Kierkegaard’s Journey

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”

– Kierkegaard

This semester, I am taking a course called Philosophy of Love which focuses on the philosophical elements of love and how they intertwine and play into our daily lives. The course has been very interesting so far, and stretches throughout time: starting with Plato and going into the modern day. Over the weekend, our class took an optional field trip to the Northern areas of Zealand – the island Copenhagen is located on – to explore the areas that Kierkegaard wrote about. Kierkegaard, a famous Danish philosopher, is an essential part of Danish culture and the way Danes view philosophical elements of daily life. Being a fundamental element of Danish philosophy, our teacher thought it imperative to follow Kierkegaard’s words and venture to the places where he wrote, areas just north of Copenhagen.

My roommate Tracie and I are both in the course, and set out at 8 am for the train station. If I am being honest, I did not even look at the itinerary for the trip before heading out the door, I just asked Tracie what I should wear and got ready. With a small blip in going to the wrong train station at first, we arrived at the Nørreport station bright and early, ready to embark on our adventure.

My philosophy professor is married to another philosophy professor who teaches at both DIS and the University of Copenhagen. Her husband, Brian, invited 4 of his classes to the same field trip, and that is how we ended up with a group of about 30. Deciding to go on this field trip was a great choice as not only did we learn about Kierkegaard and were able to read his passages in the places that he was describing, rather I was also able to meet so many other DIS students who I ordinarily may have never ran into. Between the guy from Notre Dame who was taking his gameday pictures off the side of the cliff we climbed, and the girl who screamed each time we saw a dog because she missed little snickers from home, meeting new people was one of the most fantastic parts of the trip.

We began the day with a trip to Frederiksborg castle. Having not traveled to that area of Denmark yet, I was surprised by the absolute mass of Frederiksborg, and all the history stored there. The castle itself was ornamented with copper and built of brick and sandstone, architecture consistent with of Christian IV – something I am learning about in my history course.Our class was introduced to Kierkegaard at Frederiksborg, reading an excerpt from a book that Brian helped publish, and exploring each room and hallway. My favorite area was definitely the chapel and all the beautiful architecture and artifacts held within.

Afterwards, our group took another train to an area more North of Frederiksborg: Gilleleje – an area with cliffs and beautiful views of of Sweden. Gilleleje was an area that heavily influenced Kierkegaard’s work and he wrote about frequently. Being a place he also may have written in, it was an amazing experience to explore the area and walk where Kierkegaard likely came up with many of his big philosophical theories. Despite the strong wind, walking around was nice as we were able to chat and talk with each other, further connecting with people from my class and other students – both American and Danish.

I was profoundly happy that I decided to embark on this field study, even if it meant taking up an entire Saturday. Leaving before 8am, Tracie and I arrived home just before 8pm and knocked out as soon as our heads hit the pillow. From the long day, I learned that just because a visit in academic, it does not mean that the experience won’t be just as fun as any other Saturday. While our professors made sure to integrate Kierkegaard readings into our activities, they also made sure we all had an enjoyable day and were happy to have embarked on the field study.

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