Dorms, fatty foods, chapel and compliments. These are just a few of the things that the danish exchange nursing students have adjusted to since living on campus. This is the first year Malone has invited students from University College Lillebaeth in Odense, Denmark to experience three weeks of the nursing program.
Associate Professor of Nursing Lora Wyss proposed the exchange program at a conference two years ago and since then has been working with Lillebaeth to make it happen. Wyss took three Malone students to Denmark last spring to begin the exchange program.
Tine Knudsen, Nadia Juul-Pederan, Mithilda Reinmark Hjorth and Camilla Skeulund applied to the program at their home school and have been at Malone since early September. In their time here, they have been faced with not only differences in medical practices but cultural practices as well.
The warm reception received among arriving to campus is just one of these many differences they have experienced.
“All the students here are so nice,” Knudsen said. The other women agreed noting all the compliments they received.
“I think we are more reserved in Demark,” Hjorth said. She jokingly adds, “We don’t care so much about each other.”
The women noted how they have witnessed the practice of “loving your neighbor” as well as religious differences.
Juul-Pederan said religion in Denmark is mostly about tradition rather than living your life.
“It’s mostly about the parties and the presents,” Hjorth joked.
They also admitted that adjusting to chapel, Bible studies and prayer over meals was a bit overwhelming at first. However, they never felt judged or uncomfortable.
“People are so understanding…they totally respect that we don’t believe so much as they do,” said Hjorth. “They don’t judge us.”
“Taking care of your neighbor, I think that’s a good way of living your life,” Knudsen added.
A considerable challenge the women faced in their nursing studies is the bureaucracy of healthcare practices in the states. Being from a country which provides free healthcare, the whole debate confuses them they said, also noting that it’s “kind of ridiculous.”
Juul-Pederan said how with so many different kinds of insurance, it’s hard to keep track of who pays for what.
“You lose a lot of time talking about money in healthcare instead of using it on your patients,” Hjorth said.
They also added that American nurses have more responsibilities than in Denmark where nurses must go through doctors for everything. They have learned to do full body assessments during their studies at Malone which they are not taught in Denmark, according to Juul-Pederan.
The women joked about many differences between college in America and Denmark, starting with living in dorms. Schooling in Demark is free and campus housing is not provided. The women, who are living in Fox, shared the difficulty in lack of privacy and sharing a bathroom with 30 strangers.
The “fatty foods” in the cafeteria has been another adjustment.
“There is sugar is everything,” Hjorth said.
“They have cake every day!” Knudsen added.
“We’re going to have gained a lot of weight when we go back,” Juul-Pederan said as they all laughed.
Despite overcoming cultural differences, the women all expressed what a positive experience they had and how much they learned in their classes and clinicals.
Wyss has worked closely with the students during their stay here and said how successful the experience has been.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “We’ve learned a lot from them and they have learned a lot from us.”
They women who arrived on September 9th will leave Malone September 29th and plan on going to Miami for a vacation before returning home. Once back at school, they are expected to graduate in January.
Steena Hymes is the managing/news editor for The Aviso AVW