One of the things you don’t do a lot in college is go on field trips. But this semester is a little (in fact quite) different from the things you normally do.
Last week, my foundation course (medical biotechnology and drug development) spent three days traveling together in western Denmark. We visited Odense and Aarhus, two of Denmark’s other major cities outside of Copenhagen.
Despite the story told by the photos in this article, we spent a good part of our travel time visiting Danish biotech companies. During our week, we visited three companies; CellVivo, Alphalysisand Arcedi Biotech. Each company showcased a fascinating intersection between technology, biology and medicine, giving us insight into how the company has operated as a business over the years and operated within its target market. During our visits, we were able to select the brains of research directors, company CEOs and research experts, resulting in some very engaging conversations.
Our class has a variety of academic backgrounds, ranging from biochemistry to public health to biomedical engineering (which I am proud to represent). It was therefore very rewarding to learn all the mechanics and perspectives within a biotech company that result in a successful competitor in industry and healthcare. And something that I found particularly interesting was learning how these companies operate in the Danish system while simultaneously working to operate in the US system.
For most of my undergrad, we spent a lot of time learning the technicalities and intricate sciences that I think got lost in what I wanted to do as a career. And even though I’m very very unsure of what I actually want to do after graduation, it’s definitely reassuring to see how useful my perspective could be for business and medical research. Many times, while touring the facilities or listening to the science mechanics, I’d pause and throw in a bit of encouragement “I get what they’re doing!” After a long period of feeling like I can’t compete in my field and swimming in pools of uncertainty about what I want to do with my life, it was very comforting and encouraging to come out of these visits feeling reaffirmed in myself and in what I have to offer.
fun travel tips.
When we weren’t on an academic visit, our class spent time exploring Danish cities. On the way to Odense (our first stop), we took a short detour to the Forest Tower. There we did team building activities (well, more like a team training session), climbed the forest tower to get a great view of Denmark, and had lunch together. Afterwards we continued to move to Odense, where we had two company visits, so there was not much free time. But we were able to go on our own for dinner around Odense, where my group found a delicious Thai restaurant (and super satisfying considering we were starving).
Then we left for Aarhus, where we were able to do some of my favorite activities of the week. We started with lunch at Aarhus Street Food which was such a bright and fun atmosphere with a great variety of food. I love going to these food places because no one has to agree on a thing, but I find it hard to choose what I want for myself. Then we spent a few hours at the ARoS Art Museum. Now, I’m not as creative a person as I would like to be, so I don’t go to a lot of art museums in my spare time. But for this one I was glad we went because the displays were so much more than paintings on a wall. They were immersive. My favorite theme was that the basement display cases depicted the dark parts of hell and the top floor room depicted the rainbow of Valhalla as a tribute to Denmark’s Viking history. Finally, we ended the day with a fancy little dinner and a few glasses of wine, which was a great time to chat with my classmates and learn more about each other.
We ended the trip the next day with smørrebrød for lunch before heading home. Smørrebrød are open-faced Danish sandwiches on rye bread with various fillings (my favorite was egg and prawns with herb mayonnaise).
Learning more about the international biotech industry and spending more time with my classmates made for a pretty good week of core lessons. Even though I was quite exhausted at the end of the week, the trip reminded me of many reasons why I wanted to study abroad and choose this program. Having the space to learn a balance between the academic, social, and cultural elements of life was something I really wanted for my time abroad, and I was really able to enjoy that balance during this trip.
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