A Reunion in Copenhagen: Interview with Kaitlin Busse ’18

Our student assistant was recently able to catch up with recent graduate Kaitlin Busse about life after graduation and her favorite memories from Roanoke College! A Fulbright recipient, Busse is currently studying Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Denmark. 

Thank you so much for answering my questions! We’ll start with the basics first. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I graduated back in May of 2018, which is so hard to believe that it was six months ago! During my time at Roanoke, I majored in Psychology, minored in Sociology, and concentrated in Human Resource Management. I was the President of Psi Chi, Vice President of Chi Omega, and a member of the Honors Program. I also worked on campus as a Maroon Ambassador, a Psychology Student Assistant, and as a research assistant for the HR Department. I really liked research and was  extremely involved with projects in the Psychology Department, where I was part of Dr. Powell’s lab.

Over the course of my college career, I had three internships that have given me experience in learning and development, talent management, and counseling. One of my favorite experiences that Roanoke College provided me with was the opportunity to study abroad. I completed my May Term in Sri Lanka studying the landscape and culture and also spent a semester in the Netherlands.

Can you tell me more about where you interned?

My first internship was at a local outpatient counseling facility back home in NJ. During my time, I learned about what is was like to work as a counselor and gained some insight into how counseling sessions were run. While I enjoyed the internship, I found that after the experience my interests shifted more towards the organizational issues in the workplace. It was then I decided to take an Organizational Behavior class at Roanoke and completely fell in love with it!

That summer, I interned as a Talent Management intern at Digitas, an advertising agency in NYC. I gained so much experience there, which also reaffirmed [my interest in] the field of I/O. My favorite projects were analyzing company turnover rates and developing a national survey for interns and managers regarding job satisfaction and progress.

The next summer I interned at Wyndham Worldwide as a Learning and Development intern in their corporate office. While I was there, my favorite project involved researching ways that employees could develop the core values of the organization, which then led to the creation of a professional development website.

In both my internship programs, I participated in group case study projects where we worked together to create a strategy to solve a problem in the organization. This is where I became interested in a possible career as an organizational consultant.

What was your May Term and study abroad like?

During my May Term, I studied the landscape and culture in Sri Lanka. During the three weeks that we were there, we traveled all over the country, which was nice because we gained a well-rounded understanding of the culture. We visited different sites of worship where we gained an understanding the religious diversity of the country. We had the opportunity to interacts with the locals. My most memorable experience was volunteering at a school for a day where we taught English, did arts and crafts, and played sports with the kids. It was really interesting to visit the tea plantations and learn about its significance to the economy. My favorite part of the trip was learning about the wildlife, where we had the opportunity to go to safaris and a baby elephant orphanage!

I studied abroad in Tilburg, Netherlands in the fall semester of 2016. I chose the Netherlands because I wanted to study in a country that was known for their high quality of life and good working conditions. Tilburg University was the perfect school where I could take classes in the field of organizational studies through a psychological, sociological, and HR background (which combined all of my majors, minors, and concentrations)! I got to take a qualitative research class, an HRM class, and a class about the importance of building relationships within the workplace.

[…] I spent my weekends traveling throughout different European countries. Traveling to different places in Europe was so cheap and I got to experience so much history, culture, and beautiful architecture and landscapes.

During my time at Tilburg, the most meaningful memories I made were with the people I met. I was active in the international club, where I got the opportunity to interact with both Dutch people as well as different exchange students from all over the world. I lived in an international dorm where I also had the opportunity to learn about different cultures and build strong friendships with my roommates, who I still keep in touch with! (Fun fact: two of my friends that I studied abroad with actually live in Copenhagen and are students at CBS)!

What was graduating like? (Stepping on seal, the ceremony, etc.)

Graduation was such a special experience. Everyone was smiling and cheering each other on as they walked across the stage and got their diplomas. My whole family had driven all the way from New Jersey and Florida to share this moment with me which was so meaningful to me. At the end of the ceremony, it was a really special moment to walk past all of my professors who had supported me along this journey. Stepping on the  seal was definitely felt a little strange as I made sure I stayed away from it all four years.

What are you doing now after graduating?

After graduation, I took the summer off from working to do some traveling both within the States and internationally. Whenever I have free time, I love to explore new places and experience different parts of the world. It’s funny because I actually spent more time traveling than I did at home this summer. I traveled around the US with my best friend, who was also a recent graduate of RC! We went to Charleston, South Carolina, went all over California (San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Los Angeles), and Kennebunkport, Maine. It was funny because I live in NJ and my friend lived in Maine, and since we weren’t ready to say goodbye to each other just yet, we would book trips every few weeks so we could see each other fairly often! I got to visit family in Cocoa Beach, FL, where I have gone every single year since I was born. I also got to travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a couple weeks to visit my boyfriend and quite a few of the friends that I studied abroad with.

I am now in Copenhagen, Denmark as I was awarded a Fulbright to studying and research at Copenhagen Business School for one year. It has truly been such amazing experience. I take classes within organizational studies and am researching workplace-related issues such as Nordic gender equality and sexual harassment in the workforce. During my time here, I have also started volunteering with an organization that focuses on students’ professional and personal development. I usually spend my weekends exploring new places throughout the city and country with friends. Although Denmark is such a small country, there is so many beautiful things to see and things to do. I’ve also taken up yoga in Denmark, which has been really cool to get into, especially in Denmark!

Where have you traveled to in Denmark?  

Since I’ve been in Copenhagen, I’ve been able to do some travelingboth domestically and internationally. The first few weeks I got here, I spent my time around the Copenhagen area getting to know the city a little better. My favorite things in Copenhagen are walking along the pretty painted houses of the Nyhavn, sitting on the dock at the beach in Amager Strand, exploring the different parks with all the fall foliage, and going to Tivoli at different times of the year (so far, I’ve got to experience the decorations for Summer, Halloween, Christmas). Outside of Copenhagen, I’ve done a road trip to Mons Klint, which are the cliffs in Denmark, which are absolutely stunning. I’ve also been to Odense to visit another Fulbrighter, which is an old town and also home to the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson, one of Denmark’s most popular authors (he wrote the Little Mermaid). Outside of Denmark, I’ve been to Oslo, Norway which was another beautiful Scandinavian city. I also had some time to explore Malmö, Sweden, which is a 30 minute train ride from Denmark (you can actually see from Copenhagen)! My favorite trip I’ve been on so far is to Switzerland to visit one of the friends I lived with when I studied abroad in the Netherlands. She is now an intern for the United Nations in Geneva and it was so nice to catch up with her, explore the city, and meet some of her friends. Switzerland is absolutely gorgeous with the mountains and the lakes!

What drew you to Denmark? Now that you have been there for a few months, what is living there like?

Living in Copenhagen is pretty awesome! The Danes are extremely kind and are also very chill. It is such a lovely place to live […]. There’s this concept in Danish called “hygge” which is really hard to describe, but it translates directly to cozy. It’s sort of this warm, cozy feeling of being relaxed and surrounded by people you care about and often involves food and drink. I think this is my favorite part about Denmark! Everyone rides their bikes pretty much everywhere, so it has been fun getting to know the city on bike. I live in international housing where I have my own room and share a kitchen with nine of master’s students from all over the world. It has been great to get to know everyone and learn about their cultures! Work-life balance is really emphasized in Denmark as well, which has been nice with balancing class, research, friends, volunteering, and leisure activities.

Copenhagen is a foodie city, so I have definitely made an effort to try lots of cool places to eat (Copenhagen street food and food markets are incredible)! The only downfall to Copenhagen is that it rains more than it does back in the States!

That sound amazing! What kind of food do they have there? 

Danish food is […] quite good! Rye bread is big here and so is seafood like small shrimp and salmon. Pork is also very popular (fun fact: there are more pigs than people in Denmark).

Although the Danes eat similar food that we do on a day-to-day basis, I’ve had the opportunity to try some of the more traditional dishes. Smørrebrød is probably my favorite dish. It’s a beautiful open face sandwich with all different kinds of meats, vegetables, and topping on it. Danish pastries are also SO GOOD! I’ve also tried roasted pork with crackling which has also been quite tasty as well! My favorite are the Danish version of cinnamon buns, which are incredible! While we have hot dogs in the US, the Danish hot dogs have a ton of topping on them like onions, pickles, and a bunch of different sauces. Aside from food, beer is also huge in Denmark and they have tons of local beers. Tuborg and Carlsberg are the two most popular and a couple of weeks ago, the beer companies released their Christmas beers which was an (un)official holiday in Denmark!

What do you miss about Roanoke College? What is your favorite thing about having graduated?

I love life after graduation, [though] I do miss Roanoke! I miss seeing my friends and professors every single day the most! I also miss how beautiful campus is and sitting outside of Commons on a nice day…

My favorite thing about having graduated is the newness of everything. In the past six months, I’ve moved to a completely new country and had the chance to experience many different things.While I still spend most of my day in a university setting, I am a part-time student so there is a bit less of a work-load in the evenings. With that being said, I have more free time to do things that interest me like spending time friends, reading leisurely, and enjoying different events in the city.

I saw that two of your friends came to visit you recently in Copenhagen and you took over RC Snapchat while they were there! That sounds like a lot of fun. Can you tell me more about it? What did you guys do?

It was so nice to have two of my friends visit me during their Fall Break at RC. It was so nice to catch up and show them around Copenhagen! We had a great time getting to explore the different parts of the city and trying good places to eat! My favorite place that we went to was Tivoli Gardens, which is a cute little amusement park in the middle of the city. Since it was October, the whole park was covered in Halloween decor which was so pretty! My Danish friend also came along and it was really nice for my two friends to meet some of my friends here in Copenhagen as well! I’m really grateful to have made such amazing friends at RC and miss them already!

What plans do you have for the future?

After I return back to the States from Denmark, I plan go to graduate school and get a degree in industrial/organizational psychology. I would like to work as an organizational consultant and focus on improving the work life of employees.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I’ve been extremely grateful for all of the opportunities I had at Roanoke College, especially within the Psychology Department. I would not be who I am without the support and guidance from my professors and advisors. To current students reading this, take advantage of the opportunities that come your way… you never know what they will lead to!

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