Amalienborg Palace

January 21, 2018

I’m about to start my second full week in Copenhagen! It is amazing so far, but freezing. I’ve only been here for 8 days; however, I have learned and seen so much already that it seems like it’s been longer. My experience actually getting to Copenhagen was not the easiest - weather seemed to want to keep me in America, but it’s only gone up from there! The first few days, we had orientation and had a lot of information given to us. I got set up in my housing and attempted to grocery shop at a Danish grocery. It was pretty easy except for when I was standing in the deli meat section taking a long time to figure out which was sliced turkey with google-translate.

Thankful for apps. Everything seems different and simultaneously similar, which is really interesting. It’s cool seeing my favorites like Nutella and Pringles and also being able to try Danish versions of yogurt and apple juice. At two points during orientation, we went on self-guided tours/scavenger hunts that DIS created for us. They were a very helpful way to start getting to know the layout of Copenhagen. I got to see the Danish Parliament building and the Royal Library, which Danes call the “Black Diamond.” I also found the main shopping street in Copenhagen and the collective student union here. I had academic orientation, which was not as exciting, but still nice to meet my professors. They all seem great and ready for the semester. My classes all seem really interesting and will all count toward my degree at Michigan, which is very lucky. I’m the most excited for my core course - European Game of Politics: Crisis and Survival. Sounds dramatic, right? Within my core course, my class will travel to Hamburg, Germany and Brussels, Belgium.

In Brussels, we get to go to the European Union Parliament! After academic orientation, I went with some friends to find the trampolines in the sidewalk! They were so fun and right in Nyhavn, which is the part of Copenhagen with the colorful buildings. I can’t wait to keep exploring the city in between classes and other experiences. That’s my update from the first week in this country. I’ll write more as I get acclimated.

Here’s a picture of me and my friend, Michelle, (a fellow U-M student) at the European Parliament in Brussels

March 11, 2018

This week marks halfway point in my semester in Copenhagen and I’m preemptively sad to have to go home. I love it here so much. This has been such an incredible semester. I feel like I have learned so much more than I could have ever learned in Ann Arbor just by traveling throughout Europe, meeting new people and more diverse people, and studying my major from a non-American perspective. As a political science major, I take comparative politics classes at Michigan; however, everything is taught with an American focus, which makes sense because we are all (for the most part) American students and our professors are American as well. I have absolutely loved learning from Danish teachers who view the political world order in a different way.

Last week, I spent the week in Brussels, Belgium, the “heart of the EU,” studying the European Union. It was the coolest thing ever. I felt like I had such a backstage pass to the EU. The whole week, I was just in shock that I was able to do these things. We had sessions with the European Commission, European Parliament, European External Action Services (with is similar to the State Department), and many other groups. I also got to do a small group interview with the Press Officer of the Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU and the director of the Danish Agricultural Council lobbying group. The experiences were so special and unique. I feel so lucky to have been able to learn from actors in the European Union in Brussels. We also got to do some sightseeing and eat lots of Belgian waffles (which are 100% better than any other waffle).

We visited an amazing museum called the House of European History. It chronicled European History from around 1770 until now and intertwined primary documents and photos, art, household items, and technology in an amazing way. Besides my amazing study tour last week, I have also traveled to Hamburg and Berlin, Germany in the last month and a half. I got to see what’s left of the Berlin Wall, which was so cool because I am a huge history nerd. I have also been exploring my own city of Copenhagen more. It is still freezing, but I don’t really mind it here as much as I do in Ann Arbor. The city is so cute and there is so much to do. I have had two friends from Michigan visit me so far and they have both loved it too! I’ve had three midterms - so definitely still doing school work and I got to celebrate my 21st birthday with my new abroad friends. All around, amazing experiences. I am just so appreciative to be here studying what I love on this continent. It still feels kind of fake and I can’t believe how fast it is going. Coming up, my best friend from childhood is coming to visit for my spring break and I get to show her my favorite parts of Copenhagen and explore Paris and Amsterdam with her! Looking very forward to that.

Lock Bridge

April 28, 2018

I am at the very end of my semester abroad in Copenhagen. How did that happen? I think this has been the fastest few months of my entire life. The experience just flew past me, but I really feel like I’ve made the most of it. I’ve done so much in the past two months. I had a spring break and a couple days off from class for Easter as well. During this time, I got to explore other parts of Europe. I also got to see my best friend, which was fabulous because I got a piece of Nashville on this continent. My favorite place I got to visit was Spain. It was beautiful and warm and sunny. The food was amazing too - I had a lot of tapas. I also was able to visit my best friend from Michigan on her study abroad program in London. It was so nice to have her show me her favorite places she’s been talking about this semester. I love Michigan connections. It’s so fun running into people who go to Michigan and seeing random people in European airports with Michigan apparel. I screamed “Go Blue” to someone in the Madrid airport and he replied with the same, of course. I’ve missed Ann Arbor more than I expected since being away from it when most of my friends are still there. It’s made me appreciate it more.

Being away from America, in general, has made me appreciate it a little more. I left the US feeling disillusioned and frustrated by everything that was happening there. When I first got to Denmark and started learning about the welfare state, I was even more annoyed with the US. However, since living here and learning more about how the welfare state works and how the EU works, I’ve started to value certain aspects of home. That being said, I still want some major changes in the US and I’m excited to return with a more globally-minded understanding of things - especially, in the political science field. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t realize how America-centered my history and political science classes have been until learning from Danish professors. It’s been really cool to hear the perspectives they have on specific topics and theories. I think my favorite class this semester has been my core course, European Game of Politics: Crisis & Survival. We have covered so much European Union past, present, and future. I’ve learned a lot more about economic policy and how large of a role it played in the creation of the EU. We’ve also gotten to discuss very current things like the Brexit negotiations (with the British Ambassador to Denmark?!) We just do so much that we could never do at home.

DIS is such an incredible program in terms of organization, connections, and activities. I’m so glad I picked it and was able to come. Right now, we’re in the middle of finals, which isn’t fun anywhere; however, it’s a little bit more bearable in Copenhagen. After finals, I have three days to explore even more and go to new places in this city before I head back to Nashville for the summer. It’s finally started to get nice out here (kind of like Ann Arbor) so hopefully those last days of relaxing will be warm and sunny. Although I am really sad to have to leave and say goodbye to new friends and this incredible place, I am excited to see my family and go back to “normal.” I know there is going to be a little piece of me left in Copenhagen and I’m already looking forward to coming back someday soon.

Got a questions for Grayson? You can e-mail her at