Staying Active Abroad
One of the main reasons I chose to go to school at Amherst was because I knew that I would have the opportunity to stick with my love of playing lacrosse while also receiving the opportunity to study abroad for a semester. At Amherst, I would say that studying abroad is encouraged, regardless of what you are involved in on campus. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that around 47% of the junior class takes advantage of.
So far I could not be happier with my decision to play, study, and live at Amherst. While I was grateful for the opportunity to study abroad and play a varsity sport, I knew that I would still have to keep my skills and fitness levels up while living halfway across the world. Luckily, my program in Copenhagen, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), makes it extremely easy to get involved in various things around the city.
At the activities fair within the first week, I found a gym that had a student membership and a variety of classes that members can take for free. I can go to any of the gyms in my area and there a bunch that are close to me, so I like to mix it up and choose different ones around the city. So far my favorite one has a beautiful view that overlooks the canal while you are running on the treadmill! Sometimes I try to get real lifts in, like the ones my teammates are doing back home, but mostly I just enjoy staying active as often as possible and doing something that makes me feel comfortable in an environment that normally feels so different than the one I’m used to.
I addition to the gym, I also stay active by biking! I mentioned this in my last blog post, but Copenhagen is a HUGE bike city. The easy bike paths and flat surfaces basically invite you to hop on a bike to get around. It’s such an easy way for me to get to class, the gym, or anywhere that’s just slightly too far to walk. I rented my bike before I got to Copenhagen, online through a company that DIS recommends (it’s called ABC Student Bikes). This was the easiest way to secure a bike without having to scramble around once I got to Copenhagen. If you are thinking of doing DIS and you know that you want a bike, I would highly recommend renting one before you arrive, it was so nice having it ready for me as soon as I got there. Overall, I already feel myself becoming more confident on my super cute yellow bike. I’m so happy I have one for practical purposes and also for staying healthy in a way that makes me forget that I’m even working out.
I couldn’t lie and say that going to the gym and biking satisfy my athletic needs fully. After all, I’ve been playing in lacrosse practices and games almost six days a week for the last 10 years of life. Yet, when I was packing up for Copenhagen I made the tough decision not to bring my lacrosse equipment. As a goalie, I had way too many things to pack in my already stuffed suitcase, and I knew that I would hopefully find some other ways to be active even if I couldn’t play lacrosse abroad.
As I wandered around the DIS activities fair, however, I saw a sign that immediately made me light up. “Join Copenhagen Lacrosse!!!” it said in big red letters. Behind the desk sat two extremely friendly players who were so excited I wanted to play and even more excited that I played goalie because they were looking for one. They explained that they practiced once a week and that they could provide me with all the equipment I needed. I was so happy I immediately ran home and called some of my teammates, thrilled that I could continue playing even so far from home in such a casual and fun way.
Since then, I have gone to three Copenhagen Lacrosse practices. The club, which started several years ago, has a constantly rotating base of players from all over the world. While the majority of players are Danish, I would say the students who study in Copenhagen for the semester, mostly from the US but also from other European countries, make up about a third or a bit more of the team. This combination of cultures all sharing a love of the same sport is an incredibly unique bond. While in most cases, the American players have been playing for way longer than the Danish players everyone still loves learning from each other, and competing in a stress-free environment for two hours each week. Luckily, the language barrier isn’t too much of a challenge, since most Danes speak English. I have also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the American students I hadn’t met before, some of whom I will even compete against in my upcoming season!
Since I live with other Americans in the Social Justice Living and Learning Community, and my classes at DIS only consist of other students who study in the United States, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some Danish people my own age. I’m proud of myself for immersing in a part of the Danish culture, even if it’s through something that I already felt comfortable doing. Baby steps.
Besides loving getting to continue to play the sport of lacrosse, I am also loving what it feels like to be involved in something outside of just school here. I didn’t realize how much I missed having structured activities in my life, and like I said about the gym, lacrosse practice on Monday nights here now feels like a constant in my life that brings me closer to what my teammates are doing back at Amherst. On the peaceful 30-minute train ride out to the field each week, I think about how grateful I am to be here, exploring a new city, and getting to continue to pursue something that makes me so happy.