I’ve had the pleasure of attending two sessions at DIS this Summer: Session 1, where I was enrolled in Strategies for Urban Livability, and Session 4: Architecture and Design, where I am currently a part of the Architecture Studio. I’ve had a wonderful time in both courses, and can’t wait to bring what I’ve learned with me back to the States for my future studies and professional career!
I’m in a somewhat unique position in that, as I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I’ve had the privilege of attending DIS for two different semesters (Fall 2019, and now, Summer 2021). I’ve noticed a number of similarities and differences between what life is like as a student during the two different semesters, which I hope to dive into here. Afterwards, I’m going to provide a little review/synopsis of my two Summer courses. Here we go!
How does a term-time semester compare to a Summer session?
Similarities: The approach professors take to classes is very similar between term-time and summer – classes are highly experiential and tend to be collaborative, as this reflects how jobs in the real world tend to function! It is worth noting, however, that the extent of in-class collaboration can differ to a lesser or greater degree depending on what field you pursue. Summer Courses meet in the same buildings as during term-time, unless you are pursuing a mentorship or are participating in DIS’s Summer Research program. DIS provides you with your course-books and readings, and classes are graded the same.
Differences: Put simply, the Summer session is a little more lax than a full term-time semester. Summer session courses will still meet just as frequently as term-time courses and your coursework will still be the same level of rigor; however, during DIS’s Summer sessions you are only enrolled in one course at a time (as opposed to ~4 during a traditional semester at DIS). This gives you much more time to live life and explore Copenhagen with your friends and classmates – something that is incredibly enjoyable during the fantastic Danish Summer weather!
Session 1: Strategies for Urban Livability
After living in Copenhagen and upon returning to the U.S., I developed a passion for urban planning. I took this course for two reasons: because I wanted to learn more about how the Danes make their built environment so livable, and because I thought it would help supplement my fairly conceptual background that predominately focused on buildings instead of the spaces between them.
The three-week class focused heavily on readings and collaboration for several in-class projects, culminating in a group proposal for an intervention for a public space of our choice somewhere around Copenhagen. The readings for this course were riveting, and that’s not something I usually say about urban or architectural theory. All of the readings we were assigned genuinely made me think about cities and our built environment in a completely new way – from feminist urban theory, to approaching the design of cities from a socio-psychological perspective as opposed to an architectural one. These readings filled what was a glaringly large gap in my eduction in architecture and design. The readings were chosen by our fantastic professor, who is in practice at a super cool Urban Design firm in Copenhagen.
Each class translated the lessons we learned from our readings into the real world, as we went on walking or bicycling tours around the city nearly every day! As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve studied at DIS before, but even though I had been around Copenhagen, I found myself exploring new corners of the city I never even knew existed. It was fantastic.
I thoroughly enjoyed this class, and would have come to DIS for just 1 Summer Session in order to be a part of it!
Session 4: Architecture Studio
The last time I studied abroad at DIS, Architecture Foundations was my Core Course. I was thrilled, then, to have the opportunity to continue along the track and take the full Architecture Studio this Summer!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Architecture Design Studio thus far (at time of writing, currently ramping up for our final project presentations!). Just like in the Foundations Studio, I have a great and incredibly talented professor. One addition to the Summer Architecture/Design program is the partner course, Visual Journal. During a term-time semester, this course is a recommended partner course, but is not mandatory. I feel very fortunate to be able to take the course alongside Studio, as the practice and insight we get from our professors when sketching is invaluable for our practice and work as aspiring architects and designers.
We do quite a number of site visits for both the Visual Journal and for Studio, which provides a nice respite here and there between Studio Work. During a term-time semester, students will complete two different projects, whereas during the Summer semester, students only complete one project. This creates the opportunity for you to really delve into your project, and create a very strong design and addition to your portfolio!
What’s probably been my favorite part of the Architecture Studio this Summer is our shared classroom with the Architecture Foundations Urban Planning Studios. It’s hard to put into words, but you can almost feel the ideas and creative energy floating around the space – particularly after coming back from remote learning, it’s an amazing feeling.
While there are differences between term-time semesters and the Summer sessions, you will still be getting the same impactful DIS experience no matter which semester or session you attend. At the end of the day, it all really comes down to what you’re looking for and what fits with your academic schedule. I think the fact that I’ve come back to DIS for a second time says all it needs to about my experience at the program – I wouldn’t want it any other way!