Judaism, International Job Market, & Københavns Universitet Internationalization

Posted: October 22, 2010 in Categorized
Tags: , , ,

This week I’ve attended lots of talks and seminars that I thought I’d share with you all. On Tuesday I went to a talk by Denmark’s first female rabbi, Wednesday I went to a VERY enlightening talk about the international job market, and today (Thursday) I went to a program discussing the University of Copenhagen challenges with making itself more international friendly (something I complained about in my blog about my living arrangements and classes).

Denmark’s First Female Rabbi (Sandra Kviat )
I really enjoyed her talk about her many identities. I love learning about different belief systems and this was the perfect format to do so. Basically it was about 10 people and the rabbi explained her multiple identities. It was so interesting because she gave a very simplified explanation of Judaism, differentiating between Orthodox and Progressive Jews. Within Denmark, she explained that religion is very private and subdued, because even though Church and State are not separate, Denmark is still a relatively secular country. She also talked about the “gender inequality” within Judaism and how becoming a rabbi is almost unheard of in the Jewish religion.

In her discussion of identity, she described herself as a rabbi (having both academic and vocational/pastoral duties), a Danish Jew (having to go abroad to become a Rabbi and essentially being an other in London as a person of Danish descent), being a female in a mostly male-dominated religious position, among other aspects of herself.  She identifies herself as a Progressive Jew as it has allowed her to create her own niche within Judaism.

Another highlight of her talk was her response to my question about the religious vs spirituality distinction and rational vs. mystical interpretations of Christianity in the United States. She was just so structured in her thinking. She basically said that you are a Christian when you confess Jesus Christ as the Messiah but Judaism is not based on faith, most people usually discuss if there is one dogma or one God. So Judaism is about acting and not just believing. She was a very critical of the spiritual distinction in Christianity, saying that sometimes people mistake their emotions for spirituality and often forget the acting part. It’s okay to believe but are you acting on what you believe and not just believing on what you believe.  Overall, I liked how she said that she can’t talk about the religion as a whole but she can only talk about her views of Judaism. So it’s really just her perspective and I respect her for saying that.

International Job Market
I very much looked forward to this discussion panel. It was a discussion panel of 5 people, 4 Americans and 1 Danish person, all discussing how they entered into the International Labor Market. I won’t go into too much detail but I will highlight some of the advice that they gave.

  1. Never count yourself short. Make yourself indispensable.
  2. Know yourself! This basically means have some idea of what you want to do. Never settle for anything less.
  3. Be opportunistic and don’t be afraid to take something that will be used as a means to get you to the place you want to reach. See opportunities beyond obstacles.
  4. Figure out the location of where you want to live and think of integration factors: Obtaining visas and how much can being in that particular location help you develop into what you want to be.
  5. Do a job because you want to, not because you have to. Keep in mind that making the transition between going to school and getting a professional job is always challenging!
  6. Network as much as possible. One panelist said that possibly 66% of job opportunities in Denmark are obtained through networking or informal means!

Internationalizing KU
This was basically a program designed to discuss what Copenhagen has to offer students in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medical Field. They also addressed international student integration issues. I definitely have my problems with KU but I will address them with time.

I think one of the main problems is the lack of transparency. You are expected to know things about KU that aren’t so obvious UNLESS you are Danish. For example, some of the websites with important information haven’t even been translated in English yet or sometime emails with class information are sent around in Danish. Thank God for Google Translate, but it can still be a bit tedious and sometimes can even create this feeling that you aren’t fully accepted.  Practical matters such as how to gain access to library databases or what are research paper guidelines, just are not that clear and made known to international students. Also, there is a level of disconnect between lecturers and administrative staff. But every school has its issues and you learn to deal. All of the difficult stuff I have had to navigate has made me appreciate my studies even more. If you study here you really have to learn to take the initiative and ask as many questions as possible. As I said earlier, KU is in a transitional stage for internationalizing the university, it might take some time but they will eventually get there.

  1. Hannah says:

    I got the URL to your blog off the University of Copenhagen website. I am going to study at UCopenhagen next semester (I am a student studying biology in the USA), and I have a few questions, if you wouldn’t mind helping me out! It might be easiest to shoot me an email, I think you should see my email in this post.

    First, how many opportunities have you had to travel around and see the rest of Europe? If you haven’t traveled around a lot, would you have had the time too? Similarly, did you do the study tour in Russia?

    Second, what housing are you doing while you are there? How did you find it?

    Finally, what was your experience with registering for classes?

    Thanks so much!!! I’d super appreciate a reply,

  2. Justin says:

    Really digging your blog man! I found yours on the KU site (mine’s also up there).

    I was dissapointed to miss all those seminars you attended (I was travelling) but thanks for the excellent synopsis.

    I completely agree with you that there are too many international student integration issues, even in my faculty (law), and there needs to be a means for us to voice these issues.

    Keep it up yo!

  3. Ching Ching MAO says:

    i found your blog on KU wensite.At first,i want to learn English ,and know more about international students’ lifes.But your blog is awesome.You tell your feelings completely.And made me a dream to have an experience studying abord.
    can you tell me more about how to be a international student or an enchange one?
    Thank you very much!
    Best wishes~!


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