More Life

Haha, I’m using the Drake album title as the name of my blog post! But seriously, it was the first thing that came to mind when I thought about a concise way to explain the time that has passed since my last blog post. I haven’t written in a very long time, because I’ve been trying to do more – more life! I have been getting more involved here in Copenhagen, volunteering with Oxfam IBIS as well as DanMUN. I am also taking on more substantive work at my internship, and making a conscious effort to stay on top of my readings. I have yet to actually dive into working on my paper for my Ethnic Conflict class that recently ended, but sooner or later I’ll be doing that as well. I’ve been trying to keep up with my personal journal, but it’s very difficult to journal AND write blog posts. You start to feel very self-centered.

It’s almost April, which is quite crazy to believe. I have conflicted feelings about my comfort here. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve lived in Copenhagen for years, biking the same streets and seeing the same faces. However, another part of me knows that there’s so much left for me to discover. In Copenhagen, in Denmark, in Europe overall. I have taken several trips since my last entry, but I am still quite weary when it comes to weekend travel. Although I had such glorious plans for jet-setting during my time abroad, I find myself reluctant to leave Copenhagen each time I head for the airport. I always look forward to my trips (such as visiting Normandy this weekend with my Dad), but I really do love being in Copenhagen.

Last weekend I visited London, which is probably my favorite city behind New York, tied with Copenhagen right now for the #2 spot. I studied abroad there for part of last summer, interning and completing courses. I was so happy to be back in a city that makes my heart swell in such a unique way. I realized upon my visit that I love London because it really feels like the center of it all. Something is always happening, people are always on the move, and no day is ever the same. I felt so comfortable to be back walking the streets, even when I had no idea where I really was. However, after returning to Copenhagen I realized how happy I am that I chose to study at Kobenhavn Universitet as opposed to completing the BU-London program. London is far more expensive than Copenhagen, especially transport and groceries. I truly value the freedom of being able to safely navigate the city by bike. Moreover, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet international students and students from other American schools. Choosing to do direct exchange is something I have no regrets about, even if it is bolstered by the fact that I have far less work than most BU programs.

I am also very happy I chose Copenhagen for that reason – I am finally taking the time to relax. During this semester, I have already read SEVERAL books. Yes, I am emphasizing several, because the fact that I have time to read for fun outside of completing readings for class is truly astonishing to me. I forgot how much I enjoy getting deeply invested in a book’s story line, and I have read some pretty good ones so far (Descent, The Goldfinch, Into the Darkest Corners, to name a few).

I hope to soon resume writing some meaningful posts about my observations and new perspectives on issues. For now, I will continue to read my books, listen to my podcasts to stay up to date with American politics, and journal about my experience here.

 

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Intervention vs. just let it happen

One of my courses that I’ve mentioned before is Ethnic Conflict, Peace-building and Democratization. In this course, as it sounds, we talk about different cases of ethnic conflict, as well as many other themes such as power-sharing, federalism, decolonization, and state building. One of the recurring themes is the question of foreign intervention, and when states should get involved in a conflict abroad or when the international community should stay out of it. This question has been one that I’ve thought about quite a bit, especially when learning about the historical frequency of U.S.’ failed intervention efforts abroad.

This post will not be a historical analysis, rather, a very quick emotional look at whether to intervene or not. My time in Denmark has shown me that there are fundamental differences in the way that states perceive their responsibility to encourage democracy. The U.S. is widely criticized for its tendency to involve itself in civil conflicts happening far away, and many of my classmates have made this point. However, this leads me to question why people aren’t more critical of their own states. Sure, the U.S. has tried to institute peace and hasn’t always been successful, but what has Denmark ever done to help people being oppressed or abused by their governments?

Of course, artificially imposing democracy on nascent states can be detrimental. Theories time and time again have shown us this, and that’s not a point I disagree with. Rather, I personally struggle with the claim that we should avoid a “fake peace” and simply let the state sort it out themselves. If we leave this developing state to its own devices, it’s very possible that people will suffer at the hands of their government. New governments often have trouble providing the necessary services to their citizens, and the established states choose to sit idly by because of fear of being criticized by the international community?

As I said, there is a great deal of historical context that determines each and every case of intervention. To fully understand the impacts of intervention would take days, and several very lengthy blog posts. Rather,  I just wanted to provoke the inner conflict that I’ve been having in a more public space.