In Spring 2014, Carmyn Polk (she/her) came to DIS Copenhagen to study Neuropharmacology. Though she knew her semester abroad would be transformative, it ended up impacting her life in more ways than she expected.
“I currently live in New York, work in healthcare consulting, and recently welcomed a baby girl with my husband – who I met while at DIS. We owe our union to DIS!”
Carmyn and her now husband, Oluwaseun Ososami, met while studying at DIS and participating in the Diverse Identities Club. Carmyn and Oluwaseun both decided Copenhagen was the best fit for them as they never knew when, or if, they’d get to visit.
“It was between London and Copenhagen. I told myself that I can always find myself in London at any point in time, but when would I visit a Nordic country again? Explore the unknown – hence Copenhagen,” Oluwaseun remarked.
While the academic transition to DIS and Copenhagen came easily, they didn’t necessarily anticipate the impact of moving into a new culture with far fewer people of color, and the discomfort that would bring them.
“Standing out is inevitable when you are a person of color in Denmark,” Carmyn said. “We were part of the [Diverse Identities Social Club] that met weekly to discuss hard topics like race and class. This club gave us a community of support and relatability. In addition, the club helped us see Denmark through a diverse lens, by touring different areas of the city that tourists might not often visit that had a racially diverse group of residents.”
Carmyn and Oluwaseun were able to return to Copenhagen in June of 2022 and reunite not only with the buildings on Vestergade, but also with Heather Krog, Diversity Facilitator at DIS from 2011 to 2018 and head of the Diverse Identities Social Club in 2014. Together, they were able to reminisce on their time together and how important the club was for them.
“It was such a pleasure to reconnect with Camryn and Oluwaseun and to meet their lovely child,” Heather recalled. “When it comes to the [Diverse Identities Social Club], the purpose it served was to create an open and safe space for people to talk about their cultural and identity journey while studying abroad. The students drawn to this space were poised to reflect on what brought them to study abroad and it is wonderful that life-long friendships and connections initiated there continue to flourish well into their lives post-DIS.” Heather’s own DIS experience in the fall of 2002 allowed her to help students in a similar situation to her own during her time as a facilitator of Diverse Identities Social Club.
Since Camryn and Oluwaseun’s time at DIS, students of color have continued to come together and find support in different ways. The Diverse Identities Club transformed into a series of meetups for students of color hosted by the Housing team, and these meetups have since grown into a Students of Color affinity group, currently led by Community Adviser Erika del Cid. “The current group’s goal is to create a community for students and to decrease the feeling of loneliness that students often experience,” Erika said. “It also seeks to give some context about Danish culture and local immigrant communities.”
DIS knows studying abroad not only provides new experiences and opportunities for students but is also a challenging time as students branch out of their comfort zones. “DIS helped me to mature quickly,” Carmyn reflected. “I frequently think back to my time at DIS and think about how informative and transformative the experience was.” The Students of Color affinity group is just one way DIS students can combat loneliness while studying abroad.
For future students considering studying abroad, Oluwaseun recommended, “Go to places that are unfamiliar to you and surround yourself with locals.” Carmyn agreed, “Do it! Take the leap and delve into the community. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore the world we all live in. The more you learn about others, the more you will learn about yourself.”
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