Let the Danish experience begin! (Almost…)

Nyhavn, colorful harbour of Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn, colorful harbour of Copenhagen, Denmark. Image credit: Getty Images (US).

I received the pre-departure materials for my study abroad experience last week. Needless to say, I am even more excited than I already was about heading off to study abroad in the upcoming fall semester.

Studying abroad has always been an appealing idea for me, even before I came to the University of Tennessee. The constantly-mentioned ‘travel bug’–the idea of being bit by the thrill of traveling to new destinations across the world, the idea of going and experiencing new cultures, new thrills, new everything–has been a part of me for quite a while. My family has been able to go on annual vacations across the country for as long as I can remember and each of these trips were full of experiences that constantly showed us how people of another area of the country lived. A place like Seattle, WA, or Round Rock, TX, or Dayton, OH, had lots to offer that differed from that of my New England hometown.

Whenever we would go on vacations, we would always try to go an area of the country that most people would not consider going to. We would normally go in late August, just before school started after Labor Day, to places such as the Upper Midwest, Northwest, even hot places such as Arizona or Texas. The destinations differed, but the reaction of friends would usually be the same.

“Why the heck would you go to _________?”

“What’s there to do in ________?”

The obscurity of the destination was always a factor in where we went. In our mind, a vacation is a chance to go full speed and see/do as much as we want. Beaches, amusement parks, spas–things that might be part of a “normal” family vacation–were never on our itinerary. Our philosophy was that we could always relax when we got home. We could also always go to a beach or an amusement park at home as well, so we resorted to doing activities that we couldn’t do at home, such as touring the Tillamook Cheese Factory along the Oregon Coast or climbing up the CN Tower in Toronto.

This is the mindset that I prefer to take when I travel. This upcoming study abroad experience is no different. When I finally decided to do something about finding a program to study abroad with, I wanted to go to a destination that many people would not consider going to in terms of studying abroad. Sure, I’ve heard about people going to London, Paris, Spain, Australia–great places by the way that I hope to get to one day–but more people seem to go there than anywhere else. I just wanted to go somewhere different.

Sunset on Nyhavn Canal, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Sunset on Nyhavn Canal, Copenhagen, Denmark. Image credit: Getty Images (US).

So, at a study abroad fair one semester, I saw a brochure for the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), a program based in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. I later read the brochure and that feeling you get when a program just feels – like it’s the right fit – came over me. I got excited. I thought, ‘This sounds like the program for me.’ The way DIS is set up allows for students from across the nation to come to Denmark, a country that is geographically central to the rest of Europe, and study a wide variety of subjects.

The motto says it all, really. “Copenhagen as your home, Europe as your classroom” speaks to the format of DIS. Every student picks a core course topic, such as Architecture, Justice & Human Rights, Prostitution and the Sex Trade, and Sustainability in Europe, and then can pick from a wide variety of electives.

At UT, I am a Journalism and Electronic Media major, so my core course is going to be Communications — Cross-Cultural Communications to be specific. A new core course option this year, C-CC (like every other core course) includes a pair of inclusive study tours. The short tour lasts for five days and will include three days in Sweden, followed by a two-day seminar in Copenhagen. The long study tour is a chance to take a trip to another part of Europe for a week to experience how that area takes your core course and applies it to life in that region. I will be off to Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland. Along with Communications, Danish Language & Culture, Virtual Worlds & Social Media, Psychology & Criminal Behavior, and Psychology of Leadership round off the academic schedule for the upcoming semester.

I’m not sure whether it’s because of my experience in travel or because of my faith that it will all work out, but I’m not anxious about going off to an unknown destination. I am definitely excited and my main goal (if I were to have goals) is to be able to teach my friends and family about this beautiful, yet unknown (to an extent) nation. I did say I love the obscure, but it amazes me how many people I have talked to are not familiar with Denmark, especially why I would go there.

I want my blog, Velkommen til Danmark: An American Perspective, to serve as a teaching tool to everyone, not just a personal journal of my experiences. I will be learning just as much as the next person and I don’t want to keep this newfound knowledge and my experiences to myself; I want to project them to the world.

If anyone has any suggestions regarding what to do in Denmark or anywhere else in Europe, feel free to leave a comment or message with ideas. Anything is appreciated!

Robby Veronesi is a junior at the University of Tennessee studying Journalism and Electronic Media. He’s headed to Copenhagen, Denmark this fall, so check back in the future to read his spotlight and learn all about his study abroad experience! Meanwhile, you can follow his blog Velkommen til Danmark: An American Perspective.

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