I spent 2 weeks in the classroom in Copenhagen where we discussed the neural mechanisms that drive fear and the subsequent behaviors. The week we had in Munich was filled with traveling to different research facilities and universities where we discussed the research they were doing in relation to the nervous system. Additionally, we had free time to explore both cities and get a feel for their cultures.
Until this summer, I had never been out of the country. I was worried about how I would adjust to a different lifestyle and nervous about “fitting in” with the people. I had little background knowledge on what the Danish were like and what to expect while in Munich. The Danish Institute of Study which hosted my course gave wonderful resources on Denmark and Copenhagen in particular, which made me feel more comfortable coming into the city. I certainly became more confident as time passed in Europe and as I made friends that I got to explore the cities with.
I now am itching to go back to Europe, especially Copenhagen, as it was so welcoming and inviting; it became a source of solace and another home. I branched out with my eating habits and became more comfortable with doing things by myself, whether it was going out to dinner or wandering around a foreign city. I also was able to supplement my knowledge of neuroscience and speak with a vast arrangement of specialists in the field. I had the opportunity to experience different virtual reality simulators first hand and discuss the importance of neuroscience research from a clinical aspect. Both on a personal and an educational level, I gained so much from my time in Europe.
The neat thing about the Danish Institute of Study is that it is open to any student internationally which allowed me to meet people from schools all over! As it turned out, I met some fellow buckeyes within my residential community and in my own class. Whether from near or far, we were able to find similar interests we had or we would share stories that allowed one another to see into the others’ lives.
I became very close with some of my classmates because we spent so many hours a day in the classroom together or traveling around Munich. And when we weren’t in class, we all enjoyed hanging out with each other and studying together. These are the people that really helped push me out of my comfort zone and provided a sense of support while I was away. Our instructors also supplied us with assistance in learning how to navigate the city and the etiquette of Denmark. I know I would not have enjoyed my time nearly as much nor found myself like I did if it were not for my instructors and my new friends and I cannot thank them enough for being there for me!
I feel as if I grew so much as an individual and it would not have happened if I did not spend my summer in Europe. I met so many incredible people and I learned about more than just neuroscience with this study abroad. Copenhagen became a safe haven for me; it provided comfort when I did not expect it. The people I became close with instilled a new sense of belonging in me and allowed me to gain a new sense of self, one that is more confident and spontaneous than ever before. I now trust myself to be able to enjoy my own solitude, but also to not be afraid to meet new people and trust them.
I am incredibly grateful for receiving further education on neuroscience. Further, being able to interact with some of the top researchers in their respective fields was mind-opening. I am able to bring back this knowledge to my own studies and to my work in the research lab. This trip also opened up the door of completing my doctorate abroad as I know I can survive and thrive. It gave me connections for the future on both a professional and an academic level. My education abroad experience was absolutely magnificent and I cannot imagine a better way to have spent my summer than growing and learning as I did with the Danish Institute of Study.