This semester at University of Copenhagen I’m enrolled in the Faculty of Social Sciences, more specifically Political Science and Sociology. I’m taking 3 classes worth 27.5 credits total, two that last 2 hours and 1 that lasts 4 hours (it only runs through half of the semester).
What I learned from the first day of class at UCPH, though, is that 2 hours actually means 1.5. Everyone talks about the Danish lifestyle and how everyone outside of the U.S. thinks of time differently. In America, time is money. Every second is worth something, and if you want to be successful every second should be spent doing something productive. Here in Copenhagen, the attitude is much more relaxed. Although your class may begin at 1, that means that you won’t really be starting until 1:15. Those stragglers that can never make it to class on time are not seen as stragglers here. Your class may only be listed for 2 hours on the syllabus, but OF COURSE you’re going to get a 15 minute break after the first 45 minutes of teaching. So that you can get coffee or tea – of course! Before you know it, 3PM rolls around, and your 2 hour class is boiled down to only 1.5 hours of learning.
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my first week of classes. In addition to being fully integrated into the relaxed lifestyle, I’ve discussed a lot of interesting topics with engaging and dynamic students. Socially, we’ve talked about the cost of education and the vast differences between countries. In Denmark there is a relaxed atmosphere around classes because students don’t pay for attending university. There is no direct monetary value associated with their time in class, and their degree isn’t seen as a costly but (eventually) worthwhile investment. Talking about the cost of studying at Boston University is embarrassing, and one of the few things that I can’t justify when people question why America is the way it is.
Moreover, the content of my classes has been incredibly enjoyable thus far. In the first session of my three classes we’ve talked about themes that have been consistent in my education since freshman year of high school. My three classes all have very similar ideas: Migration, Refugees and Citizenship in a Globalized World; Ethnic Conflict and Peacemaking in Divided Societies; and Danish Sociology: A Look at the Welfare State. Doing the preliminary readings exposed me to topics such as nationalism, European identity, immigration, social services, the role of the government, social integration, and how societies function – all SO interesting and relevant to the world today.
I can’t wait to gush about all of the interesting conversations I’m going to have, and truly nerd out in my classes that directly contribute to my passion for my career. For now, enjoy this photo of where I take my classes, which used to be an old hospital!