When I applied to Harvard, I knew I wanted to study both Biology and Women’s Studies: two areas not typically paired. Mostly, these areas are viewed in opposition to each other. This is why one of my major goals at Harvard and beyond is to bridge the gaps between Natural Science and Gender Studies. At Harvard, I study and research bonobo chimpanzees, a female-dominant species, and hope to write a thesis concerning the biological evolution of patriarchy. When searching for study abroad programs, I found that DIS was the only program that allowed me to combine both of these disciplines abroad as well. I grew up in a very small rural town in Kansas and never really got the opportunity to travel abroad, which is the reason why I’m so excited for the experiences this summer will bring.
I chose Copenhagen both for the practical aspects of living in a country that accommodates English speakers and for the unique culture it brings to the table. I have always wondered what it would be like to commute via bike in Copenhagen, and now I get to live it! DIS offers a wide range of courses I wouldn’t be able to take at Harvard and integrates experiential learning through Field Studies and Study Tours throughout Europe, which is something I really value. Because of this, DIS Copenhagen offers classes relevant to my studies at home but with some Scandinavian flair: Psychology of Human Sexuality, Prostitution and the Sex Trade, and Arctic Ecology.
I always knew I wanted to study abroad in college. Growing up in a rural town in Kansas, I often wished I could travel abroad but neither opportunity nor the funding was ever available to me. In my hometown, I felt like I was deprived of key cultural and academic experiences that I wanted to accomplish, which is why I applied to Harvard for college. My first two years at Harvard have offered me so many experiences that I never would have been given if I stayed in Kansas and have allowed me to discover where my true interests lie. One thing I have learned about Harvard is that the “Harvard Bubble” is quite prevalent. Academically, I hope to gain a new outlook on the fields of gender studies and biology. I think studying gender studies from a Scandinavian perspective will promote a broadened view that I can apply to my future research. Also, I am curious when it comes to taking courses from non-Harvard faculty in general, especially in a foreign country. I look forward to being fully immersed in my courses as I take them from areas of the world actually relevant to the course material. Personally, I hope to meet students from all areas of the world and make connections with people I would not typically have the opportunity to get to know. Professionally, I think making connections, gaining field experience, and enduring my first foreign cultural experience will bring new skills to the table as I pursue my further education and career.
Three Lessons From My First Week in Copenhagen
1. The crosswalk lights won’t stay green for long
After finding and settling in my dorm, I realized that in order to take a shower, I needed soap. At this point, my phone was still only operating on wifi and it was around 4 AM Boston time. I was disoriented, to say the least. I looked up where the nearest store was – Netto, a 4-minute walk – and attempted to internalize the route. After some quick memorization, I went on my merry way to grab some shampoo. The crosswalk seemed easy enough to navigate: the little man was green so I started to cross. Big. Mistake. Unlike in the U.S, the crosswalk signals in Denmark rarely have a timer that tells you when they’re going to switch back to red. So there I was, stuck in the middle of an intersection as the crosswalk light turned red. I looked to my left and a giant truck was zooming right toward me, honking. Long story short, I didn’t die. But I did learn a valuable lesson that day.
2. If the locals are running, you should run too
I made my first trek from the Kollegium where I’m staying to the more central part of Copenhagen on my second day here. Some of the people in my building decided to walk to the DIS-sponsored canal tour together. As we were crossing a footbridge, I started hearing a siren. Living in Boston, I hear alarms and sirens all the time, so I didn’t really think that the repetitive blaring pertained to me. I was wrong. All of the sudden, all of the local commuters walking behind me were now pushing me out of the way as they sprinted by. I was still confused about the whole scenario, but I figured they were all probably running for good reason, so I ran too. Turns out, the bridge opens. Like actually opens and comes apart into 3 pieces. So, if you’re on it when it’s opening, you might end up taking an unwelcomed swim in the harbor.
3. Always remember to pack your raincoat
I cannot stress this enough. If the forecast says it will rain, it will rain. If the forecast says it won’t rain, it will rain. If there is a 40% chance of rain, there is a 100% chance it will downpour for at least 2 minutes. Bring. Your. Raincoat.