School in Transit

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by Adobea Addo-Ashong | DIS Copenhagen, Spring 2020

I chose to study abroad because I thought it would be valuable to learn more about International Relations through the lens of different countries. I aimed to gain a more comprehensive understanding of world affairs. Having this intention allowed me to realize that the DIS Copenhagen was the perfect program for me. DIS aims to provide experiential learning, so one important aspect of it is the study tours. During these, students travel with their class to other European countries, thus giving us varied cultural perspectives. Where you go depends on the academic program you choose. For example, my terrorism and security program allowed me to travel to London, England; Oslo, Norway; and Hamburg, Germany.

My favorite class was my terrorism class, called ‘Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism from a European Perspective.’  To this day, terrorism is a topical issue. In the class, we got to keep up with current affairs and would often analyze news stories about contemporary instances. We had discussion-based classes, full of thought-provoking debates during which our professor acted more as a facilitator.  We also got to meet so many different experts in the field. For example, we met the head of security of the Great Synagogue, which was faced with a terrorist attack in 2015, as well as a newspaper worker who was held hostage once during a terrorist attack. When we traveled to Hamburg, we met and had discussions with a member of the Red Army Faction, a far-left West German militant group, considered a terrorist group by Western media, founded in 1970. These are only two of the many fascinating people we met.

A view from Hamburg. During our class trip there, we got to take a tour of the vibrant city. I loved how colorful it was.

Our professor encouraged us to question our preconceived notions on the idea of terrorism and the image that comes to mind when we try and picture a terrorist. I believe that I now have a more unbiased mindset when it comes to terrorism. Even though this was my favorite class, all my other classes at DIS were amazing. In my ‘Postcolonial Europe’ class, I got to take a tour of the city, which retraced the footsteps of old African slaves, and in my ‘Identity Lab: Transforming Prejudice, Discrimination, and Conflict’ class, I got to use virtual reality that allowed me to live as people with so many different identities. For example, in one simulation I got to virtually experience life in a Syrian refugee camp, and in another, as a homeless person. Overall, the many academic experiences I had were unique and memorable.