Halfway There: An Open Letter to My Homestay Network

Introduction

Your homestay network will most likely define a huge part of your study abroad experience and if you’re as lucky as I am, they won’t just be the people that live around you but they might end up being your closest friends while you’re away. They will be your commuting buddy, your travel partner, your roommate, and then so much more. This open letter describes how I met these people, how we got close, and how saying goodbye will probably suck. A lot.

An Open Letter to My Homestay Network

To My Hillerød Squad,

I remember nervously waiting at the Amsterdam Airport for my connecting flight to Copenhagen. I stood there by myself, looking at the sea of DIS students, trying to find someone to talk to. I tried my best to muster any courage to do so, but the awkwardness ultimately prevailed. But I still remained optimistic, even though one of my biggest fears about studying abroad was being alone. I told myself, if I could just befriend at least one person while abroad, then I’d be happy.
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I remember the first day of orientation, waking up on a cold and dark winter morning at 6:30am to catch a 7:09am train to Copenhagen and boarding the very first car on the S train, and seeing these two guys sitting across an empty seat. They were already talking to each other and I was almost positive they were speaking English.
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“Hi, are you guys DIS students?”
“Yeah!”
“Me too! I’m Jez, and this is my roommate Reggie, nice to meet you.”
“I’m Jakob!”
“I’m Josh.”
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Of course, the rest of that story, as they say it, is history.
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I remember the first time we all hung out as a group. For some reason, instead of making a group of six for our mandatory DIS scavenger hunt around the city, we adamantly insisted to stay as a group of 11. I’m trying to think, if we hadn’t done that, if we would be as close as we are today, or if we would actually be a squad.
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I remember braving the cold with all of you. We stood in front of Nyhavn while getting a fascinating lecture about Danish history, and it was on the same spot, where we took our very first squad pic.
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I remember the first time we went the Old Irish Pub the same day. There were so many of us that we couldn’t even fit in one booth, so we grabbed two. I was overwhelmed but in a really good way. Everyone seemed so nice and genuine, and that night became a weekly Tuesday tradition and then Tuborg Tuesdays was born, something that I always look forward to every week. And some nights, we really talked about some deep stuff that I wouldn’t tell most of my other friends and that made me feel like I could really trust any of you.

I remember our first jump start event, when I tried my best to really put myself out there and even tried to play soccer (or futbol I should say) even though my hand-eye coordination is virtually nonexistent. We also ate way too much cake that day.

And I remember our first networking event together, where we visited Frederiksborg Castle and realizing that holy crap, we probably live in one of the most beautiful part of Denmark and the view is something that I still can’t get over with.

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I remember the first time we came together for a movie night and we couldn’t decide on what to watch, and then Black Mirror was suggested, and soon, it became another tradition. I’ve enjoyed watching every thought provoking and mentally scarring episode together, although I could honestly go without seeing National Anthem. And Josh, I apologize for watching White Christmas alone. I’ll try to forget about that episode so we can rewatch it as a squad.
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I live for the simple moments that we share together.
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As I look back at the two months that I’ve spent with all of you, I learned that the best things in life are often unplanned and it simply happens by fate. If I didn’t decide to take the 7:09 train that morning, or if I went with a different group for scavenger hunt, or maybe even if I wrote one line on my housing application differently, maybe I would not have met any of you and I don’t think my Denmark experience would have been as memorable and meaningful without any of you in the picture.
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As much as I would love to remain optimistic, I know saying goodbye in May would absolutely suck. I know I’ll face moments when I wish we could all just relive it again, when we could just suddenly turn back to page one, go back to the very moment I nervously waited at the Amsterdam Airport and experience every laugh, every memory, and every moment we shared.
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But as I write this letter, midway through the semester, I am grateful that we still have all this time left together. I live for the big moments like taking weekend trips to a new city and a new country, for the Hygge-lit nights when we go out to the city and take the 2AM train home together, and even for the simplest moments like sitting next to you at a coffee shop, running into you at DIS, or of course, enjoying our Tuesday and Netflix traditions.
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I will look at this moment in my life with a lot joy and a lot of meaning. Even an ocean away from New York, I am blessed that I can still find a place I can call my home and a group of people I can call my family.
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Tak for the Memories and I can not wait for the new ones coming,

Love,

Jez

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