When Can I Go Back!? Past Review

By (Public Health Education and Promotion., American University) - abroad from 08/21/2011 to 12/16/2011 with

DIS Copenhagen: Semester

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much confidence when I went abroad. I traveled for the most part on my own and decided to make it a semester of me. I did what I wanted, went where I wanted to go and explored whenever I felt like it. I returned to the US knowing myself better and with a greater understanding of what I wanted to do with my education and in life. Don't be afraid to make new friends and disconnect from your home university for a few months - trust me they will be there when you return and you will make better friends while abroad!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The program will not be the easy abroad experience you may have heard of from other students, but it will not be the hardest semester of your college years. It challenges you, and if you work hard you will get more than you thought possible out of it. They focus on group work and participation more than the grades you receive.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I had an interesting semester including my laptop getting stolen and a rough roommate situation, and nobody helped me out and supported me more than the staff at DIS. When my laptop was taken they had a loaner for me within 48 hours and let me use it until I left in December. They were always willing to meet with me and answer my questions, file my insurance claim forms (in Danish!) and help me out however they could. I believe the strength of the staff and faculty and the level of organization and experience DIS has is why it is such a good program. They have seen it all!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a DIS Community, which means I lived with other students from DIS in dorm-style housing. We shared a kitchen, which turned out to be the hardest part of the whole experience as there were 40 of us and it was rather cramped. But it was completely manageable and I loved learning to buy my own food and cook all my meals, as when I returned to school in the spring I had no meal plan and lived in an apartment off campus. I loved being independent, but with the close connection to DIS and having other students around me doing the same things I was. I lived close enough to ride a bike to school every day, and I loved that.

* Food:

Danish supermarkets are... interesting. Once you learned the rules of the road, so to speak, the chaos of the experience isn't as stressful. You will be shopping mostly at stores like Netto or Fakta, as these are the cheapest and food, like most things in Denmark, is very expensive. I loved going down the bargain bin aisle in Netto to see what random items I could find for cheap. You don't have to be an adventurous eater in Denmark, but you can easily expand your horizons if you wish!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I wish I had joined one of the buddy networks DIS has for students. Instead I chose the visiting family program and I loved it, but I wish I had interacted with more Danes my age. The programs DIS offers are wonderful - take advantage of them! Danes are introverts and very private, but once you get to know them are some of the most genuine people I've met. They will go out of their way for those they care about (and total strangers!) but you have to make that first step in saying hello, like I said they are private.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Take full advantage of the Danish healthcare system, it's so much better than ours in the US! Once you get your yellow CPR card (your key to free healthcare!) you can make doctors appointments, get treated at hospitals, etc. It might take longer than normal to get an x ray or MRI than in the US, as that is how the system works, but honestly it's a great system. If you are in a health-related program you will learn all about it! Denmark is very safe and you shouldn't worry about drinking the water or eating street food - it's like being in the US.

* Safety:

I got my laptop stolen and I'm still giving this five stars. That's how safe I felt while studying there! The only theft I ever heard of was petty theft - stolen wallets, laptops, bicycles (most common), etc. Be smart about where you put things, what you show in public and where you go. You are in the city, and it's like being in any city in the US, you can't be stupid. But it is one of the safest cities in the world and I never felt unsafe.

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)

If I had one warning for someone thinking of going abroad to Copenhagen, it would be that you must have savings prepared and come with the mindset that you will spend more than you want for the basics. You have to embrace the country's high taxes and understand that that is normal in Denmark. You do get a food stipend from DIS and mine lasted almost all semester, running out in early December. You have to watch what you spend, but can live well without spending too much. Coffee is expensive - I stopped drinking it while I was there. Traditional Danish dishes like meatballs and rye bread are less expensive than American favorites like peanut butter and white bread. 7-Eleven will be your best friend as it is close to DIS and has cheap baked goods!

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100-150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I brought about $4000 with me, spent about $1800 traveling through Europe and $2200 throughout the semester. Buy a bike, it will be an amazing investment. Bring clothes and don't plan on buying them there. Bring notebooks, etc. with you as it will add up if you have to buy it all there!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

You can take Danish if you want, I wish I had. Almost all Danes speak English fluently, and all can at least hold a conversation (besides kids - they learn English in school and may be too shy to speak with you). If you plan on interacting with Danes it is polite to know some common sayings and you will pick up terms as you live there. All professors speak English and none of mine were terribly difficult to understand.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Take Danish if you can fit it in, and try to order at restaurants or shops in Danish to test it out. Most likely they will recognize you are American and speak English with you - they want to practice as much as you do!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The DIS staff and program design is exceptional. They know what works and do it well.
  • Denmark is such a unique country. Technically part of the EU but with their own currency, Denmark is largely unknown to Americans yet has so much history! You will learn so much.
  • You have travel and study breaks built into your semester in very convenient places, so it's easy to see the sights and do well in the classroom. I went to nine countries and eleven cities and still managed to succeed in all of my classes.
* What could be improved?
  • The particular housing I was in could have been better, but as I understand it was not owned by DIS so there is little they could do.
  • I wish I could still log onto the DIS Blackboard page, I loved my classes and wish I could still access our readings and course materials.
  • The buildings are hot. I know this can't really be improved as they are extremely old buildings in the heart of Copenhagen, but this is my warning to future students - it can get very toasty in the classrooms!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Homesickness will come, and then you will get over it and enjoy everything. All the students are going through what you are in terms of figuring it all out and making friends. Don't worry so much and just embrace the experience.