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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Elise in Denmark

Elise Grossman ’20, a double major in Biology and Psychology, has studied at Denmark - DIS this semester.

Hello! Or as the Danes say “Hej!”

I have just returned to the US and am thinking back fondly to the memories I’ve created studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark with DIS. I am a Biology and Psychology double major, and the core course I took abroad was Polar Biology. As my program promised, I felt Copenhagen become my home, and Europe my classroom. Like many students nervous to study abroad, this was my first time leaving the country, let alone all by myself. Leaving everything I know behind, I was originally very skeptical of my ability to thrive in Europe alone. Despite this, arriving to my new home so far away, I quickly learned just how capable I am. With the support of amazing professors, staff, and my fellow students abroad, I never really felt  “alone”. There was always movement and activity in my apartment, in the streets, and in the classroom. Everyone was feeling similar emotions and wanted to do their best to make sure no one ever felt left out.

The experiences I got were like no other. I think my greatest memory was when my Polar Biology class took a week field trip to Northern Norway. It was around 10 PM and we decided to check out the view outside after taking a cable car up the fjords to eat dinner. Despite it being October, there was snow all around me. The first thing that had to happen was a snowball fight with my classmates. Being really out of practice, I lost. The view was incredible. We could see the whole city up in lights from where we were standing. As my class was heading back towards the cable car to call it a night, our professor told everyone to look up. The sky was lighting up with the Northern Lights. Although it was a little cloudy, we could see streaks of green light dancing in between the cracks. At that moment, I became so grateful of my decision to push myself out of my comfort zone. The greatest experiences you will ever make in your life are when you try something new. Since leaving Chicago for the plane that August morning, I’ve made lifelong friends and connections, solidified my academic interests, gained a cultural perspective like no other, and most importantly, grew emotionally and independently.

I am very honored to have been given the opportunity to study abroad, and really wish that other students would take up the offer as well. Other than fear, I think what is stopping students the most from pursuing studying abroad is finance. I was in a similar boat, and because of this, I am so grateful for the Margaret Thomson Pavelka Scholarship.

Since I’ve started this note with a Danish lesson, I need to end it with one.

Goodbye everyone! Or as the Danes say it “Hej Hej!”