The Cougar Chronicle

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International student shares her experiences in the U.S.

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“Nine years ago, my mom was in a accident with her horse. She smashed her head in a tree and her front lobe of her brain is completely smooshed,” said interational student Signe Amalie Kûitse Tornager.

After the accident, Tornager became interested in how the brain works and wanted to study psychology to become a neuropsychologist.

“They said she wouldn’t be able to work, but she has her own company and she’s fine. I heard so much from her… and what she [could] and [couldn’t] do afterwards. So, I found that really interesting.”

Tornager lives outside of Copenhagen in Denmark, but is currently at CSUSM as a gap year. Due to psychology being an impacted major and over competitiveness in the universities Denmark, she is seeking to build a strong application in order to attend.

“I want to study psychology when I come back home, right now I am having a gap year… You have to get straight A’s to get in, [it is] one of the hardest majors to get into,” she said.

Universities in Denmark are over competitive due to the government providing free education for all students who are enrolled.

“In Denmark… you’ll get money and they don’t want you to work that much, they want you to focus on school…I have to worry more about paying my books.” Since people pay a lot of taxes, the government also provides free healthcare, and support if you are unemployed.

“If you lose your job you will get money from the government, so you don’t ever have to be homeless if you don’t want to. We don’t have to worry that much, and that is also why we’re not like afraid.” Denmark is considered a socialist country where they give their citizens equal opportunities.

“We care that [our] society [should] be equal… We don’t want people to be in the lower class and not have money for food. So we try to lift up people from the bottom,” said Tornager.

Tornager said Denmark and the U.S. are completely different. Her perceptions of Americans was what she has seen in movies. “People are so happy all the time [in movies], wear cute clothes and go to crazy parties. Some of it [is] true, but there’s a different side to it that I didn’t expect… I thought that people would be down to go everywhere…. Whereas I [asked] people what they are going to do and [they] said watch Netflix,” said Tornager.

A culture shock Tornager said she noticed was how people from Denmark dress differently c o m p a r e d to people in the United States.

“Where I come from, in my city, people always try to dress nicely to school. I have seen people [in the U.S] that [wore] blankets and it’s so cozy, and I like that…. A lot of people that I have met [tell me] ‘oh you’re so extra all the time,’ and to me, it’s everyday clothes.”

In Denmark, besides having a huge flag outside their house, you will automatically know it’s someone’s birthday when you see a Danish flag on the table and all around the house.

“If I think about a birthday, I think about a Danish flag…i think the flag is almost more important than the birthday cake. I wouldn’t feel like it’s my birthday if I don’t see the Danish flag,” said Tornager.

She said it’s common for her to go out and go to coffee shops.

To r n a g e r speaks three l a n g u a g e s ,

Danish, English and French. She is currently taking a French class at CSUSM.

During the summer, Tornager plans to travel around Europe and to the U.S. with her friends and family. Her future plan is to come back to the U.S. and study neurocriminology since they don’t teach that in.

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