One of the most integral parts of being abroad, if not the most important, are the friendships you make in your host country. A perk of being abroad for a semester are the months spent solidifying friendships and making a new family away from your family back home, in addition to your “Goucher Family.” The memories you make while abroad are ones not easily forgotten; the little things stick with you for the rest of your life, although you may not initially realize it.
When I was abroad in Denmark, I connected with two girls to the point to which I feel like they are family. One is my now ex-roommate, Carmela Fleri (a senior at Loyola University Maryland). The other is a senior at American University named Julieta Barbiero who lived on the floor above me and Carmela. I recently asked the two of them what their favorite memory was from the times we spent together. It was interesting because the first thing that popped into their heads was the same type of memory that popped into mine. Each are mini “traditions” that we made and miss.
Carmela recalled that every “Saturday morning (sometimes afternoons depending on how the night before went) we would make scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee.” While this seems like the traditional thing that people do in the morning, Carmela and I didn’t realize that the coffee we spent so long preparing in the traditional coffee maker was instant coffee: we just had to add it to hot water. For Carmela this was her “favorite part of the week because we would be able to catch up on each others lives and it would just be the two of us.” It was a reality check from the busy world of living in a different country. It was in those mornings that Carmela and I would sit back and realize that we were living and learning in Denmark. We were thousands of miles away from our “normal,” but we made Denmark and those mornings our normal.
Like Carmela, Julieta and I had our own tradition. We found this little cozy bar called Amager Ølhus about 5 minutes walking distance from our apartment complex. The first night we went there, the bartender/owner talked to us the entire time. In those three hours we spent, sipping different stouts (none from Denmark), we learned so much about Denmark that we couldn’t learn in a classroom. He told us where to go for brunch if we wanted authentic Danish cuisine, told us little facts about Copenhagen, and made us feel like we weren’t foreigners. He even gave us our beers free of charge that night. This became our place; we told no one about it because we felt a special connection with the establishment and those that worked there. However, during our last week in Copenhagen, we went there with Carmela. The bartender was sad that he wouldn’t be able to see us again, so he gave us a free drink and a gift. One of the quirky aspects of this bar was that tourists and other people would give a rubber duck to the bartender. He told us that when he first bought the place, he decorated the bathroom with rubber ducks and people would steal them, so he just made rubber ducks with “This was stolen from Amager Ølhus.” Keeping with the tradition, Julieta and I each gifted him with a rubber duck. I’m not going to lie, we made him cry and it was a very sweet moment. So, as a gift to us, he gave us a rubber duck so that we would always remember the conversations and fun we had at his bar.
The people you meet abroad become your people. You all are experiencing something that no one else can. So whether it is making breakfast or going to a special bar or just hanging out, the memories you make with the friends you make while abroad will stick with you forever. Though it has been hard making plans to see my friends from abroad, I am always thinking of our little traditions and how they impacted my life in Denmark for the better. This article is dedicated to Carmela and Juliet, as a thank you for being my friends and for being my people.