Why I Loved Studying Abroad in Copenhagen

Last semester, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark (København, Danmark). Here are some reasons why I loved studying abroad and as well as being a part of the Danish Institute of Study Abroad (DIS) Fall Semester Program.


1. My Host Family.

As a St. Lawrence student on the DIS-SLU partner study abroad program, I was required to live with a host family. When I was filling out the application, I was so nervous that I made my housing application as specific as possible (I wanted dogs, host siblings, and I made sure that I was close to the city). I remember the day during the summer of 2019 when I received the email from my host parents; the email was an introduction email about them, and it wasn’t just an email to me. I found out I was living with two other American students, who study in two completely different states than I do. Little did I know, I would become great friends with them and feel at home with my host parents, and their family. I am very lucky to have had such a positive host family experience.


2. Class Structure and Professors.

At DIS, we are enrolled in 5 courses, one of which is required but otherwise would be considered overloading. One major part of the DIS program that stood out to me is being placed in a Core Course: the course with whom I went on a three day trip to Western Denmark, and a seven day trip to London. Another factor about the DIS program that stood out to me: teaching is basically a side hustle for the professors. My core course professor has her own psychology practice, my photojournalism professor had the opportunity to meet and photograph Greta Thunberg for a report, my Designing Communication Campaigns professors are both published authors who have worked on numerous advertising campaigns for major companies around the world, my Danish Language and Culture professor does research on Danish History and Danish isn’t actually her first language, and my Gender Studies professor does research on how gender affects the Danish culture, compared to the United States. It’s safe to say their resumes are quite impressive, and I learned so much from them as they brought us to their favorite places around the city of Copenhagen (Field Studies, we call them, are held on Wednesdays where you go on a field trip with one of your professors for class). For more details about my trip to western Denmark and my week-long trip to London with my core course, be sure to check out my study abroad blog: https://allisonattarianstudyabroad.home.blog/.


3. Classmates Turned New Friends.

Considering the amount of time we spend in the classroom and the organized field trips, it is safe to say that I have met people whom I became close with and with whom I still keep in touch to this day (including the two girls from my host family). Living in a host family forced me out of my introverted shell and reach out to new people; and, I am so glad I did. Technology gives us no excuse not to keep in touch; and, my core course recently hosted a Zoom Happy Hour to catch up.


4. Modes of Transportation.

Transportation in the city of Copenhagen is nothing like it is in the city of Boston or New York, nonetheless Los Angeles. There are trains, metros, busses, taxis (though taxi prices are incredibly high, and there are no Uber drivers for legal reasons), and SO MANY BICYCLES. My jaw dropped the first day I went into the city with my host family and host sisters. There are lanes in Copenhagen designated for cyclists, and there are even parking lots and garages that are designated for bicycles (see my blog posts for photos). To get to the city, I would bike from my homestay to the closest train station (12 minutes without the heavy wind; 20 with wind and it was quite the workout). The train ride to Copenhagen Central Station was about 15 minutes. In all, it was not a bad commute.


5. Weekend Trips.

DIS allows you to create your own schedule, take classes that you want, and create your own routine. For me, I purposefully organized my schedule so I had no Friday classes. Without Friday classes, I had the privilege to travel on the weekends. I didn’t travel every weekend, but I was able to savor the memories from the weekends that I did go on a trip. From all of the traveling I did, I was able to learn how to, not only live out of a suitcase but adapt to new cultures and environments, and transportation systems in a completely different language (Google Translate was a good friend of mine; not the most accurate friend, but a good friend). Culture shock is certainly a big aspect of studying abroad, and it’s all about how you react and willing you are to embrace a new culture and environment that will define your abroad experience.


Disclaimer: Her Campus St. Law U is neither affiliated nor sponsored by any brands or companies mentioned in this article.