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Featured Column: Study Abroad in Denmark

January 14, 2011

As we start the New Year, we would like to invite all of our students to write a featured column in our newsletter. If you are interested in writing an article please email Lisa at and let us know what you would like to write about. The following article was written by Alyssa Stein, Architecture student.

My desire to travel and learn about Scandinavian architecture and design led me to Denmark for ten weeks as part of Drexel’s Study Abroad program.  The knowledge I was seeking came in the form of a perky professor, known for dancing on cruise ships and sneaking entire classes into private buildings. With such an apparent love of architecture and everything Danish, I was in the right hands.  On our study tours through Western Denmark, Sweden, and Norway I began to realize the importance of vernacular architecture and how deeply imbedded sustainability is in Scandinavian culture.  

According to world polls, Denmark has been rated the happiest place in the world. I found myself questioning the validity of this statement on top of a horse in the Danish countryside.  Leading this trot down the fjord was my well-traveled and talkative host family. After showing me around half-timbered houses and thousand year old Viking burial tombs, I realized the incredible pride the Danish take in their history.  In a very small country, the Danish find happiness in their lifestyle choices and comfort and security in their close knit communities. By this point, I was convinced that utopia was a place on earth.  For a college student struggling with finances and stressed about making it in the world, it was valuable to reflect on the societal impact of low unemployment, free education, and public health care.

The last leg of my journey brought me full circle. My program ended and I continued to travel with friends in the Netherlands and with my mother in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria.  After meeting relatives in Vienna and walking down the streets where my grandparents spent their childhoods, I was able to understand my identity in terms of my family history and the recent events and people who have influenced me.  This trip was much more than a stamp on my passport; it was a journey to understand my place in the world. Click here for more information on the wide range of Study Abroad programs available to Westphal students.