I Wanted to Understand and Experience the “Happiness” in Denmark

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My name is Erica Cheung and I’m a junior majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Supply Chain Management. I studied abroad in summer 2016 at Copenhagen Business School. I chose this program because having never been to Europe, I had always wanted to go. It is also known how infamous the Scandinavian countries are in being happy people, so I wanted to go and experience and see it for myself.

Being abroad not only grew me to be more independent and self confident, but also how to handle trials as they came. I would say going to Denmark put me significantly out of my comfort zone, being a minority in a lot of my class, and also in terms of cultural diversity within the country. However, this experience has only taught me to be more confident in who I am and what I have to offer in the classroom and as a person.

While I studied abroad some of the things that surprised me was the education culture in Europe. My summer program was not only diverse in culture of the students, ranging from countries in Eastern and Western Europe as well as Asia and the Americas, but also in age. While I was there, I was studying with students that were sometimes 10 years, if not older than me. It was interesting learning that not all countries filter their students directly into higher education after they graduate high school.

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A specific purpose of mine was also to understand and experience the “happiness” of the people in Denmark. A cultural shock to me was that despite being a bustling city, their pace of life is very different. Having grown up in New York City I know the stress that New Yorkers may experience. But, in Denmark, the Danes are sure to put aside family time every day, or closing shops and businesses exactly on time. As a result, there would be more leisure time with families strolling parks after dinner or even picnicking during the middle of the week.

What I found to be most rewarding while I studied abroad was the ease of traveling and seeing more of Europe. Because of the convenient train system, and location to different countries, traveling on the weekend was easy and stress relieving. Unlike in America, crossing a border to another country already meant encountering another culture, or language. The flight time from New York to Florida may be the same as from Denmark to Switzerland but you would never experience the same cultural barriers. I think that’s what was really unique about Europe and my entire study abroad experience in general.

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I would definitely encourage any student to study abroad because these experiences are definitely eye opening. Not only do you learn independence and experience and immerse yourself in a different culture, but a study abroad experience will be different than what you would be able to experience vacationing in a country. It’s important to take advantage of being a student and having the ability to study, and experience any culture in a stress free safe environment that study abroad programs offer.

Erica Cheung, a junior at School of Management, who studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in Summer 2016 and interned at the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives as the Education Abroad Ambassador Manager in the academic year 2016-17

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