Pre-Departure Thoughts, Background on DIS, and My Denmark Goals

the jacksonville airport

TIA HERE with some of my pre-Denmark thoughts and experience thus far with DIS. Currently, I'm sitting in the Jacksonville airport (I'm writing this on August 16th, for your reference), ready to fly to JFK in New York City (the irony) then head off to Copenhagen. I thought, for anyone interested in going to Denmark through DIS or just interested in studying abroad in general, it may be interesting to just log how I feel before the semester starts and then write one of these again when I'm on my way back home in December.

Where to begin? How about the stress dreams I've been having every night? That's what you want to hear--right? Nothing like dreaming each night of my new living situation and having to meet brand new people, start from scratch with making friends again and dealing with all the little things (like getting a new sim card) that pile up until you know you can't remember them all. As an introvert, it's usually pretty tough for me to make friends--not in the sense that I can't do it, but rather that the process of doing it is very stressful for me and makes me even more high-strung than I already am! But I'm feeling pretty good and refreshed from my two weeks at home, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to jump into my first week with the same over-enthusiasm of my first week of college. Stress dreams begone!


journeying on the plane to JFK then CPH


To give a little background info on my particular situation: I'm doing DIS, a Denmark study abroad program hosted by (I think) the University of Minnesota (how random, right?). Lots of students from all kinds of different universities in different countries (although primarily U.S.) can go to Denmark through DIS--so it is not, by far, a Cornell specific thing. You can do it, too! DIS kind of works as its own university, offering classes for you to choose from--including some from the University of Copenhagen--and hosting trips and special activities. Cornell requires that students studying in Denmark through DIS take one University of Copenhagen class and the DIS Danish Language and Culture class, since you can't learn Danish at Cornell. So, if you're a Cornellian interested in going abroad through DIS, be on the look out for a good University of Copenhagen class and keep in mind that one of your classes is already determined. Most people typically take 5 classes, so the other three were my choice.

With DIS, you must choose a "core class" that includes a study tour abroad to another country. As a communication minor, I picked Cross-Cultural Communication as my core class, which means I'll be going to Dublin, Belfast, and Sweden for a little bit, mid-semester. The University of Copenhagen class that I'm taking is Kierkegaard's Authorship--which I picked mainly because it was the only one that seemed remotely akin to my interests and was one of the last ones left. And I applied early! Then, of course, I'm taking the most basic Danish Language class, which I'm hoping to learn a lot in, as well as a class on Pop Culture and one on European Storytelling (Homer to Harry Potter!). I also signed up for a couple study tours, which cost extra money but sound extra fun. One of them is Literary London, meaning that yes I will be going to London for a few days, and the other is Southern France: Culinary Exploration--which means I'll also be spending a week in France, eating! Perfect.

the view from the plane to JFK


Outside of classes, I've also signed up for the DIS Buddy Network that is suggested for everyone who will not be living in a homestay. (I'll talk about where I'm living next.) Basically, this means that there are some Danish (grad?) students who will organizing groups of both Danish and DIS students to do fun things in Denmark. The goal of it is to introduce DIS students to Danes and also get them further immersed in Danish society. I'm on board! The options were all pretty vague, mostly "we're going to have fun and explore," but I put my priority ones as the group that would be checking out the lesser-known sights of Copenhagen and the group specifically exploring music and concerts. I'll see what I got when I arrive, and decide if I want to do the group then as well. (I'm still a little on the fence. I don't want to be too busy, you know! But I've also always been one to need a very fast-paced and busy schedule.)

Finally, my living situation. So DIS gives students lots of options, from homestay to Danish roommate to various dorm types and LLCs. I'm going to be staying in the Creative Writing Living and Learning Community (LLC), which was my first choice! (Dreams do come true!) Living in an LLC means that I'll be surrounded by likeminded people and have weekly activities to participate in, involving creative writing. It should be really interesting! I'll try my best to write about everything we do.

To go into the specifics of my living situation, I'm going to be in a triple (a word that sends chills of horror down every college student's spine) with two other girls who I don't know. In the LLC, there are, I believe, three triples of girls, one quad of guys, and one single for the last remaining guy (lucky him!). Still, I'm not too concerned as the rooms look pretty big online and they also provide all the bedding--so that saves me a lot of trouble.

a sky view of the landing strip at JFK


In fact, let's move on to talk about money. I get a stipend to buy groceries since I'll be making my own food, in addition to the scholarship I got through Cornell. Most importantly: I think I get my textbooks for free. Why does anyone go to college in America where the fees cancel out the worth of a college degree? (Just kidding, I'm quite grateful to be at Cornell, but seriously free higher education feels good.)

Apparently I don't have much to say about money, because we're moving on again! To my experience with DIS so far. The day you arrive matters quite a bit (the first day, the 16th, is for homestay students while the second day, the 17th, is for everyone else) and I was going to arrive on the wrong day. In a panic, my parents talked to one of the DIS representatives who said she could organize a way for me to stay in a hostel for a day before everyone else arrived and she was very helpful about making the mixup work out. Fortunately, I was able to change my flight to a red eye, so I'll now be arriving on the right day (tomorrow) even though I've just left today at 10 a.m. (groan).

my airport snack (sugarpova splashy)


DIS lets you start applying for classes and housing all at once, and it is organized as first-come-first-serve (or so they claim). So, if you plan on going abroad through DIS, get started as soon as you can! However, most of the emails and info about where you'll be living and if you got the classes you tried to get will be released just a few weeks before you leave. Don't panic, and be patient. They'll tell you eventually! I also received a pre-departure packet with some information while I was in NYC. I would venture to say DIS will take good care of you!

Since I am now on the verge of beginning my semester-long adventure abroad, I think it's time to lay down some goals for myself. I feel like every time I give myself goals, I work harder and more efficiently to achieve things. So here we go:
  1. Improve my biking skills (or embrace the culture some other way). Danes are big on biking apparently, and there's a good chance I'll be renting a bike. I'm not a bike rider anywhere else in the world, but I'm hoping I'll be a good one in Copenhagen. If I don't end up renting a bike--I hope that I'll embrace other Danish tendencies in some way.
  2. Improve my writing and write much more. Since I'm going to be living in the Creative Writing LLC, I should be really diving headfirst into my writing and producing work I can be proud of. I need to start writing more anyway, so why not here?
  3. Start vlogging again. I've been vlogging on and off for a while now, but with my dedication to this blog, I'm hoping that I'll also develop a greater dedication to vlogging. See all of the videos I post on this blog? Expect them to include more of me talking to the camera as time passes. I'm bringing a tiny tripod to Denmark, so I better freaking use it!
  4. Learn enough Danish to not feel lame. I want to have casual Danish language knowledge--enough to order coffee or ask where things are without having to rely on English. I don't expect to be able to hold full conversations in a variety of topics, but I want at least strangers to think I might have some basic knowledge of the language. What's study abroad without a little foreign language?
  5. Make friends for life. The study abroad experience is what you make it, and I want to make mine truly meaningful. Anyone can make friends for the moment, but I'm hoping I'll meet some cool people that I'll know for years down the road. This may seem like a basic goal, but when you're an anxious little introvert, it's a real challenge. And one I will take on!
  6. Be more spontaneous. Like go to Sweden for the day, try new things, say "yes" to challenges that make you want to say "no." This is a good life goal in general, I think.
  7. Go on real adventures. Stay up late with people you want to know better, work harder and remind yourself of why you love the topics you're studying, got the extra mile. The time has always been now, but this time I'm going to do it.
waiting for the flight to CPH at JFK


I'll let you know how those panned out when the semester is over. For now, I'm going to keep waiting in the airport, and hoping for good things to come. Expect posts to now be weekly, rather than daily!

For more, check out Tia's new blog!

Much love,

T.