University is about challenging yourself and growing as a person, and never have both things been more apparent than on my year abroad.

Study Abroad student Rachael Friery
Rachael Friery
Studied abroad at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark
BA Politics and Sociology with International Experience
Rachael spent a year studying at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark as part of her degree.
Study Abroad student Rachael Friery

Why did you decide to study abroad?

I wanted to study abroad because I wanted to make the most out of my time at university. By my second year, I was becoming increasingly aware of how quickly time flies, and I wanted to finish university knowing I had taken every opportunity available to me to grow as an individual. Studying abroad provided the perfect chance to experience the wider world – living and studying in ways incomparable to UK life – yet within the safety net of education. It was a chance to challenge myself and try new things, and I am exceptionally thankful I took the leap of faith because I made the best memories of my university experience while studying in Copenhagen.

What were your top 3 highlights whilst studying abroad?

Turning 21 only a few weeks into moving, I was worried I would be spending my birthday alone in a foreign country (but I couldn’t have been more wrong). It was the most memorable birthday I’ve ever had! When I woke up, my flatmates had made me ‘birthday pancakes’ (a Scandi tradition), we visited Tivoli Gardens (the amusement park in central Copenhagen with one of the world’s largest rollercoasters), and went swimming in the docks in the sunshine. Definitely a birthday for the books! 

Making friends with an old Danish couple who used to be professors at the university, they allowed me to stay with them for several days in Hellerup, a very wealthy and beautiful municipality on the outskirts of Copenhagen, and I walked their dog on the beach in the mornings. It was amazing getting to hear from a totally different generation of Danes, and experience a different side to the country that you are less likely to see as an international student.

Day trips and staycations with my different friend groups throughout the year were also a highlight. Be it with my British friends, my course mates, or my flatmates – we made a deliberate effort to experience as much as possible. This included cycling trips, visiting different art museums around the country, and staying in other Danish cities. I would recommend everyone to do the same with their time abroad.

Study Abroad student Rachael Friery

What would you say to someone who was unsure about spending a period abroad?

Just go for it! If you are in the position where you are fortunate to be able to have these experiences, and there is any part of you wondering if it’s the right path for you, then I can’t encourage you enough to just apply. I was so nervous that I almost missed the chance to apply, but I convinced myself that you usually regret the things you don’t do – and on this occasion I was entirely right. University is about challenging yourself and growing as a person, and never have both things been more apparent than on my year abroad.

You will make friends you don’t expect, and make memories you would never have dreamed of, so I would tell anyone who is curious to take the leap and invest all your energy into getting the most out of it as possible.

What is the one thing you wish you'd known before you left?

Social media is your friend. In those early days before leaving and when you arrive, have a browse on Facebook for any groups to do with your building, neighbourhood, university, or accommodation. Even individual courses/classes can have Facebook groups in European destinations. I made so many friends in those early weeks through Facebook (which is quite unusual in the UK) and being a member of those pages allowed people to find each other very quickly. I would also say if you are trying to get a feel for a place, that YouTube vlogs can be very helpful, and will offer you a great insight into day-to-day living in your new country so you can pack and prepare accordingly.

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