Hi everyone! My name is Kat Amiet. I am a senior at Denison University in Ohio where I double major in International Studies and Cinema and have a minor in English Creative Writing. I will be spending the next month and a half in Copenhagen, Denmark before finishing my summer in Stockholm, Sweden. As a Summer Writer for the DIS blog for the next 10 weeks, this first post offers up a background on my approach to going abroad and how I ended up studying in Scandinavia!
I grew up on a small farm in Ohio and have stayed in state for my entire education until now. This summer marks my first time in Europe! One of the major factors for choosing to attend Denison University was their emphasis on studying abroad. Nearly 50% of the Denison student body studied abroad pre-Covid and there has been a big push to return to those numbers since an increasing number of abroad programs have opened back up. I have been eager to go beyond the United States for a majority of my life, even pursuing my International Studies degree to help bolster my knowledge on international affairs and how I could prepare for life outside of the country I grew up in.
I was inspired by my brother who studied abroad in England to pursue a long-term international experience and it has been my family that has boosted and motivated me through the process to find a program that would fit me. I’m very grateful for them and how they have supported me to go to Scandinavia!
I think like most students in my year and above, studying abroad has been a difficult process due to multiple global health crises and current events. It can be so daunting to try living in a foreign country with such heavy additional stressors. My initial study abroad program during the 2022 spring semester was canceled and I was left in the difficult situation of having to re-apply for study abroad and go through the research process again to find a good summer program. While other students who traveled in the spring had to move through a lot of hoops due to Covid, my best friend at college went to Copenhagen through DIS and it was amazing to hear about her experience in Denmark and how well DIS treated her and her peers during the semester. After doing additional research and combing through their session course list, I felt like DIS had a really wonderful selection of courses and really wonderful advisors who I communicated with throughout the spring semester to figure out how I could join their summer sessions. As a program, I think DIS has what I need to support me personally and academically. So far this summer, this has proven true!
I am taking three courses this summer: Food and Identity and Postcolonial Europe: Narratives, Nationalism, and Race in Copenhagen, and then Migration and the City while I am in Stockholm. All three of these courses will be the foundation for my International Studies senior capstone research project based on soft power and national identity in Denmark and Sweden.
In my personal career aspirations, I would like to work in international film and wanted to be sure that I could pursue personal research in cinema throughout my time studying abroad. A good amount of my motivation to come to Scandinavia has been because of the subregion’s very vibrant and rich film histories. I’m excited to start exploring Denmark and Sweden’s national film industries while in their capital cities and will certainly update later on in the summer about my research!
My Time So Far
I have been in Copenhagen for a week now but it has been absolutely incredible. As I have grown up in Ohio and continue to attend university there, I have not been outside of the state for longer than a week or two at a time. You would think this would make the transition to Copenhagen difficult but I have been surprised at how remarkably comfortable I have been in the city so far.
Most of my initial impressions of Copenhagen have been surface level. Online accounts of the city ring true: cyclists are extremely abundant, blond heads tower over the crowds, bakeries are on every street. I have not explored Denmark beyond these city lines but it can be said that the Copenhagen population has a very recognizable aesthetic that quite understandably has put them on the map as a capital for comfort.
Women here have originated and perfected the now viral “Clean Girl” aesthetic; dressed in easily reworked layers from their capsule wardrobes, opting for straight and open legged trousers, trading colors for dark or neutral palettes, and creating statement pieces out of long coats paired with cool sunglasses and gold earrings. Men opt for tailored jeans (denim is remarkable here!), layers of hoodies and winter vests, sneakers or expensive boots. Danes have a very progressive attitude towards their role in climate change and promoting sustainability, opting for minimalist closets and soft glam, picking outfits that promote a put-togetherness with staying power through the day and night. Business casual does seem to be a big norm here which is incredible to see after coming from Ohio (where I, admittedly, have gone to the grocery store in my pajamas).
Despite the seemingly intimidating exteriors of the very smartly dressed Copenhageners, it cannot be understated how friendly they are. That has been my greatest misconception about Denmark so far: don’t believe anyone who tells you that Danes are cold or not friendly because it is Absolutely Untrue. I have had an insurmountable amount of help from strangers on the street giving directions, restaurant workers accommodating me with English, professors and peers alike explaining norms or the city’s history to me. Coming from the Midwest, I am attuned to a similar amount of hospitality and had tried to prepare myself for something else when trying to figure out how to navigate through a foreign city. But so far I have felt very welcomed which has made the transition to life here incredibly easy.
As I walk my daily route to class or take the metro back home, I watch the city as it moves. New York’s reputation is that it never sleeps. Ohio’s might be that it always sleeps. But Copenhagen lies somewhere in the middle. The people are always walking somewhere but they linger in the streets on the way to their destinations. Elderly couples window shop while holding hands, school children play as they are led by their teachers onto buses, teenagers walk in groups after school through the city center to shop. Marching bands will even parade around the city and halt passerbys on their lunch breaks.
It’s been such an experience already to see how city-dwellers interact with one another but in Copenhagen, it’s pretty harmonious. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves (and looking luxurious as they mingle about the city) as the summer approaches and I am excited to see what the next few months have to offer.