An overall positive experience September 05, 2018

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/12/2018 to 05/12/2018 with

DIS Copenhagen: Semester

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that not everything will be perfect from the get-go and everyone's abroad experiences will be different. I learned to be patient, willing and openminded, because it will get better. I definitely think my time abroad with DIS Copenhagen was worthwhile. I took classes my home university does not offer, which is what most attracted me to this program in the first place. I learned so much from all of my classes, traveling alone and in groups and navigating around a whole new city.

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.

The workload was definitely not as heavy as my workload at Brandeis University, but it was more than I expected for a study abroad program. I think it ultimately depends on how serious you are about grades and excelling in classes. I thought the workload was fair, but the hard part was balancing academic studies, traveling and exploring Copenhagen.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I started in a homestay and after a month and a half moved out and into a residential community (dorm). I was so excited to live in a homestay, but I was not happy there. It's impossible to predict whether you will like your host family or not. I know a lot of people who adored their homestay families. On the other hand, residential communities are definitely inhabited by people who like to socialize and party. I personally did not like how crazy and rowdy my floor was, but that's up to your interests and preferences.

* Food:

Eating out and food in general is very expensive in Copenhagen. I had been warned about Copenhagen's expensive food, but once I got to Copenhagen, I was pretty shocked. I did not eat out much for that reason (and for living in a homestay and RC), but also because I am a vegetarian. There's a lot of pork in Copenhagen and other meats, so I did not get the complete Danish culinary experience. However, I fell in love with Copenhagen's pastries and cafes. I had the best pastries in Copenhagen.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I found it quite challenging to meet Danes. This came up in a couple of my classes as well. I think DIS could've done a better job with helping us meet locals, but it's mostly on the students to make that effort.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe in Copenhagen. I could roam the streets at 5a.m. by myself and feel secure. I never had things stolen from me. I heard of other incidents of students getting some belongings stolen, but it's just about being fully aware of your surroundings all of the time. One thing to keep in mind is that Denmark is not known for being the most racially tolerant. The Danish population is very homogenous, so it's easy to feel out of place and experiencing some sort of discrimination is possible.

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

DIS Copenhagen has over 1,000 students each semester, so the program definitely knows what they are doing. They give you a lot of information and structure everything well. From the interesting classes, to the awesome teachers, to the study tours, to the city in general, everything was great!

Finances

* 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 you live in an RC, you get a grocery shopping card with a certain amount of money on it for the whole semester. It's up to students to budget and keep track. I used up my card at the very end and had to start paying for groceries myself, but for the most part, I lived off of the money on that card. Other than occasional overpriced coffees and pastries, going out and sight seeing, it was fine.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? There is no need to eat out a lot if you have one of those grocery cards, so don't because eating out is very expensive. Try to make instant coffee or tea at your dorm because cafes are also really overpriced (but tempting). Don't spend your entire semester drinking and partying every night of the week, it's a waste and super expensive.

Language

* 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

I took Danish Language and Culture because it was mandatory for me, but I was not really encouraged to speak Danish outside of the classroom.

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
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? AP Spanish Literature
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? I downloaded Duolingo right before leaving for abroad. It sort of helped, but not that much. I also printed out a chart of common phrases/sayings in Danish and kept that in my backpack, just in case.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The classes and teachers
  • The city
  • The study tours
* What could be improved?
  • Housing
  • Meeting locals
  • Communal events
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that not every study abroad experience is going to be the same, that not every study abroad experience is going to be perfect. I went in with such high standards and was disappointed in some aspects, but ultimately realized all of this and tried to enjoy it as much as possible. I wish I hadn't worried so much at the beginning, because everything eventually works out and there will always be someone who shares the same feelings as you. Talk to people if you're struggling!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Meaning of Style

Course Department: Communication, Design, Fashion Studies
Instructor: Anders Larsen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Course readings were quite dense at times, with lots of scholarly articles. However, several of these readings were some of the most interesting that I read during my semester abroad. Anders is a genius and explains everything thoroughly during his lectures. He also encourages everyone to participate, but not in an intimidating or rude way. I enjoyed all of the different topics and especially enjoyed the guest lecturers. Anders put together an amazing line up of professionals working in various areas of the fashion industry. This class will really make you think. I would highly recommend this course!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Travel Writing

Course Department: Communication, Creative Writing, Literature
Instructor: Tommy Heisz
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Some of my best memories from abroad were made in this class. Meeting new people in a foreign country is scary, but Tommy pushed us to reach out because it will pay off in the end. I met some incredible individuals and made some great connections. I genuinely enjoyed getting to know my subjects and telling their stories to my classmates. I like how the course is divided into three sections, plus the constructive criticism I received from both Tommy and my peers was helpful. I would recommend this class!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Innovation through Design Thinking

Course Department: Architecture, Communication, Design, Entrepreneurship
Instructor: Mikael Fuhr
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I had no clue what design thinking was prior to taking the class, so I was very nervous for it. However, Mikael has definitely mastered giving lively, captivating and technologically advanced presentations/lectures. He really takes the time to break down the class structure and class goals, so that everyone knows what to expect. He has high standards, but as long as you show interest and do your work, you will do well. The field trips were super cool as well. The big semester-long group project was also a fascinating process. I feel like I walked away from that course with a good understanding of design thinking. I would definitely recommend this course to you creatives, designers, hard thinkers, problem solvers, etc.!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Strategic Communication

Course Department: Communication, Business, Public Relation
Instructor: Nya Jensen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I was very hesitant about choosing Strategic Communication as my core course, as I do not study communications at my home university. However, I think anyone who is interested in the subject, regardless or major/minor, can succeed and will enjoy. The field trips to different agencies enabled us to compare and contrast and discuss. Nya is very relaxed, easygoing and kind. The study tours were also super fun and enlightening. The work load is not too heavy at all in this class and there were a few group assignments/projects that were manageable. I would recommend this class!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Danish Language and Culture

Course Department: Danish
Instructor: Tina Nielsen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I was probably most nervous for Danish, but I quickly realized that there was nothing to worry about. Tina was an amazing teacher. She was patient, funny and encouraging. I did not expect this beginners Danish course to be so comprehensive. At times, I felt this course was very fast-paced, but it was ultimately fine. Tina and the other Danish instructors understand that this is a completely new language for us, so they are not super strict about pronunciation, etc. As long as you attend classes and don't slack off, you will be great! This course was mandatory for me, but I would still recommend it. I found the culture part of this course to be most beneficial for me. It was so interesting learning about a culture that completely differs from our own.
Credit Transfer Issues: