Rocky beginnings

Around this time last year, I submitted my graduate school applications and hoped for the best. In May, I was accepted to the M.Sc. in Security Risk Management in Copenhagen and the M.Sc. in European Governance in Luxembourg. I chose Copenhagen for reasons I knew in my gut, but which I couldn’t disentangle from my mind.

Many of you know how I squandered roughly $300 on the Copenhagen housing market before finding a place to live (and if you didn’t know, there, I’m not proud of it). Student housing is reserved for a select few, and the private housing market is flooded. It is the closest thing I can imagine to the Hunger Games. When it became obvious that I wouldn’t find a place to live before the beginning of the semester, I reached out to one of my childhood friends who lives in Malmö. Malmö is really charming (and so is Sandra, and her cute studio apartment) and I am endlessly grateful to Sandra for putting a roof over my head, but it was in the wrong country…


Sandra’s living room, and my couch-bed. Classic scandinavian decorating, refined, minimalist and airy. BY THE WAY, she *made* that lamp. Out of coffee filters. Someone top that.

My commute was over an hour long and involved passports. I was also late to the first day of orientation. I don’t think I have ever been that stressed, before or after. The train was late- that was not how I pictured my first day!


Matriculation ceremony with new friends.


After 20 days, I found a home in the villa of a couple with grown children, empty-nesters with eclectic taste in art and warm hearts. Robert is Danish and Pia is Finnish-Danish. This was a “friend of a friend” connection only possible because the social circles of the Finnish-swedes are tight knit. I live in the lower level of the house, and I have my own entrance next to the garage. (There are no cars in the garage, just bikes.)


Sunset over “Flintholm” metro station, a short walk away from where I live.

Despite the initial crisis, I settled in. I made the requisite trip to Ikea, taking my Italian friend Denise along (on this trip, she called bubble bath “sprinkle soap” and I decided I needed her in my life). I bought a bike and began joining the silent, athletic commute into the city in the chilly, misty mornings that got a little darker every day.

September was a blur of adjustment. I visited Finland in October, and my dear friend Simone, who lives and works in Brussels, visited me in November.


Going in for the kiss 😉


The Royal Palace, with “Marmorkirken” (Frederik’s Church) in the left background.


The iconic Copenhagen skyline, captured from the Round Tower.

The first semester, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was just “studying abroad” again, even though I had effectively moved here. I know exactly how dreamy it sounds to live in Copenhagen, and it is- but as a graduate student, the city is just a beautiful backdrop to the reading and the research and weekday routines.

Mid-December found me on a plane, on my way to Summerfield/Greensboro. Amid Christmas festivities, kitchen renovations, snowstorms and trail runs in Bur-Mil park, I didn’t miss Copenhagen once. I don’t know if I should be ashamed of it- it’s not a matter of comparison, really, it’s a matter of roots. I’m still working on this feeling.


It’s been over a month since I returned for the second semester. I’m looking forward to the days getting longer again, to biking across The Lakes without feeling like the wind is going to sweep me into the water, and to Friday afternoons spent at museums and new nooks of the city. I’m expecting some visitors this spring too, and I couldn’t be happier for the company.

I hope you enjoy your weekend!



4 thoughts on “Rocky beginnings

  1. Pingback: My Finland | Malvina Speaks

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