Finding Joy in Denmark

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Finding Joy in Denmark

It has been a few weeks since I came to Denmark, and I have waited to write about it until now because I wanted to fully gather my thoughts. It has been a bit hard being away from my friends and family. In particular, I have an adorable 2-year-old sister whom I miss so much. Despite this, I have been trying, and have successfully found my joy in Copenhagen.

I will be honest, the move-in week was fun and exciting, especially meeting new people on my floor but the novelty of it died down after a few days. I was far more intrigued about exploring the city, the transit system, and just the overall daily life of Danish people. I know this is probably an overstated thing, but I wanted to figure out why Danish people were known as the “happiest people on Earth”. After all, I was struggling to find my joy being far from home.

I decided to explore the city, which was my best decision so far. The architecture is incredible and the walking streets with the stores and food stands in the city were very calming. Everyone had a purpose, put together, and knew what they were going to do. I definitely fely much safer walking outside in Copenhagen than I did in the United States. Previously, I hated going on walks, but now I find them therapeutic.

In addition to my newfound affection for my walks, I absolutely love my classes. I may sound like a nerd, but they have also been a highlight of my stay here in Denmark. The different ways of teaching and explaining things feels a lot more different here but in a good way. For example, in my Cognitive Neuroscience of Consciousness class, the professor makes it clear to stop her at any time for questions, challenges us with her questions, and even gives us a short break in the middle of class. I believe these factors are helping me gain a deeper understanding of the material and even find enjoyment within them. That is not to say in the U.S. that there is not an emphasis on understanding and enjoying the material, it just feels more emphatic here.

However, if there is one thing that really and significantly fuels my joy here in Denmark, it is my research. I cold emailed a faculty member at the University of Copenhagen if she would be willing to let me research in her lab, which focuses on ALS. When she said yes, I was ecstatic. This would be my first time being able to research a neurodegenerative disease, specifically one we know very little of, with the bonus of being in an international setting.

So far, I have learned how to do different virus injection techniques, spinal dissections, and the mechanisms of the ALS disease. There are also people from different parts of Europe and Denmark in the lab and we have the most hilarious lunch conversations where we make jokes about broken politics, Star Wars movies, and lost university degrees. It has been a great opportunity for cultural exchange and learning more about other people’s experiences.

It can be a little challenging and overwhelming juggling my classes and lab, but I have always lived by the ideology that nothing will be hard if you do what brings you joy. I believe I have found my joy here in Denmark.

P.S.: THE LAB BUILDING IS SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL