Intern Highlight: Alicia Zheng

Alicia Zheng is an intern with the Education Abroad team at the International Studies Office here at UVA. Last spring semester, she studied with DIS Copenhagen in Denmark. Read some of her thoughts below on what she learned while abroad and what it was like for her after she returned to the states and UVA.

One of the best things about returning from studying abroad was seeing how my new habits from living in Copenhagen fit into my life at UVa and at home. I picked up some healthier habits, like eating the right food to fuel my renewed love for exercise. I also think that the culture encouraged me to be more honest and self-reflective. What are my personal goals, regardless of what people around me are striving to achieve? What do I think will help me achieve happiness, despite what others are expecting of me? Overall, I’m deeply grateful for the experience I had and can’t wait to visit Copenhagen again.

It wasn’t too bad coming back from Denmark to the US. I’ve done quite a bit of travelling with my family before, so reverse culture shock isn’t a new experience to me. However, since I studied abroad in the spring, coming back to UVa after 8 months away was pretty difficult to adjust back to. My host country felt much more reserved and relaxed compared to the hectic, stressful environment at UVa. It was strange to constantly have to be around a lot of different people again. My free time was lessened by a tenfold. I was exhausted by just having to interact with so many people for the first few weeks. I found that, even now, taking a day or two completely to myself is absolutely necessary for my own benefit. It’s okay to take a little time to recharge every once in a while – personally, it keeps me sane.


European Adventure in Copenhagen

Katie Sutton is a 4th year nursing student currently studying abroad in Copenhagen in Denmark. Below is some of her trips around the less well known major cities in Europe.

John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic

Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, one of the most iconic work of Gaudi located in Barcelona, Spain

Frederiksoberg Castle Interior, Hillerod, Demark

Streets of Nice, France

Beaches of Nice, France

Sunset in Budapest, Hungary

Palace interior, Budapest, Hungary

Coastline of Nice, France

UVA Nursing in Copenhagen: Howth and Dragor

Katie Sutton is a UVA student in the Nursing School currently studying abroad through an exchange program with the Danish School of Nursing. Below are some photos she took recently while traveling through Ireland and Denmark

These photos document my travels to Dublin Ireland. I hiked the beautiful shoreline, Howth. This was a challenging 12 kilometer hike that was worth every minute.

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The latter portion of pictures I uploaded is of my exploration to Dragor, Denmark. A city south of Copenhagen, on the Island of Amager, that is rich in history. Dragor used to be a prosperous seafaring town. The harbor and many of the old historic fisherman houses are still in use today. Downtown Dragor is a picturesque square of alleys with colorfully painted houses, red roofs, and cobblestone streets built in the traditional Danish style. Many of these buildings are hundreds of years old.

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UVA Nursing in Denmark: Summer’s End

Katie Sutton is a UVA nursing student currently participating in an exchange program with the Danish School of Nursing. Below are some pictures she took of the final days of summer in Copenhagen.

These pictures capture the final days of summer here in Copenhagen. During the day, people take off work to bask in the sunlight. By night, people huddle together to watch the sun go down and enjoy each other’s company. No matter the time of day, nor the weather, people enjoy relaxing and being outdoors.

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Something Scenic in the State of Denmark

Katie Sutton is a UVA student in the Nursing school currently participating in the UVA Nursing Exchange: Danish School of Nursing. Check out her photos of beautiful Denmark!

These photos were taken in Nyhavn and Christensen, Copenhagen. I chose to compile these photos because they encapsulate the beauty of summertime in Copenhagen. These pictures also capture the mixed architecture that is unique to Denmark. Some of the buildings date back to the 17th century others were constructed less than 20 years ago.

Triology Part 1

Kendra Jobe is a 3rd year Environmental Sciences major on the UVA Commerce: Sustainable Practices in Denmark summer program. She shares the first of a series about her experiences.

The fat lady has sung
The old bell over the chapel has rung
Finals are finished and grades will soon be submitted.
Grounds are quite empty, almost all students have left.
Everyone heads out to the real world leaving the UVA bubble.
Some with jobs, other internships, and for the lucky ones just rest.
The fourth years are teary cheery and blessed.
As their time here at Uva has come to an end.
That’ll be me next year. This summer, is my last…

As a third year student I have grown quite used
To receiving grades and that anxiety, self-induced.
But this summer is different, I will be going abroad
On Denmark on Copenhagen on Samso!
The course is about sustainable practices and green energy galore
I expect there’ll be some management and business practices
In store, for us as we arrive.
Packing and repacking is how I have spent my day
You can never be certain what’ll you need.

Clothes currency and my computer are going for sure
Perhaps my camera, I doubt this trip will be a bore.
I hope to see all the sights and maybe learn a few Danish words
I have an eight hour flight to catch later today
And I am certain I will sleep the entire way
The weather reports say clear skies and light rain
It’ll be a slightly colder in this Danish city than our c’ville heat.
If I wanted warmth I could have stayed home. I’m looking for adventure
And thrills, that’ll make me much more enriched as a person.
I want to really see the culture and how it differs from my own
And the American society we are used to
Finals may have ended but my summer is just beginning!

Finding Balance in Copenhagen

Third year McIntire School of Commerce student Heidi Collins shares a new experience with yoga during her time in Copenhagen, Denmark.

This past week I decided to try something new. My good friend Kendall, a yoga enthusiast, encouraged me to do Bikram Yoga with her. I purchased a week of these hot yoga classes so popular amongst the Danes, and have been ending my school days practicing hot yoga while the cold snow falls outside.

Naturally energetic, restless, and always on the go, particularly now while I am immersed in a brand new country and culture, I had not taken the time to slow down and relax. The 90 minute class consists of 26 poses done twice each, combining intense concentration, patience, determination, and self-control to achieve the proper balance. Balance is not easy though. Once you enter a pose, you need to focus on every muscle and limb to maintain the position. It is a fight amidst struggles and falls to achieve the proper stability and move forward to the next pose.

These past few yoga classes have really made me realize the application of yoga to life, which the Danes have truly incorprated into their culture and lifestyle. Life is all about achieving balance. Balance between school and family; between work and play; between movement and rest; between cold and warmth. Between indulgence and restraint; between tradition and modernity; between grandeur and simplicity; between stress and tranquility.

I’ve talked in previous posts about the balanced lifestyle of the Danes, and the satisfaction and gratitude that comes with it. Like trying to strike the balance of a yoga pose, striking a balance in one’s life will never be easy. In fact, we will flail in nearly every pose, and sometimes fall down. When this happens, it is very easy to become frustrated, to get upset, and even to give up. We can take the seemingly constant work and struggles in life, the anxiety that ensues, and the frustration that mounts, to never let ourselves unwind and savor life. I am guilty of having done this, and even do so now. Striking a balance in life is not easy.  Letting the hardships consume us and keep us down, not ready to stand back up and try again, is so tempting. Learning when to stop and be satisfied with what has been done is so hard.

Whenever we start something new, something difficult, something scary, and something unknown, we will not be able to settle into the balance immediately. There will be stress. There will be challenges. There will be disappointment. There will be fear. But what Bikram Yoga has taught me, is that amidst the tension every moment of life may bring, it is possible to let go and relax. It is possible to achieve poise and stability after the initial wobbles. And even when we think we have the position perfected – even when we feel on top of the world in our pose –  it is still possible to lose focus within a blink of an eye and stumble, sometimes even fall down.

But guess what? We can always get back up. We can always try again. And we can always strike the pose and reach that balance again. We must never assume perfection will be achieved, because it won’t. You will never freeze into a pose and stay there forever, without another struggle or slip. We need to accept the imperfection of balance. The combination of effort and ease that balance demands. We need to seek balance, not perfection.

Every yoga class ends with Shavasana. While lying on your back, breathing deeply in and out through the nose, you enter a deep and meditative state of rest. Sometimes we all need this in life. Try it right now – close your eyes and think of these two words: “satisfaction” and “gratitude.” Life gives us so much to be content and grateful for. Don’t let the chaos of life let you lose sight of this.