Fall 2014 | Semester Exchanges Blog

November 1- 30th, 2014

I feel like each month that passes by goes quicker and quicker and this past month of November was no exception. Each month has held a new adventure and only gets better and better though!

My family left in the early hours of the morning of November 1st and that is where I left my last blog post. It was a sad goodbye but I was still looking forward to my last trip of the semester to Switzerland. This was the trip that both Madison and I were most excited for! We had planned to take this trip the second weekend in November but had yet to book anything, and only had a week until our planned departure.

I was a slightly stressed out about this trip though because our first exam was scheduled be released on November 13th so this would only be 3 days after we would get back from Switzerland. The exam was for a class Madison and I were taking together called Language of Negotiations, the equivalent of MGMT 439 at A&M. The exam would be a five-page essay that we would have a week to complete on an unknown prompt, and we would likely be missing the class prior to the last class, which stressed me out. Then on top of that I was also taking Web Interaction Design and Communication – New Forms of Interaction, Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration the equivalent of INFO 420 at A&M. I had a major presentation on November 18th 5 days after our planned return. Normally presentations are not a big deal, but for this class we had to complete extensive data analysis and research as a group and I was the group leader. Then following this we had to individually write a 10-page essay on separate topics presenting a creative analysis of the data with new conclusions. In the presentation we had to present what we had chosen to research, our findings, and our individual areas of research for our final projects so as you might imagine I was very stressed about this.

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All of this being said I was worried we might have to cancel the Switzerland trip or I would be studying the entire time! But in an inspired manner on November 1st, as many of our friends were traveling and with nothing holding me back since my family had just left that Saturday, I decided it may be a better idea for us to go to just go to Switzerland on a whim that day, so I mentioned it to Madison and a plan was set in motion.

What started off as a completely normal day, with Madison and I planning on cleaning the room, and maybe doing some studying or going to the gym (side note: if you need a gym, I recommend Fitness DK, right by Solberg Plads building, it cost around $40 usd a month and you can cancel your subscription at anytime) turned into Madison and I booking a plane ticket, train, and a hostel then taking off to Switzerland!

Here is a little timeline of my day:

  • 10:00am- wake up and checkout of my parents apartment with Madison, plan to go to Kathrine Kollegiet then the gym
  • 10:30am – arrive back at Kathrine Kollegiet
  • 11:00am – bring up going to Switzerland tomorrow instead of next weekend
  • 12:00pm – decide it would be cheaper to just go today
  • 1:15pm – book a plane ticket
  • 2:30pm – leave Kathrine Kollegiet
  • 5:00pm – take off from Copenhagen
  • 6:25pm – arrive in Switzerland

This had to be one of the most amazing trips of my entire life and I don’t know if anything will ever be able top it! Everything seemed to fall in place so beautifully and we decided to keep the theme of the trip being spontaneous. We only booked our hostel in Interlaken, Switzerland for the first night so we could keep as many options open as possible! We arrived in Interlaken at night and it was AMAZING, I have seen stars but I have never seen such a beautiful sky in my entire life. When Madison and I were walking to the hostel from the train station we stumbled upon this field in the middle of the town where you could look up and see the snow capped mountains surrounding you and the most beautiful star filled sky. Madison and I just took a moment to sit down on the bench in the beauty and reflect on how truly blessed we were to be able to experience this.

Paragliding over Interlaken

Paragliding over Interlaken

The next morning I woke up and I was just feeling the need to do something out of the ordinary, spontaneous, and crazy so I told Madison that and being that Interlaken is well known for extreme sports we decided to sign up for paragliding! I was so scared being that my biggest fear is heights but nothing was going to stop me from conquering this fear and experiencing this. It was truly the high point of my entire life and one of the most incredible things I have ever done. We glided over Interlaken for twenty minutes and saw some of the most amazing views; it seemed as though you could see forever and the beauty was unreal!

After this we decided to move to a smaller town a little higher up in the mountain, Lauterbrunnen. This town has the most amazing hiking trails, countless waterfalls, and is a stop to get to towns even higher in the mountains. We had such a great time here and took full advantage of the hiking trails, visited many of the waterfalls, and took a day trip up even higher in the mountains to some other towns via the gondolas.

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Switzerland was easily my favorite trip of the semester. The beauty of the country was unreal, and the spontaneity of the trip made it even better. I can only hope I get the opportunity to go back some day and visit again.

Once we returned to Copenhagen it was time to really get serious about my final exams. First was my Language of Negotiation exam, which as I stated early was a five-page essay, with a week to write it. I was originally very stressed about this but it ended up being a lot easier to write than I anticipated. Something to be sure to note is that CBS has very specific standards for their essays that took some getting used to. A typical page is considered 2,275 characters (including spaces) so you just multiply this by the total number of pages of the exam and that that is the maximum number of characters. The font is also a suppose to be Times New Roman and a minimum of 11, plus some minimum requirements on margins that aren’t that important as long as you are meeting (and not exceeding) character count. I would highly recommend paying attention to character count when writing because being this was my first exam I just wrote five normal pages and ended up having almost eleven pages by CBS standards and had to cut it way down in order for my paper to be graded.

I also had to work on my group presentation for my Web Interaction Design and Communication – New Forms of Interaction, Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration class while writing my Language of Negotiations essay which was slightly stressful but I had done much of the research data for the presentation already so it wasn’t too bad. The presentation was slightly scary at first since my professor was critiquing our research, and had been extremely tough on many groups but it seemed to go really well!

Something I would highly recommend for those on REEP at CBS during finals is to book study rooms and study seats in advance when you know your finals are coming. At CBS almost every seat in the library and all the study rooms require a reservation and these are in very high demand since they are very limited. You can book 10 hours worth of study rooms per person in any two rolling weeks and I think 40 hours of study seats per week. The reservations open up one week in advance and you book online at booking.cbs.dk. Often people will try and take your study room and study seat but if you just kindly tell them they have a reservation they completely understand!

As mentioned in Madison’s blog, there are various types of exam given at CBS such as:

  • 24, 48, or 72 hour written papers anywhere from 5, 10, to 15 pages
  • Essay research finals typically given towards start of the semester
  • Group essays
  • 20-minute oral exam over any class topic
  • 20-minute oral exam over previously written product
  • 20-minute oral exam in which students draw a topic from a bowl and speak over about it
  • 4 hour written exam (typed on computer)
  • Multiple choice exams (rare)
  • Various other paper types determined by professor

Before we went straight to work on our next exam we went to see the new Hunger Games movie with a few of our friends! The movie theater cost about $20 USD which was a little hard to swallow after paying College Station movie prices for years but it was well worth it! The movie theater was so nice, you reserved a specific seat and they even had couches! We chose regular seats but they were basically recliners, it was incredible! Some of the large lectures at CBS are held in the movie theater because they have run out of rooms on campus and I had always heard how comfy the chairs were and how people always fell asleep but I had never been into the theater, it was amazing!

Now it was time to start my group essay due on December 1st for Events and Festival Management the equivalent of RPTS 320 at A&M. The exam for this class was assigned at the start of the semester and we to suppose plan any event and write a proposal on it, then we would have a 20-minute oral exam over our essay later in December. The essay was written in a group of three people, was ten-pages detailing the entire event plus appendixes. Madison was in my group as well as a guy from Poland. This exam was relatively fun to write but the unknown of the oral exam hung over our heads, which was quite stressful. We worked until the last minute to pull this off and submitted it four minutes before it was due then had about a week and a half before our oral exam.

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To celebrate Thanksgiving Madison and I hosted a potluck dinner in our room with all of our new friends! Being the hostesses we are we went all out and invited about fifteen people and had everyone bring food in addition the variety of food we cooked ourselves, and set up long white tables in our room! Everyone had such a great time enjoying each other’s company and hanging out! Colby from the A&M REEP Program was also able to come over and it was a blast! It is so sad to think we only have a month of nights like these left!

With November coming to a close it is becoming more and more real that my time here is truly limited! Everyone is becoming very busy with finals, which is sad, but it makes moments that I get to share with all my great friends in Copenhagen all the more valuable. I feel like I have already grown so much as a person from this experience and I cannot wait to see what to see what the next month holds. I know I am still going to be busy with more finals since I have two more upcoming finals and an oral exam but I am going to do my best to make the most of it all!

 

 

Categories: 2014, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange

I IMG_9801have been in Europe for almost two months now and in Copenhagen close to a month and a half, and it is safe to say I am beginning to love it here. With all the anticipation and build up to this trip it is still hard to believe I am actually here living in Europe now and I cannot believe how quickly time is beginning to go by! I said my tearful goodbyes to my family on August 1st from Austin Airport. But I am incredibly blessed that my best friend, Madison Seidel is also going on a Reciprocal Exchange to Copenhagen Business School and is rooming with me this entire semester.

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The flight to Europe was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated it to be which was great. A very nice aggie happened to be sitting behind us so that was very comforting as we were full of nervous energy and excitement! We bought our tickets through Lufthansa round trip (flying home December 20th) since they have a website called generationfly.com allowing you to change one of your tickets travel days if needed. This was very helpful since you don’t find out when your finals are until late September, we thought this may come in handy later to avoid an extra fee if we did ended up having to fly home later.

Once we landed in Copenhagen we stayed at a hotel, since we could not get into our dorm for another 2 weeks. We took our extra bags to a family friend who lives in Sweden (a short 15 minute train ride) for storage while we traveled around to Barcelona, Rome, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Florence before returning to Copenhagen on August 16th. If anyone is planning on traveling before classes start and don’t want to carry a semesters worth of luggage around Europe with you, another option is the International Office at CBS. The International Office is happy to store any luggage for you while you travel free of charge as long as you drop it off during office hours but since we arrived on a Saturday and were leaving for Barcelona on a Sunday this wasn’t an option for us!

The first four days of traveling is when I experienced the worst culture shock and homesickness. I am very independent and was traveling with my best friend so I was convinced before leaving there was no way I would be homesick but trust me it gets even the best of us! I called my parents crying and thought I was going to be miserable the entire semester but I after forcing myself to get out of bed and do things it all began to get better. I learned the importance of having a strong support system and the value of great friends and family through the experience!

We had a few ups and downs along this trip while learning how to use rail passes and adjusting to the culture in Europe but we made it through and had such an amazing experience filled with so many great memories! Granted we learned a few lessons the hard way like when Madison got a train ticket in Italy for filling out her rail pass wrong, or when we came within seconds of ending up stuck on a non-stop train to Pisa when trying to get to Monterosso, or having to sprint across crowded train stations with full backpacks to avoid missing trains we showed up late for. We just laughed it off and called it part of the experience!

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As the two-week trip was coming to an end we were exhausted and ready to get to a place we could finally call home! Copenhagen Business School has an optional program (which you need to sign up for) that partners each student with a “buddy” who helps you find your new apartment and can just help in general with any questions you have about the new city. Unfortunately, my “buddy” was out of town on the day we were arriving but lucky Madison’s buddy was able to meet us at the airport with her roommate to show us to our new home!

IMG_5141Our dorm, Kathrine Kollegiet, is on the opposite side of Copenhagen as the airport so it took about 25 minutes to get to it on the metro and by the time we arrived at the front door the anticipation was killing us since we had very little idea of what the room would actually look like. The room is in a U-shape and it gives us the ability to both have somewhat of our own private areas, which is fantastic. The room is on the first floor, which in America would technically be considered the second floor. Our room is one of the few that was completely re-done with new everything (paint, flooring, updated kitchen area, and furniture)! We are so lucky with the room we were assigned and we absolutely love it!

10629629_10203979803431358_8070843499822583275_nSince classes did not start until September we did not have anything required of us during our first two weeks here but we had signed up for some optional two social week programs, which gave us a fantastic opportunity to meet so new many people! These programs were hosted through Copenhagen Business School and included a combination of day and evening events ranging from international dinners, to mardi gras parties, to sight-seeing canal tours, to renting out a clubs from 10pm-3am with drink specials! These events were an amazing way to meet so many new people so fast from all over the world. These first two weeks in Copenhagen were incredible and were what really made me fall in love with the city. Copenhagen is so incredibly beautiful everywhere you look! The main method of transportation here is bike so it is also much more peaceful than other large cities, and the people here are very concerned about the environment so it is very clean. Many people ask me about the language barrier with the people here speaking Danish but almost every person in Denmark speaks perfect English and as soon as you start speaking they will switch over and talk to you in it.

 

Some of the things I can tell you now about Copenhagen is that everyone in Copenhagen loves the color black so if you want to fit in with the crowd bring every black-colored clothing item you own! I would invest in a nice raincoat with a hood because that will become a staple of your wardrobe; personally I would recommend a black one. No one here wears wedges out so no need to even pack them, but you should bring a nice pair of Nikes because people here love wearing nice running shoes with everything (dresses and jeans alike). Pack lots of the medicine you typically take because they don’t sell the normal brands you buy at home here and it is all very different here any you will get sick (everyone’s allergies here are terrible)!

When the first day of school came both Madison and I were a little nervous but luckily we have ¾ of our classes together! I am taking Events and Festival Management, Language of Negotiation, Web Interaction and Design and Communication – New Forms of Interaction, Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration, and Organizational Behavior. The class structure here is set up a bit different than what we are used to at A&M. Instead of having classes twice or three times a week for a shorter time we have class once a week for two hours and thirty-five minutes (we get 2 breaks for 5-10 minutes during class). Also, there is no required attendance, your class schedule is allowed to overlap, and no grades other than the final. All my classes are in taught English and for the most part the teachers are not from Denmark but from other parts of Europe and don’t have too strong of an accent.IMG_1034

As to my finals, a majority of them consist of theoretical essay topics given anywhere from 72 hours before they are due, to one week before they are due. Depending on the class the essays are required to be anywhere from 6 pages to 14 pages long. Some of my finals also have an oral portion. For example, my events and festivals management class, has a 20 minute one-on-one session with the professor (with an expert in the field observing to make sure the grading is fair) building upon the theoretical essay you turned in where he can ask you anything he would like then you are graded immediately following this discussion. Another class has a group presentation for 15-20 minutes prior to the written essay, which stands as a basis for the essay.

The hardest part about classes is trying to force myself to read the textbooks, as there is very little incentive. I know I have no upcoming test I just have to keep reminding myself if I don’t read them than the finals will be impossible! Classes here are also very teacher-student interactive which is a little intimating at times, the students are encouraged to speak up during lectures and challenge views as well as comment thoughts and view points which is extremely different then the large lecture style I have been used to.

While I value the importance of class while I am studying abroad I also find that there is so much to be learned outside of the classroom while I am here in Europe through the people and places around me so we have made it a point to travel as much as possible. We have done a day trip to Malmo, Sweden. We took a trip to London, UK for three days and from there went to Dublin, Ireland for two days. We just got back from an amazing trip to Prague, Czech Republic for two days traveling by train to Munich, Germany for three days to attend Oktoberfest. We have met so many wonderful people while traveling and seen so many amazing things on these trips!

 

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I cannot wait to see what the next for weeks has in store for us with fall break coming up we have a pretty big trip planned and my family is coming in just over 20 days to visit! So far I have had such an amazing experience and have learned so much about the world around me and myself and I cannot wait to learn even more.

Categories: 2014, Denmark, Reciprocal Exchange