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Isabel Layton's semester with Maryland-in-Copenhagen

"I gained a new confidence in my ability to complete what I want in life, even when it is difficult."


Program: Maryland-in-Copenhagen
Term: Spring 2022
Major: Environmental Science & Policy

Through my experience abroad, I have learned confidence and trust in myself. 

Being abroad is at times challenging, and by participating and doing the opportunities available I gained a new confidence in my ability to complete what I want in life, even when it is difficult. Additionally, while I was in Denmark my friends and I regularly planned and went on excursions out of Copenhagen and around parts of central and southern Europe. This required me to grow skills in organization and time management. As someone who has struggled with procrastination, it forced me to work on a more reasonable timeline and now I feel I can better trust myself to complete tasks more responsibly.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: 

Before going abroad it is important to research the culture of the country you will visit. For example, Denmark is a very safe place to go as a woman- it has low levels of sexual harassment and I was very happy that, despite spending time almost exclusively in the city, I was not catcalled. However, Denmark also has a very racially insensitive history and even now has deeply rooted hate for Muslims. Through a sociology class I took while there, I was able to listen to the stories of people who wear the hijab in Denmark and are regularly harassed. It is important to learn the cultural stances of the country you are planning to visit so you can make the best decision for yourself.

My most memorable experience while abroad was seeing the northern lights as part of my biology’s class expedition to Norway. 

On the plane and bus, the instructor explained the history of the northern lights and their significance in Norwegian and Sami (the indigenous tribe we had been learning about) culture and history. In addition to how amazing they are to see in general, it was especially special to see them after they had been contextualized.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: 

I thought I would be lonely going abroad- I pictured being completely isolated and unable to understand anything due to the cultural and linguistic barriers. This is far from the truth! The world is much more globalized than I anticipated and through bonding over media and experiences I found that I was able to form deep connections with my host family and other Danes.​

The most difficult part of studying abroad was getting food with my dietary restriction- I have a severe dairy allergy. 

I knew it would be difficult to manage but didn’t expect the linguistic barrier to be as challenging as it was nor did I anticipate the way some Europeans use veganism and vegetarianism interchangeably. This made it at times very difficult to find food to eat, especially if we were going to a restaurant. I began carrying around nuts and a granola bar to ensure that I would always have food, checking the ingredients at grocery stores, and using google translate to make sure my message was not being misinterpreted. Altogether, a silver lining of the experience was I was able to see to what degree dairy was integral to different European cuisines and found some very cool vegan (truly vegan, not vegetarian) restaurants.

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