Sep 27

You got lost? So what!

A Study Abroad Adventure Begins
By Vivian O’Brien
Junior marketing major with a minor in economics

As the train rumbles towards its final destination, my heart is pumping blood to my legs faster and faster, building up adrenaline as the train comes to a halt. The doors open at a methodically slow pace, and I burst past them with one thought on my mind: “I have 45 seconds to run across the entire Copenhagen airport to catch my next train which leaves in one minute.” After hurdling past people with cumbersome suitcases, leaping down the escalator like a frantic baboon, and almost face-planting into a glass sliding door, I fling myself onto my next train to get home to Sweden.

That was the moment that made me realize that my study abroad experience would be a little different. My Swedish aunt and her husband have given me a place to stay in a small town outside Malmö, Sweden, so that I can save money on housing and food while I attend Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. I have had many say I am crazy for doing an hour or more commute to attend class and then do the same commute home. But for me, I would not have it any other way.  

Finding My Way in Copenhagen

Getting lost in a new city when people are speaking a language you can only partly understand is entirely normal and will happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it. The first day I went into Copenhagen without the training-wheels-like support from my aunt, my phone would not connect to cellular data. I had no access to the app that told me which train to get on and which station to change to when I arrived in Denmark. Google Maps did not function either, and I had no physical map. I was lost beyond lost. But, as I have learned from the classes I have taken as part of the Bryan School, exceptional problem solving gets the job done.

I used my uncle’s phone to power a hot-spot for my own phone or used the WiFi of the trains and school buildings and from there, I was able to make my way through the orientation week and the first week of classes with smooth sailing. The smooth sailing did not come until after I had some moments of crisis, when I lost the opportunity to see what was around me because I was focusing on what was going wrong. The Bryan School motto does not only just apply to business practices and theories; it also applies to life. Every day we need to be able to solve problems relating to our own sense of being lost.

While wandering around the center of Copenhagen, a Ukrainian exchange student and I found a peaceful park amidst the busy city, where coworkers went to have their lunch, families played with their children, and couples took mid-afternoon strolls. You can learn a lot about a culture from sitting and “people watching”!

The Benefits of Getting Lost

Some of the best experiences, I have found, have come from me being lost. It’s fun to wander around the city with no real end goal other than to take in what’s around me. In these moments, I realize I am living the dream I planned out for more than two years. I have met people from Canada, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and California who were equally lost and needed some company. I have seen historical sites, heard stories from across the world, and laughed more than I thought I would have while being lost. I was only able to do all these things after I let go of the notion that I was lost and helpless. Becoming lost and figuring out how to become “un-lost” is one of life’s constant challenges. I could not change my situation, but I could change my mindset and how I would make the best of it. Problem solving equals reframing an issue, and I did just that.

One of the days when my phone was not working, I tagged along with a new friend, who is here on exchange from the Netherlands. We went to see the famous Nyhavn, a canal with buildings dating from the early to late 1600s!