Scene change: Edinburgh, Scotland

For my session in Copenhagen, I’m taking Positive Psychology, where we learn about resilience, character strengths, perspective, and how focusing on positive emotions can create lasting change in mentality. In comparison to the course I took last session, this class is much less lecture-heavy and instead focuses on experiential learning.

For one assignment, we had to interview locals to ask for their thoughts on why Denmark consistently ranked highly on global happiness reports. I’d never had to do an assignment like that before in a STEM class and it was so interesting to hear different perspectives as to why Denmark is ranked as happier than the United States. Each of my interviewees highlighted different aspects in their answers which I thought was really cool.

Learning here extends outside of the classroom, but also outside of the country. DIS offers Study Tours, which are week-long trips to another country with your classmates to gain new perspectives on class concepts. Each course has a designated city for their study tour, which made it easy to select a class that I was both interested in and that went to a place I wanted to visit. There are so many different options, and I had friends going to Munich, Amsterdam, Vienna, London… but my class went to Edinburgh, Scotland. Flights, housing, and two meals a day are paid for by DIS, along with transportation passes to get around Scotland and planned trips for the class. 

I was able to do so many things I never thought I would be able to do, and going to a beautiful country made my experience with DIS unforgettable. Here is a non-exhaustive list of things I did in Scotland on my Study Tour in only four days.

  • Enjoyed traditional afternoon high tea
  • Visited a Bhuddist temple and practiced mindfulness meditation
  • Hiked Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano (!!!)
  • Listened a guest lecture on psychedelics and their use in positive psychology
  • Traveled to Glasgow to learn about a charity focusing on community development, and experienced some of their offered programs
  • Tried vegetarian haggis, which was very good
  • Saw a statue of my favorite literary character, Sherlock Holmes
  • Immersed myself in nature through forest-bathing

Over the course of our tour, I learned so much more beyond just the theories of positive psychology. I also became so much closer with my classmates, even during the relatively short trip. Our Study Tour created so many memories between us and I am very grateful to be able to make such great friends through this experience.

The hike up Arthur’s Seat in particular was a great bonding experience because we decided to climb it in rainy and cold weather. This meant we (unintentionally) created trust as we held each other’s hands when going down steep declines to make sure no one slipped. Throughout the Study Tour, we created a lot of memories and inside jokes between us, and I felt much closer with my classmates on Friday than I did on Monday.

A quick piece of advice for anyone looking to hike Arthur’s Seat: GO WHEN IT’S SUNNY! Yes, I know it’s rare in Scotland to have predictably clear skies, but otherwise you’ll end up like me: soaking wet from the rain and with the only view to show for your hard work being a big cloud. It’s almost comical how bad this view was. But it’s all about the journey, not the destination, right?

One last thing: Scotland forever!

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