DIS Copenhagen – Fall 2021

After having my first study abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland in Spring 2020 cut short due to COVID-19, I knew I HAD to go again. This time I chose the DIS Copenhagen program. During the enrollment process at DIS, you will choose your “major” (core course). I chose a course entitled New Media & Changing Communities. My other courses were called Glued to the Screen, Food & Identity, and Danish Language & Culture. All my classes and professors were wonderful and made the classes enjoyable and memorable. By the way, one aspect of Danish culture that was a little strange at first was calling professors by their first names, but I soon learned that is the Danish way.

During the enrollment process you will also choose living accommodations. Because I wanted to live with other international & DIS students, I chose an apartment-style arrangement called Kollegium. However, home stays are also available, and I have heard nothing but positives from students who chose to live with Danish families. The flat in my Nimbus Kollegium was comprised of a big kitchen, common space, two bathrooms, and four bedrooms. Although I shared a bedroom, there was plenty of space. The best part of housing is that the apartments were FULLY stocked, down to dish detergent, cookware, linens, and bedding. We also received a starter food stipend because Copenhagen food tends to be pricey. My Kollegium was convenient, as it was right across from a grocery shop and a short walk to public transportation (Fasanvej Station). I was also near a large park and the Copenhagen Zoo. Besides Nimbus, there are three other Kollegiums located at various greatlocations throughout the city. However, wherever you will live in Copenhagen, the city is extraordinarily safe and easy to navigate.

DIS has a set arrival day for all students. If you arrive that day within their certain time frame, you will be greeted at the airport by friendly DIS staff wearing DIS t-shirts and waving Danish
flags, so they are easy to spot. They will then offer you light snacks, water, and present you with a personal packet with your DIS student ID, stipend card, and sim card. Then, they will transport you to your housing for free!

Because I went to Copenhagen alone (recommended!) I felt a bit unsure at first, but that nervousness lasted just a short time. Of course, many DIS students come with friends; however, just as many come alone and are seeking friendships. You WILL find your friends because everyone is open and friendly! In addition, all classes involve experiential learning, so you will be eating and traveling with classmates as well. And even before you arrive in Denmark, there are several DIS GroupMe chats so you can meet people before you even leave the U.S.! When abroad I met some of my best friends, who I still keep in touch with daily.

The classes were all experiential learning which I loved. DIS includes two all-expense paid trips for travel in your core course: the first, usually in other areas in Denmark, and the second, elsewhere in Europe. My core course visited Aalborg and Aahrus Denmark and Dublin Ireland. Everyone in DIS has classes every day but Wednesday, which is “field study” day. These days include travel around Denmark and/or visits from guests. On Wednesdays with no field studies, students are free to explore Copenhagen. There is also a travel week where you and your new friends can travel to various places in Europe or stay in Denmark and explore!

1. BUDGET. Copenhagen is very expensive, and money goes FAST.
2. If you’re a coffee lover, buy instant coffee. A typical cup of coffee in Copenhagen is anywhere from $5-8.
3. Don’t pack unnecessary toiletries: they are heavy and can be bought in Denmark.
4. Pack light so you have room for souvenirs.
5. Download Google translate.
6. Buy food for 2-3 days at a time at most (if you are close to a grocery store)! If you try to stock up, food will go bad because Europeans use fewer preservatives than in the U.S.
7. Save bottles with A, B, or C on them because you can return them to a store through a machine thing and get money back.
8. DIS pays for a commuter card or rental bike. I recommend the commuter card for more options. If you choose a Metro commuter card, you can still rent a bike for the semester (Swapfiets gave good student discounts).
9. If you want to join a gym, SATS DK gave a DIS discount. (I paid $171 USD for the semester)
10. If you get a MetroCard do NOT forget to renew your card every month or you will be fined $116 U.S. dollars by the metro workers.

I fell in love with Copenhagen. It is sustainable, clean, efficient, and gorgeous. It is a perfect mix of modern and historic. I recommend renting a GoBoat and seeing the city through a self-service canal tour. I chose to take the Metro (train) to class, about a 20-25 commute, which soon became second nature and quite pleasant. On some weekends, I visited other areas of Europe: Prague, Portugal, Vienna, and Turkey. These visits helped me become exposed to different cultures, but I loved just being in Copenhagen. It always felt comforting and cozy…just like home. In retrospect, I would have been just as happy spending every day in Denmark because the people and country all demonstrate “hygge” in their own ways.

In terms of social life, there are many options. If you choose to go out, be sure to finish the night like a typical Dane–go to a local hotdog vendor grab yourself a hotdog! However, if that isn’t up your ally then Copenhagen offers so much to do, whether alone or with friends, whether by day or by night.
I could go on and on about every memory I made in Copenhagen or every tip I could offer. However, I’ll stop and just say GO ABROAD!! The experiences and memories you make will be held close to your heart forever. You will also be so proud of yourself getting out of your comfort zone and venturing off into a new country for 4 months! Those months fly by way too fast so take advantage of every moment you can 🙂

1. Go alone! → EVERYONE is looking for friends. So many people came in alone and they have best friends by the end of the program, and you will too!
2. Say yes to everything → some of the best memories come from just saying yes
3. Budget → only buy what you will use and learn to not waste food!
4. Take Danish Language and Culture → I loved my professor and the class, and I thought it was a good introduction to Danish.
5. Go to smaller towns/cities You’ll experience more of the Danish culture and lovely Danish people.

If you want more information, I’d be happy to answer questions: kristinamcgee@callutheran.edu

By: Kristina McGee

University of Aberdeen, Scotland – Spring 2020

Coming into college, studying abroad had never crossed my mind. The thought of leaving the U.S. for four months and venturing into the unknown alone made me nervous to even think about. However, I am so grateful I decided to take the leap into what turned into an unforgettable
adventure full of cherished memories, unique learning, and lifelong friendships. Even though my semester abroad was cut short by a month due to COVID-19, I wouldn’t have traded the program
for anything. I met some of my best friends for life. I also grew as a person, pushing myself to do something I originally thought was out of my comfort zone.


The process was simple, thanks to the Cal Lutheran Office of Education Abroad, which helped every step of the way…starting with deciding what international program would be best for my major and my personal preferences. The office kept students on track with completing necessary documents, arranging travel, getting health insurance, finalizing finances, and having academic
credits transferred back to CLU. A few weeks before the semester abroad begins there is a pre-departure dinner that allows students to interact with alums of their programs for last minute tips.

Also, The University of Aberdeen has fantastic staff who kept in touch every step of the way with advice for admittance, travel, living, and academics. They were also on call once on site for any concerns, large or small.

On January 1, 2020, I left LAX for the journey of a lifetime…through London to Aberdeen, Scotland. I immediately felt relieved that Aberdeen is friendly, comfortable, and easy to navigate. There were taxis in a queue to transport folks to residences, all easy to arrange. I personally arrived in Aberdeen a few days early and stayed in a small hotel in the city first, to overcome any jetlag, but also to familiarize myself with my new home. I noticed that because of the latitude, in early January it became dark about 3:30 p.m., but as the semester went on, the days became longer and more beautiful.

– Wow! The flats (dorms) were so nice! Each unit had a shared kitchen and living room with five single bedrooms, each with a full bed, desk, shelf, and private bathroom!
– The University of Aberdeen conducts a one-day orientation for meeting fellow international students. There is a full day of information, activities, and social events.
– Walking and taking the bus are main modes of transportation. I liked the 20-30 minute walk to class through a park filled with other students. However, the bus is also convenient: students show their ID and transport to campus is free! After hours bus service to town has a fee, but it is minimal and can be arranged through a prepaid app.
– If you want to join a gym the University of Aberdeen has a great gym with a pool, tons of cardio
machines, free weights, machines and classes!

Because I was a sophomore, I took mostly Core 21 courses. There were many, many choices, but I ended up taking “How Should One Live?” (Philosophy), “Death” (Archeology), “Scottish Folklore” (Literature), and “Humans and Animals” (elective). However, there were also more specialized courses for those further along in their programs. The class structure in the U.K is a bit different than at Cal Lutheran: there are fewer assignments, each counting for a larger portion of the final grade. Even though that took some adjustment, I appreciated being pushed to learn in new ways.

I loved living so close to a safe city and being able to enjoy many aspects of Aberdeen by walking. My favorite memory (which I 100% suggest) was a weekend trip farther north to Inverness,
Scotland, home of the (famous but never seen) Loch Ness monster. I and some friends took a 12-
hour bus trip around Inverness the Isle of Skye. Not only was the scenery breathtaking but we
got to feed hairy “coos”, view castles, eat fish and chips, and explore the beautiful coutrysides. From Aberdeen it is simple to visit other locations in Europe, and I took short trips to Milan, Italy and Budapest, Hungary. That said, I would have been just as happy exploring friendly, beautiful Scotland!

Aberdeen Specifically
1. Groceries: Lidl grocery store is right down the hill from the dorms and quite reasonable.
2. Fish! For fish lovers, Scotland is home to inexpensive and fresh salmon!
3. Bedding and clothes: In Aberdeen city, Primark has bedding and other room necessities at decent prices. For Californians who do not have winter wear, this is also a good spot.
4. Phone plan: I went to the Aberdeen mall and chose the cheapest phone plan I found: 20GB a month for 15 pounds.
5. Finances: I did not get a European bank account; instead, I used a Capital One Student Journey card (just look for a credit card that does NOT have foreign transaction fees because those add up!) I also suggest (if possible) getting a credit card with the tap feature because it easier for buses.
6. What to pack: I recommend bringing no toiletries (except of course necessary medicine). Most toiletries can be easily purchased at pharmacies such as Boots.
7. Sundays: Most establishments are closed on Sundays (in Aberdeen and throughout Europe).

General Thoughts for Anyone Going Abroad
1. Go alone → you WILL make new friends (everyone abroad is looking for friends. Push
yourself and get ready to meet new friends who will become best friends very quickly). Traveling with someone from your home university can limit your outreach to new people.
2. Budget! → Money WILL go fast. Budgeting will help you stay on track. That said, allow yourself to budget for fun activities too 🙂 Live like the Europeans and buy food for one or two days only so none goes to waste. Also, spend money on experiences and not stuff.
3. Explore your host country → I regret not venturing into Scotland more; I hope to return one day and finish my journey
4. It is possible financially Don’t rule out studying abroad because you are afraid of the cost. Cal Lutheran’s Office of Education Abroad can help with resources and guidance.

It will be the BEST decision you ever made. Thereare many people who look back years later and are sorry they never studied abroad in college. BE the person who took the chance!

By: Kristina McGee

Studying Abroad in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates has always had a special place in my heart since I was six years old, so when I saw the option to study abroad there, I didn’t think twice about it. I attended the American University of Sharjah (AUS), which is ranked as the second-highest university in the country. I focused on my Marketing Emphasis courses in the School of Business Administration which gave me a whole new perspective of the field. The UAE is a fairly new country and was officially established in 1971. Since then, the country is now known for being a business and tourism hub while holding Guinness World Records for the tallest skyscraper and largest shopping mall. In all their glory, this country still holds on to the rich Bedouin culture of hospitality, camping in the desert, and fishing off the coast.

After class, I loved to stroll through historical districts, souqs (markets), and visit beautiful mosques. During my stay in the UAE, I was able to branch out and explore other cities like Muscat, New Delhi, and London which is one of the greatest parts of studying abroad!

What I valued the most about my experience was building relationships with faculty, staff, and peers within my program. I now have friends across the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and London. As someone who loves to stay within my comfort bubble, studying abroad in the UAE pushed me to open up and network which is an important part of being a business major. I worked on market research reports, presentations, and product development while connecting with UAE locals and residents on campus.

By: Wehida Niazi

Why You Should Choose SFS​

When I was looking to study abroad, I had three main conditions that I wanted from my experience. First, I wanted to have an academically challenging environment that would allow me to think outside the box. Second, it was important to have a sense of community involvement and third, I wanted something completely different that I would remember for the rest of my life. SFS was the organization that met all of these conditions, and it has been a once in a lifetime experience. SFS was the organization that met all of these conditions, and it has been a once in a lifetime experience. SFS is one of the most unique study abroad programs offered, and the blend of cultural experiences and academic field work is a perfect balance.

In Panama, I can spend the morning at an indigenous community talking about land rights, and then transition to an afternoon of snorkeling or exploring mangrove systems. The hands-on field work is an extremely rewarding experience for passionate scientists and environmentalists alike. The structure of SFS classes allows me to shift my perspective on global issues, and think outside of my own personal opinions. Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to become more of a global citizen and SFS can help you become more aware of global issues.

Becoming involved in local communities is one of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad, so I knew I would need to find a program that allowed me to engage with the local culture. SFS offers many opportunities to become involved with local groups and organizations. I have spent Saturdays teaching local girls English and how to swim, there have been opportunities to play games like volleyball and soccer in local communities, and visits to different islands have been extremely beneficial in understanding the local customs and cultures of Bocas del Toro.

Coming to Panama, I understood that it would be much different then in the United States, and I welcomed that change. I wanted to experience life in a different place, with a different history, and a different perspective. I have grown significantly from this experience, and I know I will continue to grow and change during the rest of my semester here in Bocas del Toro. Bocas is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and I am surrounded by beaches and beautiful rainforests. The people I have met here have become my family, and I know that I have a massive support system within the SFS community.

SFS as a whole has been an unforgettable experience, and over the course of the semester, I will continue to appreciate all the amazing things that I will do as a SFS student. If you are looking for an unforgettable and unique study abroad experience, the School for Field Studies is the perfect program. There are so many once in a lifetime opportunities that I have been able to complete due to the programs that SFS offers, and I will always remember my semester in Bocas del Toro

By: Natalie Mansergh