O’Neill student Derek Schapiro reflected with us on his experience during the Denmark program last summer.
Interested in studying abroad this summer? Applications close January 27.
What attracted you to the Denmark summer program?
SCHAPIRO: This was my first course learning about the nonprofit sector; therefore, what attracted me to the program was the ability to learn how nonprofit organizations operate in other countries and understand different perspectives about the logistics in what goes behind running a nonprofit organization. Thus, it was really interesting learning about the variety of nonprofit organizations and how they operate in Denmark. Now that I’m taking more courses involving the nonprofit sector, I have a better understanding of how nonprofits work, the problems they face, and how efficiency is measured in the US compared to other countries like Denmark. Beyond that, it was interesting to see how nonprofits are dealing with various global issues such as climate change, domestic violence, education and healthcare, socioeconomic disparities and what ideas and programs they are implementing to address these issues.
What advice would you give students who are hesitant about studying abroad?
SCHAPIRO: I would recommend just trying it. My entire family has remained in the Chicagoland area and never traveled outside of the U.S. Hence, I was extremely nervous traveling for the first time when I was 22. I was also nervous about studying abroad because I knew no one due to taking my courses online. I know it can be intimidating and scary since you might be embarking on this by yourself, but it will work out. There might be some bad days, but it was completely worth it based on the people I have met, amazing stories I can now tell, and the food blew my mind. For me, I was worried about the financial aspect because I do not make a lot of money; however, by taking the time to complete scholarships, I was able to make my study abroad program affordable and was able to travel to countries near Denmark like Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Hence, if you could, I would absolutely recommend studying abroad.
How has studying abroad benefitted you as a person?
SCHAPIRO: Studying abroad helped me gain skills that I have been able to apply in my career and course work. For example, I am a very introverted and soft-spoken person. Study abroad forced me to push myself outside of my comfort zone and gave me more confidence to travel to several countries by myself. In addition, you make amazing connections that can benefit you in many ways. I ended up receiving my current job because I became friends with someone from my program and they recommended me for a job position. It also broadens your ability to be empathic, adaptable, and communicate using direct and indirect forms of communication.
What is your favorite memory, story, or experience while studying abroad in Denmark?
SCHAPIRO: One day, our class went to a museum where we saw artwork by artists like Picasso and Monet. Afterwards, the majority of the group went to an international food market. Then, we played board games and went dancing. By going out, we found out that one girl in our group was a professional ballerina and watched as another member of our group locked herself out of her room. It took 8 people to figure out how to open this one door which was hilarious to watch.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
SCHAPIRO: I have a Paraguayan dog that I got when I was in the Peace Corps. She knows commands in three languages (English, Spanish, and Guarani).