Denmark | Reciprocal Exchanges Blog

note: I am very intentionally and knowingly completely going off-topic for this post because… you’ll see. There is a point.

I lied. Well, not technically. And definitely not in what really matters. I changed the nuances, which matters to me, though not much to anyone else.

To everyone I had to pitch ‘going to Denmark on an exchange’ to, I had said I needed it to further develop my career:

1. That it doesn’t help to have this one sided- America focused- viewpoint of business and not know anything about the rest of the world (do you spot the issue here? again, intentional. hint: my word choice. answer: “the rest of the world”. What does that even mean? It’s like looking at a map and seeing America vs. whatever those other countries are. I would never in a million years admit that’s the way I thought of business; I most definitely do NOT think like that when it comes to society and people and everything else I care about like food or art or literature or theatre, but as far as business goes, that is all I have ever known because it’s all I have ever been exposed to: America, China, and the “rest of the world”).

whoa, that was a long bullet point. sorry. 

2. That when my frame of reference is America, which possesses more than half of the WORLD’S equity market value (in comparison to Japan as a distant second- 7.4% and China right below Japan at 5.4%), my understanding of finance is bound to be more biased than the rest of global finance looking in on Wall Street.

3. That going to Denmark would eliminate some of the bias because I’d start to see things from Scandinavia’s perspective. It’d never be my frame of reference unless I spent more time there, but I’d be learning infinitely more just by being there.

4. Denmark is the happiest country in the world. How? I need to find out! The curiosity was killing me.

I had to pitch it because it was in the middle of a global pandemic and my reasoning for it had better have more value than my life or I wasn’t going, period. Kidding. I meant it was hard for me to get the ‘go-ahead’ due to the nature of our circumstances at the time.

While all of my points were true, I had left out the part where I was looking to find inspiration. The part where I didn’t even want to think about my full time career while I was there because I needed the time to cultivate my creativity. I always wanted to do something creative. I never knew what that could be. I never thought I could devote too much time to it now, where I was still learning the basics of financial analysis. I knew I was bad at the numbers, but my reasoning was that, at 21, with decades of time left in my career, I have the liberty to spend a few years being bad at my job so I’d have the foundations to move on from there and eventually go into something I know that, with time, I’d get very good at, like international negotiations or M&A.

But Denmark opened my eyes to a whole new idea: I am a free woman. I can be doing what I want while I make money. There is no rat race I need to be caught up in because I am not a rat. It’s that simple, yet just as complicated as it is simple. Every way we were taught we had to live were preconceptions, patterns people created, fed to us to feed a capital economy that needed to be developed as fast as possible essentially due to the timing of our history. I can live in a van if that lifestyle is what I crave; I didn’t think I could do that before I believed I am a free woman. I can be a traveling author if it’s what I really want; before Denmark, I didn’t think that was possible the minute I stepped into business school. Things change. I can change. My point is that, none of my circumstances changed just because I went to Denmark and came back. Financial analysis still doesn’t come easily to me. Finance is still my major. I still can’t make the cut for Wall Street. I still want to be a consultant for big 4 but haven’t been doing anything about it in the past year. I still don’t think I have the credentials to get in just yet. But what made all the difference in the world was my perception that I am free.

With that, I started writing a book that will be published the end of this year (Cacophony). I started a podcast (Wei Back When). I started updating my blog more (rubywei.com). All because I believed I was free. Too many times I let responsibility (or what I thought was responsibility) and money get in the way of my art, stifling my creativity.

And that, right there, is precisely what absolutely stuns me about Danes: they believe they’re not constricted. They aspire to be happy, to be more average than to get ahead. In turn, that has gotten them “ahead” in many spectrums, with happiness the primary one. My initial perception was that this country values life- they’re happy, they turn out innovative solutions, they really have their work-life balance down. My constant impression was how reserved they are to strangers and how utterly rule-following they are. I mean, they follow rules down to the comma; they don’t ever bend them. During quarantine, when the law said no more than five people can gather together, five is EXACTLY the number they stuck by. Why five? If two people gather together and one of them have covid, it’d spread regardless. If six people gathered together and none of them have been exposed, it’s highly unlikely any of them would get it. Five is not some magic number. It made more sense to me to be responsible about mask-wearing for yourself, make sure you’re meeting people you trust are responsible, have everyone in the group get tested and then a few additional people wouldn’t matter. But no, they had to stick to five. Or four. Or whatever the number the government said was the law. This constant- follow the rules precisely- was what I repeatedly saw: group projects, assignments, biking, walking, booking Airbnbs (quick example: I tried to stay for one more day at an Airbnb I’ve bent the rules many times in in the states, but the host said I had to go in and manually book another day even though I was trying to pay her the same amount minus the money that would go to Airbnb), etc.

Ultimately I came back with more of a conundrum than insights: why is Denmark a leader in innovation when the culture encourages sticking inside the box? Am I making false assumptions? Is there gray area I didn’t see through? Something I’m doing right now like spend most of my post going off topic so I can make my point that this is something that wouldn’t be tried in a Danish classroom… would not be tried in a Danish classroom. And YET, the NATURE of the education system has ambiguity and thus the need for creativity built INTO it- perhaps this is the answer to my conundrum, but I don’t know. And I am perfectly okay with not knowing. We- America looped into one culture (largely simplified and untrue, I know; just let me go for the sake of ending this blog post)- are incredibly results oriented. We’re good at solving problems (just look at our covid response), though not as good at preventing them (again, covid). But what if we approached business-innovation-education as needing creativity to be built into the system instead of bending rules after the fact? I don’t know. What if it won’t work because of predetermined factors such as the status of our country? I think I’m getting somewhere grand, but there are too many factors I haven’t thought of, yet I am completely okay with not knowing… for now.

Categories: 2021, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

Copenhagen Photography - Professional Photographers for Hire

I signed up for Danish class! Strategically, Spanish or Portuguese would be more “useful” because of the sheer number of Danes that speak English, but I think the greatest way I can respect a country is through the process of trying to learn their language. Am I going to forget everything as soon as I come back? Yes. But the process of trying garners more room for respect in my mind.

There’s that.

Today, well yesterday now, my SIM card plan expired. No internet. Which means I’ll be lost again. It’s okay, I’m used to it. Sometimes it’s fun. Like when I found a white-tailed deer. They’re not supposed to be active in the harsh winter, so I was lucky. Also, where I was, I could’ve just as easily been eaten by a wolf, but… I was lucky. Why didn’t I top it up? Well, when I went into 7-11 where I got the card from, the guy told me I had to repurchase a new card every month. ‘Wait that’s not how SIM cards work’, I argued, ‘I’ve never bought a SIM card like that’. I showed him my plan and even my receipt; he shook his head and assured me I needed a new card. A new number. I mean, I’m not a phone plan (or anything) expert, but I know people don’t change their numbers every month, even when the plan is for foreigners. Confused, I headed out to grab my textbooks at an electronic store.

I miss Prime. Amazon, where’s your next expansion effort located? S *my* S here. I need a foolproof method. These textbooks technically only took a week, but I was dumb and kept waiting for the textbook company to text me the number I needed to grab it when all along it was the shipping company who already texted me but I ignored it- it’d been half a month by the time I got it. Without data, I couldn’t check anything. “Is there a way you can look up…”. “That’s not my job” he interrupted. I’ll figure it out later, I sighed. Confused, I headed out to meet a friend.

Her apartment made me rethink what I’ve been doing with my life. She was paying less, had a gym, a music room, amazing architecture, incredible interior design, and with online class, being located away from school wasn’t a huge issue. It’s okay, I have some doves that hang out around my window sometimes. and a garage door across the street that wakes me up at night. Construction noise every day. Nice. One thing I do love – hearing all the laughter coming from the daycare when the weather’s nice.

When we walked into their open, spacious, elegantly designed kitchen (trademark of Danish society – even the most plain-looking exterior involves thoughtfully designed interiors), someone was already there, toasting bread.

“what are your plans for today?” she asked casually.

absolutely nothing,” he declared, ever so confidently.

My mouth dropped open… “Ruby, you good?” they asked.

I snapped out of it, covered my awkwardness up with a laugh, “Yeah, yeah, sorry”, and smiled.

What shocked me, was his confidence in what he was saying. Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! It wasn’t that I’ve never not done nothing- believe me, I’ve had my fair share of ‘absolutely nothings’ (I procrastinate. I’ve never been efficient. I’m still trying to learn how to manage my time); I was SO guilty about them, hated myself SO much when it happened, and never PLANNED for nothing before. I’ve never declared it so boldly- because if I ever did, I wouldn’t be able to trick myself into thinking ‘I’ll do ___ as soon as I ___”.

My first thought: wow, you are too cool.

My second thought: wow, I am so behind.

My thoughts afterwards: He must be SO fulfilled in who he is, SO satisfied in the work he’d already done, that doing nothing wasn’t a problem for a day.

what do I have to do to get to that point in my life?

Categories: 2021, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

I won’t lie, leaving my time abroad was very difficult. I had the most wonderful time and made the most amazing friends. My experience abroad completely exceeded my expectations and ended up being the best semester of my time at college. I learned so much about the world and myself. I even learned about the US and how much of an impact it makes on the world, which I feel like I wouldn’t have understood if I had never gone abroad. It is hard to imagine myself ever having doubts about going, because I would give anything to go back!

I would have to say my favorite part of my experience abroad was the people I met in my time in Denmark. While I made lovely friends from the US, Korea, France, and Australia, my closest friends were from Denmark. They embraced me so warmly and made Denmark feel like home. They showed me parts of their culture, places they loved, and how warm Danes can be! I got to visit their hometowns and spend lots of time learning about what makes Denmark so special. The hardest part of returning to the US was leaving them and not knowing when I would see them again. I still keep in touch with them and will probably go back to Denmark in the summer to visit them.

I didn’t expect to find so many differences between Denmark and the US, however the more time I spent there, the more I understood how different they are. I found that Americans can be very individualistic and reward-driven which makes the US have the energy that Americans are so proud of. Denmark on the other hand is much more community-driven and focused on work/life balance. Danes expect to be brought into the lives of their coworkers in ways that Americans would find to be extremely unprofessional. For instance, in an interview in the US, it would be pretty inappropriate to talk about your family life and hobbies. However, in Denmark that would actually be encouraged. Also, Americans are more driven, in the workplace, by rewards like pay raises and bonuses. In Denmark, the number one reward is time off to spend with friends and family. I found these differences to make a very big difference on the way Danes and Americans interact in the business world.

From my time abroad, I will always feel like Denmark is a little piece of home and will always be extremely grateful for the experience. I would recommend spending a semester abroad to anyone who gets the chance, because as cheesy as it sounds, it is life-changing.

Categories: 2019, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

Hi, I’m Rebecca Davidson! I am a junior Management major in Mays Business School. I am currently studying at Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I have been here in Copenhagen, Denmark for 5 weeks! It has already been such a life-changing, transformative experience for me. Denmark is a small country and Copenhagen, the capital, is home to over 602,000 of them. Adjusting to life in another country is much easier in a city with the size and excitement of Copenhagen. In Copenhagen, there are many neighborhoods with different vibes and attractions. The main city center has luxury shopping, historic castles, and the famous Nyhavn. Nørrebro and the Meatpacking District are the younger, more diverse neighborhoods with beautiful parks and hip restaurants. My university has buildings spread across the Fredriksberg, a residential neighborhood. The city is divided by canals and is extremely bike-friendly; It is said that there are more bikes than people here. Though it was intimidating at first, I now love biking around with no place more than a 30 minute bike ride. Copenhagen also has an efficient metro system that runs 24hrs a day and is incredibly clean and reliable.

My favorite thing about Denmark is the people. I soon learned that Danes are polite, giving, warm and silly. They love to use the term hygge, have impeccable English, and love their beer. I live in a dorm with mainly Danish students and have found it to be the biggest blessing of the semester so far; I get to live alongside Danes and experience their culture firsthand. Danes are known for their Scandinavian style featuring cozy layers, minimalist pieces, sneakers, and lots of black. Denmark is governed by a sort of unspoken law called Janteloven or Jante’s Law. The main aspect of this law is, “You are not to think you are anything special.” Though this sounds dark, it is actually a beautiful aspect of Danish life. The best example is how you will see a CEO biking to work just like everyone else. It promotes generosity and humility like nothing I’ve ever seen.

My university in Denmark has really impressed me! Copenhagen Business School is one of the most prestigious business schools in Europe and is very globally-focused. Before I arrived, I had my classes and schedule already laid out. My only complaint is that my class schedule varies in time and location by week. I am enrolled in 4 classes, 2 in Quarter 1, 1 in Quarter 2 and 1 for the full semester. My classes are engaging and taught from a different perspective. My professors are experts in their field and are from all over the world from London to Singapore. I don’t have many assignments, but lots of textbook reading and case studies.

I’m really excited for the next 3 months of living here and I’m so glad I chose Copenhagen to study for the semester!

Categories: 2019, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

Throughout these past six months abroad, I have learned and experienced so much. Despite the cold in the early months of the year, I loved everything about the area of Copenhagen, Denmark. I do not think I could have made a better choice in location for this exchange semester. The atmosphere of Copenhagen is that of a city however lacks all the negatives of chaos and crowding due to its small population. Danes tend to mind their own business and keep to themselves yet, when approached, they are still friendly and easy to interact with. This is especially true because most, if not all the younger generations, speak fluent English along with their native language. Overall, 10/10 would recommend studying abroad in Copenhagen.

Abroad I took 4 classes, 12 credit hours: principles of international marketing, consumer behavior and qualitative methods, global supply chain management, and operations management – enhancing competitiveness through operational effectiveness. With these courses I learned the very basics of marketing strategies used in an international/ global setting, how to collect and interpret qualitative data as opposed to quantitative data, and the basics of supply chains and what it takes to manage them.

One thing I learned about business in Denmark, specifically, is that importing products is critical to Danish businesses and almost unavoidable in most cases. That being said, it is easy to understand the high tax rates I encountered even when shopping for common items like groceries and other living essentials. As well, relating to the classes I took, I learned how absolutely important logistics managers are in Denmark businesses. They have to coordinate the movements of all parts and products in the supply chain which is even more complex when trade rates and laws get involved. However, a positive for Danish businesses is that the rest of Europe is lucrative and very close in proximity so trading is not as much of a nuisance as it could be.

In the end, I probably would not enjoy doing business in Denmark but it is definitely a cool place to learn about and I work recommend anyone to study abroad there. Below I have attached a couple pictures from the end of my trip:

Categories: 2019, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

Howdy!

Today is the official one month mark of my exchange semester here in Copenhagen, Denmark. After hours of flying and waiting in airports, getting to finally step off the last plane was both a blessing and a shock. Thankfully I had no problems at any of the three airports I passed through, managed to find my bags in a matter of minutes, and successfully wandered down the halls until, finally, I was greeted in Denmark by my CBS (Copenhagen Business School) Buddy, Karina. One metro and two bus rides later, I was in my new dorm room, unpacking, familiarizing myself with the new neighborhood and getting so excited to start my semester.

Speaking of the dorms, there are about 35 other exchange students living in Norrebro (a region in Copenhagen) with me which is about 10-15 minutes from CBS by bike. In this short amount of time, isolated together, we have grown extremely close and I absolutely love the family we have become. Upon meeting everyone, we formed a dorm-wide Facebook chat which we use daily to talk, plan outings, form travel groups and in the case of an emergency, contact each other for help. It amazes me how studying abroad has pulled us from all over the world (United States, Canada, New Zealand, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, China and Taiwan) into one place where we have bonded over a single commonality: we are not Danish. Below are some of the fun moments from Copenhagen which, let me make clear, is very cold!

If I do not spend a paragraph here talking about bikes, I will not have done Denmark justice. Biking is a huge part of Danish culture and I am absolutely in love with it. Because of an insanely large VAT tax, most people, especially college students, do not own cars but everyone, and I truly mean everyone, owns a bike. Children can be seen biking behind their parents, mothers and fathers are pulling carts of groceries or children (even pets), businesses send employees to make deliveries using bike baskets and students carry their bags to and from school, on bikes, every day. Now I am not saying biking is the only means of transportation. Denmark does have an excellent bus and metro system but bikes defiantly have a huge impact as they are cheap and practical, not to mention a great way to get some exercise in. All streets have bike lanes that fit about two bikes side by side (you always bike on the right and pass on the left), however, when you get into the city center, the bike lanes grow to fit about 5 bikes side by side and are nearly twice as large are the car/ bus lanes. In conclusion, bikes are everything here and as nearly every other exchange student has done, I have rented a bike for the next 4 months from a company called Swapfiets and this bike has become my lifeline.

As I stated earlier, it has been a month since I have started my semester and now that I have well established myself in Denmark, I have begun traveling and planning trips to other European countries. So far I have taken a bus to Malmo, Sweden and Hamburg, Germany. Next weekend is Oslo, Norway and beyond that, who knows. I am so excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel! Below are a few photos from both Sweden (first 2 photos) and Germany (last 2 photos).

Until next time, thanks & gig’em!

Categories: 2019, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

And so another month has gone by… I am still amazed at how fast time continues to pass here.

This past month has been filled with even more adventures, memories, and goodbyes. After travelling for the full month of April, I spent almost all of May in Cope. Since I leave June 7,  I wanted to really explore Copenhagen and check out all the places that I had wanted to but hadn’t yet. The weather became absolutely INCREDIBLE in May as well! It’s been hitting the high 60’s to mid 70’s. Copenhagen is already a beautiful city on its own, but when it’s sunny and warm, it becomes even more spectacular. I’m so accustomed the cold weather that when it gets to 70 degrees, I’m sweating like no other! I have no clue how I’ll survive when I arrive back in TX…

My friends and I discovered a wonderful little beach called Bellevue Beach here and it’s great to lay out and tan when it gets warm! Actually, it’s really interesting because on literally any sunny day, the Danes will lay out anywhere (the park, the beach, the decks near Nyhavn & Islands Brygge, anywhere!) to tan. I love seeing everyone out and about soaking up the sun! I also went to Dyrehavn (“deer park”) which is a huge park where deer roam around. I’ve also rented boats out and chilled on the canal. In the beginning of the semester I was really frugal with my money and didn’t really eat out, but since I don’t have much time left here, I’ve been balling out and eating out a ton. Copenhagen has SO many great restauraunts. You really can’t go wrong with any of the food options here.

Tourism has really picked up here so I’ve been hearing a lot more english whenever I go downtown. I didn’t realize how much I never used to hear english until just now!

My friends and I took a short weekend trip to Norway to hike Trolltunga. It was absolutely breathtaking. It was the hardest 12 hour hike I’ve ever put my body through, but it was so worth it. It’s not hiking season yet, so the entire mountain climb was covered in snow and so we had to hike with snowshoes on. It was quite the adventure.

For the past week, it seems as though someone in my dorm leaves to head back home. It is really sad and hard to say goodbye because for the past four months I’ve really gotten to know and love the people in my dorm. I found this amazing quote from a study abroad blog and I think it sums up study abroad perfectly:

“I learned to hold people and places and things loosely – study abroad is so impermanent. You come in knowing it will end, and you make relationships knowing you will leave. Yes, you can keep in touch, but it won’t be exactly the same. Everything is so fleeting and quick, but it doesn’t make it any less precious. It teaches you to, as cliche as it might be, live in the moment. I remember being on a boat in the Amazon with some friends, hearing birds and animals around us, watching the clouds reflected in the water and thinking, here I am. In this immensity, here is me, one small person, one small moment. I’ll likely never return to this exact spot, nor be with this same exact group of people again, but to be there in that particular arrangement of quickly flowing time and space was enough.”

Anywho, I’ve got 9 more days in this magnificent city. I have my accounting exam the day before I fly out and hope it goes well. My time here has been absolutely incredible and if I could I would do it all over again.

Categories: 2017, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

March came and went too fast. Officially hitting about halfway of this experience is crazy! I feel like I just got here but also feel like Copenhagen is my home.

The beginning of March, I took my favorite trip to date, Paris. Before going, I had no expectations. I have heard good and bad things about the city, but now I know to never listen to anyone and just experience it for yourself. There is so much to see in Paris, we didn’t even have time to hit everything in 4 days. Although it rained the whole time we were there, we still walked everywhere (30,000 steps a day kills you). Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the fist time will forever be engrained in my memory and one of the top 5 moments of my life. Paris stole my heart and I can’t wait to go back.

Due to a canceled flight, our weekend in Berlin became a short 48-hour trip. The city was super hip with a rich history. Traveling isn’t always glamorous, my friend and I found out our flight back was canceled 12 hours before and we had no way to get home. The flights home were over $400 dollars, so we opted for a last minute overnight bus. Not one of the best experiences, but we made it home. With a 6 hour layover at home to sleep and do laundry, I was off to Ireland.

Luckily, my friend Katie had family in Cork, Ireland so we were able to stay with them. It was refreshing to spend time with family (even if it wasn’t my own) and have home-cooked meals that weren’t chicken and rice (my go-to in Copenhagen). We were able to explore Cork, the Cliffs of Moher, and experience Dublin on St. Patty’s Day!! It was an insane day and I highly recommend anyone studying abroad in the Spring to go, but book your tickets/hostel early.

After traveling for the beginning of March, I had no plans for 3 weeks and enjoyed living in Copenhagen. The weather began to warm up (no gloves/parka!!). Study Abroad is a great time to do things you wouldn’t do back home so I decided to dye my hair pink (temporarily) at the end of March. It was something I’ve always wanted to do and finally did it!

After it all calmed down in March, I hit a slight mid-semester slump. You see all the good things about study abroad on social media but I want to address that it is completely normal to have the same slumps as you would at home! It was a hard adjustment for me to have so much free time, with minimal studying and no job. I had to force myself out of bed to do things and when the sun doesn’t shine for a week, that is hard. Here are some tips for when this slump or homesickness hits.

  1. Reach out! You don’t realize that most likely your friends abroad have or are dealing with this. It is very common but most people don’t want to admit they are feeling this way. Having someone to talk to is helpful.
  2. Get a hobby! To combat all this free time, I realized I needed to fill my time. I got a gym membership and also became a regular at a coffee shop to fill time.
  3. Realize it is temporary. Slumps come and go and you have to realize that you are living your best life abroad! Not everyone gets this experience so you need to make the best of it. Try not to lay in bed all day and watch Netflix when there is so much to see and do!

That’s all for now! See you next month!

Rachel

P.S. if anyone is going to Copenhagen next semester feel free to reach out to me with any questions! My email is remiller09@tamu.edu

Categories: 2017, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

Hej!

As of today, I have forty days left in Europe! It’s so crazy to think about how quickly time went and how much I wish I could extend my time here. April was absolutely crazy for me. I had two finals for my Quarter 3 classes and am officially half way done with my classes at CBS! My Quarter 4 Financial Accounting class (ACCT 328) just started this month and I’m pretty sure I’m the only American in the class. Every time I walk into class, I have yet to hear anyone speak english (besides the teacher), so that’s been pretty interesting. I’m determined to make some danish friends, but I’m also really intimidated by them, but I’ll keep you guys updated.

After I finished my two finals (which were written essays), I traveled for three weeks nonstop! I went to Riga (Latvia), Tallin (Estonia), Vienna (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Krakow (Poland), Italy (again), and Malta! Really broke the bank account this month.. but so worth it!

Riga and Tallin were really random places to hit, but when in Europe, why not?


Tallin

Then it was Easter break, so me and some girls went to Vienna and Prague. Since it was Easter, flights were CRAZY expensive, so we decided to take an overnight bus from Copenhagen to Vienna. (18 hours) Another bus from Vienna to Prague. (4 hours) And the last bus from Prague back to Cope. (14 hours) I highly recommend not doing that. I was so sleep deprived and my body ached from sitting for so long. But Prague had Easter markets and it was amazing! Prague has become one of my favorite cities that I’ve hit thus far.

pretzels at the Schloss in Vienna

Easter markets in Old Town Prague

Then I went to Krakow to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp. The moment I found out I would be studying abroad in Europe, I knew there was no way I wouldn’t make it out to the concentration camp. It was a really incredible tour to experience.

Then me and my friend went to Italy and we did the Sentierro Azurro hike. It’s a hike along Cinque Terre. It’s a 12 mile hike and you hit all five towns of Cinque Terre, absolutely incredible! I highly recommend the hike to anyone who visits Cinque Terre. One of my favorite memories from study broad so far.

after Italy, we headed to Malta. We visited the islands of Gozo and Comino. And boy was it beautiful. The water is so clear and blue, it looks like a photo straight out of a magazine. I am definitely going to have to make it back to Malta.

and now I’m off to catch up on some accounting…

Categories: 2017, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

4/25/17

The other day about 10 girls from my dorm gathered for a tapas night. We all made a dish and brought wine, and it turned into a wonderful night. As I was sitting there thinking about the last few months, I marveled at how far I’d come. Because I did NOT want to live in the dorm, and the only reason I ended up there is because I am plagued by pragmatism and thought university recommended housing would be the least complicated in a foreign country. And on my budget. The next thought that came to me made me laugh. 1) because it revealed just how much of a frameworks nerd I am and 2) it was absolutely right.

Acclimating to dorm life perfectly fit the stages of team formation model that I learned in the MBA program. A quick overview for those unfamiliar…new teams go through a predictable trajectory between formation and becoming high-functioning. Organizational behavior studies argue that recognizing and better navigating these stages will ultimately lead to peak team performance.

  • Forming – The team is formed. There are infinite reasons for grouping these particular individuals, but that does not mean the individuals will immediately find their connections to be salient.
  • Storming – Basically, stuff hits the fan. Clashing personalities, goals, habits, etc. prove to be a lot for the new team to handle, so they fight it out.
  • Norming – Expectations are more set at this point. The individuals know more about each other and themselves. A team culture (set of norms) is crystallizing.
  • Performing – As Taylor Swift would say, we’re out of the woods. There is now a team, and every individual knows the role they play in the broader success of the team.

 

Translated to dorm life this was…

  • Who are these people? Why are they all younger than me? Why won’t they just speak English? I am skeptical.
  • Didn’t these people learn how to wash dishes? Why is that music in the other building so loud? I am annoyed by the mere existence of 60 other people in “my house.”
  • Wow, she’s a pretty good cook! It’s nice to have people to bike to class with. Most people are pretty understanding if you bring a concern to them in a constructive manner. Plus, we’re all low on money and sleep so it’s in no one’s best interest to blast music into the wee morning hours.
  • Group dinners! Planning trips together. Lending bikes and performing bike repairs. Staying up late talking about our respective pasts, presents, and futures.

 

So there you have it! I went from having an apartment of my own to being a 28 year old sharing a bathroom, kitchen, and basically everything but my bedroom. And now that I’m squarely rooted in the performing phase of this motley crew, I can honestly say that living in the dorm has been a highlight of my exchange experience and a gateway to lifelong friendships.

Categories: 2017, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange