Core Course Week: Cultural Diversity and Integration

This past week was core course week, a full week dedicated to just one class. For those of you unfamiliar with core course week at DIS, this is a week in which students only meet with their core course, and also travel with this course! Students spend two days in Copenhagen, and the remaining three on a short trip to somewhere in Denmark or Sweden.

My core course, Cultural Diversity and Integration, traveled to Sweden during the second half of the week. We spent the first two days in Copenhagen and had Wednesday off before we took off for our little trip to Malmö and Gothenburg. All my roommates traveled with their classes during the beginning of the week instead during the second half, and it was really strange to not see them for the week. It made me realize how much time I spend just hanging out and talking with the people I live with, and made me more appreciative of that. 

So what was core course week like??

During our first two days in Copenhagen, we visited Trampolinhuset (Trampoline House), an NGO located in Nørrebro, which works to give refugees a supportive community and provide opportunities for integration into Danish society. We heard from the director of the program and also from an immigrant who was in the process of seeking asylum. I learned that individuals seeking asylum do not get a lawyer from the Danish government until their asylum case has been rejected… it thought this was an interesting fact. Because of this, Trampolinhuset also gives legal advice to current asylum seekers to help them understand the complicated system. Later we had a delicious meal at a restaurant and catering company that prepares meals based on minority women’s ethnic cuisine. The business was called Send Flere Krydderier, meaning “send more spices,” because immigrant women often write back home to their families to send spices that they can’t find in a typical Danish grocery store. 

On Tuesday, we spent half the day in the classroom and the other half out and about in Copenhagen. Stine (our professor) brought pastries for the classroom part which really made my day. We started the morning with a crash course on refugees in Europe, and we learned so much about the process of seeking asylum in Denmark and the EU. After becoming more educated on the issue in general, we tested our new knowledge with a simulation game following the real story of a refugee seeking asylum in Denmark. The game was really interesting because as a player you had to make decisions regarding this man’s asylum case, and then see the impact these decisions had on his life and his case. It was a different way to process some of these topics we’d been discussing in class, which is something I think DIS does a really good job at. In all my courses, there is a focus on providing different ways to learn and understand classroom lessons, which is a huge difference from the typical lectures I attend at my home university. 

We had Wednesday off to prepare for our travel to Sweden from Thursday to Saturday. I could have taken advantage of this full day off to go check things off my Copenhagen bucket list, but instead I had the most relaxing and lazy day. It was cold and rainy out, and I realized that I haven’t really spent a day just doing nothing since I’ve arrived in Copenhagen. I think it’s necessary to have those sorts of days every once in a while, and to remember that we can’t always just keep going going going. I had such a cozy day with lots of tea and Netflix (Netflix in Europe is a whole new world… SO MANY more shows and movies than American Netflix!!) 

Short Study Tour to Sweden! 

We left early Thursday morning for Malmö, Sweden. We met with an organization called Hassela Movement which works to give young adults the opportunity to become mentors and role models for younger school children, which then could lead to employment after the mentorship ends. The program gives young school students, especially minority students, the chance to have role models who look like them and who they can relate to. I thought the program was a great idea to help the children of recent immigrants feel more welcome in Swedeish society.  

In the afternoon, we had some free time around Malmö to work on our interview assignment. Throughout core course week we had to interview both Swedes and Danes on their attitudes towards immigration. We heard lots of different perspectives and got to meet and chat with some very interesting people!

The drive from Malmö to Gothenburg was almost a three hour trip, so we stopped at the cutest little restaurant in the Swedish countryside where we had a “traditional” dinner of Swedish meatballs. I was skeptical at first but they were actually so good! This is when I first learned that DIS does not skimp out on meals… the quality continued throughout the entire trip (and I’ve heard the long study tour is even better).

In Gothenburg, we got to meet with two Swedish political parties: The Sweden Democrats, a national-conservative populist party, and the Green Party, a liberal left-wing party. Not knowing much about either party’s political beliefs, it was strange to hear their different perspectives, and to compare politics in Sweden to what I know from the United States… definitely quite different. Later that day our class had dinner at Boulebar, a restaurant where you can also play this game kind of like bocce… super fun! We had another boujee three-course dinner on DIS… I could really get used to this.   

Saturday was mainly spent traveling back to Copenhagen with a couple of stops on the way down. One of those stops was a moose safari. Yep, you read that right. We went on a moose safari on an adorable little train in the woods of southern Sweden. I even fed a moose. Never thought I would ever do that. For lunch we stopped at a castle, which had gorgeous gardens and a beautiful view; looking out the back of the castle, you could see Denmark across the water! To get back to Denmark we took a ferry, which was a way nicer ferry than anything I’ve ever been on back in the States. I guess that really is just the theme of this whole trip: everything was nicer than I expected.    

Overall, It was so nice to only meet with one class for a whole week and really delve into that topic, something that never really happens back in the US when you have to always balance your classes all at once. Most of our activities took place outside the classroom by getting to visit different locations and people in the various cities we explored. Spending five days with the same group of people, I really got to know my classmates much better, and now I’m so excited for our longer study tour to Rome later in the semester!

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