Bike to class and make friends with progressive people in a historic city December 20, 2016

By (Indiana University - Bloomington) - abroad from 08/20/2016 to 12/12/2016 with

DIS Copenhagen: Semester

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained indendence, found a more specific academic field of interest, and discovered that my values are very much aligned with Danish ones. I also learned so much about Scandinavia and some Danish language. It was the most worthwhile four months of my life.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I actually had to do work! I know it sounds crazy for a study abroad program, but it did feel good to be accomplishing something. It all depends on the classes you take, but similiar to my home university I had several essays (beware of group essays!) and projects throughout the semester and as my finals. Other classes had regular exams and final exams as well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

DIS took care of everything! Residence permit, transportation pass, food stipend all arranged by DIS. Other academic-based things were communicated via email like when are where to pick up books, updates about exams etc. Also the semester facebook page was a great place hear about events around the city.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a kollegium (a danish residence hall), which was brand new and the first kollegium owned by DIS. There were 11 Danes and 31 Americans in the house, which was located right by the harbor in the historic nighborhood of Christianshavn. It was a 10 minute bike ride to DIS. My living situation was hands down the best part of my study abroad experience. The location, the interaction with Danes, the facility, and the balance between independent living and socialization created the perfect environment for me. The only thing about requesting to live in a kollegium is that there are several extremely large ones with a lot less personality. Also many kollegiums are further away from the city center than mine was...However, it is so easy to get places in the city, so if you want the chance to make Danish connections and live close to the city than a kollegium is your best option. DIS residence halls are VERY close to DIS, but also keep you in a bubble of Americans.

* Food:

Because I lived in a kollegium, DIS gave me a food stipend card to buy groceries (all students get this if they don't live in a homestay). In my kollegium I had a shared kitchen (some kollegiums have private kitchens, some have shared - I would recommend shared because it's a great way to make friends!), so I just made food myself. Aside from the day to day, Copenhagen has a great food scene with New Nordic Cuisine restaurants (Noma and it's descendants) as well as cheaper food halls like Paper Island and the Glass Market.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I tried to integrate myself as much as possible by living with Danes, biking, and taking Danish class. It felt so amazing to bike somewhere and then order a cup of coffee in Danish, and then go home and tell my Danish friends about it! Another thing that DIS offers is the Visting Host Program, that makes you with a host family that you can meet up with as little or as much as possible to do activities with. This was great for me because it gave me a little retreat from the hustle of being with university students so I could just have a relaxing Danish family experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

As a Danish resident all DIS students get a CPR card which gives you access to the Danish health care system. The card assigns you an english speaking doctor. I tried to make an appointment but the doctor listed on my card was away so I had to ask a Danish friend to translate the message and then call another doctor on my behalf. I as able to see the second doctor the same day I called (you have to call in the morning) because I thought I had an ear infection. It was simple and I just used my card and didn't have to pay for the visit at all.

* Safety:

I've never felt safer in a city. Especially because of biking, I felt safe biking home alone at night. Usual smart tips still apply, like walking in groups at night, and avoiding drunken people by major transportation hubs like Nørreport or Central Station. The biggest crime in Copenhagen is bike theft, which still usually only happens if you don't park your bike in a rack.

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

DIS created the perfect conditions for me thrive. Things that normally might have made me nervous (trying to find housing, figuring out transportation, visa paperwork), were all handled by DIS. With all that stuff aside, I had a safe and livable city at my fingertips. There was no language barrier (everyone speaks English), and any Danish I learned was just fun!


* 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)

Copenhagen is very expensive. However, I was able to use the food stipend the whole semester and I'm not a big spender so I was fine.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Always ask if there is a student discount at cafes and check online before you go to museums because they are usually open for free one day a week.


* 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

My Danish acquisition was due to my own work. I religiously did the language app DuoLingo before my semester, and watched Danish shows on Netflix. I enrolled in the intensive Danish class, which met four times a week, instead of the normal class that meet twice a week, and chose to live in a kollegium (where I could listen to Danish conversations all the time). DIS did not really encourage language acquisition other than offereing the classes themselves.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I'd never taken Danish before.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? DuoLingo, Netflix show "Rita", go to Student House (a local student union type bar and cafe) language cafe where you can practice Danish at a beginners table

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* 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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Built-in study tours with core course
  • Living in a kollegium with Danes
  • Diversity of courses
* What could be improved?
  • More DIS organized social activities with Danes
  • Better language learning activities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I felt DIS provided enough information before hand for me to feel comfortable. Random tip: apparently you can attend some University of Copenhagen classes for free, just show up and listen to lecture. I never got around to it, but that would've been a good way to test the waters of Danish higher education.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Sustainable by Design

Course Department: Architecture
Instructor: Leslie Lorimer
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This is an architecture class and not a sustainability class. I thought it would be more balanced, but unfortunately most of the lectures and assignments were based on technical architectural concepts. The workload was managable but still pretty heavy. The instructor didn't know how to explain the difficult concepts, which was a shame because most of the students had a background in sustainability and not architecture.
Credit Transfer Issues: This course will transfer back as a course in the art department, focused on architectural design for the planet.