Coming back to the United States was probably the most frightening thing. On the plane from Iceland to Boston, I had the same scenario playing in my head as if I’d wrongfully be taken to the back and be severely questioned– mostly because my new hairstyle is completely different than the one on my passport and the officers may have thought that I was a different person than who I claimed I was. In those moments, I was slightly certain that I’d be the non-fictional version of the movie series Taken, while simultaneously being completely certain that my thoughts were utterly ludicrous. After going through customs my nerves had settled, and it started to set in that I was back in the U.S. I was one flight away from being with my family, which was something that I longed for during the last week of the trip.
I’ve been told that there’s a form a culture shock upon re-entry, and my perceived susceptibility of that happening to me was highly unlikely. However, every experience upon re-entry made it ever so apparent that I was not beyond the feeling of culture shock. First, the overwhelming joy I had when I was able to take my phone off airplane mode once I landed in Boston and being able to use my debit card without fear of exchange charges. At one point, I caught myself looking for change just in case it cost money to use the restroom. What made me realize that I was truly experiencing culture shock was when all I heard around me was English, and the fact that I could comprehend it took me awhile to grasp. I was so used to hearing other languages around me, or having instructions stated last on documents because English wasn’t the national language. The paranoia of wondering if the people around me are talking about me or the shame of asking someone if they spoke English in English because I was unsure of how to say it in Danish or Dutch, those feelings still lingered with me. I didn’t realize how significant they were until I realized that I no longer needed to feel that way.
One feeling that made itself apparent was my homesickness. This was something that surprised me because I had never felt that way while living in Tucson. I never had that severe longing to be back home, so that was an out of body experience for me. However, I knew that I would be home soon enough. I tried to make the best out of the time that remained because just as I predicted, I got back home, hugged my family, told my stories, and I was already longing to be back with the rest of the group in Denmark. In that moment, I had realized that I had created a new family while abroad. The synergy and the camaraderie of this group was beyond any group setting I had experienced on campus. The maturity and positivity of my peers floored me, and without a doubt I can say that these students truly know how to harness the power of their dreams. I’m so honored to have been a part of a group of students who are sincerely inspiring, free-spirited, and diligent. They give me so much hope for the future of Public Health and America.
By Noah Steinberger, Senior, E-Society Major/ Creative Writing Minor
On our second to last day of the trip, our group visited Denmark International Studies, also known as DIS. This international university seemed to offer great opportunities for any individual seeking an experience that could help propel involvement right into the hectic paced Scandinavian culture. One aspect that shocked me was how many variations international students can choose from in relation to their living situation during their time abroad in Copenhagen. The options span from living with a local family or something more on the opposite side of the spectrum selecting to reside in a traditional Danish style dorm. Additionally, If one finds interest in architecture then this program should be right up your alley. The DIS offers multiple magnificent workshop studios with gigantic windows, which were set up specifically so students could hopefully locate inspiration from surrounding churches built many centuries ago. As we proceeded the tour I could not help but notice how modernized these classrooms were, as all the classrooms were fully equipped with technology similar to that of our college classrooms. After leaving the center I felt moved yet disappointed at simultaneous times. The reason for disappointment was purely of me being ashamed that I failed to consider this creative opportunity during my time at the University. I was also thankful as this blog post created a perfect opportunity to help inspire other students to take a chance and live outside their box as each and every one of us has personal restrictions that hopefully inspire rather than deplete.
I could not think of a better way one could involve themself into this culture, even if the process of acceptance seemed a tiny bit difficult. Completing one difficult application for an experience that could help generate and connect you to a global crowd for the rest of your existence could never be substituted. After visiting the center I came to a realization on just how lucky we were to have this experience for a month, even if our classroom time did not talk place in a prototypical learning situation. I believe this on the run always searching for a new classroom attitude thus propelled the group to focus on other mini elements engulfed into the societies around us. Attaining the skills to learn from other people and experiences can just spark more curiosity and openness.
To conclude, I have no hesitation stating that the DIS could have the same powerful, spiritual realization and effect that I experienced from a mere three weeks traveling and learning about human sexuality. Awesome place for some intriguing learning opportunities!
Alfredo Ruiz, Junior, Public Health & Pre-Nursing Major, Spanish Minor
Midsummer is one of the biggest and most exciting events in Copenhagen. It is a period of time full of celebrations since the sun is out for a very long time and still very bright at 11 PM which is very unusual for them. Midsummer usually takes place all over Northern Europe and the days vary depending on the countries and their cultures. In Copenhagen, there is a tradition of Danish people celebrating the longest day of the year in June, in which people gather all across the country and create bone fires where they’ll sing, dance, listen to people’s speeches and burn wooden witches. Danish people started to burn witches since they believed witches were associated with the devil in the 16th century and needed to be killed. It is now illegal to burn people alive but Danish people managed to keep their tradition of burning witches (wooden witches) every year during Midsummer day.
Today, June 23, 2015, on Midsummer Day, the whole group gathered to learn about atypical sexual behaviors. We learned about all kinds of uncommon behaviors such as fetishism, voyeurism, zoophilia, necrophilia and even frotteurism, which many people have been a victim of when in crowded places. It was so interesting to learn about all these types of uncommon situations in which people get turned on. It made me realize there are very different people out there all around the world.
After our lecture, we went to celebrate our last day together as a group in Tivoli where we gathered and enjoyed some awesome rides. Afterwards, we went to our very last and very nice dinner as a group. After dinner, we enjoyed watching witches being burned in the lake. It was weird to see how people were very serious about the event. At first, when I heard about their tradition, I thought they would be more excited and happy celebrating the death of the evil witch, but they took it very seriously and even applauded after it ended, which is very insane since they used to burn with real people a long time ago. It was an unforgettable experience and I really enjoyed this emotional yet exciting day with the people I became very close to.
Jennifer Nguyen, Senior- Molecular and Cellular Biology
June 23, 2015
Today is the last day of our study abroad tour and the day started out normal as usual. Everyone woke up at around 8-8:30am to get breakfast before class at 10am. While the routine was familiar to us, I am sure that a lot of people had this looming thought in the back of their heads regarding our last hours together. No one wanted it to end. But we did manage to go to class and finish our last quiz. Then Lee Ann showed us a quick slide show about her times in Up With People. Since the beginning, she has been mentioning this performing group that traveled the world spreading goodwill. It left the students with questions like “what were they performing?” and “how did she get involved?” The presentation answered many of our questions.
Britt and Lee Ann gave us tips on what to expect from family and friends once we re-enter the United States. Questions like “what did you do?” or “what did you learn while abroad.” Some of the tips they gave us were: 1.Keep it short and sweet.
2. Do NOT use names of places
3. Do NOT use specific names
They told us that using specific names and places would quickly make our audience lose interest. They expect to hear things that are familiar to them. As I was listening, I thought ” huh. That is so true. I don’t relate so it might bore me to hear specifics.” I’m glad they gave us these tips because I never even thought about how to best share my experiences in a concise way.
Once class ended we were free to do whatever until our midsummer celebration in Tivoli as well as our last dinner together. People have avoided going to Tivoli this entire week because we were attending today. It was hard, I think, because the amusement park is literally 5 minutes away. There were some people who went on all the rides. And then there were people like me who had crazy motion sickness. I went on one ride and I was done. If you search Tivoli on Google, you will see a huge swing ride and that’s the one I chose to go on. Tivoli was a beautiful inside and the decorations and landscape reminded me of Horton Hears a Who. Since it was midsummer, Denmark has a tradition of burning witches at a bonfire to celebrate. The history goes back to when witches were persecuted and it used to be a remembrance for them but now has become a fun celebration. In other parts of Denmark, students also throw in papers they don’t to celebrate the end of the school year.
Dinner was in a Japanese restaurant called Wagamama. It was nice since the dinner was paid for!
We also had to thank Lee Ann and Britt for their hard work by giving gifts!
Thank you to everyone who made this experience worthwhile!
The prostitute information center (PIC) in Amsterdam’s Red Light District was a very unique and informative worthwhile experience. It was interesting to hear their perspectives about the laws involving prostitution in particular the laws involving the crimininazation of patrons and how by criminalizing them it actually places the prostitutes in more danger because they are still going to provide the services that they offer but now must do so in more risky ways to protect their patrons from the police. It seems to be more of an excuse by some to stop all prostitution under the guise of stopping human trafficking but in fact it may not actually do anything at all because the patrons surprisingly don’t want to partake in sexual acts with prostitutes that are trafficking victims when prostitution is considered a profession just like any other job and they will try to help report trafficking according to the PIC as long as they will not get into legal trouble for partaking in such activities with a prostitute.
If we take the stigma away from prostitution and look at it as another profession it would help greatly in getting people to come forward that need it because they would not be ashamed about their own past and judged because of what happened to them allowing help to better serve them as well.
Ashley Moran, Senior -Care, Health and Society Major, Public Health Minor
If there is one thing that has been easily noticed in the Northern European countries that we have visited, it’s the readily available access to waterways, canals and Seas. On Wednesday June 17th, our class went on a canal tour in Copenhagen to get a better feel for the city that we will be in for the next 7 days. We began our tour at 9:30am and it lasted an hour out in the water. The tour began in Nyhavn, which is one of the oldest parts of Copenhagen. It has beautiful scenery, colorful homes and plenty of sailboats docked as far as the canals stretch. When departing from the dock, you can see a large anchor, which stands as a monument for the 1600 Danish sailors whom lost their lives in World War II. Continuing on through the canals (which by the way are so narrow and so low that you can’t stand up in the boat while passing through, and arms need to be kept inside the boat) we come to the open water. During this time we passed by the artillery islands of Holmen that houses a small art gallery, a naval college, and plenty of history dating back 250 years. Coming up on the right after these islands is the Royal boat. This was a huge sailboat anchored in the middle of the sea that the Danish Royals use. How cool is that that they have their own private Royal boat?? We also got to see the Royal Palace: Amalienborg as well. Both were breathtaking. After passing this we come upon the Opera house, which will hold the Redbull diving competition this Saturday June 20th, as well as the Danish Gymnastics team performance on Sunday June 21st that we will also be attending. Cruising on we also came upon The Little Mermaid Statue that is based on the story written by Hans Christian Andersen. We passed by Christiana and then the famous Our Savior’s Church that is known for their twisted spire. On the way back through the Canals to finish our tour we got to see a house that Hans Christian Andersen lived in, Christianborg Palace-The Danish Parliament, and even the simplistic beauty of the fish and farmers markets. It was incredible to be out on the open water even though it was a bit windy and cold. The tour was fun, filled with facts, and overall fantastic! I highly recommend as Lee Ann says, to start with a canal tour or a tour of some sort to get a feel of the foreign city that you will be staying in. And as the Danes say, God Rejse! (Bon Voyage, Have a great journey!)
Samvika Mehra, Freshman, Public Health and Economics Major
There are many differences between studying in a hot and sticky classroom and studying in a bus or better yet in the heart of the city where you can see all the bustling and rustling for yourself. I enjoyed this study abroad trip because we were constantly on the move, meeting new people visiting clinics and universities. As a visual learner it was great to read about the topic, for instance prostitution and then actually walk through the famous red light district in Amsterdam and see the prostitutes in the window. We always hear about prostitution and the methods and how it works in other countries but because it is illegal in the United States it is nearly impossible to see what it looks like.
In the hospitals we got to take a tour and see the facilities for a maternity ward and cardiac patients in rehabilitation. The maternity wards were so much larger than the ones in the United States and it is amazing to hear about how little the local residents pay for treatments at large advanced hospitals.
By visiting universities we were able to meet professors and talk to them about the research that they are currently doing as well as speak to a few students and ask them about their college life and learn more about the education system here and how it differs from the eduction system in the United States.
Most of the classes you take in college will have a lab section in the course, but I think of this study abroad experience as a twenty four hour lab for nearly a month. It can sometimes be tiring that we have to constantly go from one place to another and are bouncing around from nine in the morning until around five in the evening but it is so much more rewarding. Getting to talk to people and listen to their experiences with patients and their education and knowledge is truly a rewarding experience and I could not have asked for a better trip to learn about the sexual nature of human beings.