Summer Utopia: My wonderful experience in Denmark

Guest post by: Taylor Tran is a Senior studying in Operations and Supply Chain Management with a Scandinavian studies minor. She is also in the Certificate of International Studies program. This Summer, Taylor participated in a UW Copenhagen Classroom study abroad. 

Reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s, The Wasteland, walking under a bridge of old shipping containers and onto a dirt ground, my eyes drift from the ground to the canals to the navy ships and then back to the shipping containers stacked on top of one another. Upon second look, I realize I am not in the wasteland. The shipping containers have been reborn into food stalls. Mismatched chairs are sporadically placed around fire pits. A cruise ship stands in the distance, a sharp contrast from the space over here. I’m at Reffen, a trendy, eco-friendly food stall and community space in Copenhagen, Denmark, on a breezy summer day.

This summer, I had the pleasure of going on UW Scandinavian Department’s Copenhagen Classroom—a month-long program centered on migration and diversity. Fifteen students and I tackled these difficult topics through the lenses of politics, literature, film, and architecture every afternoon. In the mornings, we took intensive Danish language classes, where we had a chance to meet exchange students at the University of Copenhagen. My classmates were from Australia, Sri Lanka, Germany, and Switzerland.


One of my favorite experiences was a community dinner at Absalon. Established by the founder of Flying Tiger, a popular retail shop, Absalon is a place dedicated to supporting the community. They host events, like yoga, on a regular basis. The dining room has long tables, intended for people to get to know other people in their community over a shared meal. A dinner ticket is relatively affordable compared to eating out in Copenhagen and that is mostly because it is subsidized by the owner. After a traditional, spirited song led by the founder and sung by all attendees, we enjoyed a cozy, locally sourced meal together. 

I thoroughly enjoyed living like a Dane that summer and I left with new perspectives. I biked everywhere, learned a bit of Danish, laughed a lot, and had many open-minded conversations. There’s something to be said about the thoughtfulness and intention that is so present in Denmark. 

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to fit in a UW study abroad experience before going onto my next adventure—post grad life—tak tussand!