Boilermaker Experiences Danish culture during Study Abroad
Before enrolling in Purdue, Myah Sandlin (Agribusiness, Westfield, IN) knew she wanted to study abroad. As a child she always loved Scandinavian history and culture, so when Studying Abroad became an option, she had no doubt she would want it to be in Scandinavia. While searching for study abroad programs and campuses in Denmark with economic programs, she discovered DIS (formerly the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, now simply refered to as 'DIS'). With DIS she would get to live in Copenhagen and travel to various other countries for class, so she decided this would be the best chance to see as much of Europe as possible.
When Myah first arrived in Denmark, she had a few adjustments to make and was shocked by some things. “Mundane things like milk being outrageously expensive and the metro system are common things to be surprised about as an American, I think,” she said. “But the biggest shock to me, for some reason, was the Hygge culture. Hygge is the feeling of coziness and contentedness with the small things like a good cup of coffee or looking out the window. It is a defining characteristic of Danish culture and shocked me at how much this helped me combat the ups and downs of studying abroad.” Her biggest adjustment was learning how to balance her time though. “I wanted to visit so many places and do so many things to the point that I would feel guilty for having an empty day or weekend. Understanding that being lazy and just living in Copenhagen is a part of the Study Abroad experience was my biggest adjustment.”
While she was outside of class, Myah could usually be found in her apartment or in central Copenhagen. She states she lived with 11 of “some of the most amazing people.” Her apartment was in the center of everything, being only 8 minutes from the nearest metro and 15 minutes from Tivoli, an amusement park she visited. While at her apartment she and her roommates would cook together, sing, and dance, and just mull around the shared areas. One of her favorite activities with her roommates was playing Dungeons and Dragons. “I was talking about it to one of my friends I lived with and a group of 5 of us decided that playing a campaign here would be fun. It spiraled into playing it weekly in the apartment and our sessions became something I could look forward to through everything.”
Myah also got to experience places outside of Denmark which were some of the highlights of her Study Abroad Experience. She took weekend trips to Hungary, Poland, and Amsterdam, but her favorite trips were the week she spent in Greece with friends and her solo trip to Iceland. In Greece, she and two of her friends island hopped from Athens to Milos and Milos to Crete. They visited the Parthenon, had a picnic at Sarakiniko, and drove through the mountains and spent time at the beaches there. About that trip, she stated, “I never thought I would be able to have an adventure like that with hilarious and caring people. I am beyond grateful for that trip and the fact that I’ve made friends I know care for me as much as I care for them.” Her solo trip to Iceland was another wonderful experience abroad. She mentioned she had planned to do it for a while because Iceland was her main special interest while growing up. She said, “I drove around the southern part of Iceland, visiting the Blue Lagoon, doing a glacier hike, and exploring Þingvellir National Park. My biggest highlight from this had to be when I was driving on the country roads alone and seeing the northern lights appear. I pulled over into a random side road and just laid on the roof of my rental, watching the Aroura borealis dance in the sky. It felt like the universe was acknowledging my existence, and I cannot explain how much that has changed my perception of the world.”
Myah encourages everyone to study abroad. She stated, “If you have even the slightest idea of wanting to study abroad: do it. I promise you; it is worth it. I thought it was going to be an interesting experience, but nothing special. I was so so so wrong, and I will gladly admit to it. The amount of personal growth I have gone through is crazy, and I will never forget my time here.”