Hi! My name is Emmie Arnold. I’m originally from New Jersey, but two years ago, I took a leap of faith and moved to Tennessee for college. I now am a rising junior at Vanderbilt University studying child psychology, music, and public health. I absolutely love my school to the point that I was considering NOT studying abroad at all, even though traveling is one of my passions, in order to make sure I wouldn’t miss out on campus happenings. Of course, as I’m sure you’re guessing, this was soon to change. I got offered a stipend by my school “to go do something meaningful in the world” in summer 2013. As soon as my sister, an alumna of the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, knew I had the option of going anywhere and doing anything, she told me I had to go study abroad in Copenhagen! (Yay, studying abroad in the summer instead of an academic semester and getting the best of both worlds!) My sister knows me better than just about anyone, so, in another leap of faith, I did some research about Denmark, Copenhagen, and DIS, agreed with her, applied, got accepted, and bought a few plane tickets across the Atlantic Ocean.
I’m thankful she told me to look into DIS for many reasons.
- It’s known for being academically challenging, but also very hands-on. Yes, it’s a significant amount of work (just like back home – it’s not a vacation instead of school just because you’re in Europe and you easily can travel anywhere in your spare time), but you’re going to go out and DO something with the knowledge you acquire in class. Theory + practice = DIS.
- Professors here are often people who work in the field and teach on the side because they love what they do and want to share their knowledge. (And they do so in English – yay for people like me who know zero words in Danish when they arrive!)
- There are really cool class offerings every semester. I’m taking a class on children with special needs (get to learn how the Scandinavian education system works and go out into the schools!), then one on prostitution & the sex trade (only in Europe!). There are classes for pre-med students, education majors, aspiring architects and designers, future world-changers and policy-makers, business leaders, and many others.
- Denmark is the happiest nation in the world.
- Copenhagen is one of the most historically rich cities in the world. Everything here is old and has a story to tell. I’m not a history buff by nature, but when you’re in Copenhagen, you can’t help but love it.
- One of the living options is to stay with a host family. I picked this and let me tell you, it is incredible. I’m 100% sure I will write more about it in future posts. I’m staying with a mom and her 10-year-old daughter who has been learning English for just under a year. It is so fun to teach a little English to her in exchange for a bit of Danish, experience Danish “hygge” (“cozy” family time), and eat some amazing Danish food!
- There are so many similarities and differences between American and Danish culture. I feel like I didn’t experience terrible culture shock (except for, you know, the hours I’ve spent being lost my first few days), and at the same time, there is so much to learn from and appreciate about Danish culture. For example, I love that there’s a royal family – visiting castles and seeing crown jewels is so fascinating and different from the homes and items that presidents have in the United States. I love that Denmark is also democratic and their government is so unique and ubiquitous. It’s hard not to feel a little jealous that Danes get to go to university for free and that education is open to everyone at any point in their life.
- It’s absolutely beautiful here. I know this is going to sound a bit cheesy, but there have been more occasions than I can count on one hand where I have been at a loss for words due to the sheer brilliance of the sights, culture, and history here. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get a perfect picture in Copenhagen.
- For some classes, you go on a week-long study tour led by your professor to get a firsthand perspective of what it is that you’re studying. For my prostitution class, we’re going to (surprise, surprise!) the Red Light District in Amsterdam. I have a feeling that the trip will be the definition of eye-opening!
- My classmates are truly remarkable people from great universities all over the US and Canada. While their majors may be all over the board, they all have something in common: a desire for something good. They are people who want to see the world, learn about it, understand it, and change it for the better. I feel so blessed to be in class discussions and also out traveling with them.
Tusind tak (“a thousand thanks”) for reading! I hope you enjoyed a quick peek into what brought me to Copenhagen in the first place and my first few days here. Hej hej (“bye bye,” even though it funnily enough sounds like “hi hi”) for now!