Most exchange students here in Odense, are actively participating in activities and events that are organized by the ESN Odense. ESN Odense organized endless of events for foreign students, and I can only imagine that students feel welcomed and the activities have undoubtedly enriched the exchange experiences.
It is less common for students with pervasive disability to participate in an exchange program. Of course I always spearhead uncommon practice. I challenge the very core of my disability when I decided to move from Singapore to Perth to live independently as an international student – the university did not know how to support me effectively. After slightly over a year and a half of getting used to Perth, I decided to take up another challenge and move to Denmark as an exchange student. As an exchange student, I lost all academic support (catered to students with disabilities), but here I am, undefeated.
It’s been a great experience. Although I don’t participate in any social activities that are organized by the student services or ESN, I made it a point to participate in field trips organized by the faculty of humanities for the units that I enroll in. They are usually smaller groups and the trips are normally more educational and informational than social.
This is my second field trip with the faculty; the first was to Copenhagen last year. It is a huge area to cover, and with 2 hours of walking from bunker to bunker, we only covered slightly more than half the area!
The bunkers are well maintained and some bunkers are installed with tv screens and simulators to simulate what it may feel like to experience a nuclear attack. I especially loved the bunker that exhibit the tools and gadgets during the peak of espionage – the highlight of cold war.
The Lone Wolf
I enjoyed the visit to the cold war museum. I have always loved educational tour. It was a small group of about 15 students or so. Oddly, I just instinctively became the lone wolf. I don’t make friends, so I don’t really know anyone even if we have shared classes in 2 semesters. To be fair, I appear aloof most of the time and my behaviors deter people from approaching me – it is possible that it is a defensive mechanism to help me preserve my energy to function as efficiently through the massive stimulants from the environment. I don’t feel so badly about it though, but my aloneness is markedly pronounced when I was sitting by myself in a long bench during lunch break. I had not felt sad about my aloneness in class since I was usually seated in the front row so I could easily not see most of the classmates. It was oddly poignant when I was sitting in a position that overlooked all other benches. It’s never an easy feeling to feel like an outcast, but as we grow older, we learn to outweigh the single unpleasant feeling with the accomplishments for a given time/event.
I am quite proud of myself for having made it this far. It is achievable, we just need to be okay with some “sacrifices” we have to make along the way. This is not anywhere near being unfair. Everyone have to give something to gain something, be it time, energy, friend, money, or what have you. The problem often arises when we are fixated at an imperfect gain – ideally, we want to benefit from everything, realistically, that never happens in life.
I love traveling, but traveling challenges my very fundamental deficits, but I am okay with it. I am thankful for the opportunity. I don’t plan to be unordinary, but my journey has certainly been anything but ordinary.