Koret Fellowship Program
Study abroad, Denmark, spring 2017
During my study abroad exprience in Denmark, I participated in the Positive Psychology Core course and some notable electives such as Learning in Scandinavian Classrooms and Danish Language and Culture. In addition to attending classes, our curriculum also included Study Tours, which are weekly field trips that align with what you are learning in class. For example, in my Learning in Scandinavian Classrooms elective, our study tours revolved around observing Danish schools firsthand and being able to interview students about their experience with Danish education. Lastly, the program included two weeks of facilitated trips. One trip was organized in Denmark, where my Positive Psychology class journeyed to Aalborg and Skagen to experience various aspects of how Denmark was labeled one of the happiest countries in the world. The other trip took place in various locations in Europe. My class was fortunate enough to go to Prague, Czech Republic and study how positive psychology is present in a post-communist country.
Aside from the academic portion of DIS, I had a meaningful experience on the social side of studying abroad as well. I was fortunate to have been put into a homestay where both parents spoke Spanish as well as English and Danish. Coupled with being paired with another student who I got along with very well as a housemate, made my experience abroad very wholesome. Notable experiences with my host family and housemate included eating dinner together as a family every night, going on small day trips to neighboring cities, and experiencing the Copenhagen nightlife.
Although I had a multitude of positive experiences during my time abroad, something I constantly struggled with was the lack of conversation about race. If you were to ask a Dane if Denmark has any issues with race, they would most likely refute the question or avoid it by bringing up the multitude of positive aspects the country has. While Denmark has a handful of minorities, often referred to as Ethnic Danes, it is still a homogeneous culture that takes much pride in its Nordic roots. This often results in an unapologetic approach towards handling situations where micro aggressions or acts of discrimination take place.
Overall, my time abroad helped me affirm my career choice in education. Specifically, working towards bridging the achievement gap in America. If a country as progressive as Denmark still faces issues with race relations that heavily impact how minority students are treated, then the United States must face similar issues on a grander scale. In a way, the United States is better equipped to handle this issue due to its proposed melting pot culture, despite recent racially charged events.