Studying Abroad with Cerebral Palsy

“My biggest challenge while studying abroad would have to be balancing my expectations for study abroad with my self-care needs,” Carden, Augsburg University, shared.

So what does self-care look like while abroad? And how can you as a student be there for yourself, be in tuned with what you need, while also feeling grounded and present in such a new environment?

As someone who lives with Cerebral Palsy, Carden is no stranger to pausing and taking stock of what his body and mind need.

“Living with Cerebral Palsy requires that I use my energy wisely, and not ‘bite off more than I can chew’ activity-wise, so to speak,” Carden said.

Carden’s Summer Courses at DIS

Carden studied with DIS Copenhagen this summer during Sessions 1 & 2. He studies psychology and sexuality at Augsburg University, located in Minneapolis, and while abroad, he took the Psychology of Human Sexuality and Sex Education and Sexual Reform in Europe courses.

“I have a lot of passion for psychology, specifically in mental health, as well as for the LGBTQ+ communities,” Carden said. “One of my favorite memories from our Study Tour was when we met Olympia Bukkakis, a well-known Drag Queen in Berlin. For most of the visit we all had a discussion about drag performance, concepts in creating your own persona, and the identity politics behind it.”

Carden even hopes to go to graduate school somewhere in Europe to become a sex therapist for members of the transgender community.

Self Care Abroad: Advice

Traveling abroad with Cerebral Palsy has its difficulties and Carden recognizes this, but a form of self-care while abroad is acknowledging your own limits and valuing your experience alongside them.

“Copenhagen’s older, almost nostalgic atmosphere has to be my favorite thing about the city. While the architecture and cobblestones have been a bit of a challenge for me physically, I absolutely love the charm of downtown Copenhagen. It’s much more intimate than where I live in the U.S.”

For some students it’s mental health or financial concerns, but confronting those more personal aspects of your life is a part of studying abroad.

“To future DIS study abroad students, I would advise that they take all the opportunities they can to go explore the city,” Carden said. “Even if you do have a heavy class load, take care of yourself, and remember to have fun!”

Carden’s Summer Abroad:

Session 1 course: Psychology of Human Sexuality
Session 2 course: Sex Education and Sexual Reform in Europe with Study Tour to Berlin

Carden was the recipient of the FEA Scholarship and Gilman Scholarship. Read more about study abroad scholarships at DIS here.

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