the things I learned about Sweden, Denmark, and Europe as a whole. I won’t forget the people (and the really cute dogs in raincoats) I met on my travels. I won’t forget the ways I learned to think about my own identities through my experiences in new environments.
It’s hard to say how I may end up applying all this information, but if we had an answer for everything, life would be pretty boring. Maybe I’ll unexpectedly hear a little Danish one day as I’m venturing around museums in New York. Maybe I’ll use the origin of fries as a quirky icebreaker (they’re not actually French, they’re Belgian, and I apologize for ruining your day with that fact). Maybe it will help me in the future during a job interview. The possibilities are really endless. I’m not sure my experience amounted to exactly what I had been expecting, but I can say with certainty it ended up being so much more than I imagined.
As for the more immediate effects of my study abroad experience, I think it’s really gotten me to appreciate New York City even more than I already did. I may spend a little more time in New York’s touristy areas (without, however, slowing down on the sidewalk) and appreciate the fact that about 60 million tourists visit the place I call home every year because there’s so much to see. I’ll go out and try new cuisines, since New York has so many foods I’ve missed for almost three months (Bagels! Tacos! Beef hot dogs!) but also so many I realize I’ve never explored. I’ll drink hot coffee when it’s hot outside (and be really sad about the fact that New York coffee, generally speaking, isn’t in the same league as the coffee I’ve had in Europe).
And just to really emphasize how much I consider New York home (I promise if you meet me in real life, I really do talk a lot about how much I love this city), the more cities I meet, the more convinced I am that there’s no place for me like New York, New York. To end with a quote from the musical I did my senior year of high school (Anything Goes): “There’s no cure like travel to help you unravel . . . Have a high time, a low time, and in no time, you’ll be home sweet home.”