It’s no question that the pandemic has made it difficult to meet people and visit new places. You might ask, “Aren’t those the main objectives of studying abroad? What’s the point of traveling to another country if you can’t achieve these two things?” Well, I’ve found that there are safe ways to socialize and explore despite the circumstances of the pandemic, so here are 6 tips I have gleaned from living in Copenhagen this term.
1. Go on exploratory walks. A lot of them.
Throughout my time in Copenhagen, I have made it a point to go on a walk every day, either scoping out the city with a friend or going on long solo walks in Frederiksberg Gardens. Whether you walk 2 miles, 5 miles, or 12, getting outside, breathing fresh air, and familiarizing yourself with the city as much as possible while abroad is always a good idea.
Whether you go for a walk on foot, bike to a chosen destination, or take the metro or train to a neighborhood that you’d like to explore, it’s an exciting prospect to survey any location in a foreign country. I have found it to be exciting and liberating to venture into a new neighborhood alone. Briefly researching an area beforehand, learning how to use the public transportation, and strolling through a neighborhood independently made for some unique and gratifying experiences. And though my routine trips to the nearby parks are no longer novel, they are still fun every time I go.
2. Journal! And/or blog if you feel so inclined.
Prior to this trip, I always kept travel journals during my stays in other countries. Because I am in Denmark for 11 weeks, I did not commit to journaling daily, but I did decide to write at least a couple times a week to jot down the experiences I most want to remember. This is also a useful practice in order to produce content for this blog, as I will often consult my journal for notes while drafting a blog post.
If you don’t plan on maintaining a travel blog, I think that journaling itself is a fantastic mindful activity. It is helpful to encourage frequent self reflection and is also a channel to help improve your observational skills and writing chops. Even if you only spend 5-10 minutes journaling before bed, you will create for yourself a resource that you’ll be happy to look back on years in the future.
3. Arrange movie nights, and curate a bucket list.
One of the benefits of living in a Kollegium was that I had lots of time to bond with my flatmates inside the apartment. My flatmates and I produced a bucket list of movies and TV shows that we wanted to watch soon after arriving at the Kollegium. We’ve watched a wide range of genres, from Pulp Fiction, Notting Hill, American Psycho, High School Musical, and Us, to episodes of Black Mirror and Modern Family. From planned viewing parties to spontaneous communal movie-going, I’ve enjoyed spending time with our flatmates in this way.
4. Cook meals with your flatmates. Treat yourself and order takeaway occasionally.
It’s been lovely to join my flatmates for our weekly apartment dinner on Monday. Not having to plan a meal for most Mondays is very convenient, and I look forward to catching up with everyone on these occasions. Since our arrival, a variety of delicious vegan meals have been prepared––carrot soup, Indian curry, rice paper spring rolls, falafel pitas, veggie burgers, vegan burritos, spaghetti tacos, and red curry noodles, thus far.
Because sitting indoors at restaurants is not possible right now, I encourage you to factor in some spending money for takeaway meals into your budget. Copenhagen has a lively food scene, and you should nurture your inner foodie! For a vegan like myself, there is no shortage of yummy options in the city. Check out my Vegan Eats page for cooking and restaurant inspiration, or read about my tips for being vegan in a Kollegium for more guidance.
5. Optimize the breaks you get during Zoom classes.
Stand up, walk around, make yourself a drink, eat a snack, open your window. Zoom fatigue is real, so do not hesitate to ask your professor for breaks during class. If you have time in between your Zoom classes, I encourage you to make use of it by getting outside. Even if you return to the same park you usually frequent, it is nice to vary your environment and take a break from staring at a screen.
6. Have parties with your flatmates in a COVID-safe manner, of course.
Saving one of the most entertaining activities for last! An aspect of living in a Kollegium that I loved was having a built-in pod of flatmates who I could safely and easily have fun with. Within that pod, we threw several parties, some without a designated occasion, and one for Fastelavn! Tuesday nights, affectionately called “American Tuesdays,” are perfect for these festivities (we don’t have academic class sessions on Wednesday), as are the weekends.