9:00 is not 9:00. 9:01 is 9:00
Fortunately I was team-teaching my first class when I found out about the fact that classes start on the quarter hour. So, if a class is scheduled at 9:00 in the morning, it actually starts at 9:15. If a class is scheduled at noon, it actually begins at 12:15. If something begins at 9:00 sharp, it is usually listed as 9:01 to help avoid confusion.
Further, they use the 24-hour clock in Denmark, which I have always understood as “military time.” I can handle telling the time for the most part, but can’t quite get over the weirdness of feeling like I must be living in a war movie.
No equivalent of “general education.”
Students specialize early on and so by the time they are working on their bachelor’s degree, it is assumed that they have already gotten all of that general knowledge from their previous studies. Thus, in my classes I have students who have all chosen to study American studies (for a variety of reasons), which is quite different than my previous teaching where students had to take, for instance, a humanities or cultural diversity elective or were “forced” to take college writing.
I can see the logic in this system, but I did take a lot of really great classes during my undergraduate education that I never would have taken if I did not have to. I learned many things that still resonate with my life and work today. Without the general education requirements for things like cultural diversity or fine arts, we might never know what we are missing out on!
My Hip-Hop America class is full of English majors.
I assumed that the elective classes (one MA-level and one BA-level) that I am teaching would be filled with American studies majors. Both are small classes, which was also a little surprising. I was surprised to find in my Hip-Hop America class that half the students there on the first day were actually English majors (a major that studies literature as well as language and more). I don’t know if they were nervous or if they were not really excited about the subject.
Only the Japanese exchange student seemed really excited, but he was nervous and apologetic about his English (which was very good!). My technology worked perfectly and I had made a kick-ass power point with music videos and engaging content, but it mostly fell flat. I’m a little worried, but will remain optimistic!
Many international students are in the American studies program.
My MA-level “Girls on Fire” class is almost entirely international students. I have students from Germany, Brazil, Slovakia, and more countries I can’t remember… and one of the few Danish students is originally from the Faroe Islands. In my BA-level Hip Hop class I have two German exchange students and a Japanese exchange student.
Gender not so equitable?
In much of my women’s studies work, Denmark (and other Scandinavian counties are often cited as having superior gender equity). With a few of my initial observations and conversations, I am not sure that it is all that more advanced than the U.S. I was told by a couple of colleagues, anecdotally, that they think that young men in Denmark today are “down on” feminism and they would probably not take a class they thought would be about women or feminism. And, this just happens to relate to part of my research project, so I hope I will be learning more about girls and women and feminism in Denmark!
Related, there are a lack of opportunities to do gender studies at my university here (and, again anecdotally, it seems this is a lack in some European countries more generally). After my first Girls on Fire class, two students approached me after class to see if I was willing to work with them on their Master’s thesis projects since they wanted to do gender studies but had not been able to find anyone to work with.