Avoiding the Social Limbo


Newly arrived and wondering how to get your social life going?

Yes, I know it might actually feel like ‘rocket science’, attempting to build a social circle as a new international student in Copenhagen. Personally, I doubt that a lot of international students give much thought to making buddies and forming a new social circle, as much as they do to, for example, securing accommodation and study-related practicalities.

Who has time for such trivialities? After all, having a (social) life in a city like Copenhagen is a given, right? Well, I leave you to be the judge of that. Come to think of it, in these days of Pokémon-Go, you might actually make brief acquaintances with random strangers at the park or wherever else the craze takes you.

But then, the real question arises as to whether the momentary socializing cuts it for you or something a bit more ‘concrete’ (whatever that means to you) might be preferable. In this post, I hope to direct your attention to one avenue you might have overlooked all the while.

Mentor Groups!

Many at times, that which we seek, we already have, but just do not know it yet. Sound familiar? Yea! and this might well be true in this case. Most, if not all faculties in the university have a mentor program dedicated to newly-enrolled students. These mentor groups usually consist of a few, more advanced students (mentors) and a larger number of new students (mentees) and in many cases, lots of the mentors are Danes.

What you might not know is that, amongst other things, the mentors are there basically to be your friend, as you attempt to navigate the chaos associated with being a newbie in Copenhagen. This means that by being part of a group, you inadvertently already have a social network of sorts (or at least the likeness of one) and depending on how you play it, that might be the difference between you having fun-filled weekends/trips and you being in social limbo.

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I remember talking to a friend of mine some time ago and hearing him recount how for the first few weeks of his arrival in Copenhagen, the only friend he had was his mentor. While this might seem sad, it is actually the reality for a number of new international students.

Having spoken to a number of international students and also experienced this myself, I can say that the same norms associated with initiating conversations and therefore striking friendships in other parts of the world most often do not apply here in Denmark (and as I hear, in Scandinavia as a whole), hence it takes some time to find one’s feet in this new social clime.

As we are not all the same, this might mean weeks for some and for others, it might mean months. This makes participating in a mentor group even the more beneficial, as anyone will tell you that striking a connection with anyone in any social context, is a two-way street. The advantage therefore, with this mentor group of fellow students, is that the effort does not have to be as much as might be required in other social settings (except alcohol is involved, of course!).

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Usually, all one needs to do in order to join a mentor group is to sign up prior to arriving in Copenhagen on the university webpages dedicated to fresh students. However, if for some reason, this doesn’t work, all hope is not lost. You can also just find any mentor group by yourself (usually by asking fellow new students about theirs) and ask to join. In my experience, mentor groups are happy to ‘adopt’ new students without one, so this should not be a challenge.

In every mentor group, there are lots of social activities organized all through the semester. These might range from big dinners, biking trips, cross-country hikes to pub crawls and movie nights. In fact, there are infinite possibilities and I really think there is everything to gain from joining and participating in a mentor groups. Also, you probably have noticed that winter is almost here. Trust me, it’s easier to stay warm by having friends around and lots of activities, than staying home and lighting candles. It’s also more fun!

So, the next time you are wondering how to make your stay here more lively and enriching, you hopefully have another possibility to explore. Until next time I come your way, I hope that you have lots of fun with amazing people. Cheers!

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