First-year students can study in Copenhagen


Alex Morgan

Wake Forest recently created an opportunity for incoming freshmen to study in Copenhagen, Denmark. Although many students choose to study abroad during their college career, this program is particularly unique because it is exclusive to first-year students.

Currently, students are not allowed to study abroad as freshmen. But, starting in 2017,  students who are accepted to this program will spend their first year as Wake Forest students in Copenhagen and transition to life on campus in the following years. This program will be accessible to all first-year students, but it is ideal for students who wish to travel after graduating from high school while remaining committed to a 4-year university.

Many campuses nationwide have integrated a first-year abroad experience into their programs because of its impact on the campus as a whole. Northeastern University has the program that allows students to spend their first year abroad in the hopes of achieving long-term success in regards to individual development.

“Upon returning from study abroad, Global AWAKEnings participants will have the knowledge and skills necessary to engage with more purpose in global learning activities,” David Taylor, director of Global Abroad Programs at Wake Forest, said. “Students will be able to apply what they had learned in diverse and unfamiliar situations [abroad] to enhance the Wake Forest campus community.”

Taylor believes that this program will equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary for the global community that exists today.

Wake Forest’s program is part of the Quality Enhancement Plan, an ongoing project which is in its fifth year and expected to be completed by 2021.  The purpose of this plan is to “transcend boundaries” in regards to global and cross-cultural education. The specific name of this initiative is Global AWakenings, and its mission is to “develop global mind sets through a first-year abroad program.” It is one of the four initiatives of the Quality Enhancement Program.

“Copenhagen is a great program for students who don’t think that college is the immediate next step or they want a half-step before they commit to a 4-year program,” said Sanaa Jain, a sophomore who spent this past summer studying at Wake Forest’s Flow House in Vienna, Austria.

Jain is among the 66 percent of Wake students who have studied abroad in their time at the university. The Copenhagen program has the potential to increase the statistic that administration believes reflects well on the university.

“Denmark has a diverse and rich history that offers an incredible amount of culture for students to admire and learn first hand,” said Wake Forest freshman Joe Sposato. “Also, students feel comfortable and confident speaking English, but being there, they have the opportunity to learn or strengthen their skills in Danish.”

Students studying abroad in their first year allows them to experience traditional classroom learning while further enriching their cultural understanding of the world.

Immersing students in a different culture allows them to come to campus with diverse world and educational experiences that can have a beneficial impact on their classes, along with their residence halls and their organization involvements.

“Students will gain an intimate appreciation and respect for another group of people,” Sposato said. “Once students return from this program, Wake Forest will benefit from a student body where all classes have the broadened perspective that cannot be gained solely by a stateside education.”

On the university’s website, the program is said to be under the mission of emphasizing “the need for strengthening the global mindset of students, faculty and staff both within the basic disciplines of human knowledge and through applying and using that knowledge in the service of humanity.”

The two student learning objectives for Global AWakenings are for students to be able to “interpret global events, values and practices from multiple cultural perspectives” and to “explain how their own perspectives and experiences influence their understanding of other cultures.”

Wake Forest is an institution that prides itself on the diversity of its community. The Quality Enhancement Plan is looking to further this diversity by offering students that have likely lived only in the U.S. an opportunity to experience other cultures.