Almost before I’ve had time to process properly, the bare-boned apartment I rolled my suitcase into in February has become bare-boned once again. To say that 6 months of university exchange in Denmark flew by in a hurry would be the understatement of the century but here we are.
I’ve always had difficulty remembering minute details from the past. Big picture things, concepts, emotions, sure, but not what colour mailbox I had, the brand of kettle I used, specific things people said at that time and place, sometimes people’s names. I was always made to feel a certain sense of guilt about this lack of ability to remember, because to many people, not remembering meant not caring enough, even if for me, it's not true.
I think it’s part of why I fell in love with photography and its ability to record. Videography even moreso, despite all the disk space it demands. This video series was always meant to record and commemorate the small things, the banal things about home. The types of things that were important, the little joys, the details that time would erase faster for me than others.
Thank you Aarhus and to everyone I met there. Everyone who went on exchange has always said it was worth it 100% and I'm here to add onto this long list of testimonials.
As I write this, the next 3 months look like this, which is both exciting and downright terrifying:
- Helsinki, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Berlin, Hamburg (June 20 ~ July 8)
- Iceland, London, UK (July 10 - July 26)
- (Potentially) South of France, Spain (still considering)
- Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto (August 10 - early October).
If you’re in the areas, have any recommendations for not-covered-in-the-tourist-guidebook places to go and/or want to collaborate on photography/videography, I’m all ears.
(Thanks kristlls for some of these portrait shots)
Several people asked me via Instagram and Tumblr at the very beginning of exchange for tips, and I replied saying I'd get back to them at the end of six months.
Here's an instinctive dot point list from an unused-to-Scandinavia Aussie, mostly comprised of 'things-I-wished-I-did or things-I-wish-I-did-earlier'. If there's anything you want to know more specifically, my inbox/comment box is always open.
- Take time to message and chat with people who were on exchange in your host city to get the best local tips from people who were there
- Plan any international trips you're taking on exchange as early as possible - settle on countries you want to go, even start bookmarking flight deal alerts before you leave. Planning early will save you money and hassle
- Go out to explore your city as much as you can even in the cold months because the snow will vanish so fast, and the city transforms more than you could ever imagine between seasons
- Don't be afraid to just thoroughly explore your exchange city either, it's not obligatory to spend every weekend in another country
- Try to get a dorm with a shared kitchen space if you want to maximise the chances of communal living but if you're living alone, make the effort to be social and introduce yourself to your neighbours as early as you can
- Rent/buy a bike, even if it means dying for the first month cycling steady 4-5kms uphill in icy winds. If you're in Aarhus, rent it from Cibi which saves the hassle of buying and selling a bike
- Get a thick windbreaker/overcoat that will get you through the winter months (even if you'll look the same in all photos) - check out the second hand stores in your area. Really recommend Soul Shine.
- Invest in good socks, scarf and gloves because your extremities will get cold first.
- Go to Aarhus Reuse to see if you can get anything second hand to save on expenses
- Chop your carrots and apples before you go to the Deer Park
- Go to ARoS at sunset during summer and just spend awhile on the balcony outside, soaking in the sunshine on the lounge chairs
- Everyone in Denmark speaks really really good English but try to attend some Danish classes or watch Danish movies/TV series to feel more familiar with the language (or live with Danish housemates if you're lucky enough)
- Danes are very friendly but you kind of need to approach them first. If you're also shy and introverted, make this the thing you do that scares you
- Go on exchange if you can. It's not going to be perfect but I've yet to meet anyone who's truly regretted it.