Wharton '20

Carissa Zou

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SA: Copenhagen Business School

Program Abroad:

  • Semester Abroad (SA): Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Ask me about...

  • Traveling on a budget.

  • Being involved with student on-campus activities while abroad.

  •  Finding ways to connect with people beyond exchange students while abroad.

My Experience Abroad:

The education I got abroad was an incredible supplement to my coursework at Penn because I got to engage in conversations about politics, economics, and business from an international perspective, one that stretched beyond the bubble I didn't even know I was in prior to studying abroad. For example, living and thriving in a predominantly socialist society at the heart of Denmark provided a stark contrast to the capitalist principles that I have been surrounded by for most of my collegiate career, in a business school in the United States. It gave me opportunities to engage in conversations about a political and economic system that so distinctly contrasts the one I've grown up in, one with free healthcare, free education, high taxation, and low income inequality. I also loved learning about international affairs that lie front and center of discussions today in my International Relations in Asia course, analyzing the Sino-American relationship and what burgeoning Chinese economic growth means for conflicts in Hong Kong / Taiwan, disputes over the South China Sea, and the trade war. Overall, much of what I learned allowed me to broaden my perspective on the political and economic climate that exists beyond the United States, and how these interactions have direct ramifications in what I've learned through my Penn education, which has been more focused on the microelements at the company or country level.

Other Highlights:

  • Meeting a Danish student from a school event and joining their friends for a beautiful potluck dinner and games for hours - an experience that Danes know and love, called "hygge" which means "coziness."

  • Engaging in a Danish tradition called "winter swimming", where you jump into canals of freezing water. I remember feeling incredibly rejuvenated from the entire experience and met a few Danes who said they do it every week or so because it's supposed to be good for your health!

  • Biking around the Danish countryside for hours (suburbs that surround Copenhagen) and seeing the 6 Forgotten Giants of Copenhagen, rolling around in dandelion fields, and passing by expansive grazing fields and pristine winding creeks that continued on for what felt like forever.

  • Traveling to Spain and getting to practice my Spanish (even though I haven't taken it since high school), see the Sagrada Familia (to date one of the most beautiful pieces of art I've ever seen), and watch Flamenco dancers!

  • Learning Danish for the first time and being able to hold small, simple conversations with friends and other Danes.

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