DIS - A Comfortable and Cozy Introduction to Denmark Past Review

By (Political Science and Architectural Studies, Middlebury College) for

DIS Copenhagen: Semester

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Living and learning abroad is tough. I think I am most glad I got to broaden my academic interests through my time in Copenhagen but I don't think Denmark and I fit together well. There are too many things I like about America for me to think about staying for longer in Scandinavia. I also did not find the culture attractive or interesting enough to warrant future exposure.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Workload was light with the exception of my studio course in Urban Design. Teachers were more apt to let students go at their own pace and did not set as many deadlines as my American professors. I rarely received any grades, which was also odd compared to my normal experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

DIS is oriented to providing a study abroad experience that is as close to the traditional American college experience as possible while still maintaining an element of cultural exposure and accommodating for limitations dictated by the host country (Denmark). For some this is either a tremendous benefit or weakness depending on one's personal convictions. I did not expect the program to be so structured, but was pleasantly surprised that so many resources were available with respect to IT support, library resources, and facilities. The program was also large enough to provide many potential friends and acquaintances.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The program arranged my housing and it was ideal. The family was amazing, generous, and very courteous. The house and room were comfortable and relatively close to the city compared to other host families. I would have liked to commute less, in fact that was the biggest disadvantage to living in a host family, however I was very lucky compared to other students.

* Food:

Danish food is interesting for about one month, then it becomes heavy and monotonous. My host family was great at showing me new foods and local delicacies which was much appreciative. Don't go to Denmark for the cuisine. Eating out is too expensive to be a daily or even weekly occurrence.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

DIS put together some fun events like trivia nights, mid-term parties, and of course the field study tours, which were great opportunities to socialize with like-minded students.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Copenhagen is one of the safest places you could study. Healthcare is free. Need I say more?

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Joining the DIS buddy networks, living with a host family, and seeking out club sports would have been immensely helpful in language acquisition. Even then, Danes are hesitant to speak Danish to Americans given the difficulty of pronunciation and their proficiency at English. This makes it exceptionally easy to navigate the city but may prove an obstacle to those wishing to master Danish. But then again, as most Danes will tell you, mastering Danish is about as useful and speaking fluent Latin.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Extensive Comfort
  • Provided Structure and Activity
* What could be improved?
  • Better professors
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think you benefit most from this program as an Architecture and Design student or as a student interested in partying while in safe surroundings.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Urban Design Foundations Studio

Course Department: Architecture & Design
Instructor: Rasmus Frisk
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Great, knowledgeable, enigmatic professor. Most difficult course at DIS for me, at least time-wise. Well-structured and the professor is very clear on expectations. I would have enjoyed more discussion/lecture on the projects especially with regards to themes, concepts, etc. The projects definitely give you the opportunity to learn a lot, most of this learning MUST be self-started and self-sustained however, as you are given limited skills at first.
Credit Transfer Issues: n/a
Course Name/Rating:

Israel: The Challenge of Contested Territory

Course Department: n/a
Instructor: Thorsten Wagner
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Wagner is amazing as an expert on the topic. Well-structured syllabus if not rushed because it is only a one-credit course after all. I would have loved taking this as a full-semester course. The trip is the emphasis of the entire course and it is wonderful. Well-paced and thoughtfully planned, we went places I would never have been able to go to on my own. I loved our tour guide in Israel and really appreciated the freedom of the final paper. Student-presentations on readings in class wasted too much time, however.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues, it simply did not transfer because of its length.
Course Name/Rating:

Intelligence, Spies, and al-Qaeda

Course Department: European Politics
Instructor: Søren Hove and Nis L. Mathiesen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: No challenging but very interesting at the beginning when the history, motives, and current status of Al-Qaeda was being discussed. the second half pertaining to intelligence was an absolute waste of time. Soren Hove was by far the better instructor, much more enigmatic and clearly passionate about material. I found myself answering all questions because other students were completely non-engaged.
Credit Transfer Issues: n/a
Course Name/Rating:

Danish Language and Culture Level I

Course Department: Language
Instructor: Ditte Marie Egebjerg
Instruction Language: English/Danish
Comments: Mostly boring and dull despite the professor's lively energy and creative use of class time. This is, unfortunately, colored by my disinterest in the study of language and greater interest in history, sociology, and politics - topics I missed in the "culture" component of this class. I did appreciate some of the efforts made to introduce cultural comparison and readings but these were superficial and felt like they were at the high-school level.
Credit Transfer Issues: n/a
Course Name/Rating:

European Urban Design Theories

Course Department: Architecture & Design
Instructor: Henning Thomsen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Big disappointment. Professor was interesting but way too abstract and unfocused for my tastes. His syllabus sounded great but fell short of his ambitions. While we did have great in-class discussions and the workload was pleasantly light, I just didn't get a great grasp for the essence of urban design theory or any touchstone case studies. I have heard better things about the other section of this course.
Credit Transfer Issues: N/a