Time Abroad: Fall 2007
Major: European Studies
One of the greatest parts of being in Europe is how close everything seems. Discount airfare is easy to track down, and every town has a train station. The train quickly became my favorite method of travel. Watching the countryside go by from the window of a train winding its way through the cities and tiny towns, green countryside and jagged mountains is not just a way of getting there; it's an experience in itself. And, DIS takes students on two study tours: the first regionally, the second one during the first week of our three-week break. I got to go all over Denmark and then explore Amsterdam and Paris with the school groups. We got to do so much more than just see the sights; it was really an education all over Europe.
As far as school goes, the academics were challenging, sometimes more so than DU, but the classes were so interesting, I did my schoolwork because I wanted to, not because I had to. Because there was usually just one big paper and two tests for each class, most of the work demanded a lot of reading, self-motivation and time-management. However, I have never been submersed in such a diverse academic community; all my professors were adjunct professors, and had so much to offer us. I was so lucky to have the chance to sit there and soak it all in.
Looking back, the best memories were not the flashy parts (seeing the Eiffel Tower); those things that make a vacation great. The best part was the living. Simple things, like showing my family how to carve pumpkins for Halloween; sipping strong black coffee in the shadow of a 500 year old tower; meeting young people from all over Europe at the Student Café; walking through the winter market at Nyhavn, Copenhagen's historic port; trying to say the names of all the train stations correctly; riding my bike through our neighbourhood with my little host sister, and giggling as we used sign language to bridge the language gap.
These are the memories that make a study abroad experience different from a vacation. The Danish have a word, hygge (hyew-gah), expressing the feeling of welcome that comes from sitting with friends and loved ones, sharing food and stories and warmth. For me, study abroad isn't just about learning and growing as an academic, but also about finding this feeling in a new place: finding my own way, and in doing so, discovering another version of home.