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5 Things I Quickly Learned Living Abroad.

In January 2023 I packed up my bags and headed from Denver, Colorado to Copenhagen, Denmark to live temporarily in the Danes' capital city with my lover boy. Read some tips about living abroad, and get familiar with the difference between traveling abroad vs. making it home!

2022 was a bittersweet year for me. I moved to Denver, Colorado from my hometown in Ohio in March with whatever fit in my 2012 Jeep Liberty, and enough money to pay one month's rent. I didn't have a job lined up, but I was running on faith and bravery.

I got to Denver, one of my best friends moved with me, and we settled into our downtown apartment. Within 2 weeks I was employed, settled into my space, and ready to take on the concrete jungle and rebuild my life from the one I left behind.

We can dive deeper into the hell that transpired later in 2022, but to make a long story short for the meantime, shit hit the fan. I quit my leasing job for another property management job which ended up being a total fluke. I formerly substituted teaching back in Ohio, so I decided to do the same in Denver, and while it made me enough money, it didn't make me enough to help dig myself out of the hole that I'd fallen into accidentally. By December 2022, I'd been working 4 jobs, clocking out at 70+ hours a week, and just barely out of the negatives in my bank account. I'd lost nearly 20 lbs, and was the most depressed I'd ever been, to the extent that my signature catchphrase of "I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow" surely changed into "I pray I don't wake up tomorrow".

It was literally the hardest season of my life, and I wouldn't be where I am today without my family, some supportive friends, and my partner, Will.

Will and I met in our apartment building in Denver. He's originally from Indiana, and it turned out we grew up an hour and a half apart for basically our whole lives.

Again, our love story is long, and I'll share that eventually, but the gist of our situation was that upon meeting for the first time over a year ago in Denver, Will had a six-month trip to Europe planned to live abroad which meant any chance of us starting a relationship surely wouldn't happen until he returned, and even then who knew.

Our story is my favorite to tell, and eventually, I will, but to get to the part of me living in Europe with him, all you really need to know is that we fell in love, he knew shit had hit the fan for me, I was coming for a week to visit, and we decided it would be more fun if I just stayed here for those 3 months.

I'd been an entrepreneur for almost 5 years, so I figured out how to stream in income while abroad, packed my bags, and headed to Europe. This is my first international trip ever, so here's what I've learned about traveling abroad versus living abroad.

1.) You don't need to know the language.

Although it's a very cultured thought, learning a whole new language in such a short span is one tough mission. I'm not going to lie though, I spent hella time on DuoLingo attempting to learn Danish. I got down a few words like kvinde (woman), spiser (eat), drikke (drink) & a few others.

Most people in European countries know English as their second language, so when it came down to needing to communicate, with a little patience I was able to chat with the Danes quite easily.

If you've traveled abroad, you know that it's a challenge to understand the writing and conversations around you. However, living abroad takes that challenge up a few notches. You're not just ordering off a menu, or looking at Google maps to find the top Instagram-worthy destinations. You're filling out gym membership paperwork and trying to spell your name to someone who has different letters in their alphabet. You're also asking the postman for your address package and saying the format totally wrong.

As someone who had never been out of the USA, it was a big adjustment at first. But now? I honestly love the fact I cannot understand 98% of the conversations happening around me. It makes me really aware of how different your experiences are when you understand the language.

I was actually reading the book The Idiot by Elif Batuman while I was here, and it was such a fun read considering it highlights the existential crisis we often experience in life that isn't even sexual or personal, but pertains to our perspective on life and our surroundings merely because of language. I highly recommend this read.

2.) Public transportation in Denmark is incredible. The US needs to step it up.

People still drive cars here, but it's not like it is back in The States. The majority of Copenhagen's citizens transport around the city by train, metro, bus, or bicycle. It's incredible!

We clearly didn't have a car here, and while there are taxa (taxi) services, we opted in for the more authentic approach to navigating our new city. If you're briefly visiting Copenhagen, you should really look into the Copenhagen Card, which is a city pass to the metro and other destinations.

With our abroad experience being more long-term, we opted for the Rejsekort , a refillable travel card for the bus, metro, and train.

If you're not taking some form of public transport, you're riding a bike here. There are literally bikes everywhere. It's no wonder that the Danes are in way better shape than the Americans!

3.) Groceries don't last as long, but they're so much better for you!

Honestly, to feed two people the groceries here we're pretty similar to those in The States, maybe just a smidge more expensive. The produce here is pricier than back home, and it rots a lot quicker too which to a stingy penny pincher would be deemed incredibly frustrating. However, the fresh produce here isn't contaminated with preservatives and chemicals like 90% of the food back home.

I literally am so disgusted at the artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives, and unnecessary garbage the USA FDA allows us to consume. You seriously need to start reading your labels!

4.) You don't always have to be doing something.

Living abroad is a lot different than a travel trip. We still have to work while we were here, which made our schedule and routine much harder to combat.

With an 8-hour time difference, we'd wake up at 10 AM here, head off to the gym, eat lunch, and by 4 PM our jobs were starting. Monday through Friday we had a routine of meal prepping, grocery shopping, normal chores like dishes (I am so sick of hand washing dishes), going to the gym, eating meals, and resting. We didn't have all the time in the world to be little travel influencers. On the weekends we'd wake up early and pack as much as we could into our Saturdays and Sunday's over the 12 weeks we spent here and honestly, that was plenty!

Will and I would puzzle, read books, or binge-watch Yellowstone in our evenings. Sometimes it felt like all we did was stay in and mess around; he was on video games and me writing/creating random work, but other times it was just nice to reset and rest.

Especially after the hell that my previous 6 months had been.

5.) Your native culture isn't always the best.

Growing up in America, it's drilled into my head that I live in the "best damn land" there is. I quickly learned that statement isn't the truth. It's just some arrogant ploy some douchebag in the White House decided to convince the rest of the nation of. America has its perks, and I do love certain things about it. However, there's a lot that is super fucked up about American culture.

I intend to really dive deep into some of these things in a separate blog post, and when I do I'll come back and link it here. In the meantime, it's important to understand this very important concept that I've uncovered living in one of the world's happiest countries, and yes, this is statistically proven.

Not everything needs to be so hustle oriented.

We don't need to genetically modify our food and pump it full of chemicals to meet quota. If we'd stop buying so much fucking farmland out from our farmers to have organically grown produce, we'd probably stop dropping like flies from cancer.

If we would take the time to slow down and prioritize our time better, we'd stop having backed-up traffic on I-25/I-70 from car accidents if we'd crush the idea that we have to pack 100 tasks into our morning routines before flying out the door to make it to work.

You're allowed to rest. You don't need to have six friends over every Friday for the socialite life that is glamorized on Bravo. You can embrace a little "hygge" (look it up) and mellow the fuck out. Life's not meant to be so goddamn serious, that's just the culture we grew up in telling us that our productivity measures our importance.

Truth be told, I'm going to miss the hell out of being a Dane. There's so much I have learned in this experience alone, and I am really thrilled to keep uncovering it with you here in my blog.

If you want to know any specifics, head over to my contact page and send some blog requests my way!


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