My name is Chris and from August until December 2016 I studied as an exchange student at the University of Copenhagen. During this time, I regularly attended KFS meetings and I would like to share some of my experiences with you in the hope that you too will join them in prayer and fellowship.
HOW TO MEET THE DANES
My decision to attend KFS meetings stemmed from a desire to meet real, authentic Danes. I chose Denmark because I wanted to experience a new culture, and live in a place where I may not otherwise go. But about two weeks into my pre-semester Danish language course I realised that unless I made a conscious effort to meet Danes, I would spend my entire exchange with other international students. And as fun as international students are, I did not come to Denmark to meet Americans, Germans and Australians! In hindsight, this was the best decision I made while abroad.
THREE REASONS TO JOIN KFS WHEN STUDYING IN DENMARK
There are three things in particular which I am especially grateful to KFS for. The first is that KFS gave me many unique insights into Danish history, culture and current affairs, all from a Christian perspective. I doubt very many exchange students get this kind of insight. I know for a fact that my class mates did not; sometimes I would try to talk to them about these things, only to discover that they too had never heard of Søren Kierkegaard, and were totally oblivious that new laws had passed which many consider a threat to religious freedom. Without KFS this unique window into the past, present, and possible future of Denmark would have been closed to me, and my semester abroad much less rich as a result.
Alongside this intellectual formation, I am grateful for is the spiritual formation I received from KFS. Although I was regularly attending Catholic mass I was unable to understand any of it, particularly the sermon, as it was in Danish. This, accompanied by the fact I had no English spiritual books to read meant that KFS meetings were my only way of receiving spiritual input while in Denmark. I especially enjoyed the “eftertanke” meetings in the KFS apartment. Here we would listen to a Youtube clip of a preacher (in English) and talk about it afterwards in small groups, finishing with some prayer and some songs. This gave us a bit more freedom to talk about what was really on our hearts and minds at that moment, and provided a good balance to the more intellectually focussed meetings at Fredens Kirke.
Finally and probably most importantly, I am grateful for the many friends through KFS who shared their life with me, and I with them. From the very first meeting I attended I was welcomed into this very loving community. Coming from New Zealand, everyone was quite naturally very interested in what life was like where I come from, and eager to hear about my impressions of Denmark so far. As time went on these friendships continued to deepen. We played board games together, cycled all around Copenhagen, and our conversations moved from simply recounting the events of the past week to sharing our joys and sorrows over long walks and cups of coffee. There is no better example of this than when my mother passed away in September after a long battle with cancer. I had to return to New Zealand to attend her funeral, and during that time I was flooded with messages from my KFS friends telling me how they were all praying for me and my family. Upon my return to Denmark these same friends were bold enough to ask me how I was coping, showed genuine concern for my wellbeing, and made my transition back into life abroad much more bearable.
ENGLISH? NO PROBLEM..
All in all, I would highly recommend getting involved in KFS as an international student. I guarantee you will not regret it. And please don’t let your lack of Danish discourage you from attending. There were times when I felt like I was an inconvenience because I could only communicate in English, and I always needed someone to translate everything for me. But I was assured (many times, in fact!) that this was not the case. Many Danes actually relish the opportunity to practice their English with a native speaker, and your unique perspective is a valuable enrichment for all.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog entry, and wish you all the best for an exciting stay in Denmark.
God bless you,