Global Correspondents, Semester Abroad Copenhagen, I Will Miss You
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December 20, 2022
Sharon Luo, Wharton '23
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Sharon is one of the Semester Abroad Global Correspondents writing and sharing her experience abroad during the Fall 2022 semester. Follow along with the group of correspondents on our blog and look out for their images on the @pennabroad Instagram feed.
As I’m typing this, it’s hard to believe my stay in Denmark is almost over. I still remember feeling overwhelmed and giddy about the prospect of living and studying in a new country 3,900 miles away from home. After settling in Copenhagen, it took me weeks to become comfortable in my new environment. And now, it’s time to say goodbye?
When I decided to study abroad at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), people around me commented on how exciting and unique this experience would be. They were right! Despite a few bumps in the road, these past four months have been filled with countless moments of joy, and I will absolutely treasure my memories from this exchange program.
In just a semester, Copenhagen taught me what it means to “live life to the fullest.” From meeting people from around the world and traveling all over Europe, my experiences transformed me into a more carefree and cultured person. I’m most grateful for the friends I made – from Australia, Canada, Europe, and different parts of America – and the stories they shared. They opened my eyes to new ideas and perspectives. Our diverse backgrounds paved the way for entertaining conversations, and I even picked up a few slang words in the process! Don’t be surprised if I start saying “keen” anytime soon…
Something else I learned from this exchange is the difference between the Danish way of life and the American way. On the surface, Copenhagen could pass for a tranquil, mid-sized American city. After all, most Danes speak fluent English, and the modern business school at Solbjerg Plads doesn’t look too different from the Wharton Academic Research Building.
However, what stood out to me was the high trust and independence in Danish society. For example, at CBS, there are no attendance policies. On the metro, there are no turnstiles – individuals tap their Rejsekort in and out on their own. And the craziest thing I noticed? On the streets, there’s rarely litter anywhere! Even after living here for almost half a year, I’m still amazed at the Danes' confidence in everyone doing the right thing. Combining that with a strong focus on welfare, a relaxed atmosphere, and hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) – which stands for “coziness” – creates the Danish way of living. This laid-back lifestyle is something I've grown to appreciate and admire, especially in contrast to the hectic and high-energy environment at Penn.
Thinking about leaving Copenhagen reminds me of several mundane moments from this semester that might never occur again – or at least for a while. Some fond recollections include: eating cinnamon buns at the CBS cafeteria between classes, visiting Tivoli on Halloween, practicing my Danish monologue for three hours in the Dalgas Have study lounge, witnessing the 3:37pm sunset from the Glyptoteket art museum rooftop, cheering for Denmark in the World Cup, and strolling past the yellow Frederiksberg Palace every time I take a walk in the park literally in my backyard. These small slices of life, preserved in my memory, combine to form the jigsaw puzzle I call "study abroad.”
Copenhagen, I will miss you. It’s been a good ride with a healthy dose of adventure, but as they say, all good things must come to an end. However, I will be back someday. Hej hej... for now.
The Semester Abroad (SA) program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study in a new global community through extended study for a semester or year. Penn Abroad partners with top institutions around the globe and collaborates with Penn’s undergraduate schools to offer programs for students across academic disciplines.