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International Visiting Student Anne Paulin Reflects on Her World-Class Education at Columbia

Anne Paulin attended Columbia in fall 2012 as an international visiting student from Copenhagen Business School. She wanted to enroll in classes on marketing strategy and negotiation, but even more so, she wanted to receive an Ivy League education in New York City. And because Columbia is renowned in Europe, she feels that the Columbia name has elevated her résumé and opened doors for her in Denmark. She's currently preparing to run for Danish parliament, but Paulin is very interested in returning to the U.S. some time in the future. We spoke with her about why she came to Columbia, what she loved about being a student here, and how the style of education in the U.S. differs from the style in Denmark.

Why don't you tell me a little bit about what brought you to Columbia and to New York?

New York had something to do with why I wanted to go to Columbia. New York is one of the greatest cities in the world. If you want to live abroad, it's the ultimate place to go.

But also what attracted me to Columbia was the combination of New York and the Ivy League. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Are you planning on working in the U.S.? Was that part of why you studied abroad here?

Yeah, I didn't have a plan to move there permanently. I just wanted to experience living abroad. But I'm considering it. It would be fun to move back to New York and live there again.

It's probably not going to happen in the near future. I'm very engaged in politics here. I'm running for Parliament and I have an electoral campaign coming up, so we'll see how that goes! If I don't get into Parliament, then maybe I'll try to move abroad again. New York will most definitely be high on my list.

Can you tell me a little bit about the coursework you did at Columbia?

I have a bachelor's and a master's in international business and politics. At Columbia, I studied marketing strategy, war and peace strategy, introduction to negotiation, and a very good course at the business school on doing well by doing good.

In terms of your classes, what was unique about Columbia?

The professors were really good: professional, dedicated, and engaged with their students. They were interested in passing on knowledge but also in hearing our opinions and engaging in debate with us. I found that very refreshing; I'm used to a less interactive teaching style in Copenhagen.

At Columbia, the education is very high-level, but it's not just theory. It's very relevant and grounded in real-world examples. I'm used to very theory-heavy education, so that was refreshing.

Were there special resources for you as a visiting student or as an international student?

The staff was very helpful. But aside from that, my experience was mostly about experiencing the Columbia University campus and using all the facilities. Columbia has great libraries, and I felt really inspired being there.

It's a very historical place, and I found that the architecture was an inspiring sight every day. You don't need to go anywhere else in the neighborhood: Columbia is a city in itself.

Did you live on campus?

No, I lived all the way in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was quite a commute, but I loved it there, too. I'd spend my weekends in Brooklyn and then I'd stay all day at Columbia. It was very nice to have the school as a base and spend all day at the library and focus on my studies.

Here in Denmark, almost all students have part-time jobs, so studying in the States was a very different experience.

How is Columbia helping you reach your career goals?

It's a great thing to have on your résumé. People in Europe, they know about Columbia University. It's well respected. And on a more personal level, it was very nice for me to experience a more interactive style of education: engaging with the professors, being able to speak my mind, and working independently on interesting subjects.

Is there anything else you wanted to mention about your time at Columbia and in New York?

I want to recommend it to everyone. It was the best semester of my college years. It was a lot of work, it was a big investment, but it was a very good experience. It was the chance of a lifetime to study at Columbia, and I'm very grateful that I got the opportunity to do that.