Procrastination At Its Finest: The Best Shows on Netflix to Procrastinate With

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(This article was originally written for a print version of The American Word)

Binge-watching: also known as every college student’s favorite past time. We love to disappear in our dorm rooms for days, only to emerge with new knowledge about Vincent Chase’s movie career or Olivia Pope’s latest client. While it is true that too much binge-watching for long periods of time can affect our personal lives and our health, it is a fun way to procrastinate every now and then.

Here are some of the best shows on Netflix Instant to procrastinate with!

The One That Started It All: House of Cards
Seasons: 2

House of Cards was Netflix’s first step into creating their own original programming. And after two seasons, with the third season being released on February 27th, I’d say their risk was worth every cent. House of Cards is a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey as U.S. Representative Frank Underwood. I don’t fall into the category of the typical AU student who loves politics, so it took me a while to get on the bandwagon of people who are obsessed with this show. But once I started watching, I was hooked. It felt like Frank spoke directly to me and I couldn’t stop secretly rooting for him, despite the fact that he stops at absolutely nothing to get what he believes he deserves.

The One Everyone Has Been Waiting For: F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Seasons: 10

Friends is the greatest sitcom in television history. There, I said it. So, I was really excited when Netflix finally released all 10 seasons on January 1st, like really excited. Despite the fact that I’ve seen every single episode multiple times, I always go back to Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, Monica, Ross, and Rachel because they remain the most re-watchable and entertaining of all the television characters that I know and love. When I find myself in need of a good laugh, I turn to Phoebe and her countless renditions of “Smelly Cat” or I watch Ross swear up and down for multiple seasons that he and Rachel were on a break. Just watch one episode and prepare to smile.

The One You Must Watch Since You Go to American University: The West Wing
Seasons: 7

The show known as television’s quintessential political drama is a must-see for any student at American University. Aaron Sorkin’s seven-season show chronicles the successes and failures of the White House senior staff under the administration of President Bartlet. The show, like other Sorkin pieces, is all fast pace conversations, sharp wit, and snark catchphrases. While some might consider it a little too idealistic and outdated for today’s world, I always step away feeling a little bit more uplifted and hopeful about myself and the world I live in after watching it.

The One Everyone Thinks Is Perfect: Breaking Bad
Seasons: 5

Many argue that Breaking Bad is not just the best series on Netflix, but the best television series of all time. Bryan Cranston stars as Walter White, a high school science teacher who learns he’s dying of cancer. He decides to start cooking meth in order to make some extra cash for his family before he’s gone. At first, I thought the plot was a little too over the top, which is why I put it on hold for so long. But, it truly gets better each season. And while it is sadly over now, it really is the best television series ever.

The One That I Want To Be A Part Of: Gilmore Girls
Seasons: 7

Last but not least is Gilmore Girls, my personal favorite show on the list. It’s a witty, pop-culture rich drama that focuses on the relationship between single mother Lorelai and her daughter, Rory. I adore this mother-daughter duo with their quick banter and kooky moments. However, I might love the town of Stars Hollow as a whole even more. Some days I wish I could just have a meal at Luke’s Diner and attend one of the town meetings run by the infamous Taylor Doose. I guess watching it on Netflix for hours and playing pretend will have to do for now.

Celebrities As The Face of Feminism

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(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word)

Feminism seems to be in the news a lot lately; the news focuses on a different celebrity’s opinion about feminism and women’s rights every other day. Within the last week, Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the Republican presidential field, blasted a “progressive view” of feminism, saying that it isn’t working. Teen star Zendaya also was in the news this week for sharing her personal definition of feminism.

But what is feminism? Feminism is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Essentially, it means that you believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.

The reason this subject continues to get so much press is because, while many of celebrities clearly believe in what feminism means, many of them still shy away from the term.

There is a slew of celebrities who suffer from a fear of the “f-word.” Celebrities like Carrie Underwood have actually acknowledged that part of the reason they do not call themselves feminists is because of the stigma often associated with this word. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am a feminist, that can come off as a negative connotation. But I am a strong female,” said Underwood. There are also some stars who are more than a little confused as to what the term really means, like Taylor Swift. “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”

At the same time, many celebrities have embraced the term “feminism” and have called themselves feminists. Ellen Page does not understand “why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” Others like Lena Dunham have acknowledged that “women saying ‘I’m not a feminist’ is [her] greatest pet peeve.”

This leads to the question: is it important for celebrities to publicly say that they are feminists?

There are two sides to this issue: the first claims that celebrities’ power and tendency to be in the spotlight can be used to further important conversations and the second side says that the same power makes the celebrities themselves the focus of the conversations instead.

It is important, though, to ask these celebrities why they are feminists; many members of society are actually interested in creating a productive dialogue about this subject and the power that celebrities have provides the platform for this conversation to take place. While celebrities won’t be criticized by these members for saying that “I’m not a feminist,” they might be criticized for what comes after the word “because,” simply because, as Amanda Duberman of the Huffington Post stated, “the ‘what’ is the headline, but the “why” is the teachable moment.”

At the same time, we also have to be aware of the celebrities themselves becoming the central focus of these comments as opposed to what they’re actually saying. Celebrities are increasingly becoming a part of an effort to re-brand feminism, as if there is the perfect combination of words and images that will make the issue of gender equality more appealing to the masses and erase the stigma behind the “f-word.”

The logic is that we are more likely to embrace feminism and feminist messages when they are delivered in the right “package.” This package is one that generally includes youth and a particular kind of beauty and fame, things that most celebrities encompass.

In my opinion, this side of feminism is the side that has the most problems. A lot of people are willfully ignorant about anything regarding feminism, including what the word means and what the movement aims to achieve. However, a pretty young woman mentions feminism, and all of a sudden that broad ignorance disappears or is set aside because, at last, we have a more tolerable voice proclaiming the very messages feminism has been trying to impart for so long.

As long as we continue to focus on who the next celebrity feminist might be and how they might package this message, then we avoid discussing the real problems and inequalities that women face, not just in the United States, but all across the world.

When we as a society focus on celebrity feminists as the subject of our news and not what they are saying, we are choosing to avoid having the difficult conversations about the pay gap, the all-too-often sexist music we listen to, the limited reproductive freedom women are allowed to exercise, and the continuous sexual harassment and violence too many women face, especially on college campuses. In reality, the only way to bring about the changes that this society will require to one day resolve this issue is by having these important conversations.

I truly think that feminism will ultimately bring us a better world, one that will be better for all people. But in order for this to happen, the topic needs to be able to be spoken about freely, without a stigma, and certainly without celebrities names being the focus of the conversation.

A New Generation

Pop Culture, Television

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(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word).

When the winter television season started, Hilit Jacobson was more nervous than most.

Hilit, an AU freshman, had good reason for being nervous. On Nov. 25, 2013, she, her twin brother Jonah, and 7 of their 13 half siblings starred in the first episode of Generation Cryo, MTV’s newest reality show.

“I learned more about my immediate family than I ever thought I would,” Hilit said. “I got to hang out with my siblings more than we probably ever will in a few given months. I got to go to California like six times in half a year, and I got to meet an outstanding crew who helped make our show as real as we are as people,” she said.

Over the course of taping, the siblings discovered similarities among themselves. Most of the siblings on the show, Hilit, Jonah, Breeanna, Jesse C., Molly, Will and Jesse B., share the same dark hair color.

Hilit’s brother Jonah, in the first episode, discovers that he, Hilit and Breeanna have the same bottom lip. Two of Hilit’s half brothers share the same name, Jesse C. and Jesse B.

Their physical traits might be the same, but their connections with each other are not.

Hilit says she’s closer to some of her siblings than others because she’s known some of them longer and and hung out with others more often.

“We’re all family and I love each of them,” she said. “It’s like you’re meeting someone who you know is your brother/sister, but you don’t actually know them, so you skip the awkward stage of ‘oh nice to meet you, blah blah blah’ and kind of just get into it.”

The Beginnings

Hilit grew up in Atlanta knowing that she was different. Her parents never hid from her and Jonah that they were conceived by donor insemination. She remembers that her parents would read children’s book to them on the topic. “My parents must have told us we were born differently from even before we could comprehend anything at all,” she said. “Knowing we were born using a sperm donor was like knowing we both have brown hair, nothing too shocking.”

Hilit was never curious to learn about the sperm donor.

“The only thing that made me curious was to know what he looks like, and that need wasn’t even too strong.” Hilit says her father is “100% my dad, we just don’t share DNA.” Hilit said they connected with the first half sibling through the Donor Sibling Registry when they were 8 and her half sister was 9. Hilit’s mom found out about the site when it was just starting up and signed up their family.

As the site gained popularity, the Jacobsons kept connecting with more siblings who come from California, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Amsterdam. The Jacobsons have currently connected with 13 half-siblings.

The MTV Stage

The Donor Sibling Registry website is how MTV found Hilit and her family.

MTV contacted the Donor Sibling Registry website creator Wendy Kramer who gave them a list of families to contact. Then, MTV interviewed the different families and eventually Hilit’s family was selected for the show.

“I guess they liked us best,” Hilit, a Public Communication major said.

The show focuses specifically Hilit’s half sister, Breeanna. It shows her journey meeting some of her half siblings who help her search to find out more about their sperm donor. Once they began filming, Hilit saw that the show brought out many different feelings for everyone involved.

“It pushed us out of our comfort zones, but respectively, pushed us even closer as a family. At times, filming was tiring and annoying and boring, and at other times, it was exhilarating and adventurous,” she said. “There were parts we had to film that were hard, because of a deep conversation we needed to have.”

Sometimes she said these conversations hurt people’s feelings and even caused tears among her family members. One part of filming that further connected the family was the process of discovering the donor.

“Some want to [find out about the donor], but only want to meet him, some want to get to know him, some wanted to see a picture, some wanted to search for him but not see or talk to him, some did not want to have anything to do with it, or him,” she said.

In one episode, the siblings who wanted to search for the donor finally heard back from him. He said he would be fine with anonymous contact but only that.

“That means no name, location or any information that would give away where we could physically find him or search for him by name,” Hilit said.

Some siblings were confused and taken-aback by this response because they had already found out personal information through their own search. Hilit said that “they felt as if they had violated him and and his choices.”

“It’s a hard thing to figure out, what’s right and what’s wrong,” she said. “I do not see it as going against his privacy because he did become a donor knowing what could potentially happen in the future. It’s a mutual journey from the siblings’ side and from the donor’s.”

Once the show aired in November, Hilit realized that she had no reason to be nervous. She was more hopeful that the audience could take something away from Generation Cryo.

“I hope those watching saw more than just a documentary-style television show, but a love for family, a place for personal growth, and the simple joy of taking part in an adventure.”

Gearing Up for Summer

Lifestyle

Summer

(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word)

The days of sleeping in, working to earn money, and staying up late to watch Netflix are upon us. Summer is rapidly approaching and your life slowly will start to become less chaotic. That is exactly why summer is the perfect time to maintain, and maybe even improve, your health. Here are a few ways to make your summer as healthy as possible.

1. Protect yourself from UVA rays.
A little bit of sunlight can be good for you. It provides Vitamin D and can also enhance your mood. But too much UV radiation can be harmful for your body. To protect yourself, apply sunscreen of at least SPF 30 even if its a cloudy, overcast day to avoid getting burnt. Also to prevent getting burnt, don’t sit in the sun between the peak hours of 10am and 4pm. If you are planning to be out in the sun for a long period of time, reapply sunscreen every two to three hours.

2. Drink plenty of water.
During these hot summer months, the heat combined with your sweat can leave your body dehydrated. Therefore, it is incredibly important to maintain a healthy balance by drinking at least eight to nine glasses of water a day.

3. Protect your hair.
While you might not think about it, your hair suffers a lot during the summer between the constant sun, humidity, and chlorine damage. If you plan to swim a lot, use an anti-chlorine shampoo afterwards to help neutralize the chlorine from your hair. Also, minimizing your use of hairdryers, straighteners, and other heating products will help keep your natural, beachy waves intact.

4. Exfoliate your skin.
Summer leads to an increase of dead skin cell which causes your face to look dull and dry. For this reason, exfoliating your skin is extremely important. If you exfoliate one to three times a week, you will be able to maintain healthy, glowing summer skin.

5. Don’t just sit around, go out and exercise.
As college kids, this is probably the hardest for us to accomplish. We would definitely prefer to sit on the couch inside in our air conditioned rooms with our Netflix queue then to go outside and be active. However, engaging in some physical activities would be the healthier option. Start an exercise program or even go outside for some hiking or swimming. Not only is it healthy for your body, but it benefits your mind as well.

Letter to the Freshmen

Lifestyle, School
(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word)
 

Dear Freshmen,

Welcome to American University. Or, as I heard it referred to more than a hundred times during my freshman year, your home away from home. The following are things I wish I had known or had been reminded of when I got to college my freshman year; I hope this letter helps you.

The American University/DC experience:

First, don’t feel like you have to have an internship right away, especially one on Capitol Hill. While these internships might make you feel important, you are still getting adjusted to a new environment. You should take the time to learn your way around. Next, don’t forget about the Washington, D.C. tourist attractions. You might think you have the next four years to do it and you do. But, you also don’t want to be that senior who still hasn’t been to Georgetown or seen the Washington Monument. In terms of WMATA, never stand on the left side of the escalator. Know that the escalators at the Tenleytown-AU stop break down and break down often. Learn the bus routes. All of these things will make your traveling experience much easier. Lastly, in order to survive at AU, you need to make sure you always have a supply of food. You’ll need it for the weekend when nothing is open, when Subway runs out of everything possible and the many snow days we’re bound to have this school year.

General college advice:

First, be responsible and know your limits. If you feel like you’re in trouble, call Public Safety or 911. Next, there are plenty of events with free food happening around campus. Find them and love them. Speaking of events – go to as many as possible. There is always a variety of things going on from athletic games to speeches to concerts. You should take advantage of all the opportunities. Next, don’t forget about your campus resources. Your RAs are great people to go to for advice. Also, your biggest resources are your professors. Go to their office hours and use them as mentors; that is what they are here for. If you’re still looking for a way to get involved, join a club. I joined two my freshman year and they have had a great impact on me and my college experience so far. You should also make sure you help keep your hall clean. Your floor mates and RA will thank you for sticking to those community standards and not having to have extra meetings throughout the year. Next, don’t spend money that you don’t have; be frugal and spend your money wisely. Check your bank account so that you can know what you have and you don’t have. Lastly, the most important thing to remember is to go to class. Learn what you can. Put in the effort and you will be rewarded. Don’t procrastinate your work and get behind because nobody benefits from that. This is the purpose of you’re being at AU, after all.

I’ll leave you with some basic reminders to keep with you during these next four years.

Remember to ask for help if you need it. I could probably bet that you are not alone. It’s also okay to be homesick every now and then; everybody is at some point whether they admit it or not. Eventually, it will go away.

This is the best time to embrace who you are. You should take the time to be selfish because this time is solely about you.

Breathe. Everything will be okay. These are the best four years of your life. Have fun.

Love,

Bryna a.k.a. someone who has been there before

The Best “Off the Beaten Path” Vacations

Lifestyle

(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word)

Summer is rapidly approaching and with it comes the age old tradition: the summer vacation. Many people take trips to the classic vacation destinations – Disney, Hawaii, New York City, etc. But why would you want to be smothered by some creep in a giant Mickey costume, fight tooth and nail for a single square inch on an over-crowded beach, or try to appear on every morning show possible when you could take a chance on visiting one of these places instead? Here is a listed of the most off the beaten path places in the United States you should visit this summer.

Sightseeing: Marfa, Texas

A small town with 2,000 people in the middle-of-nowhere Texas is not usually what comes to mind when you think of sightseeing. However, over the past few decades Marfa, Texas has become nothing short of a destination for art lovers from all over the world to come and see. In 1971, renowned artist Donald Judd moved to Marfa from the Big Apple with the intention of permanently installing his art, putting the town on the map in terms of the art world. He transformed the decommissioned army base into art spaces, which eventually inspired the cultural center for contemporary artists and artisans that it is today. One of the more well-known pieces in Marfa is a pop art exhibit done by the Scandinavian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset called Prada Marfa, which is located about 35 miles from town. The only way to truly experience this town is by visiting it. The Marfa Visitor Center literature says the town is, “Tough to get to. Tougher to explain. But once you get here, you get it.”

Nature: North Cascades Park, Washington

Washington’s North Cascades Park gives nature lovers a combination of two very different experiences. In the park complex, you will find glacier-clad peaks rising almost vertically from thickly forested valleys and temperate rainforests. The result of such varying landscapes is a variety of plants and animals. But despite being called the American Alps, the North Cascades Park is one of the least-visited parks in the entire country. The wildness and ruggedness of the park is especially what lures hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers to visit each year. While that might turn off some casual outdoorsmen, the ones willing to try it out will get the rare experience of spotting bald eagles and hearing the numerous waterfalls that give the park its name.

Beach: Anna Maria Island, Florida

One of the best parts of the summer season is visiting the beach. However, for some, the usual crowds in popular beach towns like Miami are a big turn-off. If you’re looking for a beach vacation that is much more low-key, check out Anna Maria Island. Located on the west coast of Florida and just south of Tampa, the island is a coveted destination for Floridians, beach-goers and global travelers alike. The seven mile long, less than a mile wide island has arguably the whitest and most pristine beaches in all of the US. Anna Maria Island is committed to restricting development on the island. Not a single building on the island is over three stories tall and you will not find any fast food, wi-fi hotspots or familiar chain establishments there. If you love being able to unplug from the world or the “Old Florida” feel, Anna Maria Island is perfect for you.

Museums: National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN

A motel is not a typical location for a museum. However, for the National Civil Rights Museum, it makes sense. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel was where Martin Luther King Jr. stood before he was assassinated. The site marks the center of a cultural revolution that changed the course of United States History. The museum was reconstructed in 2014 and now allows the entire museum to be inside the former motel. However, you would hardly know it as the exterior of the motel remains pretty much as it once was. The museum gives you the chance to look at the civil rights movement through the eyes of the people who gave it life.

Rest and Relaxation: Newport, Rhode Island

Sometimes it’s nice to go on a vacation solely just to get away for a little rest and relaxation. If that is what you are looking to do, consider visiting Newport, Rhode Island. ABC News said that the little New England harbor town “represents life the way it should be”. Newport is well-known for its beautiful landscapes, filled with breathtaking shorelines, gorgeous sunsets, and sparkling waters. The town’s harbor is home to America’s Cup sailboats, yachts and everything in between. Some other possible activities you can do to relax during your visit include shopping, eating fresh from the ocean seafood, visiting the Tennis Hall of Fame, and viewing mansions of American royalty. The combination of Newport’s beauty and relaxing atmosphere is a constant and simple reminder that you should enjoy life’s little pleasures.

Staycation: Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

Can’t afford to leave Washington, D.C. this summer but still want to avoid all of the tourists down on the National Mall? Visit Rock Creek Park! D.C. is lucky to have a unit of the National Park System right here in our own backyard. Located in northwestern D.C. and not that far from AU, it’s a great place for jogging, biking, picnicking, or whatever you desire. The park closes some streets to auto traffic on weekends and holidays, which creates peaceful paths that make you feel even more removed from the busy world of government and business that are just around the corner. Rock Creek Park completely fulfills its 1890 mandate to be “a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States” by being more than just a public park, but offering a nature center, a planetarium, historical exhibits, and even a concert venue. It is definitely a must visit place in D.C. that does not get as much credit as it deserves.

Yakking About The New College Trend

Lifestyle

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(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word)

I heard about Yik Yak for the first time in the beginning of the semester. I was on a weekend retreat in Maryland with a group of fellow students. I was surprised to see so many people checking their phones during the two days we were gone from campus. It turns out everybody was using this new app called Yik Yak. They were checking out, for the most part, what happened at the different fraternity parties the night before. Some people were checking on their own parties while others were looking at the ones their friends had gone to. I had only just heard of it, but I could already tell what role it was starting to play on college campuses.

Yik Yak is a new app. Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, two college graduates from Furman University, created it in November 2013.

The way it works is pretty simple. The app allows people to make anonymous posts, also known as “yaks.” Then, the posts are either upvoted or downvoted and commented on. The users earn reputation points, or “yakarma”, with the more upvotes they get. It also works based on location meaning you can only see other “yaks” that are within 1.5 miles of your location.

Yik Yak’s target audience is us; Yik Yak aims their app at college students. Their number of users grows daily and currently it is on more than 1,000 college campuses worldwide.

It has had a huge effect on college campuses even though it hasn’t been around for that long. A lot of college students like to use Yik Yak to get a sense of the community they belong to. TDR even embraced this idea a few weeks ago. They printed out screen shots of different yaks students had posted about TDR.

The effect of Yik Yak’s power has had many different reactions. Some colleges have actually reached out to Yik Yak to see how they can better use it on campus.

But, the power it has is also part of the problem with Yik Yak. The anonymous posts lead to the possibility of cyberbullying and has already seen threats of violence, sex crimes and hate crimes. Many colleges such as Kenyon College and Colgate University want to ban it from their campuses. Norwich University in Vermont has already blocked access to Yik Yak on their college computer network.

Yik Yak has recognized the problems and is working to put more safety measures in place.

Thus, the question is: should I download Yik Yak? Is it worth all of the buzz? I’ll admit, it is fun. I downloaded it to try it out for writing this article. But it was fun only for a while. It has a lot of funny posts, but the jokes are unoriginal. I liked that it allows you to access an entire campus. So, unlike with Twitter, you don’t have to spend the time building a follower base. I also liked that Yik Yak is much more of a community forum than previous anonymous sites. However, I didn’t think it was worth the hype or worth downloading.

Studying Abroad “Brought Out the Best in Me”

Interview, Lifestyle, School

Andrea Study Abroad 2

(This article was one I originally wrote for The American Word)

Many students choose to study abroad during their time at college, which is definitely the case here at American University. According to American University’s website, 60 percent of the Class of 2013 studied abroad during their time as an undergraduate. However, no one person’s experience studying abroad is the same. These experiences come in all different shapes and sizes; each country, city, and study abroad program offers each student a different experience.

Meet Andrea Fenster, a senior here at AU. She studied abroad in Spring 2015 at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark with about 30 other students from AU. She talked to The American Word about her personal experience with studying abroad at DIS.

Fenster is a Law and Society major with two minors in Sociology, and Public Policy. She is also graduating this December. So she knew that if she wanted to study abroad that she needed to find the right program, one that would fit in with her studies and still allow her to graduate early. She started looking at the typical study abroad locations, like London, but immediately decided against it. “It seemed like a safe and boring choice,” she said.

The reason she ultimately chose DIS was because of a “core class” she found out about when initially researching the program. “Core classes are kind of like a UC here at AU,” Fenster described. The particular course Fenster discovered was called Prostitution and the Sex Trade. After learning about this class online, she says that she immediately was “stuck” on taking this class and studying at DIS. So, she went through the application process and found out she got accepted.

After she accepted and put her deposit down, Fenster freaked out a little bit. She had no idea as to what she had just gotten herself into. “All I really knew about Denmark before I left was that it was cold and rainy,” she said. She did a little bit of research on Denmark before she left, but ultimately chose to go with the flow. “I didn’t set any particular goals for myself while I was abroad. I knew I wanted to have a great time and learn about Danish life and culture.”

Fenster found some similarities to AU in her experience as a student at DIS. She took five classes while she was abroad and they were taught in a way that was similar to AU. She also said that like AU, DIS emphasized experiential learning and taking advantage of the city where you are located.

However, she also found a lot of differences in her experience abroad. In terms of the campus, Fenster likened it to GW; you had to take a bus to class and the campus itself was located in the middle of Copenhagen. One of the biggest differences between AU and DIS that she noticed was the work itself. At DIS, they emphasized different types of learning. Fenster recalled that her professors pushed personal creativity and incorporating your own views in your work. They didn’t always want her to have research in her assignments and “they loved first person.”

Traveling is usually a big part of studying abroad and it was definitely the case in Fenster’s experience at DIS. DIS encourages its students to travel to other countries and cities while they study. They even provide their students with three week-long travel breaks. Fenster spent part of one of her travel breaks with her core class, but otherwise, was free to travel wherever she wanted. “My friends and I wanted to make the most of these breaks, so we usually made it to three countries in each break,” she said. Some of the places she visited on her breaks included Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, Marseille, and Barcelona. In total, she was able to visit 12 different countries.

When asked if she had come back from study abroad having learned a lot about herself or feeling like she was a completely different person, Fenster didn’t feel like she had in any noticeable way. But she did notice that study abroad brought out the best version of herself. “I was very happy and content while I was abroad. I was responsible and adaptable in new countries and I loved every minute of it.”

Even though every person has a different study abroad experience, Fenster did have one piece advice that could be for anyone who is getting ready to study abroad, whether they are going to DIS or a different continent entirely. She said to make sure to say yes to anything and everything, whether it is traveling to a new country or going to a new wine bar down the street. This is the time, she said, when you should go explore and do as much as you possibly can. “It’s the same thing I told myself at summer camp: don’t let being tired stop you from having fun. You can sleep when you are back at home.”