Amazing classes, trips, and country August 29, 2019

By (University of Vermont) - abroad from 01/12/2019 to 05/12/2019 with

DIS Copenhagen: Semester

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a great amount of independence and maturity and the ability to feel really comfortable being in places you've never been before and don't know the language of. I gained a lot of global perspective both in the fields of my classes and in politics, current events, and the environment. It was super worthwhile, even just as a kind of break from the stress of junior year and the bubble of being in America.

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.

Some classes were more vigorous than others, but it was mostly just a lot of projects/papers due around the same time that would give the most stress. The courses themselves were great, connected well to the 'real world' and would give insight into what happens when you work in the field. Incorporated field trips for each class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The only issue I really had was a weird mistake in a schedule where some field studies weren't updated so it said two happened at the same time. It was worked out easily though and nothing else was ever a concern for me.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a homestay in Hellerup (a suburb north of Copenhagen). I was about 15 minutes away by train and a 5 minute walk to the train station, so transportation was extremely easy and useful since we were given an unlimited use of zones 1 and 2 (didn't have to buy many tickets to get elsewhere). My host family was super nice and helpful. They spoke really good english (the kids were 12 and 15 so their english was good) but would often be speaking in Danish, so you have to be comfortable with that. I had a room and bathroom to myself too.

* Food:

Since I lived in a homestay, I got meals included, which was really helpful in terms of saving money on food. That being said, any food I did buy was really good but very expensive. A big downside was that the International food sections at the super markets were limited to a very small collection of Mexican and Asian cuisine. When traveling with DIS, they do provide some, if not, most meals. It varied between core courses, but Polar Biology provided AMAZING food for almost every meal except like two lunches and they gave us money for those (but in Norway, things are even more expensive than Denmark so). They will let you know if you need to bring money.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Not very integrated? Walking around, I could blend in and people would speak Danish at me, so at a point you can seem like a local, but you have to really reach out to make friends in Denmark. Danes are unlikely to reach out, so join a club, sport, or some kind of activity to help. Being in a homestay definitely helped get to know a family and their extended family or friends.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Copenhagen is super safe, but you should always be cautious. I only felt a slightly worried in the really early morning, but only out of habit. I never really encountered any creepy guys either while I did in other countries and other people I asked about it said the same.

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

I loved that this semester didn't feel just like being at another university like the one I go to now. I liked how the classes were set up and the emphasis on small classrooms, field studies, and insight into career applications. Most of the classes I took aren't at my university and all of the classes were taught by people who still work in the field that they teach. The trips they took us on were unique and provided us experiences that would have been difficult to do on our own. I am also really happy that I had the Polar Biology core course because the trips with Peter Gravlund were top tier in terms fo the places we ate and his knowledge and humor.

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)

I was able to because I lived in a homestay and only paid for snacks, meals out, and during independent travel. Denmark is really expensive so I tried my best to be selective on what I bought and looked for cheaper or free options (they are there!)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? A week in Denmark was probably under $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? -Buy groceries when traveling rather than going out or split a bunch of street food with friends to get a taste of everything! -Use Atlras Obscura for cool things in a city that you don't find on most tourist sites -Stay at hostels and take buses and trains --often cheaper and way better for the environment. And it's not the most comfortable, but an overnight bus means one less night at lodging -Rent a bike! -Do all the research

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

It was not required but encouraged to take the Danish course. Other than the course, there was no chance to practice or use it since all the classes are in English and most Danes speak English

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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? I had taken Duolingo, which helped but was off in terms of pronunciation and realistic vocab and grammar so the course was helpful and I did learn a lot more!
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? I wish I had been braver when talking to store clerks and had tried practicing with my host family more. Maybe bring it up in the beginning that you want help with the language and plan a way to do that? Also, try practicing with friends who are learning it too since you're at the same level

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Unique classes with great teachers
  • Travel component
  • City/Country
* What could be improved?
  • Immersion with locals
  • Language component
  • Can't think of another thing off the top of my head
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Maybe that I didn't have to stress about the classes so much. I was intimidated because a lot of people here come from really good schools an are really smart, but I think I overestimated how hard the teachers were going to be. Some classes and assessments were hard and the work load at the end of the semester was a lot, but with time management at its max, it worked out in the end. (Definitely plan your last two weeks to get your papers done as soon as possible so you can enjoy your last week without being bogged down by work)

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:

Garden Art in European Culture

Course Department:
Instructor: Toby Musgrave
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I was a bit disappointed by this course. Toby was a bit bland as a teacher although he was brilliant on the topic. He would use videos during his lectures, but both the slides and videos were boring. We also spent a lot of the end on one unit where he presented a bit on the material and then had us each do presentations in more detail . Those were very rough to get through (it took 4 whole 80 minute classes to get through them...), but I think he's still tailoring the class. He was also pretty vague on what he wanted on the exam (like what constitutes a 'garden feature') and what he accepted for the final paper. I also just noticed that a lot of the people in the class didn't care a whole lot?
Credit Transfer Issues: I got a general art history credit for it
Course Name/Rating:

Immunology

Course Department:
Instructor: Jeanette Erbo Wern
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was my most challenging. It was much more like what I have at my home university, but in a much smaller classroom size. It was all quick-paced powerpoints with some student presentations to recap the previous class at the beginning. We also did a group project at the end, but most of the grade was the exams (short answer and some true/false and matching). Jeanette knows a lot about immunology and our field studies brought us to places of industrial and medical research of immunology. She had some trouble with putting slides up before hand, but was really nice when working with us to fix it. Her accent can be a bit strong at times so understanding which immunological terms she's saying is a bit hard.
Credit Transfer Issues: Transfered to the UVM immunology class!
Course Name/Rating:

Danish Language and Culture I

Course Department:
Instructor: Kirsten Kolstrup
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I did Duolingo before going, and while it wasn't that accurate, it was a good background so I didn't find it very challenging. Half of the time was on the language and half was on cultural aspects. We did two cultural assignments, one as a group and one individually. There was also a written and oral (partner dialogue) exam. Kirsten is an amazing teacher and does linguistic research about national identity and studying abroad so that was incorporated into the class and was cool. This class was very discussion based and allowed for questions about weird things we had encountered.
Credit Transfer Issues: Nope, just a general language credit!
Course Name/Rating:

Polar Biology

Course Department: Core Course
Instructor: Astrid Schmidt and Peter Gravlund
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Class was great! A lot of interesting topics covered and really relevant to what is going on with global climate change and being so close to the Arctic and being able to actually go TO the Arctic. Tromsø for study tour and to Ribe and Fanø for core course week was absolutely amazing and really one of the best options I think. They bring you to AMAZING restaurants and you get to see so many inspiring and unique things! Field studies in the class are also great. We were graded on a poster/paper at the end, 2 exams, some homework, and the assignment from Tromsø. The teachers were also so amazing.
Credit Transfer Issues: At UVM, I only got a 3 credit general bio course credit from it, which was disappointing.
Course Name/Rating:

Biology of Marine Mammals

Course Department:
Instructor: Peter Gravlund Nielsen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Genuinely one of, if not, the best class I've ever taken. Peter is extremely knowledgeable on the topic and the research and professions in it, making him a great person to go on field trips with. The material was great and he incorporated a lot of group work and discussions, but in a good way that did help better understand the material/reading. We had an open note test and some papers. I highly recommend taking the lab as well, it did not meet that much but took us to some great field trips and just had a few reports. With both classes we went to the zoo, aquarium, (would have gone to) a whale watch, seal dissection, and a great research center on Fyn.
Credit Transfer Issues: Nope! I got 3 or 4 2XX Wildlife Fisheries Biology credits from this course