While my study abroad experience was certainly enhanced by all the times I was lucky enough to trapeze through the rest of Europe, the real takeaways, personal revelations, and relationships were built in Copenhagen. The place I called home for four months will always be the place that set off the light bulb for my current career path, built me friendships and connections that will last a lifetime, and hold memories of experiences that is uniquely Danish and now uniquely my own.
One of my favorite things about the DIS program is that they truly emphasized hands-on, in-the-field learning. It seemed like I spent less than half of my classes actually sitting in a classroom. For my Urban Studies class we went through a couple week period where each class we visited a different development site in the city, exploring everything from new developments, gentrification, transportation, governments, and sustainability. I picked the DIS program largely for it’s Urban Studies program and I was not disappointed! For my Strategies in Urban Livability Class, we did both walking and biking tours through different neighborhoods in Copenhagen, analyzing public spaces. There’s nothing like learning about livability, smart cities, and transportation in one the most livable cities in the world. My History of Copenhagen’s Urban Structure Class did field trips to places like Rosenborg Castle and the Kastellet (Citadel). Not only was I able to learn the city quickly through these field trips, I was also able to understand why the city looks the way it does today and how that impacts how we move around in our daily lives. People don’t often realize it but how a city is designed has a very large impact on our lifestyles, our social interactions, and everyday activities.
One of my favorite things about Copenhagen are the multitudes of parks and public spaces. My favorite park had to be the Frederiksberg Gardens, looked upon by the stunning Frederiksberg Palace. Known for its romantic design, the garden holds the zoo, winding paths, and an oasis of nature.
Another unique Danish tradition are it’s birthday celebrations. I was fortunate enough to have a friend invite me over to her host family’s home as they celebrated her birthday in the traditional Danish manner. This included lots and lots of homemade food and cakes, breads and meats, and of course, Danish flags. The simplicity of it all captures the Danish spirit. Simple, yet filled with hours and hours of story sharing, laughter, and games. One of my favorite parts of my study abroad experience was having a wonderful Visiting Host Family, who welcomed me into their home for dinners and shared their weekend excursions with me. There is no better way to learn about another culture than by spending ample time with the people who created it. I will always cherish the delicious homemade dinners, board games and walks through the park that gave me such a unique perspective on Danish lifestyle and family that I will always have so far away from home.