Monday Musings

Image: Georges de La Tour, Magdalene with the Smoking Flame (c. 1640). Oil on canvas

Velkommen til København! Today marks my 20th day in the dope city I’ve decided to make my home for the next several months, and despite the dozens of topics I have written down to blog about, I’ve had some trouble cooking up this post. My mind has been moving a million miles a minute, bouncing between getting back into the school groove, exploring Copenhagen, meeting new people, learning how to live in an apartment (and cook for myself daily??), managing my relationships back home, and more. My brain is like a big bowl of alphabet soup right now, and it feels like these past few weeks have just been a very elaborate balancing act. I wanted to pinpoint some of the thoughts and feelings that have been running through my head, which hopefully provide some insight into what this preliminary period feels like (if you’re thinking of studying abroad). Or, if you’re not thinking of studying abroad, maybe you can find bits and pieces to apply to any transitional period in your life. I’ve compiled 3 main thoughts that I want to share with you all, starting with this one:

1. find enjoyment in going off-course

I’m very Type A, so this realization has been tough for my list-making, plan-everything-down-to-the-most-minute-detail self. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t plan out this entire experience and I have to deal with a lot of unknowns. This one is kind of a no-brainer, but this very real fact of life just doesn’t compute with my very rigid mind. Rather than sticking to a very strict itinerary or to-do list for the day, I’ve let myself be swept into some last-minute experiences like exploring the town with my roommates or popping into random art museums and galleries. Some of the most fulfilling experiences and sickest finds have come out of these mini adventures, and incorporating some more leeway into my life has really fed into my curiosity and given me a more go-with-the-flow attitude.

2. you can drop the ball and the world won’t collapse in on itself (crazy, I know)

If I’m not functioning at maximum efficiency 100% of the time, I beat myself up over it. With the aforementioned balancing act that is life abroad, it can be a bit difficult to achieve everything I set out to do in a day (if I even get through half of my list). I actually have quite a few items left on my to-do list as I write this, but I still set aside an hour and a half to attend the city-wide celebration marking Denmark’s huge handball win over France (it’s called balance!). Sure, I dropped the (hand)ball when it came to my daily tasks, but sometimes you need to tune out the voice in your head that tells you that your value is derived from being a task-minded robot that works 24/7. Cut yourself some slack and let loose a bit!

3. it’s not that serious

It’s really not. There’s a heavily romanticized image of studying/living abroad that is perpetuated through perfectly-curated Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards– pretty much everyone who thinks about going abroad or goes abroad falls for it. Because of this, there’s a weird pressure to always be jetting off to the most obscure, picture-perfect getaway every weekend in order to ‘maximize your time abroad.’ I’ve definitely spent hours stressing over nailing down the perfect itinerary and finding the right balance between time spent traveling and time spent exploring Copenhagen and the surrounding area. Don’t get me wrong, there are still times where I definitely take this experience way too seriously, but I’ve slowly come to realize that enjoying your study abroad experience has little to do with your perfectly planned itinerary and pretty much everything to do with your mindset. Someone who spends all of their time in their host country can have a more fulfilling experience than someone who tries to capture the ‘perfect study abroad experience’ in a new city every weekend. I’m not condemning frequent travelers– I already have a handful of flights booked myself, so that would be a bad case of the pot calling the kettle black. If you want to travel, then do so with intention, not based on some desire to chase a picture-perfect experience. It’s not that serious– you’ll have fun wherever you are if you adopt the right mindset and surround yourself with the right people (or enjoy your own company).

I’m not typing out these thoughts as if I have them all figured out– truthfully, they’re still a work in progress for me and I’ll likely never fully embody them. These are reminders for myself just as much as they’re reminders for you all (unless you don’t like my ideas, in which case you can ignore them or write me a strongly worded email). Maybe I’ll check back in a few months to see if I ever took these recommendations to heart– but if not, then I won’t be too hard on myself since like, I’m only a silly little human and I’m still learning things. Vi ses senere!

xoxo– olivia! 🙂


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