The Dickinsonian

Letters from Abroad: Don’t Let Denmark Get You Down

Addie Downs ’19, Abroad Columnist

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I knew going into Dickinson that I wanted to study abroad. However, dealing with very bad anxiety and depression, which escalated during my freshman year, I wasn’t sure if it was in the cards for me. After some time, I started getting very excited about the idea of living in a new place and going to a different school. I applied to Dickinson’s partner program in Copenhagen, Denmark, called the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. I was accepted and while I was really excited, a small part of me remained very nervous about what would happen. Flash forward seven months and I’m three months into study abroad and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. There were definitely some very difficult times for me.

I got a really intense eye infection that blinded me for a couple of days, one of my dogs at home died, my house in Denmark caught on fire and I got the stomach virus for the first time since I was 17. Not fun, to say the least. I started to get really angry because all I ever heard about study abroad was that it was so fun and you could travel all the time and it would be just the best experience of your life. I felt kind of cheated, especially since I had worked so hard to be able to go abroad.

Somewhere between the panicky and tearful phone calls to my dad, the concerned looks from my host family and the random visits to a pharmacy to ask for help, good memories were absolutely made. I have made spectacular friends, been to beautiful cities, eaten amazing food and, to top it all off, I live with a wonderful host family.

One of my classes is working in a børnehave, which is the equivalent of an American kindergarten and day-care combined in one building. On Thursdays, I play with babies and help five-year-olds count in English and I have a four-year-old who speaks English translate from Danish because I have no idea what they’re saying, unless they have to go to the bathroom or want some water. While I didn’t picture studying abroad having this much hardship, I stayed because of all of the good things that were happening. I’m becoming more independent and am learning so much more about myself than I did when I moved to Pennsylvania from Georgia, which I didn’t think was possible.

I’m proving to myself that I can do the big things, which is probably the best reason for anyone to go abroad. Pushing yourself is what makes you an adult and while there isn’t a part of that that’s easy, it’s absolutely worth it.

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Letters from Abroad: Don’t Let Denmark Get You Down