This past summer, I spent three weeks abroad studying medical biotechnology and drug development with DIS, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad. I was based in Copenhagen, Denmark, but also had the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland with my class. I had a wonderful experience, not only with the class but also living in Copenhagen. Going in, I knew almost nothing about Denmark and I didn’t know anyone else doing the program, but I left with multiple new, very close friends and a firsthand experience of what it is like to live, and go to school in Copenhagen.
When I first arrived in Copenhagen, I quickly found out that my suitcase had been left in the United States; a bad start to an otherwise wonderful trip, but that issue was resolved within a few days. As soon as I left the airport, one of the first things I noticed about the city was how easy it was to find your way around. The architecture was so beautiful and unique that it was hard to forget where you were, making it the perfect place to explore with new friends. While there were a multitude of wonderful things to see, my favorite thing about Copenhagen was the network of canals that permeated the entire city. The canals provided beautiful places to go grab a bite to eat, do some homework, or just relax and watch the very late summer sunsets. A few friends and I were even able to rent a boat to explore the city by water rather than on the streets.
There were so many different things to see within the city, including palaces, castles, parks, and museums. I made sure to squeeze in all of the must-see destinations, but I was also very fortunate to be in Copenhagen during a time when there were a few very special events happening. One of the only things that I heard Danes talking about in my first few days was the upcoming World Cup match against Peru. It was such a big deal that they were televising the event at the soccer (or should I say football?) stadium in Copenhagen. We decided it would be a once in a lifetime experience to go watch, and we were right. Being able to join in on the excitement as the locals watched their team win their first match was amazing. Not only did we get to experience the football craze, but we were also there during the Midsummer’s eve festival, which happens every year right after the summer solstice. During this event, large bonfires are lit to ward off evil spirits. While there weren’t any bonfires allowed this year due to a particularly dry summer, we still got to listen to the beautiful traditional songs that they sang.
Most of my time in Copenhagen was spent working on the class that I was enrolled in. One of the careers that I am interested in going into after I graduate is pharmaceutical research, so I thought it would be a great idea to learn about the drug development process. While the course was fairly demanding, I am very glad that I had the opportunity to learn more about the field, including what the entire process is like starting from an idea, all the way to clinical trials. As part of the course, we got to take a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit multiple pharmaceutical companies based there. This allowed us to see not only the companies directly involved in research and development, but also those that help with data analysis and outsourcing of certain tasks. After completing this course, I really felt like I had a better idea of what a career in pharmaceutical research would be like, which is going to be incredibly helpful for me in the future.
Overall, my time in Copenhagen was amazing, and I was so fortunate to be able to go. It went by so quickly, but I will always look back on my experience with fondness and remember the fun times that I had in a wonderful new city, learning with wonderful new friends.