Week 1 in Copenhagen: Learning to Manage My Money and Time

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I made it to Denmark! I have been here for about a week and it has been amazing, fun, overwhelming, and exhausting at the same time.

This time last week, I got on an 11 hour flight from LA and left the country for the first time, and it was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done. After arriving in Copenhagen at 7:00 am local time, I was greeted by people from my program and other students at the airport. We all loaded onto a bus to head out to our kollegiums, which are dorm-style housing here. The bus ride was my first glimpse of the city. The vast amount of people riding bikes and beautiful old buildings were the first things that stuck out to me. It is fascinating being in a place that’s much, much older than America. I had a feeling that I was going to really love Copenhagen.

My arrival was Sunday, and my first class, Children in a Multicultural Context, started the following day at 9 am. I was jet-lagged, I had readings to do, I needed to get groceries, set up my phone plan, get my metro pass, sleep, and unpack. But I also wanted to go out and explore the city! The first challenge for me was trying to figure out how to have fun in a new, exciting place while also managing my time and being successful academically. I ended up working on getting my phone and transportation things set up first, then I went out to lunch with some other students in my kollegium. We also went to find DIS (our school) so we knew how to get there. I was able to squeeze in time to do my readings, but I regret staying up late the first night to socialize.

I’ve really enjoyed my class so far. I’ve been learning about the Danish education system and the unique experiences that children who are immigrants and refugees have in Denmark. My class is about three hours a day, so afterwards my classmates and I would go study in coffee shops, go shopping, or go to the beach. Most days I spent all day out and about. This was incredibly fun, but I definitely could have slept more and watched my spending more closely.

The first week taught me how important it is to prioritize my time and stick to a budget. I went out to eat a lot, and I had a hard time saying no to invitations to go do things when I had school work to do. I think I felt a lot of pressure to make the most out of my trip and see/do as much as I can. But this mindset made it hard for me to be healthy. I’d rather be pickier about what I say yes to rather than by being out all the time and not prioritizing rest. This trip is much more than a vacation, in the sense that I’m here to study and learn how to “live like a local” as my program calls it. This means that I won’t be going out and spending money every day, and sometimes I’ll have to say no to invitations to do things so I can catch up on work. This doesn’t mean that I won’t have fun, but that I’ll be spacing out my outings more so that I don’t feel burnt out or spend too much money this early. After all, I’ll be here for 6 more weeks, so I’ll have plenty of time to explore more of Copenhagen. My advice to anyone studying abroad is to break up their spending budget by the number of weeks they’ll be on their trip, so they can manage it more easily.

Next week I’ll be going on a Study Tour with my class, where we will be traveling all over Denmark to visit schools and community centers. I’m looking forward to blogging about the tour when I get back!