It was the fall of 1987 when Jon and Diane embarked on their individual journeys to DIS Copenhagen. Coming from St. Lawrence University and American University respectively, Jon and Diane’s semester abroad would impact their lives in a grand way. For Diane, one highlight was the access she had to many different cultures throughout Europe. The biggest highlight though? That would be meeting Jon – her now husband of 31 years.
“I think it’s safe to say my study abroad experience had a direct influence on my future career and life path,” Jon reflects. “I met my wife on the program, went on to get a PhD in Cultural Anthropology and became a teacher in the social sciences, and had two kids, one of whom now lives in Copenhagen while the other is a fall 2022 DIS student in Denmark.”
Inevitably, DIS Copenhagen became a Schwartz family legacy; Jon and Diane’s two children each spent a semester at DIS Copenhagen. Most recently, Max in the fall of 2022 and Emma before him in the fall of 2016. Emma went on to work at DIS; “During my study abroad experience, I fell in love with Copenhagen and Danish culture and knew I wanted to return.”
Now, Emma works on the DIS Institutional Relations team in Copenhagen and has been with DIS since 2018. “I love working with DIS where I can contribute to creating the same opportunities that I had myself, for future students.”
Jon lived in a Homestay during his time as a student, but lost touch with them after a while. Years later, when Emma returned to DIS as an intern, she befriended two colleagues who had been in the same Homestay as one another – they always spoke about their bi-weekly family dinners. Eventually, this led to the discovery that these interns had the same host family as Jon!
After decades without communication, Jon was reunited with his host family — and was able to introduce them to his family as well. “There is something so full-circle to me about the connection with this family and the fact that I, now living in Copenhagen, and my brother [when] studying with DIS, join them for their bi-weekly dinners,” Emma reflects.
With DIS experiences ranging across decades, the Schwartz family has some good evergreen insight for future students. Jon recommends investing in a good backpack — “It’ll be carrying as many memories as clothes over the next forty years.” A reminder to spend some time with locals, rather than your fellow American students is what Diane advises, “Copenhagen is very welcoming — it’s up to you to embrace all that it has to offer.”
The more recent DIS alums also recommend embracing the study abroad experience. Emma recommends approaching it with as few pre-conceived notions as possible and avoid over-researching.
And Max? Well, Max sums it up rather aptly: “Embrace it. Really embrace the fact that you’re living 3, 4, 5,000 miles from home, taking a Danish metro to your Danish classroom with your Danish professor. How many other times in your life are you going to have this opportunity? Even during those moment when you just want to curse the world, or break down, you’re doing it in Denmark! Jokes aside, this is a unique experience, and you shouldn’t let it slip by.”
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