Rebecca looks out onto the coast with the Danish resistance fountain and an old cathedral in the background.
Overseas Study Program
Rebecca’s majors: Human Development and Family Studies (Minors: Psychology and Outdoor Recreation)
Term abroad: Spring 2011
Reason you chose this program: The “core” class opportunities: Child Diversity and Development with a focus in Special Needs
Favorite classes: Danish Language and Culture
Describe the housing situation: I chose to live in a Kollegium, which can be described best as a dorm. This was advertised as a great way to meet Danes but unfortunately, because of the location of my Kollegium, there were few Danes. I was disappointed but there were many international students and I ended up making the best out of the situation.
Advice to future study abroad participants: Arrive at your host country with no expectations; come with a clean slate and an open mind!
Experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock: When I came home I was continuously surprised to hear English spoken around me. I was taking public transportation one day and found myself surprised I understand the conversation going on next to me. I was feeling especially friendly that day and said, “oh wow, where in the US are you guys from?” They looked at me like I was a little crazy. It took me a few moments to realize why, and then I had to explain myself.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over, I would… have chosen a different housing option and explored the city alone, allowing myself to get lost.
What you know now that you didn’t know before going abroad: I now know all about a culture that I was entirely unfamiliar with before. I know the ins and outs of international train stations, how to pronounce “Rødgrød med fløde”, and I now know I am capable of going across the world and making a life for myself completely independently.
What I wish I knew before I left: As we all know, time flies when you are having fun. I felt time going by very quickly and I got used to thinking that the semester was going to be over soon, even though it was only half way! Although I did take advantage of the immersion opportunities, I wish someone had told me to allow myself to get fully settled in, to not think about the time I have left there but to only focus on the present and live in the moment.
Greatest Challenge: I was surprised to find that the lack of sunlight during the winter affected me as much as it did. It was a challenge to fight against falling under the shadow of seasonal depression. As I immersed myself into the culture further though, I learned the ways in which Danes cope with the dark winters and I was able to combat the darkness by finding the cozy aspects or the “hygge” aspects of the winters that the Danes do.
Going abroad versus staying on campus, discuss: Even if you go abroad for a whole year, you still get three years to be campus! I think it is necessary to take advantage of time away to gain a new perspective—of the world, and of Bloomington. While I was abroad I gained a new culture’s perspective on how to live and view the world. Now that I am back, I have a fresh perspective on my life here in Bloomington that can only be gained from time away.
Fact about your host country that you think people would be surprised to learn: Denmark was rated the second happiest country in the world.