Why You Should Study Abroad in a Small City

The city of Kolding, Denmark.

The benefits of staying out of the cities.

Having recently attended a welcoming party for those new to the city, we as students were thanked for “choosing Kolding,” which was quickly responded with “Kolding chose us” by one of my classmates. While this is certainly true, it got me thinking about the size of a city and the experiences that can be had.

Kolding is small. With a population of less than 60,000, one can easily get around by foot or bicycle and discover most of what this city can offer in a day. However, it is this ease of accessibility that provides a unique experience that cannot be had when you are bound by subway timetables and segregated neighbourhoods.

While I have yet to make it to Copenhagen (which is an expensive train ride away), being able to jump on my bike and explore my surroundings has always ended up in a satisfying adventure here. I have yet to find myself at a loss for what to do because there is always something new to discover.

When it comes to choosing a place to live abroad, we are quick to jump to conclusions that major cities have more to offer. While there is a certain comfort in knowing that these cities are always bustling with new events, art displays and activity, living away from the action is not necessarily a bad move.

I have found that people are actually more proactive in planning and organizing themselves to make the most of what fun is to be had. We have had barbecues, weekend trips, walks throughout the city and lengthy brunch conversations. Some of us have organized yoga classes together, while others have signed up for language classes and sport clubs. There is a greater sense of community and involvement in trying to make the most of what you have been given.

Last week, I found myself on a forest bicycle path exploring the beauty of the natural landscape that borders my neighbourhood. I have taken the opportunity to talk to locals in various shops and cafes, gaining a better understanding of what life is like for these individuals. While these experiences and conversations can be had in other cities, I have found those living in small cities to be more open and eager to talk, all while being proud of where they are from. It is these experiences that have allowed me to get to know the country I am living in better than I would have had I been living in the capital.

People are curious. They want to know you just as much as you want to know them. I encourage you to take advantage of small options and get to know the community you are living in. Join classes or groups and see what keeps the city alive. Even if you are walking alone at night and the streets are deserted, focus on how you feel, what makes this city the place that it is. Take it as a lesson in the appreciation of what is.

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Melissa Gagne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Melissa Gagne has always had a knack for finding adventure. After completing her undergrad in Toronto, Melissa ventured off to South Korea for a year to teach English. She is now on her way to Europe to begin her Masters in Tourism through the Erasmus Programme, which will take her to Denmark, Slovenia and Spain.

Website: hereandtherelocally.wordpress.com/

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