A little look into my dreams
To me, the appeal of civil engineering lies not only in the ability to dream up a different future, but to start building that new world today. Infrastructure does not exist in a vacuum; through the lens of behavioral economics, what civil engineers design has the capacity to change the behavior of individuals. Cities are able to substantially cut back emissions based on what transportation systems their inhabitants use to get to work or what energy source powers their homes. Communities can establish a precedent for safer, more democratic centers dependent on city planning codes and ensuring a diverse clientele is being designed for. A lot of this purpose has been lost in translation throughout the generations in the United States; our roads, buildings, and standards are outdated and in need of reinvention.
Hi! My name is Maya and although I am studying to be a civil engineer, I’ve learned more about how I want to impact the world from landscape architects, urban planners, economists, psychologists, climate researchers… even musicians and poets.
Cities and the rich cultures they cultivate have always captivated me; I remember visiting Boston for the first time and falling in love with the harbor, lush urban parks like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the contrast between old and new buildings. Later in college, I would realize that fascination could drive a career, and that the world has so much to offer outside US borders. I want to apply the principles I learn throughout my education and experiences to design meaningful places for others. I want to advocate for sustainable, ecologically conscious, and aesthetically impactful neighborhoods. I want the world you live in to help you become the person you want to be.
Copenhagen: what’s it like?
Pictured above is a note a mentor of mine prophetically wrote for me back in October 2021, which includes his recommendation to research a program called DIS as well as a reference to the Danish planner Jan Gehl. I stuck it in my journal later that day as a reminder. This summer, in 2023, I find myself lucky enough to be studying Urban Design abroad in Copenhagen with DIS!
Scandinavia is often viewed as the model of many ideals, especially regarding how its cities function. Efficient public transportation, regularly biking to work, and practicing the Danish concept of hygge, which is described as the pursuit of warmth and happiness in the simple things that life offers, are popularly discussed in books and media around the world. A lecturer described to me that Danish people take great pride and ownership in their public spaces, a truth that is well represented in the respect shared between strangers on sidewalks and the popularity of laying out wherever the June sun’s beaming rays shine. Copenhagen is a city rich with history, teeming with style and taste, and exploding with activity, particularly in the summer months. Flea markets, nightlife, waterfront restaurants, canal walks, thrift stores on every street corner, and museums that will keep you thoughtful for hours on end are only a handful of what’s to do on free days.
What you can’t truly sit with until you get here, however, is how quiet it can be. I mean this both literally—I think the relative absence of cars reduces noise pollution on the streets—and figuratively. The further you settle into routine, the more mundane life gets, and the more it starts to feel like home. There are a hundred parks, metro routes, and cafes in this city to get so lost in, you come out feeling like a local. For all anyone else here knows, you already are one.
I’m so thrilled to share the rest of my experience in Copenhagen with you!