To New Beginnings
January, 29 2023
As we’re getting closer to the start of our semester in Ljubljana, I find myself reflecting on the time we spent in Denmark.
I’ve always loved to travel. When I was younger, it was the trips with my family. As I grew older, I started traveling with my friends. At some point, I started discovering the world on my own. The first time I moved abroad was in high school, when we went to work over our summer break in Vienna. After beginning my bachelor's degree program, I took advantage of an exchange semester in Portugal. That experience inspired me to pursue my career in an international setting, and eventually working in the tourist industry. After that experience, I spent another year studying abroad. So, when it came to continuing my studies, the decision felt very simple.
As I was looking through available master’s programs, I noticed many of them were specialized in a certain direction. The EMTM program, however, seemed different - it showed a more hands-on, holistic approach to tourism, which was exactly what I was looking for.
So, in September of last year, we began the new chapter of our lives as EMTM students. At first, everything seemed to be moving fast - new city, new people, new experiences. As I was sitting on the plane, I was getting excited and nervous at the same time. The nervousness disappeared as soon as I got out of the train station, where my buddy Rie gave me the warmest welcome and took me to my new temporary home that I shared with the other EMTM students. As we settled in, it was time to discover the place we were going to call home for the next five months. Kolding felt like a perfect place for students like us. Although it’s a smaller, cozier city, we always found something to do – from weekly karaoke and quiz nights at Rabaelder, to weekend getaways around Denmark. Since day one, SDU also organized various events such as a trip to the Wadden Sea, Aarhus, Trapholt Museum in Kolding, a gala event in Odense, etc., where we got an opportunity to get to know new places, Danish culture, and connect with each other.
During our first week at SDU, I noticed how different the way of working is from what I was used to. We mostly worked in groups, which allowed us to learn from each other and improve our team work. The lessons were organized in a way that wasn’t overbearing or stressful - we had 2 to 4 hours of lessons per day, which left a lot of time for self-study and other activities. The professors had a really personal way of communicating, so you didn’t feel like hesitating about asking in case of any questions. What I enjoyed best about Danish education was the "no answer is wrong" mentality. Our lecturers placed a high value on independent learning from their lectures, books, and articles, from which you formed your own conclusions, which we discussed later during their lectures. This gave me a new perspective on ways of learning. I was used to sitting behind books, studying the given literature and using the gathered knowledge in exams. At SDU, the emphasis was put more on self studying - researching topics on your own through various academic articles, working in a team, sharing ideas and knowledge with them and getting new perspectives as the outcome. I admit that it wasn’t the easiest at first, it felt like we needed more guidelines. But, as time went by, I grew to like this new way of learning. It made me more interested in researching the topic, rather than just learning by heart. The examination is also different from the one I was used to - there weren’t any standardized exams where you sat down, wrote everything you knew on a piece of paper and gave it to the professor to grade it. It was more of a conversation with the professor, where you showed your knowledge of the topic through a conversation and based it on the examples from your research. I grew to like this way of working and was left with more knowledge of the topics than I would just re-reading some academic book about it.
Another plus I found during our semester in Denmark was the group work. Even though it was challenging at times, I truly enjoyed working with my classmates, sharing our ideas and seeing new perspectives, and working together on a topic that we were all interested in. It also strengthened my team working skills, as you were forced to “depend” on others, to adapt and communicate.
Personally, the EMTM program feels more than just a master’s program - it’s an amazing opportunity to learn and discover different ways of working, all while making connections with people that have the same interests as you. As I am the only person from my country in our class, this gives me an opportunity to get to know people from basically all around the world, their views and ideas. Furthermore, we got an opportunity to study in (at least) three different countries, all with different ways of working and different focus, which allows learning about the same topic in different perspectives. With the ever-changing environment, you’re also learning about tourism while also experiencing it to a certain degree.
I am excited to see what the next two destinations, Ljubljana and Girona, have in store for us. Whatever it will be, I am happy to be sharing this experience with my EMTM family.
Written by Vita Herksel Japelj, Student of EMTM Generation 2022-2024