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Why did you decide to study abroad?
I decided to study abroad because I thought it would be a unique opportunity to be able to travel and experience another country and culture. I thought it would be interesting to travel and study with other students from all across America in a foreign setting which none of us were familiar. I have also never been to Europe, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to travel to somewhere that I’ve never been before.
I honestly decided to study abroad in Denmark based on a recommendation from a friend who studied abroad there during the previous year. He could not stop raving about DIS and what an amazing time he had, and I couldn’t help but get excited as well. After checking out their website, I found the perfect program and courses (Medical Practice and Policy).
Deciding to study abroad was probably one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made (besides the choice to attend Colby of course). I lived with a Danish host family who had 3 children, 2 guinea pigs, 1 dog, and a cat. They also decided to host two American students, so we had a quite a full house. I enrolled in 5 courses (Human Health and Disease, Medical Ethics, Biology of Marine Mammals, European Storytelling, and Danish Language and Culture). I took the train to school everyday. I also did more walking than I’ve ever done in my entire life. I learned quickly that everything in Denmark is very expensive, so the Danes have adopted a lifestyle that is less dependent upon driving personal vehicles; a majority of the population utilizes some sort of public transportation and walking on a daily basis.
Some of my most memorable moments of my entire study abroad experience were with my core class. I spent a considerable amount of time with the other students in this class since we had class together twice a week and traveled together to western Denmark and Hungary and Austria. In addition, since we all have similar academic interests, many of us were in other classes together. We got to know each other pretty well and had an amazing time traversing through each country we set out for. One of my favorite memories was our dinner cruise down the Danube River in Budapest and our experience at a giant natural hot sprint in Budapest.
One of my greatest challenges was making friends. Since I lived with a host family who lived an hour and a half outside the city center (Copenhagen), I did not have a ready-made group of Americans to befriend. I actually had to put in a significant amount of effort to meet people and make friends, but luckily my core class was awesome and I met some of my best friends there.
I think I have made a few lifestyle and personal perspective changes upon my return to America. I think one of the most dramatic changes that I have made revolve around transportation. In Denmark and the greater majority of Western Europe, many individuals rely on public transportation and bicycles as their main modes or transportation because gas prices, cars, and parking fees are expensive luxuries. I believe it to be a more economically efficient and healthier alternative to driving. Therefore, I started to get into the habit of walking, biking, or taking public transportation. I rarely used a car or taxi to get around – I would safely say that I used these modes of transportation less than 5 times during my entire study abroad experience.
I highly recommend doing a little bit of research about the program and country before going abroad. I did a fair bit of research on my program (DIS), but I was still surprised and learned many things once I arrived. I did not do much research about Denmark or Copenhagen; if I had, maybe I wouldn’t have been so shocked to learn how expensive everything is. I also recommend utilizing discount websites for travelers on a budget, including hostelworld.com, airbnb.com, studentuniverse.com, and couchsurfing.com; I saved hundreds of dollars by using these websites for booking flights and places to stay while traveling around Europe.