Fall 2020 students have just returned from their week-long Study Tours across Denmark, and two Study Tour Co-Leaders share their favorite experiences and perspectives from the impactful journeys the students took.
Pippa Carey, Program Coordinator, shares her top experiences during the Healthcare Systems: A Comparative Approach course visits to Aarhus and Odense:
Our first cultural visit was at Geopark Odsherred (a recognized UNESCO Geopark) followed by lunch at a local new Nordic restaurant called Det Vilde Køkken, or The Wild Kitchen. Our nature guide was Jørgen Stoltz, who is also the owner of the restaurant. It was so amazing to see the nature that exists just outside the city of Copenhagen. Learning to identify and being able to taste plants in the fields and on the sea shore and then tasting a delicious meal with the same ingredients really brought the field-to-kitchen idea to life. We also visited a vineyard and winery, bringing the idea of living locally full circle. We learned a lot about how the hills and shores had been formed after the various ice ages.
Our first academic visit was to a local GP office. General Practice physicians act as gate keepers in the Danish healthcare system. This means that to be referred to most specialists, a citizen had to go to the GP first. We learned from the doctor about his daily work life, how he gets his patients, and of course, how he’s paid considering that GPs act a bit like independent contractors within the universal welfare healthcare system model. We also talked about how COVID-19 has been affecting his practice. We were required to wear masks for our visit, and the whole practice has had to adapt to the new normal, putting even more emphasis on video and telephone consultations.
Our second academic was also quite special. It was at the Sundhedsaftale Sekretariat (Health Agreements Secretariat). This is where different stakeholders in the government, from regional and municipal levels come together to create common goals and allocate relevant tasks to streamline patient pathways through the health system. This visit was very hands on and got the students activated by breaking out into work groups connected to the Sekretariat’s three current priorities: elderly care (post stroke care), community psychiatric care (focus on general adolescent mental health and adults with severe mental illness), and prevention (smoking cessation).
Natalie Soudani, Program Coordinator, shares her top experiences during the Positive Psychology course visits to Aalborg, Skanderborg, and Aarhus:
On the first day of our Study Tour, our group participated in a drama workshop, exploring the role of well-being and expression of the self through artistic creativity. Not only was the workshop a great bonding experience for the entire group, but it also allowed us to step out of our comfort zones and interact with each other on a new level. We started as individuals, but ended up as a stronger community.
One of the topics of the tour was how art can help change our perceptions on body image. The group participated in a croquis workshop facilitated by a local artist who works with and around the body. During this visit, we were asked to draw a nude male model, while reflecting on how sketching people potentially can impact our sense of body image in the world, develop a positive connection to the body and promote a positive body image.
On a rainy and very windy Tuesday, we drove all the way to Skagen. The focus of this academic activity was to explore our connection and relation to nature and its impact on wellbeing. We were asked to perform a silent meditative walk without the distractions of phones and interaction with others. Walking alone, amongst others, feeling the power of the natural forces, the strong winds, and the spiky raindrops on our cheeks was an extraordinary experience that left us reflecting on how small we are in the world.