Frosh Out of Water

This story is part of a series exploring the life of a student abroad.


I knew frosh in Denmark was going to be different the moment I arrived; instead of being handed a quirky neon coloured T-shirt and matching goodie bag, I was offered a beer.  While sipping a lukewarm Carlsberg in the parking lot of my new one-building campus, surrounded by dozens of blond, blue-eyed Danes, I realized I was back at first-year frosh.

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Frosh team, “de_zebrastribede_havfruer” pose for a group photo.

When I went to frosh two years ago, I was skeptical of the whole experience. I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t that familiar with downtown Toronto.  I was not (and still am not) a clubbing person. I knew that for a lot of people, parties are the best part of frosh. This time around, I had set my expectations even lower because I was not only in a new country, but a new continent where I didn’t know anybody (again), really didn’t know my way around (again!), and didn’t even speak the language.

Seriously, the odds were stacked nowhere close to in my favour.

I found myself intimidated and though there were other exchange students exactly like me, I still felt incredibly out of place. But if you ever wanted to be on a level playing field, frosh is the best equalizer of them all.

Not only were we encouraged to be loud and enthusiastic, the majority of my frosh events had an alcoholic component to them so our inhibitions lowered as the day wore on. And isn’t that the secret to having a great frosh? Being so excited to start this new chapter of your life that you completely forget about your insecurities—of which I have more than my fair share—and just embrace the opportunities you’ve been given. Where you laugh as much as possible because you know the semester will bring tears sooner than later.

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And even though I tried to go in as open-minded as possible, there are still some things that you can never prepare for. Like who would have thought that identifying the different types of flavoured vodka would be the first orientation challenge at my new school? As the day wore on and the drinks added up, I realized that not only do I hate the taste of licorice-flavoured vodka, but I was really enjoying myself. Also, my flip-cup skills are top-notch.

But there wasn’t enough alcohol in Denmark to prepare me for the Instagram Run. A photo scavenger hunt where you roam the streets of Copenhagen while completing challenges to earn points sounds like your typical orientation activity until you actually read what you have to do.

After some minor translation hiccups—“the earth is poison” is the Danish equivalent of “the floor is lava”—we set out to score as many points as possible in a three-hour period. Maybe Canadians are more conservative than I thought, but mooning a bus or skinny dipping in a canal in the middle of the city were tasks I would never undertake. Fortunately, some of my Danish group members took one for the team.

The night ended with us sitting in our school’s cafeteria decorated with streamers and brightly coloured tablecloths, and we let the wine and beer flow as we dined. We talked about our home countries and hobbies while prizes from the day’s festivities were awarded. I don’t know who won or what the prizes were because the whole ceremony was in Danish and no one offered to translate. I do, however, know that the Blue Jays won that day as I covertly checked in on the game.

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But none of that mattered. As crazy as the whole event was, it was great to see my future classmates cut loose and to try things I never usually would, like joining a boogie woogie or taking selfies with pigeons. That’s the thing about frosh or freshers or orientation week. Wherever you are, it’s going to be an experience that you’ll never forget (hopefully for the right reasons).

And if you didn’t get the frosh you wanted the first time around, try to go on exchange to get your second chance.