Vincenzo Volpe

Where did you study abroad? How did you choose your program?
I studied abroad in the beautiful and historic city of Copenhagen, Denmark during spring semester 2015. As an LGBT student majoring in music, I wanted to find a program that could allow me to learn about LGBT culture in another part of the world and to study at a prestigious conservatory of music. I applied to a combined program that offered this through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad and the Royal Danish Academy of Music and was accepted.

How has studying abroad changed your global perspective?
In general, studying abroad helped me realize that any place in the world can feel like home if you immerse yourself in the culture and surround yourself with incredible people. My study abroad experience was the first time that I ever left North America for an extended period of time, so, needless to say, I was definitely freaked out. But over the course of 6 months, I created relationships with my Danish host family, friends, and other international students which will all last a lifetime. I now wish to travel the world as much as possible in order to learn about other cultures, see new places, and connect with other people in special, life-changing ways.

What was something funny that happened to you while studying abroad?
I vividly remember getting on the wrong bus during my first day of school. Since this was my first time taking the public transportation system on my own, I got out my phone and started to follow our route on Google Maps. After no more than 10 seconds, I realized that I was going the direct opposite way from the city center and got off the bus at the next stop. I probably wasted a good 45 minutes of extra time to get to school, which would never happen back in Ohio.

How did classes you took abroad differ from courses offered on campus at CWRU?
One of the best differences between my classes at CWRU and my classes abroad was the addition of “field studies” in all of my courses. These were mini field trips that got us out of the classroom and into the city for hands-on learning activities once a week. For example, as a part of my Danish language class, we had lunch at a local cafe where we talked about Danish cuisine and practiced our ordering skills in Danish. As a part of my Scandinavian music history class, we attended a live orchestra concert with music from famous Danish composers. I really wish that we had events like these in American classes.

What was one thing you did abroad that you couldn’t have done in Cleveland?
One thing that I did in Copenhagen that I would never be able to do in Cleveland was go dancing in the city center from sundown to sunrise. Most clubs have no set closing time, which makes partying until 7AM a total possibility. On several weekends, I took the last bus of the night from my house in the suburbs and partied with my friends downtown until we were too exhausted to stay out any longer. It is quite a bizarre feeling to see the sun setting as you walk into a bar and say hello to it again the next day as you leave!

What advice do you have for students who are considering study abroad?
My biggest word of advice would be to step out of your comfort zone and see where life takes you. I never thought that I would end up in a city like Copenhagen, Denmark for 6 months of my life and now consider it a home. It was a powerful experience that I would not give up for anything else. Apply for programs in countries that you might not think are “cool” because they can easily turn into the best experience of your life. I want everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad if they have the chance!