When I, by pure coincidence, decided to apply for some of the UK’s top universities in 2016, it was out of a desire to experience an international culture and try on a different academic environment. I was accepted into UCL’s bachelor program in History, and, buzzing with excitement, I jumped on a plane in September 2018 from Copenhagen to London. A new life had begun. Ever since then, I have been awarded both professionally and personally in ways I could not have imagined, and I believe the experiences and skills that I have required from my three years in London demonstrate quite clearly why anyone considering studying their bachelor’s abroad should take the jump and do it, too.
International friendships and networks
No matter where I choose to travel in the world, I now either have a friend whose couch I can crash on or someone in their network that I can contact in order to do the same. This works for more than just cheap travelling and meeting new people; it also provides a bunch of opportunities for those of us who are interested in doing an internship abroad or working internationally in the future.
Made me reevaluate my native mindset
No matter what you study abroad, your previous educational and cultural experience will be challenged. My Danish identity was both strengthened by going abroad but also reassessed throughout the different encounters I’ve had with everything from English, Mexican, Indian, Egyptian and French to Chinese culture. This ability to look past your own cultural bias is a definitive benefit in any future workplace.
Problem solving and personal growth
Having lived in England during both Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic has proved challenging in different ways. I have experienced being cut off from important relationships when the pandemic forced us apart – by more than just social distancing but by our different countries’ borders. The experience was tough but awarded me with communicative skills, resilience to stress, and a flair for problem-solving that I surely would not have gotten if I had not had the experience of living abroad.
Once you go international, you never go back. Yet, I have found that the Danish community abroad connects me to my national identity in a way I never did before. More Danes live abroad and in a city like London than one could imagine, and the experiences we share in this place join us in a bond that is special and quite unbreakable. Together, we go through experiences that friends and family at home may not understand, and that provides the most wonderful sense of community – and not at least, many laughs at all the strange cultural encounters we have in our crazy and lovely host country.
The experience of a lifetime
By the time I graduate in 2021, I will only have lived in London for 2 out of my 3 school years and almost half of my degree will have been affected by the pandemic. Still, there is no way that I regret my choice in going to study abroad. I have gotten friends for a lifetime, travelled to new places, gotten under the skin of a new culture, had tons of great nights in pubs and bars, and gone through a truly academic enriching process with my course. I can only but recommend studying your bachelor’s abroad and cross my fingers that other young students out there have the chance to go through the same experience as I did.
Written by Signe Skov Jensen