2018 THE VIRGINIA ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE

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A SEMESTER IN COPENHAGEN

April 24, 2018

While many can’t endure the thought of spending a semester outside the walls of Campbell Hall, I couldn’t fight my desire to study abroad during my time at school. Though the School of Architecture does offer a few programs to study abroad during the Fall of either your third- or fourth-year, I, in typical me fashion, had to make things more difficult for myself by finagling my way to Copenhagen during the Spring of this year.

 

I won’t bore you with the long, drawn out tale of my two month bat with mono resulting in withdrawing from certain courses and a burning desire to graduate with not one major, but two. Instead, I’d like to tell you why all the trouble to get here in Denmark was the best decision I could have ever made.

 

If you’re an avid reader of the two articles I’ve written in the past year and a half, you already know that I spent the summer between my first- and second-year studying the Business of Fashion at Parsons Paris. Though many ask why that didn’t fill the void of going abroad, let me tell you that three weeks in Europe is just simply not enough time to truly immerse yourself in the wonders that this continent has to offer.

 

Now, let’s pause for a instant because I am not here to tell you a story of how being abroad has changed me forever in a heartfelt, Instagram post-worthy way. Yes, I have done way more than my fair share of posts on social media, but it is all in good conscious, I swear. Instead, I would like to relive some memorable moments with you all in an effort to illustrate how, even if you think you’re ready, going abroad can’t be perfectly planned.

 

So, what better way to start than to explain my first day of classes here in Copenhagen:

 

I started my day in the middle of the night. Literally. It was still very much dark out when I left ten minutes behind schedule at eight this morning. When I say no one was out, I truly mean no one was on the street at this horrendous hour.

 

My first class was European Urban Design Theories. I still don’t quite understand why I decided to sign up for another theory class seeing how not well the history of ideas class went last semester. Thankfully, the professor is my favorite kind of professor: straight out of Spain and a spawn of Herzog & de Meuron. For some reason, this inspired me to volunteer to be our class representative. Unclear what’s gotten into me lately, but perhaps that was just the new Copenhagen me. Please note that I now manage to never get to this class on time, but this professor is actually the coolest Spanish Dane I’ve ever met.

 

After eighty minutes discussing the meaning of European, urban, design and theory, I moved onto my History of European Film course. Now, this one is a real kicker. Imagine your crazy science teacher from growing up as Danish and a film buff. That, my friends, would be my professor in a nutshell. While I was initially quite overwhelmed by his passion, he is now one of my favorite professors.

 

Continuing on, I made my way over to my social media course, basically equivalent to every media studies class I’ve ever taken. Once I got over the pure shock of some girl telling the class that she goes to school in Louisiana when referring to Tulane, realizing that my best family friend’s ex-girlfriend from freshman year of high school was present in this class as well and meeting what felt like one-hundred people who go to U.Va. that I had never met, I settled in to taking notes, which entailed our professor telling us we didn’t need to write anything down. What did I learn from my first week in Copenhagen? Well, the world is very, very small.

 

Having almost choked on the most disgusting protein bar of my life, I eventually found my studio. I do not use the world eventually lightly. I walked through the back door of the second floor into the foundation graphic design studio. No, that was not what I was looking for. A special thanks to those nice people who finally sent me in the right direction.

Walking into studio felt somewhat wrong seeing as I didn’t have any of my best friends by my side or anyone to immediately make fun of or, conversely, make a fool of myself in front of. I felt much more relaxed when the nice old woman dressed in head to toe black, also known as my professor, came up to me a gave me a surprisingly firm handshake. To this professor now, thank you for putting up with my serious struggle to understand what exactly it means to be an interior architect.

 

To my dismay, there is only one boy in the combination of both interior architecture studios. Yes, just one of fourteen people. Anyway, after a very brief chat, we all went on our merry way to a museum which has far too complicated of a name to include in this little window into my life. I made some friends, took some measurements with my shaky metric and then carried on with day having made it through my first four classes.

 

I wrote the last few paragraphs on my first day of class. Yes, I made a few edits to fit in with the context of this article, but all-in-all that is exactly what each and every day is like here in Copenhagen.

 

Over the past three months, I have travelled throughout Europe with both new and old friends, taken a four hour bus ride to Western Denmark to find the love of my life in the form of a city known as Ribe and found an epic group of people who I share these experiences with on the daily. While there are never going to be enough words to really explain what Copenhagen has been like, I can tell you this:

 

As I lay lounging in my bed in my German beer hall like apartment, I cannot help but think about what it will be like to return to Virginia in the Fall. Though I will most likely have to be dragged onto the plane to go home with my overweight luggage, the ups and downs of my life here will be invaluable to me not only at school next year, but for the rest of my life. While I may still be flailing through life in typical me fashion, there really is nothing like the gray city of Copenhagen to pick you up when you realize the key to making it is, without question, making it up as you go along until you’ve found your way.

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April 24, 2018

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