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Henry Henson – A U.S. Fulbright Student in Aarhus
November 18, 2020

Henry in front of the Russell Glacier in Greenland. Photo courtesy of Henry Henson.

Henry Henson is an American Fulbright Student at Aarhus University. Fulbright Denmark is a world-famous exchange program that creates a unique opportunity for elite students and scholars to study, research, and work with other top students and scholars within their field in all corners of the world. Fulbright connects people and places in more than 160 countries, and aims to advance the betterment of the world. Henry has been awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to study the implications of climate change on the Arctic and conduct research in Denmark and Greenland. Here is his story:

“My name is Henry Henson. Last spring I graduated (in quarantine) with my bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, USA. During my undergraduate career, I studied biology and environmental science. Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with the natural world and how it was changing. As I grew older, and witnessed climate change first hand, I became more and more invested in studying our changing world as my career. In particularly, I have become fascinated with the fastest changing region of our Earth: The Arctic.

A passion for the Arctic

In the spring semester of 2019, I studied abroad in Copenhagen. Here, I was able to learn more about these exact topics. During my abroad semester, my course had the opportunity to spend one week visiting Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. During only one week there, I was awestruck; not only by the landscape, but also the evident retreat of glaciers and the stories from local Greenlanders. I knew that I had to come back and learn more.

Since finishing my degree, I was lucky enough to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the implications of climate change on the Arctic. Through my scholarship year, I will work in conjunction with the Arctic Research Centre here at Aarhus University as well as the Greenland Climate Research Centre (GCRC) in Nuuk. Since coming to Denmark in August, I have settled into my new apartment with two danish roommates. I have also begun to get to know the city and people of Aarhus. Moreover, I have been taking different courses at Aarhus University. These courses include learning about climate through Earth’s history, how to model geospatial data, and doing a research project on biogeochemical cycling of methane in sediments.

Learning Danish, exchanging cultures, making friends

In my time outside of university, I am taking Danish lessons and have recently joined a squash club. Dansk Undervisning has been a great way to not only improve my Danish, but also connect with other internationals living in Aarhus. We are now able to share our mutual experience of immigrating to Denmark. In addition, I am enjoying using my Danish to get around town. I can even have (basic) conversations with my roommates and their families.

Even though 2020 is not the easiest time to move to a new country and build a social circle, I have felt more than welcome here in Aarhus. I am loving the opportunity to share my culture and learn about Danish traditions over meals and boardgames with friends. In two weeks I am excited to share my family’s Thanksgiving traditions. I also really look forward to learning about the Danish Jul activities in the coming months.

Tackling climate change – a multi-national endeavor

Furthermore, I am greatly looking forward to spending four months in Nuuk, learning and building new connections. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to learn from the researchers at the GCRC and from local Kalaallit community members about how their region is changing. As I have become close to Danes living here in Aarhus, I aspire to make a similar network with the community in Nuuk.

I hope to build what will be long-lasting friendships as well as collaborations. That way, tackling climate change in the future can hopefully be a multi-national endeavor.”