COVID-19 Sent Us Home

It has been nearly two weeks now since I landed back in the States. I haven’t been able to find the words or the motivation to sit down and reflect on everything that happened. It all happened so fast. The night before I was sharing celebratory drinks alongside my best abroad friends, celebrating D’s 21st birthday. Less than 24 hours later, I had packed up the life I had created for myself in Copenhagen and was on an eleven hour plane ride back to the United States.

Interestingly, I had decided myself that it would be best for me to leave DIS early. After D’s birthday celebration, I had called my parents and explained to them how I felt like I needed to come home. My biggest fear was the unknown- would I be stuck in Denmark, or have to quarantine at an airport hotel? It might sound silly, but the unknown was incredibly scary to me. I am incredibly family oriented, and I just knew that I wanted to be with my family as the virus continued to spread and as new information unfolded. This was definitely not an easy decision to come to. It would mean leaving my friends, continuing my classes online, saying goodbye to my host family, and never being able to get my pre-8 AM coffee at my favorite coffee shop, Roast Coffee, again. Despite all of this, I had a gut feeling telling me to get out, and I knew that if I didn’t listen to myself, I would regret it. As my plane landed at JFK airport, I received an e-mail from DIS stating that we all needed to return home. Always, always trust your gut.

The last thing I want is to sound ungrateful or selfish. Although coronavirus unfortunately sent me and hundreds of other DIS students home, it was a precaution that needed to be taken to ensure the safety of ourselves, our families, and the citizens of the world. Instead of angrily writing about how frustrating coronavirus has been, or how disappointed I am that my study abroad experience was cut short, I am going to reflect on how thankful I am for the two most unforgettable months of my life.

So,

Thank you to DIS for handling this situation so well, keeping us constantly informed and truly working in the best interest of your students. Also, for being the reason that I got to spend two months of my life in the beautiful city of Copenhagen… I truly would not be here without DIS.

Thank you to my professors at DIS for opening my eyes to global healthcare and different welfare states! I have gained such a wealth of knowledge at DIS that I do not know if I would be able to at my home university. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of my classes, adapting to new teaching styles and all of the discussion. I wish I didn’t take this as for granted. I would do so much to be sitting in a DIS classroom again, having an informed discussion alongside my peers and professors.

Thank you to my roommates for being so easy to live with and for always being there. I’ll miss our cute little Danish apartment, our taco nights, and singing to different “themes” while cooking dinner each night.

Thank you to Roast Coffee for becoming my favorite coffee shop ever! I think I was just becoming a regular before I left, but some of the baristas had started to prepare my coffee before I could get the words out of my mouth- so I think I can say I’ve made it.

Thank you to Camilla and the rest of the public health LLC for giving me something to look forward to on Thursday nights! I loved getting to know each of you.

Thank you to Føtex for being the closest thing to an American grocery store.

Thank you to my abroad people, Anne, Brooke, Claire, and D. I am so thankful for all of the times we had together- whether it was spending way too long at Illum, trying to find a McDonalds in every new destination, or singing American Pie one too many times. I miss you guys and karaoke terribly. NATOE will be happening soon (;

Thank you to my visiting host family for welcoming me with open arms and truly becoming my abroad family. You are truly so wonderful and I greatly miss the green tea and testing Thea’s knowledge of the world map. I promise I will return!

Thanks to La Boucherie for playing Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) by ABBA consistently… we love that.

Thank you to my parents who support me in achieving my dreams and for pushing me to obtain every goal I set for myself. You guys rock and I love you both so much, even if I don’t tell you enough.

And lastly, thank you to Copenhagen, for being more than I could have ever imagined. I have absolutely fallen in love with this city and this country, their fashion, what they stand for, the beautiful landscapes, and so so so much more. I now have an even better reason to return. Until next time

This is an incredibly tough and uncomfortable time for all of us. It’s hard when so much is unknown and to know if we are overreacting or under-reacting. For us students, its difficult living at home for a period this long. For most of us, we haven’t spent this much time home since high school. For parents, I understand it can be just as difficult living with us. In this time of worldwide adjustment, I encourage whoever is reading this to remain patient and kind. We are all dealing with the same stressors in such a foreign situation.

With that being said, I also encourage everybody to try something new, reach out to an old friend, paint your room, and be present. Something that I have really enjoyed are the genuine interactions I have had with people and the feeling of togetherness in my town. We will get through this.

I’d like to share a quote from Pope Francis,

“Tonight before falling asleep
think about when we will return to the street.
When we hug again,
when all the shopping together will seem like a party.
Let us think about when the coffees will return to the bar,
the small talk, the photos close to each other.
We think about when it will be all a memory,
but normalcy will seem an unexpected but beautiful gift.
We will love everything that so far seemed futile to us.
Every second will be precious.
Swims in the sea, the sun until late,
sunsets, toasts, laughter.
We will go back to laughing together.
Strength and courage.
See you soon!”

Despite all of this, there are things to look forward to and many things to be grateful for. Coronavirus may have sent me, and thousands of other study abroad students home, but I am incredibly grateful for the time I had and all that I was able to learn. I hope you are all doing okay and are in good health. We can get through this together! Stay safe everyone.

Xoxo,

Julia

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