Jeffrey, Vanderbilt University, studied with DIS Copenhagen in the fall of 2019. While abroad, he lived in a Homestay, took advantage of the unique academics at DIS, and explored Copenhagen culture and values.
Discover Jeffrey’s fall in Copenhagen, through his perspective. Read Jeffrey’s reflections on his commute, his faculty members, and how he came to thrive abroad.
The Advice Jeffrey Took with Him
My study abroad advisor told me this before I left for Copenhagen:
Imagine your comfort zone as a giant circle. When you are inside the circle, you don’t feel challenged and grow very little. When you are far outside the circle, you feel overwhelmed and also grow very little. But when you walk along the circle of your comfort zone, that’s where you’ll thrive.
DIS Day-to-Day: Jeffrey’s Commute
All my days start with a morning commute on the train into Copenhagen for class. Living in a Homestay, I find my morning commute a great time to read the news, watch some Netflix, or catch up on some homework.
On Mondays and Thursdays, I have class 8:30-11:25 and another class at 14:50, but on Tuesdays and Fridays, I finish class at 13:00, giving me the rest of the day to explore Copenhagen.
When I was picking my classes, I really made sure that I was taking classes that my home university did not offer because I wanted to take advantage of all the one-of-a-kind classes at DIS. I am courses like Neuroimaging of the Disordered Brain, Neuroscience of Fear, and Healthcare Strategies for At-Risk Populations.
It has been especially rewarding getting to talk to my faculty members about their personal experiences in the subjects they teach. My Health Delivery and Prioritization faculty member is a nurse, so getting to hear her experience working with different populations in Denmark has really helped me put everything into perspective.
My days are filled with academics and exploring Copenhagen. On Mondays and Thursdays, a couple of friends from my Homestay network and I meet for lunch and explore Copenhagen. Eventually, after the DIS day wraps up, I head back to my Homestay, and make sure I am back in time to relax a little, help make dinner, and hang out with my host family.
How a Pastry a Week Keeps You in the Present: Living in a Homestay
Living in a Homestay has been the most rewarding part of my abroad experience. I knew that I wanted cultural immersion in my abroad experience and thought that living with a host family would be the perfect way to get that exposure – and I was right.
It has been so interesting learning more about the idiosyncrasies about Danish culture but also, to my surprise, American culture. I had never really thought about how strange American customs could be to non-Americans. Experiencing the Danish emphasis on appreciating the present has been so refreshing, and I hope to bring this back to the US with me. For example, Danes usually don’t buy a croissant every day. Instead, they’ll maybe buy a Wednesday snail (or cinnamon roll) once a week and appreciate it for what it is: a treat.
Jeffrey’s Advice to the Future DIS Student
Keep yourself open to new experiences, people, and ideas. While you are abroad, you are going to have so many incredible experiences and memories to take home with you, but you are also probably going to face challenges, homesickness, and even cultural tensions. Both these highs and lows are completely normal! It’s more so a matter of how you approach being abroad and what you learn from your experiences. You don’t need to be unnecessarily pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to do it once in a while.