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Off-Campus Study

Notes from Abroad: Derya in Denmark

Derya Botsali ’19 is a double major in International Relations and Studio Art studying in Copenhagen, Denmark through the DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia program.

Hello! My name is Derya Idil Botsali, I am from Ankara, the capital of Turkey. I am 20 years old and currently a junior in college. I am double majoring in Studio Art and International Relations along with a minor in French, at Lake Forest College. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend the Fall 2017 semester in Copenhagen, Denmark through the DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia program. I chose the Architecture and Design program as my main focus with the core course Urban Design Foundations Studio. My other courses are New Nordic Design, Wider European Security and Danish Language and Culture Level 1. I wanted to focus on design because my home school doesn’t offer many design-specific courses. Additionally, I wanted to start learning Danish since I am hoping to be fluent in it in 5 years from now; learning a new language is never a waste of time.

As you can probably tell, this is not my first time abroad, in fact, I was lucky enough to be born into a life that consists of “studying abroad”. My father is a Turkish diplomat, thus we move to a different country every three-to-four years with him. The lifestyle has its advantages as well as disadvantages, but I like to focus on the good stuff. Throughout my life, I got to live in six different countries and through the doors that lead one chapter to another, I ended up at Lake Forest College, where I was introduced to the opportunity of spending a semester here, in Copenhagen. I am very comfortable with moving and adapting to new things by now, but Copenhagen is a completely new experience because I was the one to decide where I was going! A question I often get is “Why Denmark?”… My grandmother from my mother’s side was Danish, which is why Denmark always had a special place in my heart; we celebrate the traditional Danish Christmas every year, we often cook Danish dishes at our house, and we have decorative pieces from Denmark around the house. On another note, I have always read about the influence Danish design, Danish architecture, Danish art. As an art major, it has always been a dream of mine to explore the Danish art scene.

From the moment I landed, I fell in love with Copenhagen and its people. Denmark is known as the “land of the happiest people”. “Hygge” is probably one of the first words one will learn in Copenhagen. It is quite difficult to define, since it is a reference to the cozy Danish lifestyle; there are so many articles, dictionary definitions and documentaries about hygge, but one truly has to explore and discover it for herself/himself. In essence, hygge is creating a warm, cozy atmosphere while enjoying the good things in life with people you love, good talks, good food, and some candlelight. In Copenhagen, there is nothing more hygge than sitting around a table with candles, cuddle up in blankets and discuss the big and small things in life; all the cafés, restaurants and pubs have candles and blankets on every table. This is one of the things I enjoy the most about being here; people are always enjoying the moment without caring about anything else.

My experience in Copenhagen is a dream-come-true; I can’t thank Ms. McGowan enough for awarding me the Ingrid H. and George L. Speros Scholarship for Study Abroad. Along with the DIS Diversity Scholarship, her generous donation allowed me to fully enjoy and learn from my experience. I definitely plan to come back to Denmark for my masters or for work after completing my masters elsewhere. Thank you once again for helping me turn my dream into a reality. If you would like to read more about my Copenhagen adventures, feel free check out my blog: https://copeandhugincopenhagen.wordpress.com.