It seems hard to believe my Summer Session 2 course has come to a close. Sustainability in Northern Europe allowed me to reflect on much more than I could’ve imagined. My class only had six people, including myself, so throughout our time together we all grew very close. At first, I was skeptical about such a small class, but I loved our time and our girl gang we formed. It didn’t even feel like we were in a class, it just felt like we were best friends traveling together.
During our Study Tour, we got really close because we were all each other had! Our Study Tour was discovering Ribe, the oldest city in Denmark. On our first day, we learned about Energinet and its sustainable business practices. Then we visited the Esbjerg Harbor, where they construct, store, and ship out parts for wind turbines. Throughout our week, my class reflected on the sustainability pros and cons of the harbor. Many of the places we visited throughout the rest of the week were affected by the harbor in one way or another, so we debated about the possible expansion of the harbor and what effects that would have on the people in Ribe and nearby cities.
On our second day, we visited the Wadden Sea to learn about biodiversity. Being able to visit the Wadden Sea really helped our class see how climate change affects our wildlife and other forms of life. After that, we got to tour a vineyard and have lunch! On our next day we got a tour of Ribe from a local, and got to hear about the different ways Ribe expanded and how they are living sustainably.
I think one of the highlights of our study tour, however, was being able to see the Midsommar celebration in action. Midsommar is a Danish holiday celebrating the start of the summer solstice. Originally, the holiday celebrated St. John the Baptist. To celebrate, they actually burn a witch (a straw witch) and the whole country has bonfires at sunset. The burning of the witch symbolizes the burning of all things evil. It was also the last day a witch was burned in Denmark in 1641. After we saw the crazy tradition, we found a breathtaking view of the sunset on top of a hill, and as a class just enjoyed the grassy area we found, chilled for a while, and took in the view. It was absolutely perfect and very hygge.
At home at Elon University, I study strategic communications and media analytics. Before coming to Denmark, I did not know that much about sustainability and how imminent there needs to be changes and regulations put in place to make sure we have a future world to live in. I have loved seeing different perspectives on sustainability, and the different ways we can be sustainable in a modern world.
What I loved most about Sustainable Development in Northern Europe is how applicable this will be for my future. There are so many ways in which our environment is impacted and I think it was so important for me to learn about them all. This class really makes me want to take what I’ve learned from my classes back in the U.S. to my future career. Our assignments for our class included a daily, page long journal where we could take time to reflect on what we learned from the day, we could draw, or we could basically do anything we wanted to have a creative outlet. The goal of the journal was to use it in 5, 10, 15 years and have it still be relevant and useful, so we really had the creative outlet to do anything we wanted. It was amazing to know that my teacher designed the class in a way for us to use in the future, and not just make us do busy work to take up time in the day.
Now it’s time for my next class in Summer Session 3 – Bicycle Urbanism!! In this class, I can take my knowledge from my other courses when I learn even more about sustainability in Denmark and the importance of infrastructure. I will definitely keep you all updated throughout my biking journey!!