Name: Ryan Wakat
Home University: University of Colorado, Boulder
Attended DIS in: Summer 2013
While I was studying at DIS for the summer, I can think of only a few times where I was being challenged mentally, intellectually, and physically. The one thing I was always reminding myself of though, was that I was in a different country, surrounded by a different culture, and I was there to learn new things.
While I was in the studio for furniture design, I was always in this little argument in my head about the design of my chair, but I was also arguing with my professors. I was arguing with myself because I couldn’t pick an overall design for my chair. I would present my ideas to my instructors, and they would give their feedback, but they would also suggest changes that I didn’t necessarily agree with. After a few days of trying the designs they suggested, I stopped, threw the designs in a drawer, and left them there. From that point on, I stuck to my original design, and created what I think is a great chair. The hardest part was trying to honor the ideals and forms that represent Scandinavian furniture.
Mentally, there were times where I had to force myself to go out and do something. There are going to be times where you might be in your room or in studio doing nothing, and when you catch yourself doing that, stop. If you have a bike, go for a ride, go exploring, go do something. Even if you don’t have a bike, go explore a new part of the city that you haven’t been to yet. In Copenhagen, there is a ton to see. Some of the coolest places I visited in Copenhagen, I saw while going somewhere new. The one part I wish I had seen more of, was the western and southern parts of the city. But this goes for all your travels. I was fortunate enough to travel for an additional four weeks, and the best thing I did for myself was forcing myself to go out an explore the cities I was in, even though I was tired from travel.
Physically, the best advice I have is to stay healthy. Granted, there will be jet lag and if you’ve never experienced that it might be tough to get over, but after the first week, you’ll be over it. However, try to think about what you’ll missing out on if you do get sick. Make sure you are taking care of yourself first: eating healthy and getting enough sleep. When my class returned from our long study tour to Sweden and Finland, I was sick for about four days from the lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet, both self inflicted. Because we were just doing studio work, I didn’t miss out on much. Towards the end of the semester however, our class started hanging out after classes, and that was was some of the best time I spent in Copenhagen.
Overall, you will find your own challenges and your own way of getting around them while you are abroad. Just make sure that when you go home, that you can look back on your adventures and know that you lived up your time to the fullest!