I can’t believe my trip is over and I am officially done studying abroad! As I am writing this I am back home in the US. Coming back made my trip feel surreal. I am so glad that I got to have this experience and grateful to the Fund for Education abroad for helping make it possible.
I did my final project for my Child Development class on how an American preschool can increase its student’s access to nature. Nature is one of the six main themes in Denmark’s early childhood education curriculum. I learned that Denmark’s schools for young children are based on Germany’s kindergartens, which are directly translated to “garden for children” in German. The creator of kindergartens believed that children should be able to explore nature freely, which is why Danes find it so important for early childhood. In my presentation, I explained how nature can promote childhood development. Taking care of things in nature like plants and animals can help kids regulate their emotions, kids use their senses in nature which helps their cognitive development, and it’s good for building large motor strength because of the uneven terrain that they play on. So I proposed that American preschools take more field trips to natural environments like parks, prioritize using natural materials in lessons, and have class pets or plants that the children can take care of.
This week I let go of a lot of routines. I was very sad to wrap up my class because it was one of the best ones I have taken. Getting to learn through experiences and traveling was one of the biggest reasons why I studied abroad, and it was awesome to see the things I learned about in real life. It was also the last time I used Copenhagen’s amazing metro system. Using the underground train to get anywhere in the city quickly was a luxury and I’m amazed by how much easier it made my experience. I will miss exploring new places in the city, going into underground shops, and the beautiful parks.
It was also the last time I’ll be regularly saying Danish phrases. There are several that I wish I knew before coming to Denmark. I didn’t put as much effort into learning Danish that I should have because I knew that most Danes spoke fluent English. However, Danish is their first language so I realized it’s more helpful to know common phrases for frequent interactions so they don’t have to switch to using English. This comes in handy while interacting with people like cashiers or waiters. Here are some words and their translations that I used often:
Hi = Hej (pronounced high)
Thank you= Tak (pronounced tahk)
Goodbye= hej hej (pronounced high high)
Your welcome = Selv tak (pronounced sel tahk)
Yes = Ja (pronounced yeh)
No = Nej (pronounced nigh)
Excuse me = Undskyld (pronounced oon-skool)
To celebrate my last few days, I went on a paddleboat through a lake downtown, I went to some thrift shops, and I saw one last museum. It was called the National Museum of Denmark and got to see famous Danish artwork. For my very last night, I got a pizza and sat by the harbor so I could see it one last time.
I have a connection to Copenhagen because it was a first for so many reasons. The first place I traveled to alone, the first country I’ve been to outside of the US, the first place anyone in my family had gone studied abroad in. I imagine myself going back with my loved ones a few decades from now to show them where I went in my early 20s. I am curious to see how Scandinavia is during Christmastime, so maybe that will be my next adventure!