Denmark | Academics

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

It’s the most wonderful month of the year – December! I’m so excited to experience all of the wonderful Danish Christmas Markets, experience the magic of Tivoli at Christmas, eat some delicious Æbleskiver, and celebrate the holidays with my family. But for students all around the world, including myself, the holiday season always goes hand in hand with the culmination of another academic semester and, of course, finals. So, in the spirit of finals season, I figured I would give you a quick peek into the world of academia at the University of Copenhagen, by highlighting three unique aspects that make university life in Denmark different than university life at home in California. 

#1 – Courses 

As an exchange student at the University of Copenhagen, you have the ability to enroll in a wide range of courses taught in English that span a variety of different disciplines and subjects. Some of the most popular disciplines at the university are environmental studies, health sciences, economics, and political science. While most of the courses offered are at the upper-division undergraduate level, students do have the ability to enroll in master’s level coursework. The university also offers a selection of Danish Culture Courses, which are classes highlighting various facets of Danish Culture, like Nordic Mythology or Danish Architecture, designed specifically with exchange students in mindClasses at the University of Copenhagen usually meet less times per week, for an extended period of time, rather than multiple times a week in shorter intervals, as is typical of the UC system. My social psychology course, for example, only meets once a week on Mondays from 3-6pm. My professor divides our class time into mini-sections and gives us one or two 10 minute “brain breaks in between, as is typical of most classes at the university. 


Courses here also carry an extremely high number of units. Even though I am only enrolled in two classes, I am considered a full-time student at the University of Copenhagen as both of my courses are each worth 15 ECTS points which is the equivalent to 24 UC Units. This has been adjustment for me, but this schedule has allowed me to use the rest of my week to travel, to volunteer at Studenterhuset, and enjoy all that Copenhagen has to offer! FUN FACT: All classes start exactly fifteen minutes after the official course start time, as per Danish tradition. Before cellphones and reliable watches, the Danes relied on the clocktowers around the city to indicate the time of day. Therefore, when the clock chimed at the hour, they understood that it was time for them to start making their way to class and they had about fifteen minutes to get there.  


#2 – Campus 

The University of Copenhagen is integrated into the city on four different campuses, each specializing in different disciplines: North Campus – Health & Medical Science, South Campus – Humanities, Law & Theology, City Campus – Social Sciences, and Fredericksburg Campus – Agriculture, Forestry & Veterinary. While I have been able to visit and see all four of the campuses during my time here, I have only had class on two out of the four. My psychology class meets at City Campus and both my Danish Language Course and Architecture courses met on South Campus.  

#3 – Assignments 

Students at the University of Copenhagen do not receive homework assignments, take midterm exams, or even typically complete papers throughout the semester. Rather, they complete a lot of reading throughout the semester, participate in group work, and are expected to spend a considerable amount of time outside of class processing and thinking critically about the class material in preparation for the lengthy final exam requirements. In both of the courses I was enrolled in this semester, I was required to complete an active participation assignment. This assignment is not graded, but is a prerequisite that, upon completion, makes you eligible to complete the final exam. For my Social Psychology class, my active participation consisted of a 20-30-minute group presentation, presented in front of the class, on one of the readings assigned to us. For Danish Architecture, I was required to write a 2-3-page synopsis introducing and outlining my final paper topic. My finals for both of these classes take the form of lengthy analytical papers. For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on a 15-20-page research paper on the relationship between health and architecture for my Danish Architecture Class. Next weekend, I will complete a 72-hour written exam for Social Psychology, which means I will be given a paper topic on Friday and I will have 72 hours to write, edit, and turn in my assignment.  

Looking forward to the successful completion another semester   

vi ses næste indlæg! xo Chloe 

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Copenhagen Adventures

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

It’s hard to believe that as I write I only have a little over a month left in Copenhagen! As soon as I got back from Fall Break a few weeks ago, I knew that time would start to fly extremely quickly – so I sat down and made a little list of all the things I knew I wanted to accomplish before I leave Copenhagen at the end of December. I also made it a personal goal to do (at least) one Copenhagen thing a day – which can mean anything from taking a day to go hunting for “trolls” in the forests in the outskirts of Copenhagen to something as little as taking a study break to eat a Danish hot dog. During my little three-week break from traveling, I really made an effort to stick to this goal. Here are five of my favorite things I have done during the past three weeks…… 

# 1 – Troll Hunting: Looking for the Six Hidden Giants in the forests of Outer Copenhagen 

A few weeks ago, I finally checked off one of my must-do’s while in Copenhagen – troll hunting! Before I arrived in Copenhagen, I saw a video about an artist named Thomas Dambo who had created “six hidden giants” out of scrap wood, that currently live and hide in the forests outskirting Copenhagen. He created them in an effort to bring art out of the museum while simultaneously encouraging local Copenhageners to explore the beautiful and often overlooked nature spots in their own backyard. As soon as I decided I was studying abroad in Copenhagen, I knew I had to find some of these trolls. So, on a sunny, mid-October Wednesday, a few of my friends and I grabbed our bikes and embarked on a treasure hunt to find some of Copenhagen’s most unique and loveable open-air sculptures. To start we took the B line of the S train all the way to Høje Taastrup (the location of Teddy Friendly) and then rode our bikes through the pastures and open fields past fluffy cows, sheep, horses and other wildlife on our way to find the other trolls.  In the span of a few hours, we were able to find four out of the six giants: Teddy Friendly (#6), Thomas on the Mountain (#5) Little Tilde (#4), and Oscar Under the Bridge (#3). So far, this has been my favorite Copenhagen adventure.  

# 2 – A Visit to Botanisk have 

The University of Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden is only located about a fiveminute walk away from my dorm and it is beautiful – especially in the Fall, when the leaves are turning, and the air is a bit crisper. The garden serves research, educational, and recreational purposes, as it is a part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science. During my visit, I got to explore their new exhibit: The Butterfly House, as well as the infamous Palm House. Each of the garden’s glasshouses featured a wide array of exotic plant life and mimicked the various climates in which these plants grow best. My favorite part of my visit was having the opportunity to climb up the staircase in the Palm House to the upper observatory deck, so I could see the plant’s (and an awesome view of Copenhagen) from a different perspective.   

# 3 Cherish Exhibition at the Marble Church 

My favorite church in all of Copenhagen, hands down, is the Marble Church. It is located in the middle of the Frederiksstaden area, complementing both Amalienborg Castle and The Opera. I love that as you walk around the city you can see its copper green dome peeking out from behind various city buildings from almost anywhere you stand. During the month of October and the first few weeks of November, the church featured a special art installation entitled “Cherish”, designed to start a conversation about climate change and the impact it has on our seasons. Over 15,000 paper flowers floated on the inside of the church’s dome and it was truly a spectacular sight to see.  

# 4 – Bike Riding to Two of Copenhagen’s Coolest Parks: Superkilen + Tårnlegepladsen in Fælledparken 

Ever since my architecture professor presented a lecture on landscape architecture and the various parks and green spaces in Copenhagen, I had been dying to go visit two of the parks he discussed: Superkilen and Tårnlegepladsen. Superkilen park is located in the neighborhood of Nørrebro, only about 10 minutes away from my dorm. Nørrebro is one of the most diverse areas of Copenhagen and the park reflects and embraces this diversity. Many of the neighborhood’s inhabitants were consulted during the park’s development regarding what kind of features they would like to see included. Therefore, it is divided into three main areas: The Red Square, The Black Market, and The Green Park. Each of these areas is filled with objects and park equipment that is representative and inspired by the countries around the world that the neighborhood’s inhabitants are from. Among many things found in the park, you can find an octopus slide sculpture from Japan, a fountain from Morocco, and an old doughnut shop sign from the United States. Tarnlegepladsen is perhaps the cutest park I have ever seen. All of the play equipment is modelled after famous Copenhagen Monuments, such as the Round Tower, City Hall, the Marble Church, and the Church of Our Saviour Spiral. I was lucky enough to have a few hours of free time one morning, so I seized the opportunity, grabbed my bike and was lucky enough to grab a couple of photos before all the little kids arrived.  

#5 – Watching the Changing of the Guard at Amelianborg Palace 

Amelianborg is Copenhagen’s Royal Palace. For a portion of the year, Denmark’s royal family actually lives and resides inside. The palace is famous for its Royal Guard, called Den Kongelige Livgarde. Every day you can experience the changing of the guards, as they march from the military barracks on Gothersgade, past Rosenborg Castle, through the streets of Copenhagen to Amalienborg, where the changing of the guard occurs daily at 12:00 noon. Throughout my time in Copenhagen, I had seen the royal guard pass through the streets on multiple occasions, as I am often studying at various café’s and libraries within city center but had never seen the procession all the way through. So, l took a moment to finally go and watch it in its entirety and it was really cool to see! Unlike the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Denmark’s procession is very immersive. There is no gate blocking your view and there is no giant crowd. You really get to see it happen the way it was intended.   


Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Student Life at UCPH

By Chloe Zgorzelski 

Academics are an important component of university life, but an equally integral, and sometimes overlooked component of the college experience is student life. Student life at my home university, UCLA, usually revolves around my housing community, the various clubs I am involved in, and is often easily facilitated in part because of the way the campus is set-up.  At the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), student life is quite different. The university is spread across four separate campuses throughout the city, student housing is scattered in various neighborhoods, and most students only have class once or twice a week – meaning the amount of time they spend on campus is limited. While this may sound daunting, there are definitely still ways that any student on exchange in Copenhagen can become an actively involved participant in student life at the university. Here are three resources that I have utilized to help my adjustment and make Copenhagen feel a little bit more like home… 


Studenterhuset (pronounced “Stu-den-ter-hus-el”) is exactly what it sounds like, directly translating to “student house”. Located in the heart of central Copenhagen, right next to the iconic Rundetårn (or Round Tower), Studenterhuset is a place run by students, for students. Alongside a small group of paid staff, student volunteers from all across Copenhagen work together to keep the house and café running while creating an environment that promotes community and togetherness. Students from all subjects and faculties are encouraged to come together at Studenterhuset, and many do to meet up in study groups, hang out with friends, and join in on the various events that happen each and every day of the week. Some of my favorite Studenterhuset events have been Swing Dance Tuesdays, Quiz Night, Karaoke Fridays, Community Kitchen, and the annual Halloween Party! Fun Fact: all UCPH students are automatically members of the house, and are eligible to receive discounts on beverages, snacks, and entry fees on concert nights.  

At Studenterhuset, there are over 200 volunteers that work at the bar from approximately 40 nationalities – and I am one of them! I signed up to volunteer at the house at the end of August and had my first day of training in September. I volunteer at Studenterhuset three times a month (15 hours total) and I, like all other volunteers, get “paid” in vouchers that we can use in the café for free coffee, snacks, and meals at the community kitchen. Initially, I was really nervous about the prospect of volunteering here. I had no previous experience working in the food industry and no real understanding of all of the nuances of coffee – seriously, before this I was the girl who always had to ask her friends what to order every time I went to a coffee shop. But I am SO glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and became a volunteer here. Not only is this a great way to meet people, both behind and in front of the bar – but my volunteer experience here has made me feel a part of a larger community in Copenhagen and makes me feel like I am making a positive contribution to my campus community.  

UCPH Mentorship Program 

All international students who apply to the University of Copenhagen are encouraged by the university to sign up/request a mentor through the UCPH Mentor/Buddy Programme. The university has eleven different mentor/buddy programs spread across the six different faculties. The program was created to help create a social network for international students and UCPH students through different activities planned during the semester. As a participant in the program, you are matched with a UCPH student who shares your major as well as a group of UCPH students and other mentees. Your mentor will help you settle in during your exchange in Denmark and give you an introduction to student life in Copenhagen. 

My mentor’s name is Clara and she is awesome! She is a fourth-year psychology student at UCPH who just finished a semester abroad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – so she can definitely empathize with what it is like to be an exchange student in a foreign country.  Clara and I try to meet up at least once a month to catch up and discuss Copenhagen, whether that means grabbing chocolate banana pancakes at the café around the corner from city campus or going on an excursion to the Royal Theater to watch their morning ballet practice. Clara is just one of the amazing people I have met through my UCPH Psychology Mentor/Mentee Group. Throughout my time in Copenhagen, it has been really nice to be a part of a group like this that facilitates different excursions – like walking tours in Nørrebro and day trips to Christiansborg Palace – and helps you get to know fellow exchange students within my educational faculty.  

UCEAP Student-specific activities 

Our UCEAP Copenhagen-side Advisors Katrine and Julie, also work hard to make us UCEAP students feel at home in Denmark. Throughout the semester, they plan social events, like the all-UCEAP Welcome/Orientation Dinner, Walking Tour of Copenhagen, and Common Dinner at Absalon, that are really fun and help facilitate interaction between all of the UCEAP exchange students during our time here. 

Absalon is a beautiful church, turned community center in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro neighborhood that hosts dinners for the local community every night of the week. Fun Fact: it was started by the man who founded the Flying Tiger Stores! 

They also post regularly in the UCEAP Copenhagen Facebook page about different events that are happening locally, so I always have new ideas of fun things to do each week. If it weren’t for their posts, I would have never have known about La Glace – the oldest Conditori (and the best cake place!) in all of Copenhagen! See pictures below for proof. 

There are many more ways to get involved in student life at the University of Copenhagen, from KSI – the University’s Sports Association to their various cultural and social associations. I would encourage every student who comes to the University of Copenhagen on exchange to try something new and get connected with the vibrant campus community here.  

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Denmark | Danish Culture

By Chloe Zgorzelski

The University of Copenhagen is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479, it is the second oldest institution for higher education in all of Scandinavia. Today, it boasts a student population of over 38,481.

The university is spread throughout the city across four different campuses, making its presence tangible in every corner of the city. It sponsors ten different museums and research gardens, has given Denmark nine Nobel Laureates, and is comprised of six diverse faculties. Every day I go to class, I pinch myself a little bit because I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to study abroad at a university so distinguished and world-renowned.

One thing that I particularly love about the University of Copenhagen are the courses they offer specifically for exchange students on various topics relating to Danish Culture. These ‘Danish Culture Courses’, as they are lovingly referred to by the university, offer students coursework that combine lectures and excursions together to provide a more wholistic understanding of issues relating to Denmark. While the course topics vary every semester, some of the most frequent subjects include Danish Cinema, Søren Kierkegaard, Nordic Mythology and Danish Architecture. The courses are at BA-level and open to all international students regardless of their field of study.

This semester, I enrolled in the Danish Culture Course entitled “Danish Architecture and Urban Design” with Professor Lars Gemzøe. The course gives an overview of Danish architecture, urban design and planning over the last 100 years, with a focus and emphasis on the human perspective of architecture.

Let me tell you: I love this class. Seriously, I look forward to it each and every week because I can genuinely say that after every lecture I am able to see the city of Copenhagen from a different perspective. I’ve learned that architecture is a major component of the Danish identity, as it is seen as a much wider practice than merely the art of making buildings. Our professor, Lars, is a Danish architect himself. Every week, he spoils us with his years of wisdom relating to the field and he teaches us about the Nordic approach to planning and design of the physical landscape. Because of him, I am beginning to understand why culture, climate, and scale are important elements in the way that architecture as a profession and Nordic welfare states have been dealing with international trends.

My favorite part about this class is that I have the opportunity to go on guided excursions around Denmark with my classmates and my professor. As a student in this course, I am also required to complete various self-guided field trips in order to see and experience the architecture and planning that we discuss in our lectures first hand. This Fall, we took two class trips: the first to the Copenhagen Harbor and Malmö, Sweden and the second to Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art.

Excursion #1 – “Housing & Planning – The Copenhagen Harbor and Malmō, Sweden”
This excursion began with a boat trip through the Copenhagen Harbor, which allowed us to see some of the important buildings like the Opera, the Playhouse and new housing developments along the waterfront. After an hour or so on the water, the boat trip concluded near a new housing district in the North Harbor. My class and I disembarked and followed our Professor on a walking tour of the neighborhood where we were able to take a closer look at the variation in building designs. He showed us this adorable and hidden rooftop park/gym that I am dying to return to. Not only was there an amazing view of the harbor from up here, but there were also trampolines!
We then boarded a private charter bus that escorted us from the North Harbor to Sluseholmen, a new housing development in the outskirts of Copenhagen. Here we were able to see and discuss newer housing and city building. The trip then continued to Sweden where we saw one of the most interesting and newest urban developments in Scandinavia, Bo01, on the Western Harbour in Malmö.  Our professor explained to us how this new city district has a lot to offer on how to deal with climate and sustainability as well as on variation in building design and open spaces. Our excursion concluded with a visit to Jakriborg, a controversial new housing development in Sweden, which looks like it was made in the 17th Century.
Excursion #2 – “Museums & Urban Development: Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art”
Our second excursion took place at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, which is about an hour away from Copenhagen. The museum is a fantastic example of architecture from the 1960s with numerous additions over the years. I love the way that it blends in with the landscape and takes full advantage of the views of the surroundings. The museum features panoramic views of Sweden and presents six to ten special exhibitions annually. It also contains a distinguished art collection with over 3,500 works.

I had the opportunity to see all of the museums current exhibitions including: The Moon, Elemental, Color Form Texture, & Men and Masculinity. My favorite of the current exhibits was the one called ‘The Moon’. This exhibition is Louisiana’s way of commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon. Through the presentation of more than 200 works and objects – including Galileo’s moon map and Norman Foster’s plans for 3D-printed moon bases – this exhibition paints a vibrant and diverse portrait of our closet celestial neighbor.

If you are studying abroad at the University of Copenhagen and are considering enrolling in a Danish Culture Course, I would highly recommend it. At UCLA, I am a Psychology and Communications major, so when I first enrolled in the class I assumed that this would just be an interesting course to take to fulfill a GE requirement. However, this course has helped me form a new interest and recognize my passion for architecture and design. Through our lectures and with some guidance from my professor, I am realizing new ways in which psychology and architecture are intertwined and mutually influence one another.

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Italy | Class Requirements

By Andrea Zachrich

If you’re a future Exploring Rome student and reading this blog, you might have some questions on details regarding how the program works while you’re actually in Rome. I know the Study Abroad office gives students a ton of pre-departure information (so make sure you go to those meetings), but it’s hard to imagine what the classes are like until you actually get there. I thought I would break down some of the things I had the most questions on about the class, like tests and other big assignments, so that you have a little more of an idea of what you’re getting into. Keep in mind, these could obviously change for your year, but I only have my own experience to base it off of, so I’m going to talk about that. Side note: don’t worry if you’re a non-Classics or a nonHistory major. I’m not going to say that those majors didn’t have a bit of an advantage (mostly because they knew a lot of the history behind the sites we visited), but a lot of people on my program were from other majors and they did just fine. Everything you need to know will be covered in lecture, so, if you pay attention, no prior knowledge is required.

Day to Day Schedule

All of the weekdays look more or less the same (with some exceptions for field trips which I talk about in other posts). Basically, we met every morning at 8:30 at Piazza Belli – which is right next to the Tiber river. For our year, getting to this Piazza was kind of a mob – about a 20 minute walk or 8 minute tram ride. But, do not fear, I know other years have stayed closer to the meeting location. Sometimes, we would meet later or earlier, but the professor will always tell you the day before if that’s the case.

At 8:30, we would head off to whatever activity we were doing that morning. It could be a museum or a site like the Roman Forum or the Coliseum. Our lectures were almost always on-site or, if the site was particularly busy, near to or just outside of the site. The class followed the syllabus very well, so I would keep a copy or a screenshot of that handy.

At anywhere from 11:30-1 we would be let loose to go and enjoy lunch and take a quick break before meeting back up again in the evening. I usually would go and get lunch (originally, I tried to cook my own food but I couldn’t resist the Italian restaurants ugh). After lunch, I would usually go back to the apartment and nap and/or work on some homework. A few times, I met up with friends and wandered around the city in between, which was fun but very tiring. My biggest piece of advice I could give you is to find some air conditioning during this break, whether it’s in the restaurant you have lunch in or back at the apartment you’re staying at. It’s really hard to stay out a full day in the Roman heat if you’re not used to it.

At anywhere from 3:30 to 5 we would meet back up again and go to another site. Again, this could be a museum or a church or a tomb or anything. We would then be done for class anywhere from 6 to 8 pm and would be let loose to go eat dinner, watch the world cup games, or whatever else we wanted to do. None of us tended to stay up too late during the week because we did have to be up so early every day, and the days were pretty tiring.

The syllabus was very accurate (with a few changes) while I was there, and the professor will always tell you if it’s going to be different. Being out and about during lectures was an awesome way to learn and I found that I retained a ton of the information simply because I was there, and it’s a lot harder to forget something when you’ve actually visited something.

Class Requirements and Assignments


The midterm and the final were the only two times during this program that we were ever in a classroom, which was awesome. We took the tests at the Accent Center – UCLA’s headquarters for study abroad students in Rome. As with most of Professor Gurval’s tests, the midterm was very fair. He gave us about 50 monuments, all of which we had visited, and asked us to know basic facts about them such as the date, location, and some simple history. There were 10 on the midterm (plus an extra credit that wasn’t included on the list of 50 but was a place we had visited) and we had a little less than 10 minutes to answer each one. The test lasted about an hour and a half. As you can imagine, it was straight forward and we knew exactly what was expected of us going into the test.


The final was a lot more creative during the midterm, and I even had some fun with it. As with the midterm, we got the final essay questions in advance. We had two essays to write in about 90 minutes: one was about what each architect from different imperial eras would give you for advice if you were a Renaissance architect tasked with rebuilding Rome and what buildings they would use to support their advice, and the other required you to pick a type of person from Roman society and build a tomb for that person using elements from other tombs we saw and what this shows or reveals about ancient Roman society. In the tomb essay, for example, I decided that I was going to be a freed slave who became wealthy through running a shipbuilding company by master passed down to me after he died. My tomb, which was based quite strongly on the Baker’s Tomb and the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome with elements taken from tombs in Pompeii and other places, was going to be a cylinder with a statue of a boat on top. I really appreciated that we were able to showcase our knowledge of the places we’ve been and what we learned about Roman society in a really creative (and almost fun) way.


During the second week of class, you will be asked to give a group presentation with 1-2 other people about a monument. It’s really not very stressful and doesn’t take a whole ton of time. You have to talk about the main person associated with the monument, it’s architecture, and its history up to today. Our professor gave us individual readings based on what monument we were presenting on, and we got to split up the information so no one had to talk very long. You get to pick where you want to present and how you want to present the information as a group. It can be cool to learn from your classmates, and people were usually really interested in most of the presentations. The best advice I can give is to take all the information you have, and cut out at least half of it. The main problem people had in my class is that they went over time.

Journals & Sketchpads

Another project for the class requires you to keep an almost daily journal and sketchpad. I actually really enjoyed doing both. It gets so crazy with all the running around Rome that it’s nice to take a couple of minutes and chill and reflect on your day and sketch something out. The journals were mainly focused on your own thoughts and opinions rather than facts we learned (they’re not your notes) and I’m glad I have it to look back on. The sketchpad could be anything we’ve seen. The only requirements for that was that you actually spend some time on it and you try to have a variation in the items you draw (architecture, statues, paintings, mosaics, etc.). You’ll get feedback on both about halfway through the class so you have an idea of how you’re doing and what you could improve on.


Another part of your grade will come from participation on site visits. This is not hard. Just pay attention to lecture, ask questions if you have them, participate in group discussions, and don’t lose the group on the bus. The class is pretty engaging, so I think participating came fairly natural to most people.

Final Project

The final project was actually really fun (or well, as fun as something that you’re getting graded on can be). During our first week in Rome, we were asked to pick a theme that we would collect pictures of throughout the class. Some examples of themes were grapes (that’s me!), wings, Venus (the goddess not the planet), lions, rear ends, and river gods. There are a ton of themes to choose from. Most of the items were expected to be from antiquity, but not all of them had to be. When you get home, you’ll be asked to pick 10 of these items and pretend that you are a curator putting on a themed art exhibit using the art. You’ll have to make a PowerPoint with pictures of the items and some basic information (age, location, history, etc.) and write a 5-7 page paper about the theme and what it can tell us about Roman society. Research is not required but I found it to be useful in examining my theme. It’s due a little over a month after you get back. Even after traveling for three weeks around Europe after the program and backpacking for 5 days in Sequoia, I still managed to have more than enough time to complete the project, so you will be fine too.

Overall, this class is awesome, and I would recommend it to anyone with any major (unless they hate learning cool things idk?) It offers you the opportunity to learn things in an incredibly unique way by being on-site and the assignments were fair. Rome is also an awesome city. I’ve been to quite a few places in Europe, and it’s definitely my favorite city I’ve visited. A lot of organized chaos going on there. Plus, what better place could you go to study ancient Rome besides Rome?

Italy | Borghese Gallery

by Andrea Zachrich

We went to the Borghese Gallery during our third week in Rome, and it was easily my favorite museum of the trip. It has a very unique layout, an interesting collection of art, and is in a beautiful location.

Here’s a picture of the gallery. They don’t really have a ton of signs telling you what the building is, so here’s what it looks like when you walk up to the front so that you know.


This museum is in the former Borghese villa in the Villa Borghese park (usually just called Villa Borghese now). The villa was built in the 1600’s by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V, as a place to showcase his art collection. So from the beginning, this building was designed to display art. Cardinal Borghese was an avid art collector and sponsored many artists. The gallery houses artwork from antiquity and the Renaissance, and includes works from famous artists such as Bernini, Caravaggio, and Raphael. The building and park surrounding it were sold to the Italian government in 1902, and it was turned into a public museum shortly after.

The Layout

Besides the amazing art, a big part of the why this museum was my favorite is due to its unique layout. First off, the whole museum has the vibes of a mansion rather than a museum. It almost feels like you walked into someone’s home and instead of furniture, they have art pieces. Additionally, almost all of the rooms have a “theme” of some sort. For example, one room has frescoes that depict scenes involving Paris and almost all of the artwork in the room is related to the story of the Iliad or the the Trojan war. Another room, known as the Egyptian room, has frescoes and artwork that all relate to Egypt, such as a bust of Cleopatra and a depiction of the Nile River (personified) with her children. It was really fun to walk into the rooms and try and guess what the theme was that linked all the art together. There wasn’t always one, but even when there wasn’t, I admired the way in which the collector wasn’t afraid to display modern and ancient art side by side. As a student of antiquity, it was interesting to compare the art and see if I could identify whether it was old or new art. Also, there is a room full of busts of emperors, and our class had a fun time trying to identify the emperor without looking at who it was (you will get pretty good at identifying emperors by the end of this program, my friends all think its a really strange skill to have but I think its cool to be able to do).

The Art Collection

There are soooo many amazing pieces in this museum. My personal favorites are three Bernini sculptures: Apollo and Daphne, Pluto and Persephone, and David.The detail on these marble statues is absolutely mind blowing.

This is the statue of Apollo and Daphne. For those of you that don’t know, the myth of these two goes like this: basically, Apollo insults Cupid, so in spite, Cupid shot an arrow at Apollo that made him fall in love with Daphne and an arrow at Daphne that made her abhor the idea of falling in love. Apollo cannot control his lust, and ends up chasing Daphne through the forest even though she does not want to be with him. She begs her father, the god Peneus, for a way out of the situation, and he turns her into a laurel tree, which Apollo vows will be eternally green as a tribute to her. This statue shows the moment she is turning into a tree. The detail is incredible. My favorite part is the toenails – you can see them turning into the roots of the tree she will become. You can also see the fear on her face of being caught by Apollo.

This is the statue of Pluto and Persephone. I really like this statue for one main reason: that thigh grab! Bernini somehow managed to make marble bend under Pluto’s grab like its flesh, and it’s awesome to look at. I also love how her hair is swinging to the side as she attempts to escape the god. It’s so full of movement, and almost looks like it could come to life. Plus, there’s a dog included (even if its Pluto’s scary, three-headed dog).

This is the statue of David. Look at his face! This is not the idealized David of Michelangelo, standing stoic before the battle, but rather a David shown deep in concentration in the middle of the fight. He looks young and small, but determined. I love this sculpture purely for that facial expression.

Tips for Visiting

One of the most important things I can tell you about this museum is that you NEED a reservation and it must be booked in advance online on their website for a specific time (they’re in 2 hour time slots). The museum will sometimes have day of reservations when someone cancels, but I wouldn’t risk it if you really want to go to this museum. I know this policy seems like a pain, but it actually makes visiting the gallery really nice because there aren’t many people in there with you, so you can really take your time and enjoy the art without waiting behind people to see it or feeling like you’re blocking someone else’s view. Professor Gurval said that he has noticed over the years that the least busy time is right before the museum closes in the 5-7 time slot and during week days.

Additionally, the museum and park are kind of out of the way of the main attractions in Rome, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there. I even got there early and went around the gift shop and sat in the cafe and got myself a cappuccino. You can see below how the gallery (on the East side of the park) is pretty far from a lot of places in Rome.

One last thing: the park around it is also a really cool place to visit. I know some other students in our class rented those covered bikes (the ones that kind of look like golf carts) and had a ton of fun biking around. I walked around before our time slot, and its really beautiful. If you like to run, it looked like a gorgeous place to run and get away from all the traffic in Rome (although I never made it over there to run because it was pretty far from where we lived – even by bus).

If you have time while you’re in Rome, you should definitely try and stop here (I know I say that about every place in Rome, but it is a really cool city!) It’s full of beautiful art in a beautiful building in a beautiful park – what more could you want?

Rome | Ara Pacis

by Andrea Zachrich

The Ara Pacis, also sometimes called the Altar of Augustan Peace, is one of my favorite monuments from ancient Rome. It’s a cunning piece of propaganda by Emperor Augustus, and its excavation story is pretty awesome. Being particularly well-preserved, it can tell modern scholars a lot about the imperial imagery and symbols. It’s also very pleasant to visit because the altar is kept inside of an air-conditioned building next to the Tiber River.

Ancient History

The Ara Pacis was dedicated in 13 BC by Augustus and the senate after his return from three years abroad and completed in 9 BC. Originally, it was in the Campus Martius just outside the official city walls of ancient Rome and on an axis with Augustus’ Mausoleum. The altar was dedicated to the goddess Pax, the Roman goddess of peace. It is made entirely of Italian marble, and it would have been painted in antiquity (the museum had a rendering of what it might have looked like painted). I would suggest googling mock-ups of the paint because it’s gorgeous and there are a bunch of different ones online.

Side note: Almost of the marble reliefs or sculptures from antiquity would have been painted. They look so pristine and white because all the paint has faded off because they’re 2000 years old. Not painting a sculpture is a modern Renaissance concept that attempted to copy artists from antiquity, but these more modern artists failed to realize that these statues were painted, they just don’t have their paint any more. Occasionally, scholars can tell what color something would have been based on microscopic residue of different kinds of materials that would have made different paint colors.


The altar is a pretty basic, open air altar surrounded on 4 sides by walls to protect it. The outside of the walls is where Augustus put his most aggressive propaganda because these would have been the areas that the normal citizens would have been able to see (only the elite and those who ran the cult could go inside). The four sides all have different representations of fictional and real people and items that were intended to make the people view Augustus as the savior and peace bringer of Rome.

The front side, which includes the entrance to the altar, includes depictions of Aeneas or Numa and what scholars believe depicts a scene where the shepherd who raised Romulus and Remus finds them. I say that “scholars believe” that this is what was depicted there because most of the panel has been lost. The depiction of Aeneas/Numa shows the main male figure sacrificing a pig. We are unsure which of the figures it is, but I think it’s more convincing that the figure is King Numa – the second king of Rome who is legendary in ancient Rome for bring peace to the city while he was ruler. Aeneas, although an ancestor to the founder of Rome, has no obvious associations with peace. Already on the front of the structure, Augustus has managed to associate himself with powerful men from Rome’s past.

The sides of the Ara Pacis depict real people, although scholars have yet to agree on exactly who is who. Both sides show what is believed to be the dedication procession for the altar. We even have a depiction of Augustus (well, just of his head because the body has been lost). All the figures are wearing Roman togas. There are priests leading the procession, then Augustus, them Marcus Agrippa (Augustus’ best friend and right hand man), and then his family (including women and children). It’s hard to tell exactly who is who beyond Agrippa, but it’s likely that Augustus’s beloved wife, his grandsons, and his sister are included in the line up.

Similar to the front, the back of the monument features two reliefs. The one on the left is of a seated female deity surrounded by symbols of fertility and wealth such as babies and fruit on her lap, sacrificial animals, and other female figures riding a dragon and a bird. The deity could be many goddesses: Pax, Aphrodite, Demeter, or Roma, and the babies could be many babies: Romulus and Remus or maybe Augustus’ two grandsons (whom he was counting on to succeed him before they both died as teenagers). Similar to the front, the other relief is poorly preserved. Many scholars think that it is a seated Roma, sitting on weapons taken from the enemy. This interpretation is based on coins that show a similar image.

Close up of the sides

All around the bottom of the monument is a frieze that depicts acanthus leaves and bunches of grapes. Acanthus leaves in ancient Rome were symbolic of long life or immortality. Grapes were symbolic of fertility and prosperity. Perhaps, by using these plants, Augustus was trying to say that he had brought long-lasting peace to Rome and has made the empire prosperous and wealthy. Also, hidden among the acanthus leaves and grapes, are small depictions of animals. The most famous is a chick escaping from a nest being attacked by a snake, which many scholars believe represent Aeneas escaping from the Trojan war.

The Inside

You can actually walk around inside of the monument, which is very cool. The inside features carved garlands connected by cow skulls. Garlands were used as decorations during celebrations and also symbolize wealth and prosperity. The cow skulls were most likely symbolic of the animal sacrifices the ancient Romans performed as a way to appease their gods. The altar inside is fairly simple, and shows scenes of sacrifice.

Modern History

The first fragments of sculpture from the monument were discovered in the 1600’s and shipped all over Italy, but archeologists did not realize what it was until the late 1800’s when a scholar identified the pieces using information from Augustus’ memoirs. In the early 1900’s, they attempted to excavate it, but it was underneath a Renaissance Piazza and a famous theater, and the excavations were compromising these buildings, so they stopped. Then, for the 2000 year anniversary of the birth of Augustus in 1938, Mussolini decided he wanted to excavate it. The excavation was an extraordinary feat of engineering that involved freezing the ground water to support the buildings above while the Ara Pacis was dug out piece by piece. It was then reassembled where it is now. Originally, Mussolini commissioned a building to be put up around the altar, but by the early 2000’s, it was in poor shape. The American architect Richard Meier (the same guy who designed the Getty Museum in Los Angeles) won the project to rebuild the building. This created some controversy both because he was American and because the building is very modern and does not match with most of the buildings in Rome. The building by Richard Meier is the Ara Pacis’s current home.

You can get a bit of a sense of the building design and altar size in this picture!

Tips for Visiting

Our class went on a Friday evening, and we were the only ones in the museum. When I walked past it a few other times to show friends and my brother the structure, I also saw very few people inside, so I think it’s a safe bet to go whenever you like. It might even be nice to go right in the middle of the day before or after lunch as a way to get out of the sun for a little while. If you don’t want to pay for the ticket, you can see most of the structure through the windows from the outside, and this is how I showed the monument to my brother and my friends who came to visit Rome while I was there. Personally, I would go inside, but I’m also a bit biased because I study the ancient Romans. The Ara Pacis is a fascinating monument with an interesting ancient AND modern history.

Class picture in front of the monument! We got yelled at for standing on the stairs.

Italy | Alla Fratte

By Andrea Zachrich

What is it?

Alla Fratte is a delicious Italian restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. It has incredibly fair prices for the food they serve, has a nice atmosphere, and great service (a rarity in Italy!) We found it by chance one day when we searched something along the lines of “good, cheap restaurants in Trastevere” and this place popped up.

Where is it?

It’s in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome fairly close to the main church (Santa Maria in Trastevere). If you want to learn more about Trastevere, peep at my post here! I included a screenshot of a google map below so you know exactly where it is.

Here’s the exterior. I swooped this photo off their website, by the way.

It’s the big red dot in the center!

What should you order?

Everything. I did not have one thing there that disappointed in the four times we went, and neither did any of my friends. I especially liked the appetizers – they have great bruschetta and prosciutto and cheeses (check out the picture below). You also can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas. I really enjoyed the gnocchi as well! If you go as a group, they also do group specials. We went as a group of six one time, and started with a pizza as an appetizer, then some pasta, and then a cooked meat platter (it was amazing!) I wish I had pictures of that meal. The group meal was a little more expensive, but the individual items are super reasonable – especially for Rome. I put a couple of photos of the menu below to give you a little bit of idea about prices.

Why should you go there?

As talked about earlier, it’s got amazing food. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere. The outside of the building is covered with ivy, and the inside walls are covered with murals of famous Roman landmarks such as the Spanish steps. It’s got an old school vibe with table cloths on the tables and a tiled floor.

The interior! (I also swooped this off their website).

The service is also very good. They spoke English quite well. We also had a very funny moment with a server there involving one of the friends in my group. The first time we went there for lunch, my friend (for whatever reason) decides to try and speak in Spanish to the server, but he does so in the most gringo accent I’ve ever heard. The server started laughing, and actually starts to mimic my friend’s American accent in Spanish, and had the whole table cracking up. I can definitely appreciate a place that has a good sense of humor (especially when dealing with us silly Americans).

For some reason, this is the only picture I have of the food we ate there. We usually ate it with so much gusto that I would forget to grab a photo until it was mostly eaten.

Prosciutto e mozzarella we split as a table!

The only bummer about this place is that it’s not air conditioned, but don’t hold it against the place. If you go for dinner, and not for lunch, the temperature inside is not too warm because it’s quite a large restaurant.

So, if you have a decent sized group, or are just looking for some good Italian food while you’re in Trastevere, this is a great option! I hope you enjoy!

Denmark | Puppets, Pastries, and Pools

By Chloe Zgorzelski

Eleven hours of travel and one piece of missing luggage later, I finally touched down in Copenhagen, Denmark on the evening of August 2nd. My first week in this cobblestone city was filled with welcome dinners and first encounters with my new peers, city walks and sightseeing adventures, & afternoons spent exploring my new home away from home.

One of the first things I set out to explore was Kongens Have, the park right across the street from my dorm. While soaking up the warm Scandinavian summer sun and enjoying a picnic lunch, I heard soft, fairytale- like music coming from the opposite corner of the park. Walking over to investigate, I discovered that the noise was coming from most adorable marionet puppet show! Every summer a theatre group called Marionet Teatret puts on free, daily puppet shows in the Kings Garden of Kongens Have for people of all ages and nationalities. The half-hour show I stumbled upon was called “Venner I En Nøddskal” which translates in English to “In a Nutshell”. It featured a squirrel and other woodland creatures and emphasized the necessity of both bravery and boldness in the pursuit of friendship. I really enjoyed this little show, and I appreciated that everyone who stopped to watch was able to understand it and enjoy, despite differences in age, culture, and language.

I also had the opportunity to try a variety of Danish pastries during my first week in Copenhagen. Pizzasnegles, onsdagssnegle, chokoladesnegles, and pølsehorn were just a few that I got to try. My all-time favorite so far has to be the “onsdagssnegle” that I tried from Sankt Peders Bageri, a family-owned pastry shop located in Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter. “Onsdagssnegle” directly translates in English to “Wednesday snail”. It is named this because Sankt Peders, Copenhagen’s oldest bakery, only bakes and serves them on Wednesday mornings. While the name may seem complicated, the pastry is basically just a cinnamon roll covered in either cinnamon sugar or frosting. However, I would argue that this cinnamon roll in particular is the most delicious one I have ever tasted. So, if you need me on a Wednesday morning, you’ll know where to find me.

Also – It is interesting to note that while some pastries in the U.S.A. are commonly referred to as “danishes”, these pastries in Denmark are not called “Danishes” they are simply just pastries.

After walking around the city for a few days, I noticed this really cool shop near my dorm named Posterland and I was excited to go inside and check it out. This store did not disappoint. It is set up similarly to a vinyl record store, but instead of selling music’s greatest hits, the store specializes in one of a kind posters and graphic art. You can find everything here from posters depicting Hans Christian Anderson’s infamous fairytales to giant wall posters of the latest and greatest Danish boy band. This store made me smile, and I really enjoyed sifting through the posters – old and new – and learning a little bit more about Danish culture in this unique way.

Another highlight of my first week was swimming in Copenhagen’s infamous canals. Yes – the same canals and waterways that all of the harbor ships and ferries also share. To my surprise, I found out from some local Danish friends that the water in the canals are actually clean enough and safe enough for people to swim in! During the summer months, this is an extremely common practice for the Danes, as most buildings are not air conditioned (it isn’t necessary due to Denmark’s long, cold winters). When I went, I saw a ton of people laying out on the docks, sunbathing, and enjoying lunch by the waterfront. As long as you watch out for the boats that share the waterways, the canals are a fun way to escape the summer heat and enjoy the afternoon after a long morning of class.

Even though it had only been a week, I was beginning to feel myself fall in love with this city a little bit more and more every day. I love wandering around its cobblestone corridors and next to its dreamy waterways. I feel so instantly at home. The people here are so friendly. I’m loving my classes, the people I am meeting, and the relaxed overall pace of Denmark. I can’t wait to see what’s in store the next few months.

vi ses næste indlæg! xo Chloe

Chloe Zgorzelski studied in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2018:

Japan | Night Life


Tokyo is one of the most exciting cities in the world with an extravagant nightlife. Since Tokyo is such a massive metropolis with endless possibilities, it can be overwhelming at times to figure out how you want to spend your night. I haven’t explored everything that Tokyo has to offer (not yet that is), but these are my recommendations based on my experiences abroad.  

In my opinion, some of Tokyo’s top nightlife districts are ShibuyaShinjuku, and Roppongi. Shibuya is one of Japan’s most iconic cities, and it’s no surprise that Shibuya stays up late with countless restaurants, boutiques, karaoke bars, arcades, shops, and cafes well into the night. Since the trains only run until a little after midnight, Shibuya is the place to be if you plan on staying the night out. However, nothing compares to Shibuya on HALLOWEEN. Japan didn’t always celebrate this American holiday, but in recent years locals and tourists alike go all out to congregate at Shibuya CrossingThe famous crossing is a landmark in Tokyo as well as the Hachiko statue, but the city transforms into a party jungle on the days leading up to Halloween. A group of us ventured out (despite many warnings) to Shibuya with nothing more than our costumes and buddy system – trust me, you’ll want to have one. Once we got there, all notions of personal space were completely abandoned, and we had immersed ourselves into complete and utter chaos. Totally worth it though.  

Just a few stations away from Shibuya is Shinjuku, another city within the city that never sleeps – boredom is never a possibility in this part of Tokyo. From rowdy izakayas to beer bars, to even red-light entertainment, there is definitely something for everyone in the city of Shinjuku. If you’re looking for something more upscale, Roppongi is the place for you. Roppongi is home to bars, jazz venues, and more western style clubs and definitely more reputable establishments. While these cities are generally safe, be aware that these popular venues attract its fair share of touts – don’t be afraid to ignore them and just keep on walking.  

After staying out all night, we would usually take a train back to our university at around 5-6 in the morning. These morning trains were extremely diverse with people either going to work, coming back from the clubs, or anything in between and it was very apparent which group each person belonged to. Have fun, but make sure you’re with a group and be safe.