Hi! I’m Taylor, and this is my study abroad blog. I’m 21 years old, a junior at Northern Arizona University and soon-to-be exchange student at Aalborg University in Aalborg, Denmark. I’m majoring in Political Science and Journalism. The journalist in me found it appropriate and necessary to keep a personal narrative about my experiences during this time away from home (and, really, away from all things familiar).
I hope that this blog serves as a reflection of my growth as a person and a student, but also a record of interesting things and thoughts I encounter. I’ve been a lifelong diarist and I’m hoping this blog develops into a more public, interactive version of that. It might serve as a platform to incite discussion among others in a similar situation. Maybe I’ll keep it going and write about my (hopefully extensive) travels throughout my 20s. Maybe somebody reading this will be inspired to embark on their own journeys as well. But, what can I say, I’m an idealist.
Aalborg is the 4th largest city in Denmark and resides in the Northern Jutland Region. It’s basically a hop, skip and jump away from big Scandi cities like Oslo and Gothenburg. This city is old. It has served as a docking site for Vikings and other medieval travelers. It is dotted with ancient Viking burial grounds as well as more recent (yet still really old) monasteries and convents. The only thing I can compare this kind of history with is Native American structures that are common throughout the Southwest. It really reminds me of how short my life is, yet, in contrast, how long humans have been just hanging out, doing their thing.
Modern day Aalborg is a university town much like my sweet little home. It seems like there’s lots of things to do and places to see, but I’ll have to let you know what it’s like when I’m actually there.
I will be participating in the International Cultural Studies program at AAU. It’s a program designed for exchange students specifically, so I will probably be working with other students from all over the world who are interested in similar topics. I’m excited about the global approach to learning that AAU seems to foster; it’s the most internationally cultural way to direct an International Cultural Studies program.
The plane tickets are bought. My housing is set up. The bills are paid. The countdown begins: 2 weeks!
All there’s left to do, is wait. I’m a constant planner, and this part of the process is probably the most difficult for me. On one hand, I can’t stop reimagining worst case scenarios, but I also can’t stop daydreaming and wondering what this whole thing will be like. The best word to describe it is “antsy.” I’m feeling a serious itch to get out of my day-to-day routine and get to Denmark already. I just finished the book “How To Be Danish” by Patrick Kingsley (yes, I am over-prepared), and although I still don’t know how to be truly Danish, it gave me a head start on a lot of the cultural norms and quirks. I highly recommend “How to Be Danish,” it’s a quick read but you’ll learn interesting facts about stereotypical (and not-so-stereotypical) Danish things like fair-isle sweaters, fancy innovative Danish cuisine and their welfare system. But, you might be surprised by some things, like I was.
Why am I doing this?
It’s expensive. I’m the only student from NAU going to Denmark. I’m not used to staying in hostels. I don’t know what my classes will be like. Essentially, from a certain perspective this whole thing seems like a pain! And at times, I have to admit, I thought it was a pain. It’s fun to romanticize and daydream, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, figuring it all out is a time commitment and an emotional commitment.
However, the benefits (even before I have left), outweigh the negatives infinitely. I have learned important things about research and asking for help. Also, I am pushing myself farther than I have before. I love the challenge. I’m even learning some elementary Danish (yikes), and I hope to use some if I’m not too embarrassed!
I have always wanted to do this. From the time I was very young, I’ve loved travel and seeing new places. Denmark will be an experience, to say the least.