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If you’re ever going on exchange, keep this in mind: The first few days are going to be hell but then…

Valeria Laura Rigo. (Photo: Natalia Rigo)

It was the first day of my exchange. My CBS Buddy (and I have to say, the Buddy Program is amazing and I encourage everyone to participate) was there to pick me up at Copenhagen Airport and we took the metro to where I was going to live.

She brought me an orange protein bar and some cookies, and I suddenly realized that it was all I had — especially because the airline lost my luggage with EVERYTHING I owned. But most importantly, because this was it: My new life, very very far away from home.

As soon as I was alone, I couldn’t stop crying. What is this? Who are these people? What time is it? What am I supposed to do?

If you’re ever going on exchange, keep this in mind: The first few days are going to be hell. I could only sleep with familiar sounds in the background (I used to play the news channel from my country, which is ironic, because how could I fall sleep to the reports of murders and crimes?).

But anyway, I woke up and called my mom every two hours just to tell her again, “Hey mom, I’m crying”. On my second day, I spent 45 minutes trying to find artificial sweetener in the supermarket. I convinced myself that maybe it was illegal in this new country, and I was really close to buying salt instead.

And the biking thing was driving me crazy. I admitted, to everyone’s shock, that I didn’t know how to bike before coming to Denmark. This was the part when everyone looked at me with a judgmental and confused face and asked, “What did you do as a child?”

My luggage wasn’t the only thing I lost during my stay in Copenhagen — I lost friends and even a boyfriend. But you definitely gain more than you lose

And then I explained how I was a very chubby and scared young girl who wouldn’t take the risk. But one of my mottos on this exchange was to say yes to everything (which got me into very funny situations, but we’ll probably talk about that some other time), and I found myself on a bike for the first time ever, on a very crowded street of Copenhagen. Needless to say, I did not enjoy that.

But then we went to a bar with all these new people I didn’t know. We had a few beers and a lot of laughs. I heard lots of names I didn’t even know how to pronounce and I would definitely not remember, and I asked the same questions over and over: Where are you from? What’s your major? Which courses are you taking? I went back to my place early because the jetlag was still killing me. But on the way back, I called my mom again — this time to tell her: “I like it here”.

(Photo: Valeria Laura Rigo)

And as much as I loved the people I left back in my country, there was a bit of detachment. Here’s another lesson: Keeping in touch with everyone takes effort. Sometimes, it’ll be only you making that effort, and that will help you realize the difference between the relationships that are for keeps and those that might not be.

As soon as I was alone, I couldn’t stop crying. What is this? Who are these people? What time is it? What am I supposed to do?

My luggage wasn’t the only thing I lost during my stay in Copenhagen — I lost friends and even a boyfriend. But you definitely gain more than you lose.

So I suddenly realized that I’m living the dream. When I was 12 years old, I once told my family that when I grew older, I wanted to move abroad. And it was all happening… I had the freedom to do anything I wanted. I went from living with my parents to living on my own in a city full of opportunities. And in the blink of an eye, I fell in love with my new life.

I fell in love with the dinners with my new friends, who met me after a day of studying and working to talk and gossip over wine. I fell in love with the partying (and of course there was a lot of it) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Maybe I wasn’t in love with getting home very drunk and having a very bad hangover that I tried to cure (but failed completely) with kebabs. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

If you’re coming to Argentina, please bring me some bread ;)

Surprisingly, I also fell in love with biking. I ended up becoming one of those reckless bikers doing 20-minute bike rides in nine minutes, and loved every single second of it. I fell in love with the food (I miss smørrebrød almost as much as I miss my foreign friends). I fell in love with the gray weather and the skirts that I never wore in my very warm country, but couldn’t stop wearing in Copenhagen even in freezing weather.

(Photo: Valeria Laura Rigo)

I fell in love with CBS. Yes, even the 8am class. There’s something about the halls of Solbjerg Plads; everyone who walks through them looks beautiful, like a successful future leader. There are so many memories created there, in between classes and on Nexus Thursdays, before going to the canteen to grab a juice or a bun with cheese and butter.

But yes, January came, and it was time to go back ‘home’. And now, home doesn’t feel like home anymore. Home is all those things I just spent those paragraphs talking about, and so much more. A piece of me stayed in Copenhagen, and my aim is to spend five minutes in every conversation telling people about something that happened in Denmark. Now, it’s the other way around: What is this? Who are these people? What time is it? What am I supposed to do?

I admitted, to everyone’s shock, that I didn't know how to bike before coming to Denmark

And as much as it hurts to come back, I don’t regret anything.

To anyone reading this, please go on exchange, and make as many mistakes as you can. Take chances. Talk to the people you’re scared to talk to. Ask that hot girl/guy out. Eat that food you would have never thought about eating.

If you’re a foreign student coming to Denmark, don’t hesitate about visiting for a second. It’s home to so many amazing people with so much to see and do. If you’re a CBS student considering going on exchange, go for it. Have the experience of getting to know a new culture and share your wonderful one abroad. And if you’re coming to Argentina, please bring me some bread 😉


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