Midway evaluation season 🙂
It’s over halfway through my time abroad, so I wanted to spend some time reflecting on my time, my goals within these past couple of months and how I they should adapt moving forward.
Here were the goals I set before leaving Wisconsin:
1. Synthesize, compare, connect — the goal was to BE CURIOUS. Ask about the differences between Denmark, the United States, and countries across the globe. I’ve definitely learned a lot… my main concern is whether or not I’ll remember everything. To facilitate that, I’ve curated a list of contrasts for me to remember:
- Elections/Civic Participation — Denmark vs the United States. Did you know over 90% of Danes participate in local elections? That’s absolutely wild. Highest turnout in the United States is for presidential elections and it’s nowhere near that rate. I think the turnout rate for local elections in struggling cities in the US like Detroit is somewhere around 10%… Not that I have a solution for combatting this issue
- Child Care/Gender Equality — Apparently babies in Denmark need to sleep outside? Fresh air is good for them… even if it’s really cold outside. Which it frequently is. That being said, Danes have much better maternity and paternity leave. To give you an idea, the government/certain companies have been toying with creating mandatory paternal leave… so you definitely notice many more dads hanging out with their kids than in the US.
- Welfare and Unemployment — Is there homelessness in Copenhagen? Depends who you ask. There are two main unemployment benefits/welfare security available. Those that currently do not have a job are provided a percentage of their previous employment’s income for ~ 1 year. Those that do not have a job are provided a stipend to cover very basic living expenses, housing stipend, etc all based on your current living situation (where you currently live, family size, etc). Therefore, there really shouldn’t be people “homeless” on the streets. Those on the streets now are often from other areas in the EU or are mentally ill and cannot be forced to go back to their original available housing situation. That being said, homelessness is such a small issue compared to that of any other large city.
- HafenCity, Hamburg vs. Orestad, Copenhagen — On how to properly build a flourishing new developed. DON’T (ORESTAD): section off large plots of land and sell it to the highest bidder. DO (HAFENCITY): create a contract with a list of regulations, small plots of land, and sell the plot to the developer with the most innovative idea. Really.
- Many more differences — Overall, I have been actively seeking to understand these cultural, political, and economic differences between these areas. It’s tough though. Easier to be passive. But apparently Kant thinks enlightenment is “humankind’s release from self-incurred immaturity” or taking the initiative to think for yourself. So I guess I’ll try to do that.
2. Pursue relationships in every form — I think I’ve settled down… for the time that I have here… I definitely have a solid group of people I can hang out with and a good relationship with my host family! There are always new people to meet, more relationships to build… so I suppose this mission is never complete. But I would say that good effort has been put in!
GENERAL UPDATES: One of my childhood best friends came to visit me this week… HI RIYA! If you’re reading this lmao 😉 I’ll add pictures in the near future. But she visited just around the halfway point, giving me the opportunity to go full CPH TOUR GUIDE MODE. And made me realize how comfortable I’ve become navigating the city.