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Study Abroad Profile: DIS Copenhagen

Name: Madden McDonagh

Hometown: Queens, New York

Major: Public Relations and Strategic Communications with a Marketing Minor

Graduation Date: May 2018


Her Campus American University: What made you want to study abroad?

Madden McDonagh: I haven’t had a huge opportunity to travel. The only place I’ve been outside of the U.S. was when I went to Ireland with my family. So, I knew study abroad could be a pretty great opportunity to see other places. I knew it would be an important part of my degree to have international experience in there, even if it’s not strict internship experience or class experience. Just being able to say that I’m the type of person who is willing to travel and see new places is a great thing. And study abroad is very exciting and who can stay in the same place for four years.

HCAU: What was the process of choosing a program like, in general? When did you learn about Copenhagen, and why you choose this program?

MD: When you are looking for study abroad stuff, you are immediately going to start with your personal preferences and places that you just think sound cool, which is a great place to start because you want to be interested in the place that you are going. My friend visited me over the summer and she was also going through the same thing of trying to decide where she wanted to go, and she said “Do you know anything about the Copenhagen program, because I just talked to someone who is in it and it seems amazing! You get to travel with your class.” And that was what really struck a chord with me.

HCAU: What was the academic life there? What was the purpose of the study trips you took?

MD: You apply to the DSI program and a core course. There were 3 or 4 communications based ones. I specifically did the cross-cultural communications track. Mondays are for meeting people but then Wednesdays were closed off for study days so each week one of your 4-5 classes will have a field studies (field trip within Copenhagen). So with that, I went to the National Danish Broadcasting Company. We went to a fishing village where in world war two the Danish people helped the small Jewish occupation escape over to Sweden. I went to an art studio where political cartoonists work. I went to a comedy festival because I took a course on comedy and communication. We also did an escape room for my gaming theory class. So, really just some cool stuff at least once a week you are getting out of the small area to other areas in Copenhagen and across Denmark. If you are going through SOC you had to take Danish as a language, which I would recommend anyway.

HCAU: How did you strike a balance between schoolwork and having fun?

MD: I think because DIS Copenhagen is specifically a study abroad program, there is no one there who is there for four years. It’s all semester based or year based study abroad program. They are very cognizant of the fact that people are going to try to go away on weekends and won’t be dedicating all of their time to schoolwork. So, it’s kind of set up in a way where projects are set up well and the workload is not that intense. Because things were more experiential, I don’t think my academics suffered because of that. I didn’t want to go to a place where you just throw away classes and don’t have to show up. Academics was a mass of my experience but at the same time it wasn’t overwhelming which was a good balance.

HCAU: What was dealing with the language barrier like?

MD: Everyone in Copenhagen speaks Danish to each other but they also all learn English from a really young age, and all speak it fluently. Part of our language class was partnering with a local high school and they told us “You never heard, Denmark is called ‘little America’” And we were like no one has actually told us this. I did not meet a single person I had trouble speaking to, and people were actually very open and thought it was awesome that you were making an attempt to speak their language, which was really fun.

HCAU: In what ways did you feel like you grew from this experience?

MD: I think any study abroad program will give you a huge experience in independence. It was one thing to go to college and live on your own without parents for the first time, but then doing that experience in a country where you aren’t sharing the language, you’ve never used their currency before, and you don’t know how to navigate their healthcare system. It’s a whole different mountain to climb. So that’s probably the biggest benefit from any study abroad program, which would be the experience and independence you get and realizing your way of life, your way of doing things, your ways of thinking is not the same all around the world. And just seeing different life experiences and how people live differently than you is very rewarding.

HCAU: Why do you think someone should choose this program?

MD: Traveling with your course and having that as a part of your tuition expenses is a huge deal because it made me feel that I had a lot less of out of pocket expenses than other programs would give you. Denmark specifically is the coolest country you have never heard of, and of course people have heard of it but no one ever really thinks seriously about living there. Honestly, I knew nothing about it before I got there, and that made it such a thrilling experience because I came in with no expectations at all. I just plainly didn’t know what to expect and I was blown away by everything. It’s beautiful. The people are lovely. It’s a fun country. It’s gorgeous. There is something intangibly and indescribably pleasant about Demark and heartwarming and welcoming as a country. And that is why you should do DIS.



Photo Credit: All photos belong to Madden McDonagh

Just a Midwest Girl living it up in D.C. 
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