In the spirit of the first travel break this spring semester, we’re feeling the excitement and passion that DIS study tours bring. A handful of academic programs will embark on study tour next week (others will go later this spring), where they will travel to a new location in Europe to hear about the burning issues of their academic field and shake hands with professionals who will steer these conversations. Highlights of the week include: discovering a new city’s charm, bonding with classmates, meeting experts in the field, and broadening perspectives. With Europe as your classroom, we don’t think we’re the first to say that going on study tour will top your list of experiences while studying at DIS.
Within a typical Week-Long Study Tour, days are balanced with both academic and cultural visits, making way for independent exploration, great discussions with classmates and faculty, and a chance to get a taste of the local experience.
With just a few days left until take off, it’s an opportune time to pass on some wise advice compiled from those who know best. Find out how DIS Staff, Faculty, and past DIS students think you can get the absolute most out of the week and run away with way more than just a souvenir!
1. Invest in Your Classmates. You chose your core course for a particular reason, which presents a rare and unique opportunity: you share a similar passion with all of your classmates, who also have varied interests. Given this dynamic, discussions can be endless and multi-dimensional. Bounce ideas off each other, and enjoy diverse perspectives. Hear from Past DIS Student Blogger, Delaney Hobbs, who found that during her Week-Long Study Tour, her class had formed an “identity,” making her core course classmates an invaluable part of her semester and thus, the hardest friends to say goodbye too.
2. Pack A Great Pair of Shoes. The time you have in between visits can be spent in so many ways. Don’t limit yourself all because of a bad pair of shoes! With a sturdy sole and comfort around the ankles, your feet will thank you and exploration will be limitless.
For shoe advice, we knew right away who to consult. DIS Faculty Anders Larsen, who teaches the semester and summer course The Meaning of Style, gave some input to help you figure out what to slip on your feet.
“Many academic programs will visit places on your tour where you’re required to be a bit formal. After those events, I recommend you pack a pair of sneakers so you can change.
As for style and comfort, never compromise yourself or your style based on your footwear. I recommend you find a shoe that’s designed for style as well as comfort. Hummel shoes could be a great choice, as they are often sported around the streets of Copenhagen – so you can represent Danish style even when abroad!”
3. Do Your Homework and Raise Your Hand. While on study tour, you will hear from professionals in your field who were once in your shoes, as students with endless questions and a curiosity for the job market. So impress them and ask questions and create dialogue. One tip is to do your homework ahead of time. Research the businesses or experts that you are going to meet before you leave on tour. You will get so much more out of your visits if you do!
Past DIS Student Blogger, Karla Cook, referred to her visits in London during her Strategic Communication study tour as a “crash course in possible career paths,” as she soon found that this was the right circumstance to ask top names how they got to where they are today. Read more about this experience here.
4. Network. During study tour you’ll meet with organizations of all sizes and people in diverse positions. Whether you visit a school, a business, a research institution, a hospital, NGO, or a museum, consider it an opportunity to introduce yourself. It may end up being a place that you can apply to intern or work for, so your academic visit creates an easy and informal setting to further a conversation.
Melissa Herman, current Program Assistant and DIS alumna, often urges her students to network, but insists that it can be simple. She told us, “The academic visits we have at DIS are not just lectures, but an opportunity to meet people who could really play a role in your career later in life, either as a mentor or an employer. If you meet a professional in whom you are interested in for any reason, be sure to request their personal contact information (it might even be in your study tour booklet!) and take the initiative to send an email thanking them for their time. Who knows when that connection will come in handy in the future!”
5. Go local. Don’t be afraid to jump into culture and do as the locals do. An easy way to feel out a culture is by trying the local food! DIS provides two meals every day of the tour, so that third meal can be your own cultural and culinary adventure.
Do your research and find out what the locals eat. For some quick inspiration, we asked a few DIS staff what they love to eat when visiting our study tour locations in Europe:
- Kenzie Zimmer, Program Assistant: While in Amsterdam for the Prostitution and the Sex Trade study tour, I seek out pomme-frites with all the toppings you can get. They taste even better while walking by the canals and dodging cyclists.
- Stephanie Clemente, Program Coordinator: When in London with the Biomedicine program, chicken tikka masala is my go-to favorite. I find it right on Brook Lane, because it’s a fantastic and historical street filled with art.
- Kaitlin Vernon, Program Coordinator: Seasonal food from Riverford Organic Farm in Devon is always fresh and delicious, so that’s where you can find me during the Sustainability in Europe tour. Although the traditional sticky toffee pudding always remains the same, every other dish is changed daily based on local and seasonal produce.
- Sean Green, Academic Counselor: Espresso and cake in Vienna during the European Clinical Psychology tour is the first food that comes to mind. My favorite spot was once frequented by Trotsky, Freud, and Adler, which makes it feel even more special.
6. Engage with Faculty by Candlelight. Throughout the week there are countless moments to spend with your core course faculty. Whether it’s over a cup a coffee, a meal, or a metro ride to the day’s next scheduled place, DIS Faculty are ready to dive into, debate, and add to your thought-process as experts in their professional field. Invite discussion and engage them in conversation –why not!
Karina Lins, DIS Faculty and Staff in the Psychology program, couldn’t agree more. “What I love is that students want to pick my brain over dinner, and at the same time, I gain insight through their thoughtful comments. This is what I love about my job – I get to hear about the next generation’s issues, all the while in a relaxed atmosphere. We have that curiosity in each other, and that’s what makes our discussions really valuable.”
7. Take a Hint from the Architecture program. Europe is known for its historic buildings, breathtaking art collections, and cobblestone streets. The cultural excursions of your study tour promise to include all three! Go back to the basics and pick up a pen and paper to experience a place, using quotes and drawings to illustrate what you see. We’ll give full credit to architecture and design students for this one, who tell us that when you sketch something, you understand it better. Not so sure about this? Check out sketches from Past DIS Student Blogger William Carson who drew his study tour to Sweden and Finland.
8. Reflect Digitally. In today’s modern world, there are numerous ways to creatively share experiences. While on tour, don’t forget to take short videos and photos that will help you recap the experience later.. DIS Videographer David Gwynn recommends taking quick 10-15 second shots with a steady hand, making it easy to knit all your experiences together later and remember the week once again. Remember, it’s not about being fancy! Check out this great example from the DIS Diversity Blog, with this video made by DIS student Peter Shapiro, who traveled to Istanbul with his core course last spring. What better way to remember the Whirling Dervishes and the first sight of Asia on the Bosporus than to catch it on film?
9. Connect the Dots. You’ll be hearing about your core course topic in several different contexts. So what does all this knowledge amount to? Usually, a new frame of mind leads to more questions. By the end of the tour, ask yourself how the week relates to all you learned back in Copenhagen. Past DIS Student Blogger, Rachel Fishman re-evaluated her stance on prostitution and the sex trade after returning from study tour. Read her blog and find out how she wrapped up the week with new opinions and perspectives.
10. Soak it in! The week is yours for the taking. Enjoy the ride! It often holds students’ most treasured memories of the semester. It’s all arranged for you: be engaged and have a great time!