*This is the fourth guest blog post for the Longhorn Abroad series. Education sophomore Carissa Dickerson studied in Copenhagen, Denmark.
A huge, horrible, gut-wrenching stomachache.
That’s how I felt on the plane across the Atlantic Ocean to Copenhagen, Denmark. It was one of those stomachaches you got when you were some place new and the comforts of home just weren’t quite there. Yet there I was, four months later, on a Boeing 747 back across the Atlantic to Dallas, with that same stomachache as I thought about the home I was now leaving. Copenhagen became my home, and the people I became friends with are now my extended family.
Some of my best memories of being abroad are completely absurd, like doing a line dance outside of a local Turkish restaurant in Istanbul with my class or getting caught in what felt like an ice storm in Sweden walking to our hostel.
Others are magical, like a boat ride down the Seine River that ends in front of the twinkling Eiffel Tower or the view from the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. And even others are exhilarating, like riding a roller coaster in the oldest amusement park in the world or standing in front of a church in Venice where my ancestors were married in.
The memories may fade slowly in time, but it is the life lessons I will keep in my heart forever. I figured I had better share some of the lessons I have learned:
– Make sure you know what you are eating before you bite into it. I don’t know if you have ever put what you thought was a large, crunchy onion ring in your mouth only to discover it is actually calamari. Trust me, it’s a shock.
– Do things even if you’re afraid to. Being a somewhat shy, introvert, the hardest part of the whole journey was getting on the plane to go to a country I had never been to, that spoke a different language, where I knew absolutely nobody. I think it will end up as the best four months of my life.
– Dress for the weather. Coming from Austin with year-round sunshine, to a city where sunshine is so rare in the winter that the month of January only had four hours of sunlight, I needed a new wardrobe that included a real winter jacket. As the Danes always say, “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
– Navigating the world without Internet. In our generation, we are accustomed to doing everything from checking the weather to checking out the newest updates on reddit on our phones. Not only were there several times I wished I could get the GPS to work on my phone, there were also situations where I was waiting for someone and realized I couldn’t play on my phone while I waited. Who knew people watching could be so fascinating.
All in all, my semester abroad was more than I could have hoped for or dreamed of. I never would have thought that such a tiny country of only five million people could hold such a near and dear place in my heart.
It was 4 months, 8 countries, 16 cities, and a lifetime of memories.
Story and photos by Carissa Dickerson