Alphas Abroad, Vol. 1

Studying abroad is an invaluable part of many students' undergraduate experience, and for several of our sisters, getting to meet up with other Alphas while abroad has made their experience all the more unforgettable. Our sister Irene is currently abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark and blogging about all of her experiences along the way! An excerpt from one of her recent blog posts this semester is below, but for more feel free to check out Colors of Copenhagen.

"I spent last week traveling to western Denmark with my Global Economics class. As part of the DIS program, everyone gets to travel with their core class twice in the semester, first on a short tour near Denmark (which I just did), then later on a longer tour to a different country (I’ll be going to Moscow in March).

After a four hour bus ride, we finally arrived in Jutland, the western most island of Denmark. The next few days were spent hearing from Danish companies and professionals. We got free yogurt and learned about the milk business from Arla, the largest dairy company in Scandinavia; heard about the strong possibility of the EU’s collapse at Jyske Bank, the third largest Danish bank; and saw the production of missiles in action at Terma, Denmark’s largest aerospace and defense company.

While bustling about in business attire on the tour, I also experienced my first Danish snowfall. The snow here is different. Each snowflake flutters and falls gently, spreading a soft cover over the landscape. On our second night, we were introduced to snobrød, a Danish tradition where you roast dough on a stick over a campfire. Amused by this s’mores alternative, my classmates and I huddled around a fire and slowly roasted our rolls of dough as the snow dusted over us. Despite its unforgiving cold, the beauty of Scandinavia’s landscape and traditions continues to captivate me every day.

Finally, we ended the week with a panel at the Copenhagen Business School on the consequences of Anti-globalization. I’m continuously surprised by how my mind is being opened by simply engaging in discussions about issues that are happening in real life. Just a month ago, I was living in my own safe bubble. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I couldn’t see how problematic inequality was in America, whether for Democrats or Republicans. I didn’t want to talk about issues related to race and discrimination. I was afraid to touch anything controversial. I will probably always be in a bubble, but I am trying to break it away piece by piece.

This may be cliché, but I am truly feeling that the more I learn, the more questions I am left with. Throughout my time abroad, I hope to continue to question and seek answers. Some questions that I have been pondering and that I will leave you with:

  • How can we help people of opposite opinions listen to each other and find a solution?
  • Should we continue to talk about the economy in terms of growth and productivity? Is it realistic to expect human beings to become increasingly more productive?
  • Have institutions of higher education lost their educational value if much of our studies are just about the regurgitation of information and building a façade of prestige rather than learning to discuss critical issues?"

-Irene Kao