Indiana University Overseas Study

Posts tagged ‘study abroad’

O’ Captain, My Captain: Sailing the Isefjord

Rachel Larsen - Copenhagen

I just had the most amazing opportunity that I will never forget. Myself and 18 new friends traveled to Isefjord, a small freshwater fjord connecting Kategat (the cat canal) to mainland Hoelbæk of Denmark. We met in Copenhagen and took a scenic train ride through rural Denmark at a beautiful 7 am. We walked through the town of Holbæk, known for one of the oldest hotels in Denmark and for the beautiful ports that host many of the country’s documented wooden ships.


In Denmark, wooden sailing ships are not only a living piece of history, but they are a prized possession that requires much responsibility. To be a licensed wooden ship in Denmark (one that belongs to an illustrious club, that is), there are rules that dictate everything, including how the deck must be washed and how the sails must be sewn (criss-cross seams fail a ship upon inspection).

Once we were on the boat, safety demonstrations began. We put all of our stuff down below where there was enough sleeping rooms for 23. Soon, we began leaving Holbæk for Hundested, or “dog’s place.” The temperature was warm for Denmark, but the sea breeze was perfect. Kenneth told me he had almost never seen such a perfect Danish day for sailing.


Out on the front of the boat, rigging was set to help hoist the sails. Between the 3 of us, we were able to shimmy out past a net, onto the beams beyond the boat to raise the sails in a windy adventure. We saw jellyfish go by underneath us at a comfortable 5 knots. We sailed for an entire day before landing in port, the beach of Hundested. It was a beautiful small city, one that most of the crew was pretty familiar with. Kenneth, Jonas, and Johnny showed us around and let us have a great time around the city, teaching us new words and Danish and laughing at our all-together Americanness.


Every day, different members of the crew cooked a meal and did the dishes. In Denmark, customs say that if you make the meal, you eat last, inviting your guests to partake first. While we weren’t used to this, the first mate was quite strict. That being said, the fruit here in Denmark is the best you will ever have. Denmark doesn’t use preservatives like other countries, meaning the food goes bad faster here, but tastes must fresher. We had bread fresh from the bakery in both ports. And, we learned to make a tenderloin-sausage stew that was absolutely fantastic! Everything we had on the boat was good!


While many of the sights were beautiful and amazing, easily the best part of this trip was the crew. The captain, Markin, was the quietest, but one of the funniest. He obviously loved our energy and laughed at our jokes and bad dance skills on the boat, but never spoke to the guests directly. Christina, the first mate, was a delight. She was the person who helped us all cook and taught us the tradition of logkake, a layer cake that is made for celebrations in Denmark. She also was dating the captain, which she explained happened during a 2 month excursion to Spain.

Johnny was the funny guy. He had been on the ship the longest as a crew member and loved the seas. He was very open and loved to talk to us all, though his English was spotty. That made Kenneth, a 27-year-old student on the ship, even more fun. Kenneth was as fluent in English, no doubt about it. He only needed to look up a few words during the entire trip. He was an amazing artist and really enjoyed spending time with us.

Finally, “micro-man” Jonas was the most reserved about the group. Jonas was only 19 and was a student in the sailing school. He was very wary of us when we started, but he warmed up pretty quickly. We got him to laugh, though his English was the worst. Not bad, at all, but definitely a challenge.

The crew really took us in and taught us the meaning of hygge. Hygge is the traditional moral of the Danes, a way of life that incorporates comfort, compassion, and welcome into their lives. I can’t imagine being able to recreate the feeling of watching the sunset on a small boat with the comfort of new friends.

Rachel Larsen - exploring collaboration in STEM & study abroad

Study Abroad Elevator Speech


Nearly six months ago, I announced to my family and friends that I had been accepted to IU’s summer program in Florence, Italy. Upon making the decision to go abroad, I received an influx of comments about the things I would see, the people I would meet and travel with, and that amount that my Italian language skills would increase. Prior to my departure I did a lot of listening to all things Italy-related, as well as to opinions and suggestions regarding study abroad opportunities and the experience of traveling.


Dolce Far Niente


I am a productivity addict. When I am at home, I typically have my daily planner penciled to the margins.  I often start my day before the sun comes up and schedule my day to continue several hours later than a normal person would consider a reasonable hour for bedtime. It gets neurotic and I am happy to say that life in Italy has been a sort of “productivity rehab” for me.




My friend, Ali, had a panic attack inside of a medieval fortress in Assisi, last Friday. I have known Ali since we were three years old, but it was purely a random coincidence that we both ended up at IU, in the same sorority and studying abroad in Florence together; we didn’t plan any of it.


Florence vs. Bloomington


During my first week in Florence, I sampled a smorgasbord—or antipasto platter—of Florentine culture.  I toured two cathedrals and one museum, tried 5 different gelaterias (ice cream shops), sipped cappuccinos from 6 different bars (cafes), and walked dozens of miles down cobblestone roads.


This Italian Girl is Ready to Depart


“Everyone loves an Italian girl.” I had the witty phrase plastered across everyday items ranging from clothing to notebooks back when I was still young enough to consider a screen-printed T-shirt a fashion statement. Even without me broadcasting my heritage via overpriced school supplies, people still never make it very far past my dark features and whopper-of-a-last name without asking, “So, are you Italian or something?”


Bayram’dan Sonra… (After [Kurban] Bayramı)


Quite a few weeks ago now, most of the country celebrated Kurban Bayramı, which is the same as the holiday Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice). The holiday coincides with the end of the Hajj (which is also the end of the Muslim lunar calendrical year), and lasts five days.


%d bloggers like this: