Tomorrow, tomorrow!

I’m leaving tomorrow, it’s only a day away!  The day is almost here!  By this time tomorrow, I will be in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport waiting to board my 12:35 flight to Washington D.C., and then from there, Copenhagen!  It’s hard to believe that today is my last full day at home and in the United States.

So far I have learned that packing is no fun!  The longest I have been away from Minnesota was for about a month on a family trip to India.  I’ve never ever ever flown by myself either. I go to college in Northfield, Minnesota, so I have never had to actually pack when I go to school.  Northfield is only a couple of hours away.  I just stuff whatever I think I’ll want in my car and I’m on my way!  I guess I can’t really do that now…..so I actually have to think about what I’m bringing with me.  But, the good news is that I am almost done!  I just have to pack a few more pajamas, work out clothes, shoes (I almost completely forgot about shoes!), and toiletry items, and I will be ready to go!   At first, I didn’t think that two suitcases, one 25 inch and one 21 inch, would not be enough, along with my backpack as my carry on.  The suggested items list in my Pre-Departure handbook gave me a minor freak out, especially when my winter coat took up about a fourth of one suitcase.  But now I think I’ll be just fine!  I’ve also bought some things to keep me entertained on my long flights and layovers.  I bought the book Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  It has been out for a while, and I have only heard good things about it, so that should keep me busy for a while! I also have some new to my iTunes library music by Kimbra, Trampled by Turtles, and Of Monsters and Men, all thanks to my wonderful friend Marcheta.  I’m so glad that we have similar taste in music!  I convinced my parents to let me buy some music as well, so I’ll also have some Florence + the Machine, Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons, and Mat Kearney to listen to.  I usually don’t do very well on long international flights.  I can never eat right before I fly, so hopefully some good tunes will keep me oblivious to the smell of the plane!

There are a lot of activities planned for DIS students during our three days of orientation. Again, I am with my friend Jessica in Section C (Red), Group: 13C.  I’m so glad I’ll have her around!  All the numbers, letters, and colors make me think that there will be a ton of DIS students.  There are already 556 members on the Facebook group for students studying abroad this fall through DIS, and my guess is that there will be even more!  Some of the activities that we have include the Opening Ceremony on Monday, August 20th.  There is also the DIS Copenhagen Amazing Race where we basically explore Copenhagen with a group of our fellow classmates, as well as an Activities and Immersion Fair.  And then classes begin on Thursday, August 23rd!

If anybody has any packing or book recommendations, leave a reply and let me know! Otherwise, farvel (goodbye) for now!

P.S.  I don’t actually know any Danish, I’m just using the Language section of my Pre-Departure Handbook so that is seems like I know what I’m doing. 😛

Classes and Trips Abroad

I thought it would be fun to let everybody know what classes I’ll be taking in my semester abroad, so here is the list!

Human Health and Disease: A Clinical Approach- An introduction to the most important human diseases, their diagnoses and treatments, and to the clinical working methods of physicians as practiced at a Danish university hospital. Taught at the National University Hospital (Rigshospitalet) and several Copenhagen University Hospitals

Biology of Marine Mammals- A comparative study of marine mammal anatomy, morphology, physiology, life history and behavior, and adaptation to marine existence. Includes study of the effect of human activities on marine mammals with special reference to Northern European waters.

Social Brain, The: Neuropsychology of Social Behaviors- The goal of this course is to explore the neural basis of human social interaction. Emphasis will be placed on how social psychology and neuroscience inform our understanding of social behavior, with each discipline offering unique and complimentary perspectives. Examples of topics: brain/behavior development, relationship of emotions, cognition and social behavior, theory of mind, the role of empathy and the social self.

Holocaust and Genocide- This course analyses the causes and consequences of genocide. Specific cases of genocide and near-genocide, including the Holocaust, will be studied along with issues such as perpetrator profiles, commemoration, and genocide prevention.

Enemy Within, The: Spies and Espionage in the Cold War- Political conflict was endemic during the Cold War, yet people on both sides of the Iron Curtain were intrigued by the other side’s ideology and became spies, risking everything in the process. This course introduces students to the objectives and effects of intelligence and espionage in the post-war period. The rising importance of intelligence in international politics and major players such as the OSS/CIA, MI5, KGB/GRU, STASI will be addressed.

These classes are equivalent to 25 Carleton credits.  I think this will be a great mix of classes for me.  I am a history major, hence the two history courses.  And, I will also have neuropsychology and biology courses to help me along my path into the medical field.  I am especially excited for the biology of marine mammals class!

DIS also has some organized trips for the classes you will be taking, or just for fun!  Here is what I will be doing through DIS.

Rock Climbing on the Swedish Coast- Spend a day away from Copenhagen meeting new people and exploring Sweden and Europe from another perspective! Join us for a day of rock climbing along the stunning Swedish coast. The climbing and rappelling is guided by professionals who can teach you to climb for the first time. This trip is aimed for beginners, however, if you are experienced in rock climbing, the coast of Sweden has some challenges for you as well!  The cliffs you will be scaling are full of character and have some of the most beautiful views. As a reward for reaching the top of the cliff, you can have a picturesque panorama across the Øresund, the narrow waterway between Sweden and Denmark. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Denmark including the beautiful fortress of Kronborg, Hamlet’s Castle.

A two-day adventure trip to Bornholm- Spend a weekend cycling on the beautiful island of Bornholm. Located in the Baltic Sea southeast of Copenhagen, Bornholm is perfect for biking and full of cultural and natural highlights. Its rolling hills are covered with a patchwork of farms, its coastline is dotted with sandy beaches and the island is criss-crossed with 250 kilometers of bike paths that have been praised as among the best and most beautiful in Northern Europe.In addition to biking, you can go for a hike, sample the famous smoked herring, visit one of the many glass blowing or ceramics studios or take the ferry to the neighboring island of Christiansø. You will stay at a hostel right by the sea on the east coast of the island and start your adventures from there.

A two-day study tour to Hamburg- During World War II, Hamburg was heavily damaged due to its Gau status as one of the de facto administrative sub-divisions of Nazi Germany. Specifically, the Nikolai Kirch and the surrounding neighborhoods were almost entirely destroyed.  Following the end of the War and in recent years, Hamburg has rebuilt itself into a vibrant city; however, as you walk through the city, you will notice that the presence of war still lingers.In order to further contextualize events of the Holocaust, you will visit the Bullenhauser Damm School. Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on a group of small children before executing them at Bullenhauser Damm, which now serves as a kindergarten.You will also explore the Neuengamme work camp, the on-site memorial to commemorate the prisoners, and a museum exhibition that explains the camp’s history. Neuengamme, the largest concentration camp in northwest Germany during World War II, was established in 1938 and closed in 1945. Over 100,000 people were subjected to horrendous living conditions, strenuous labor and overall murderous conditions throughout the camp’s existence.Through these visits, you will be able to better understand how historical events inform present mindsets and how a country moves forward without forgetting the past.

A week-long tour to Berlin-Poznan- This long study tour seeks to combine hands-on experiences with opportunities to derive comparative insight into medical practice across countries. The Berlin portion of the tour has featured a visit to Charité University hospital, which ranks as a leading hospital in Germany. Students have been exposed to leading biomedical research through our visit to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) where world-renowned researchers walk students through their projects.In Poznan, students spend their mornings shadowing physicians at the university hospital where they are invited into examination rooms and observe procedures first-hand. This part of the tour is particularly enriching because it not only gives students additional clinical experience, but it also highlights many of the challenges faced by post-communist countries and their effect on medical practice.In both destinations the academic program is supplemented with cultural visits to relevant and exciting sites to help students engage to the fullest extent. In the past, cultural visits have included city bike tours, brewery visits, and performances.

I am so excited to have this opportunity!  I have been to Zimbabwe and India before, but I’ve always been with my family when I’ve traveled anywhere.  I have never flown by myself before or been to Europe (besides the airports).  I look forward to sharing my experiences with you!

11 Days Until Takeoff!

Hello family and friends!  As many of you know, I will be spending the fall semester of my junior year studying abroad in Denmark!  I will take part in the Medical Practice and Policy Program through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS).  I found out that I had been accepted into the program early in February.  It has been 7 months since then, and it is hard to believe that I depart in only 11 days.

I have spent most of my summer in Northfield, MN.  I go to school at Carleton College, and worked in the animal colony on campus over the summer.  I also spent my summer house/petsitting for two of my professors.  In June I had a German Shepherd mix named Chachi, and in July I had two cats named Pasha and Laali.  I definitely enjoyed having their company!  In addition, I enjoyed volunteering and job shadowing a veterinarian at Prairie’s Edge Humane Society in Faribault.  The people who work there are wonderful, and it was such a great learning experience for me.  I love animals and am an aspiring veterinarian, so I’m just trying to get as much experience as possible!

I definitely had to spend some time at home in Worthington, MN before my 4 month long semester abroad, so I came home on August 1st.  On August 3rd my parents and I drove up to St. Paul because I was running in my third half marathon!  We spent a little time shopping that day and bought clothes and luggage for my upcoming trip!  My race was the next morning, and I finished with a time of 2:20:00.  I saw that there is a half marathon in Copenhagen in September, so maybe I can run that too!

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After finishing my third half marathon!

Now I am just spending time with family, friends, and my kitty.  I love watching the Olympics, and have been keeping track of Denmark when I see them.  They have a total of 8 medals right now!  I’ve also been reading some articles about Denmark and my Pre-Departure Handbook from DIS.  Here are some links!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/world/europe/in-denmark-pedaling-to-work-on-a-superhighway.html?_r=1&smid=fb-share

http://world.time.com/2012/07/20/magic-kingdom-why-live-action-role-playing-is-one-of-denmarks-most-popular-pastimes/

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/happiest-places/happiness-hot-spots-photos/

For some reason I woke up around 4 o’clock this morning, and I saw my phone flashing.  I checked it out, and was pleasantly surprised to see that my host family had e-mailed me! I was so excited that I couldn’t fall back asleep until around 5:30.  My family lives in Virum. According to Google Maps, it is only 17.1 km away from Copenhagen.  I am looking forward to meet them!  We share very similar interests, like tennis and baking.  I haven’t played tennis since high school, but I am looking forward to getting back into it with my host family.  They also have two dogs, and if you haven’t noticed, I love animals!  Another reason why I was extremely excited was because I found out that I would also be living with one of my best friends, miss Jessica!  We put each other down as people we would want to room with if our first choice (we both wanted host families) did not work out.  I didn’t realize that it applied to host families as well!  Well, at least not at the moment.  I am thrilled to be able to explore a new country with a wonderful friend.