Over the course of the semester, there are two trips that DIS students go on with their core course class. There’s a short study tour at the beginning of September and, a personal highlight of the entire program, there is a long study tour at either the beginning or end of October. For Forensic Psychology specifically, 20 other students and I were given the opportunity to explore Edinburgh, Scotland for six days. I think I speak for most students when I say that the study tours are major milestones of the program and really shape the entire abroad experience because your academic schedule is built around them as well as any personal travel you may want to do in Europe. However, beyond the logistical aspects, they’re a great way to take note of how far you have personally come since the beginning of the semester and they are truly opportunities to reflect on how much has changed in such a short amount of time.
Our core course professor is an amazing woman who everyone in my class loves and respects so much because it’s so apparent how much she cares about the organizations we visited and ensuring that it’s an enriching experience that makes the plane ride worth it. At the end of the day, there’s no point in taking a week-long break from classes unless there is some academic, as well as personal, fulfillment that comes from the visits. Another professor accompanied our group, and their dynamic as study tour leaders was a huge part of why the trip was such a success. The academic visits were incredibly organized and for the most part, everyone was engaged and genuinely interested in learning more about the organizations and their crime prevention interventions.
DIS Stockholm is a fairly new program, so many things about the study tours are still experimental, meaning the hotel accommodations and restaurants we ate at were also a first-time for the program. This also means that the academic visits are fairly new and the program is still trying to work out which organizations are worth the limited time we have on our trip, so admittedly, one of the visits was a little less engaging that the others and I did notice a difference in overall class participation and interest. However, at the end of the week, we are given the opportunity to give feedback and DIS is extremely interested in hearing student input so they can continue to improve the program.
As for the personal reflection I mentioned earlier, I think many of us were enjoying our time in Edinburgh, but at the same time attempting to forget that this trip marked the beginning of the end, so to speak. By the end of October, there were only a mere 6 weeks left in the semester and it’s hard not to remember what it was like during our first short study tour, with the entire semester laid in front of us. As a class, we really grew together simply due to the amount of time we’ve spent on trips and in the classroom, so it was difficult coming to the end of the week and realizing that the bulk of the semester was already behind us. Many of us still have a fair amount of traveling planned in these last few weeks and it’s more bittersweet than I was expecting.
Anyways, besides the academic visits, the cultural activities DIS planned for our trip were incredible, so here are some highlights:
As soon as we got to Edinburgh, the first thing we did was go to high tea! I spoke to my friend who is from the UK and he said it’s definitely just a tourist trap and his mom said she never goes to high tea, but we were all more than happy to buy into the tourist BS and enjoy our tea and scones!
This was a stop on our food and drink tour in Edinburgh where we got to try Scottish gin and single malt whiskey. We even got to try haggis…
…which was actually really delicious! Granted, we had it at a more upscale location and it was probably not as authentic as what you could get at one of the local pubs, but definitely tastier than we were expecting.
Finally, our last cultural activity was climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat! The hike was pretty strenuous if you took the short way up, but thankfully we took the scenic way down and that was less stressful.
This study tour was such a highlight of this semester and I genuinely loved the group of people that I experienced it with. It was somehow the longest and shortest week of my entire life, but I would go back in time and live it all again if I could.