Category Archives: Study Abroad: UCEAP Denmark, University of Copenhagen (KU)

Spring 2014 Wrap Up

The time has come.
It is the last week I am physically present in Copenhagen.

In retrospect, I have lived several lives here.
By this I mean I feel as if I was here for many, many years…
It has only been a mere six months!

Knowing my drive to maximize every opportunity that come my way, I set specific goals for myself:
1) Navigate New Systems
2) Research Positive Psychology and Subjective Well-Being
3) Build Media Skills
4) Global Network

When things did not work out with my initial stages of research, I began to find other ways to make my experience abroad more fruitful and positively life-changing. I did not want to waste my time. It was a tough journey to make it here, and I wanted to make the best of being here as an exchange student. Not only did I want to change, learn and grow, but I also wanted to be an influence for others as well. I wanted to be a part of change.

In January, I was mind-blown and so, so grateful to be abroad. It was filled with walking around Copenhagen with no sense of direction, or certainty. It was also when I first learned Danish, such a beautiful, difficult language. Written and spoken Danish are so different.. -_-;;
This is also the month that I couldn’t stop smiling and jumping + clapping with joy when I met others. I experienced my first snow fall, and I even made a video about it.. it was my first time being abroad by myself, and I think my mind and body couldn’t register that I was in a different country. I was full of energy, excitement, curiosity, drive and openness. The biggest thing I learned this month is the importance of being open-minded. I am quick to make judgments, and I realized my assumptions are merely assumptions. My friend from Berkeley visited, so we got to visit museums and explore Nyhavn… it was an odd feeling to have her with me abroad. 🙂 I also got the opportunity to live in Tietgen Kollegium for a whole month. This month = new excitement, new emotions, new friendships, gratitude, confusion and gratitude.

In February, I began to shift my focus on culture immersion. On Monday evenings, I biked to the Tietgen Kollegiet (roughly around 15 mins) to collaborate with a Danish acapella group called Umlaut.  Not only were the practices all in Danish, but they communicated with me as if I knew Danish… it was difficult at first to understand what was going on, but I slowly learned to collaborate with them. On Monday through Friday, I took a 30 min bike ride to the city center for my lectures. On the evenings, I spent a large sum of my time inviting others from class and other exchange students to my home so we can cook and bake together. It was interesting because I got to learn so much by just trying to cook with them. Everyone is so, so different. February is also the month that I had a lot of quiet time by myself… I did a lot of self reflection of my life and my purpose of being in Denmark. I began to post my mental thoughts onto the walls of my room. I was lost, and I longed to feel in control. 

In March, I began to dive into volunteerism and networking. I was driven to make things happen instead of socializing for the present moment. I wanted to be a part of the community in Copenhagen. I learned to define, express and present who I am to others.
(the introduction stage was difficult for me throughout my exchange abroad, I never had to verbally express where I was from, and who I am to others. It really, really made me re-think the way I understand who I am in relation to where I reside)
Sleepless nights were more frequent, and black coffee became my favorite drink. I browsed online about opportunities I have as an exchange student. I was determined to make my stay abroad a fruitful one. This phase involved several projects… I produced, directed, filmed and edited a short video to apply for a RedBull competition… (I’ll write about that in another blog post)
And, through more impulsive searches on Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, I found a grand opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship! Their mission statement spoke to my hungry mind and soul, so I applied within two days of the deadline. To my surprise, they accepted me for the program. This is the month I also began to work on my video projects that I set for myself. I was on fiya!!

In April, I decided to take advantage of being in Europe and travelled to Paris and Amsterdam with one the exchange students I met here. It was altogether a two week trip, and it was… breath-taking. There were several difficulties along the way, but I don’t want to talk about that here. April is also the month I found out that I get to serve as a Press Team volunteer for Eurovision this year! Training began in the last week of April, and we continued to work throughout May. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to experience such a global event!!

In May, I found more consistency in my days, I was going on a volunteer shift for Studenterhuset, then lectures, then Eurovision shifts, then organizing my thoughts for papers, video projects, business ideas and the future. It was a very, very busy and lively month. 🙂

In June, I flew back to the states for 4 days to attend graduation, and I am so  glad I made that decision. I had the unique experience to appreciate Denmark again. I came back to Denmark with the impression that it was a second chance I can experience Denmark. It felt… different. If I ever felt too tired or too bogged down on work to network and enjoy outdoors, then I immediately wanted to make that extra effort to go out more. I wanted to use every second of my time here in Copenhagen… being a part of it, and not just in my room. June is also the month I experienced hardcore deadlines, papers were due, ideas had to be carefully thought out for the final pitch, I had to meet everyone that impacted my time here in DK– so much to do and experience.

okay, I’ve spent the past hour writing, I should finish packing so that I don’t feel as overwhelmed.

I’ll update more later!

Signing off,

Jennifer Won

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2nd Chance to be NEW again

What?
I had a unique opportunity to fly out back to Berkeley for 4 days to attend my graduation ceremony a month before my 6-month exchange in Copenhagen ends.

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But, this blog post isn’t about my trip back home. This is about what kinds of thoughts, feelings and experiences I had before I left Copenhagen to go back to my home country. It’s also about what happened after I got back from Copenhagen from my home country. This is about the 2nd chance I got to be back in Copenhagen after gone home.

Before:
I didn’t feel any different before leaving Copenhagen. I just couldn’t believe that I was going back home just for 4 days and coming back for finals. I couldn’t believe it because I was SOMEHOW able to afford flying back and forth and I was SOMEHOW able to find the time to make the trip happen. Praise the Lord. Seriously. I keep saying “I” but I really couldn’t have done it with help from family, life mentors and friends. I had a paper due on the day I left so I was just focused on finishing that and packing to leave.
I was a bit delirious because I had to leave my flat at 4am. It was odd to say goodbye to my flatmate, whom I had confided with for the last 5 months… when I come back from the states, she will have already moved out.

Flying back to San Francisco:
When I was flying out to San Francisco, I couldn’t help but feel so happy. I was feeling a physical high. I couldn’t stop smiling despite having a 7am international flight, which means that I had to leave my apt latest 4:30am. I felt so happy that I befriended those sitting next to me on the 11 hour flight. Yes, I usually don’t befriend those I sit next to on the plane mostly because I don’t want to invade their privacy and… well because I’m exhausted from transferring flights.

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We don’t know how we were able to get the business seats, but we enjoyed our freebies including these eye masks(?), socks and tooth brushes. *I recommend flying with Virgin Atlantic!

After:
After my trip back home, I arrived at the Copenhagen Airport and felt so… at home. I was so excited to have my own space, to ride my bike again and to write again. I was just so psyched and motivated. It was around 10pm, but it was still bright outside and… Copenhagen seemed a little bit different. It felt different. I intently admired the cyclists on Orestad Blvd. I was on my way back to my flat on the metro… I felt so in trance with the orange skies, cyclists, perfect lines on the road, voices and murmurs in Danish… I was back home. 🙂 I couldn’t stop smiling. I got off the metro at the 2nd to last stop… and repeated “oh my gosh, I’m back in Copenhagen. I’m back, I’m back. Oh my gosh” maybe around 5 times. I saw the mall, Fields and my smile started to hurt my cracked lips. I thought to myself Fields… I’m definitely back in Copenhagen. When I arrived in my flat, I unlocked my door and turned on my lamp… thank goodness. It was my bed with clean sheets. There was my desk– all cleared up. There were my black and white striped slippers. Then I quickly unloaded my shoulders and went to the bathroom.. things have changed. Emily’s shampoo and conditioner was no longer on the shower stall floor, it was on the shelf. Her towel was gone. Her toothbrush was gone. I didn’t realize the fact that I actually won’t see Emily anymore.. for a long time. She was also an exchange student, but her program ended on the weekend that I was back in California.
Now, I am solidifying my goals here.
I am solidifying…. everything.

2nd Chance:
I was given a 2nd chance to embrace the blessing I had/have to be abroad as an exchange student.
This means being able to experience the new once again.
This means realizing that my residence permit is really ending in a couple weeks.
This means that I have a 2nd chance to make the MOST out of my stay abroad.
This means that I have a 2nd chance to POST MORE BLOGS, PHOTOS, VLOGS of my experiences.

After living in a foreign country for 5 months, life starts to get dull. By dull I mean that days become more routine, comfortable and familiar. It was a nice wake up call for my mind and body.

Now, I am trying my best not to reject any opportunities to spend time with friends that I’ve made here. I’ve already had three picnics with classmates and friends. 🙂 Image

Picnic w/ classmates at King’s Garden near Center of Social Science campus: last day of anthro methods lecture with Mads

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Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerod (9 zones away from my apt! = 10 clips)
Expensive to enter, but it is totally worth the money and time to get there. I love the danish designs in this museum/castle.
We got to witness multiple weddings here.

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Islands Brygge Sunday flea market: Our plan was not to actually buy anything at the flea market, but we couldn’t help but pick up some danish family goodies 🙂

All in all, I’m enjoying my 2nd chance. And, thank you… God for allowing me to have this experience. Thank you.

I will also do my best to document my experience as much as I can for the next few weeks in Denmark!!

 

A Blogger’s Dilemma: Disclosure & Truth

Truth.

Relativity of Truth.

My travel blogs stay in my draft folder on WordPress… waiting to be disclosed to a wider audience. A wider audience who, I think, may benefit from my experiences. Benefit meaning either stir inspiration, motivation, or even just encourage more thought into how everyone’s interpretation of the world is so, so different. Why does it matter to me to even write for a broader audience? I want to touch the lives of others. I want my life to be of service. This is one way I can be of service: to share my story.

I am stuck in a blogger’s dilemma: Disclosure & Truth
How much of my life should I disclose? As much as you want.
Is sharing only the good parts of my life, lying? It’s deceptive, yes.
Why do I long to share my writings but end up saving them in my draft folder? This is the dilemma.

For me, I either go all in, or all out.
There is no middle ground for me.
This is highly evident in all of my work and life.
I will say no more than that.

I’ve been hiding my writings for too long.
But, if I start posting again, then I will be revealing way too much of myself to the world.
How do I overcome this obstacle?
I will not assume how others will answer. To assume things of this world have made me lose friendships and trust.

Do bloggers even have this dilemma, or do some inherently have the talent of knowing how to balance the content of their blogs?

 

Emic: Insider’s perspective

Emic: Insider's perspective

I am a part of an exclusive group/program called Future Entrepreneurs of Denmark (F.E.D.), which has the vision to equip professionals of various fields, all aspiring entrepreneurs, with the network, resources, trainings that we need in order to produce a service/product that will benefit a community. By the end of this three-month program/training, we will have already worked with other professionals (we are all in a team of 6), networked with already established companies and know what it takes to be an entrepreneur in Denmark. The great thing about F.E.D. is that we are divided into teams prior to meeting one another. The selection team placed each individual in a group where they can best succeed. An engineer, programmer, psychologist/humanities, business person, etc. So, all we really need is to brainstorm an idea. Of course there are more things that are necessary, but with our team, we would have what we need to make an idea come to life. More on my experience working with my team later…

Our team’s first time to pitch our first idea1973474_287579201397275_1210212225_o (1)

Bettina and I during our dinner break10003655_295355810619614_1178933834_o

This was my first time to sit down with my team (group 6); brainstorm1980239_287579974730531_882719997_o (1)

Copenhagen: Bipolar Weather

Berkeley has got no competition with Copenhagen for bipolar weather.

Why am I bringing this up? It’s just that the weather here in Copenhagen has been acting up… I’ve never experienced anything like this before!

In the morning, the sun is shining ever so brightly, but then the other half of the day– it starts to hail out of no where.

I thought Berkeley, CA weather has bipolar weather, but goodness, it is nothing compared to Copenhagen weather.
Sunny –> Cloudy –> Hail –> Sunny (ALL IN ONE DAY)

Signing off–

Eurovision Volunteer Workshop

Dear Friends & WordPress community,

One of the great aspects of being an exchange student in Europe is that we get acquainted with several events you can’t imagine doing back at home. They could range from three-legged race on St. Patty’s Day to volunteering for a nation-wide song contest known as Eurovision!

Today, I went to my first volunteer workshop for a national song contest, the 59th annual Eurovision contest. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Eurovision until one of my friends on exchange mentioned it during one of our common group dinners. I never even heard of Eurovision. You can think of Eurovision like America’s Got Talent. It is HUGE. Apparently, it is really popular in Australia– Australia asked to participate this year! Eurovision is a song contest with contestants representing all parts of Europe. This year, I was lucky because… Denmark is hosting Eurovision!! It is their third time hosting the event. It will take place during the first week of May. Each year, the event is hosted at the country of the previous year’s winner. This is the performance that won last year: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k59E7T0H-Us).

I didn’t know that we can be volunteers for song contests, but through spontaneity, my friend and I started to look at fun events we can take advantage of while we’re abroad, and we stumbled upon a volunteer application for Eurovision. The application process was very time consuming, but I am so glad I applied to be a part of this amazing grandiose event. According to the Eurovision Secretariats there are around 1,000 volunteers. Isn’t that… amazing?
Benefits of being a volunteer for Eurovision:
1) Get to work with people all over the world
2) Get a volunteer shirt
3) Go to an exclusive party for Eurovision volunteers
4) Free access to Eurovision
To check it out: (http://english.cphvolunteers.dk/whats-happening/events/eurovision-song-contest-2014/volunteers-for-eurovision-song-contest-2014.aspx)

Here is one of the performances I couldn’t stop watching over and over again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo-8z86x80
The winner of 2012: Eurphoria by Loreen, Sweden
It’s a MUST-SEE-LISTEN

So, today, the workshop took place at a place called DR Byen. It is located right next to Tietgenkollegiet, which is the round building you see on my cover photo up above. DR Byen [di-ɛʌ byn] is Denmark’s national broadcasting corporation. After a 15-minute bike ride from Signalhuset (in Ørestad), I locked my bike to a bike rack near the DR Byen metro station. With anticipation to learn more about being a volunteer at Eurovision, I power-walked to DR Byen, which was a 3 minute walk… as I passed by the glass window of the building.. I saw many, many people of all ethnicities. Everyone was standing in line to get inside the first room to the right. Imagine seeing about 50 people in line to get checked in. Meanwhile, I stood in line and waited patiently while taking a video of the situation. Then the couple in front of me turned around and asked, “would you like some candy?” I looked at the cereal bowl full of colorful pieces of licorice. I couldn’t help but smile. The Eurovision staff were passing around bowls of licorice for volunteers waiting in line– this is why I love Denmark.

After about 15 minutes of waiting in line, I entered the room of coat racks. Yes, there is a room just for coat racks. Then we proceeded into a bigger room with even more people already seated in their seats, and the projector was already on.

I was lucky to find a seat in the middle of the room. The workshop was different than I expected. I expected to be “trained” to be a particular volunteer for a particular situation, but the 9am to 1pm workshop was comprised of presentations indoors. The workshop introduced us with all of the information regarding where the event is taking place, which organizations/businesses are a part of this, how safety is highly important, how to be an ambassador for Denmark and how to help guests from around the world feel welcomed and cared for. We were told that we would be contacted by a team leader in the next few days regarding our specific roles as volunteers. And, there was so much gratitude from the Eurovision staff. Each presenter expressed his/her appreciation and honor to be in a room full of individuals who are giving up their time and energy to help this year’s Eurovision event be the BEST one. And, BEST meaning that all guests coming to see Eurovision will feel they were enthusiastically welcomed and taken care of. The Eurovision staff are even hosting a party for all of the volunteers after the event!

Eurovision… I am so glad that I am going to play a role in this HUGE event. I am honored to be a host of Denmark! What an honor!!
I can’t wait until our next training shift since we get to meet our team.

Thanks for this grand opportunity to be a part of the Eurovision network!

There exists [not a perfect time], but [the will] to act upon goals.

Hello Everyone,

There exists [not a perfect time], but [the will] to act upon goals.

Before I share my blog and vlog (video-log) posts about my thoughts and feelings in Denmark, I would like to take the time to share my personal journey through the reflections, convictions and struggles I encountered during the process of my pursuit to attain my goals.
(This is a long piece of writing that I felt I had to publish in order to move forward with my blog/vlog projects)

In my intro vlog (http://youtu.be/emmt8l9jo4w?t=1m5s) I stated my three main goals that I have for this semester-long study abroad program:

1) Navigate New Systems
As a Complete Outsider,
(Different: Native Language, Culture, Gov’t system, Preferred                    Means of Transportation, Fashion, Courtesies, Gestures, etc)
–> how far can you go with adaptation? Why?
–> how long does it take for someone to feel a part of the
(new) community/culture?
–> do exchange students who are first time solo travelers
seek more help to adjust to the new system/culture than                               exchange students who have traveled several times?
 => Overall, Need to Acquire the Basic, Instinctual                                        Skill  to Survive on My Own in Any Foreign Country
w/o Any Instructions or Previous Knowledge.

STATUS
a) Public Transportation System
Metro: CHECK
S-Tog: CHECK
Biking: IN PROGRESS 
b) Danish Currency System
CHECK
C) Danish Culture
Volunteer:
Studenterhuset, Eurovision
Danish Lang: 5 days/week for 3 weeks
Network: Anthropology Dept., Psychology Dept., Signalhuset, Tietgenkollegiet, Umlaut Acapella, Future Entrepreneurs in DK
Museum: Denmark National Museum, Danish Design Museum

2) Research Positive Psychology
– Familiarize Field More Through
*Special Access* As a Student of KU
(København Universitet)
– Collaborate w/ Other Researchers (Masters’ & Up)
– Take EVERYTHING As a Grain of Salt
– Take Field Notes of Everything
=> Overall, Know All Meta-Analysis of the Field
& Focus on a Question

3) Build Media Skills (entails story-telling)
– Acquire story-telling skills
– Enhance writing skills
– Develop Fast & Wise Movie-Editing Skills
– Learn Prezi
– Learn How to Code

+ 4) Find & Build Meaningful Community
– Network, network, network

I have been working so hard to put all of my mind, body and soul into the things I participate here, but at the same time, I’ve been trying to re-define who I am by reflecting & meditating. It’s so difficult to do everything at once, especially in a different country, when you know that time & money are at stake.

It has been nearly 3 months since I have landed in Denmark as a first time solo traveler on exchange. I cannot believe how time flies. I tried numerous times to write my travel blogs, put together video logs of my journey as I experience new thoughts, feelings, people, systems & much more– I was so ready to share. I was full of vision, hope & aspirations to make my semester abroad be as meaningful & fulfilling to, not just me, but to all people that I can reach out to. I want(ed) my journey to be used as a tool for others. I want(ed) my mistakes, insights, successes, vision– everything needs to be recycled.

This hidden pressure to share my experience on the world wide web made me wait until the perfect time to feel the inspiration to create something magnificently insightful & fun. I knew deep down that this was not going to work, but I still waited for that perfect moment where my writings & video storyboards would just flow. Sadly, I went through several dark, unproductive phases in my first months, not only was it because that perfect moment never was consistent, but because I was also concerned about my plans after graduation.

I just realized this is going to be a ridiculously long blog post, so I will sum reflections up into 4 key points!
Reflections/Convictions
1. I value alone quiet time to stop & digest all experiences/encounters
2. I need to stop relying on “common” knowledge of the world when speaking to others now. I have to define and illustrate what you mean! EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT LIFE EXPERIENCES THAN ME! 😛
3. I have a HUGE duty here as a student/individual
4. The biggest deterrent to pursue my goals was what others might approve/disapprove of me during the process–
There exists [not a perfect time], but [the will] to act upon goals

I AM BREAKING FREE!!

Okay! Now that that’s all out….

I will express through writing & videos how I experienced Copenhagen during the last three months– hopefully with a lighter heart. 🙂 I’m so so grateful that I have this platform to share my experience with you all!!

Meet you soon through writing & videos!

Best,
Jenn