My academic life abroad.

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(warning: this is pretty much a summary of what all my classes are like)

As much as I pretend that I’m on a superextended vacation in Scandinavia, I must remember that this is study abroad, not party abroad. With most of my posts so far being dedicated to talking about parties, living at the folkehojskole, the joys of being of legal drinking age (take notes America) I probably should mention how awesome all of my classes and the general academic environment at DIS is.

I’m taking five classes, 15 credits/hours at DIS.

  • Prostitution & Sex Trade in Europe
  • Kierkegaard’s Authorship
  • History of Copenhagen: Structure, Plan & Design
  • Conspiracy Theories and Historical Controversies
  • Introduction to Danish Language & Culture

At Vanderbilt, I’m pursuing a major in Women’s & Gender’s studies, so my core class Prostitution and Sex Trade in Europe will count towards my major at home. We’re exploring the social and legal differences between how various countries regulate or criminalize sex work, a line of work that is extremely controversial among those who study gendered issues. Some of the overarching questions  within the course are: how should we combat human trafficking? and is selling sexual services inherently exploitive and a form of violence against women?

At DIS, we just finished our “core course week” in which we only go to our designated core course, and spend some time traveling within Denmark and other close by areas while learning about relevant issues. We went to Sweden to learn about their model of criminalizing the customer to combat prostitution, which contrasts starkly with Denmark, where prostitution is legal. We attended lecture sessions run by an NGO, a sociology professor, and (my personal favorite) a border control officer.

Another academic interest of mine is Philosophy, and I will most likely be picking up a second major in it before I graduate. Because of this, a class on the works and life of Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish existentialist who spent almost the entirety of his life within Copenhagen, will contribute both to my academic discipline at home as well as my cultural “immersion” experience here.

My class on conspiracy theories is fascinating, and an extremely fun way to start my Tuesday and Friday mornings, especially because now I’ll always have a ridiculous number of alternative stories to what the mainstream media has to say. Your car wouldn’t start? the Reptillian Elite did it, your battery did not die all by itself, it’s part of a greater evil PLAN. I’m not sure if my snarky sarcasm is 100% evident in my description of this class, but for the record I’m not a proponent of radical skepticism, and I don’t think Masons rule the earth.

According to the professor of History of Copenhagen, by the end of the class we’ll know the city better than 99% of the other DIS students, and 80% of the locals. His scavenger hunt of a first assignment has been pretty challenging so far, and familiarized me with a pretty decent amount of medieval core of the city. But, I’m not exactly looking forward to the obscene amount of maps and landmarks that I have to have rote memorized by Friday for the first test.

Lastly, a Danish Language and Culture class which I took even though Vanderbilt is one of the few schools that doesn’t require you to take it. As someone who genuinely loves learning languages, I thought I’d have an advantage, but I definitely underestimated the difficulty of pronouncing these crazy Danish words. So far in class, we’ve made it through the basic conversational tenants of asking someone their name, where they’re from, what they’re studying, and where they live in Copenhagen. On another note, my time at the hojskole has also taught me to say “I hate yellow” and “S/he’s has hit the fence” (hit the fence= being extremely intoxicated). But, long story short, if I can appropriately declare that someone’s intoxicated in my terrible (endearing?) Americanized butchering of Dansk language, then at least I’ve learned a thoroughly usable phrase (I can also say “kiss my ass” in Gaelic, if you wanna know).

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