A Danish Delight

Isabella K, Bachelor of Business

Copenhagen Business School (Semester 2, 2016)

Copenhagen – the home of hygge, indescribable pastries, and Danish design. My four months at Copenhagen Business School (affectionately known as CBS) were filled with cosy nights with friends, a crazy amount of cinnamon buns, and an incredible university campus. The cliché really is true – it was the experience of a lifetime.

Hanging out with my roommate at some Christmas Markets – she fits in with the Danes pretty well!

Denmark is an inimitable part of Scandinavia. The city is warm, with its inhabitants seeming endlessly cool; I’m talking guys wearing Nike sneakers, Adidas trackpants, and a leather jacket cool. Not only that, but almost every Dane is tall, with blue eyes, and bright blonde hair. As someone with brown eyes and brown hair, it’s safe to say I felt a little out of place. But once you get to know the Danes, you start to fall in love with their Northern charm and positive attitude to life. They can be difficult to crack at first – in Denmark, it’s uncommon to ask someone ‘how are you?’ But if you buy them a Carlsberg, they’ll be more than happy to let you in.

The cost of living in Denmark is similar to that in Brisbane – although, don’t expect there to be an equivalent of $16 burgers at Grill’d. Eating out can be pricey, but it’s easy enough to head down to the local Netto or Meny and pull together some ingredients for group dinner parties. In fact, this is a very ‘hygge’ thing to do – hygge meaning the cosy feeling you get when you’re indoors, with great friends, having some awesome food and drink.

Classes at CBS were very similar to back home; however, they don’t record the majority of lectures. Additionally, they won’t have tutorials for all subjects – most of mine consisted of a three-hour lecture that included time for practical activities. Personally, I only took elective subjects, so I can’t say too much about any course work for majors. However, I really enjoyed some of the classes and would recommend Visual Communication (an inimitable class on film studies and visual cognition) and Big Data and AI: Who Owns the Future?

Due to a small mishap with time zones, I ended up missing out on campus dorm accommodation. Instead, a friend and I buddied up and managed to find an Airbnb that would take us for four months. We were in an excellent location (upper Frederiksberg) that was about 20 minutes from the CBS campuses, which suited us very well. If you bought a bike, it was about a seven-minute trip – and almost all of the Danes ride everywhere! My roommate and I loved having the flexibility of having our own apartment and inviting people over for drinks, along with visiting the dorms for different parties and events.

I met this gorgeous creature, Suklaa, in Finland on a Husky Safari!

One of the highlights of the trip was definitely the amount of travel I got to do – Copenhagen is in a great location geographically to zip around from country to country. If you get the chance, I’d definitely recommend booking any of the Erasmus trips. A group of friends and I went to Finland with Erasmus, which was incredible – we stayed in the artic circle! Moreover, London is also only an hour’s plane ride away, and Germany is relatively easy to get to as well.

It’s not an exchange trip without an awesome tourist snap!

I’d most definitely recommend Copenhagen as one of your exchange options. My stay there was definitely a great blend of ‘work hard, play hard’ – with lots of travel thrown into the mix. If you’re going, make sure you hit up my favourite street called Jægersborggade in Nørrebro. If you’re into oatmeal, there’s a place called Grød that does it fantastically, and Meyers Bageri (AKA pastry heaven) is down the other end of the street. There’s an awesome, quirky bookstore called PALERMO Hollywood that has English titles, along with Tricotage, which has some cool Danish fashion pieces. Hit up KAKTUS on your way out to grab some greenery for your dorm room, and then finish up with the Mikkeller and Friends microbrewery around the corner.  Copenhagen is ripe with tourist haunts, but there are some truly Danish gems hidden in every suburb! If you’re going to Copenhagen, or if you’ve been, feel free to let me know where your favourite spots are. And bon voyage!

Austria: Centrally Located, Great for Travel

Exchange isn’t only about living in a new city, a long way from home. It’s about seeing as much of the world as you can that is now suddenly at your doorstep.

Vienna has many perks. A historical and cultural hub, a lively city and a wonderful coffee culture. For this post, however, the most important perk is its central location in Europe.

Whilst my classes were on, I have been incredibly lucky to have been able to take five subjects, one pre-semester language course, and still have been able to travel to 12 cities in 9 countries.

Devin Castle

 

Bratislava, Slovakia 

Likely to be the first international trip for many of Vienna’s exchange students,

Bratislava is a mere 45-minute train ride away (literally less time than it takes me to get to uni from home in Brisbane). The city itself is small, but the food is cheap. My tip: take a bus out of town to Devin Castle (pictured). It’s a 6th Century ruin that sits at the fork of two rivers, and it undoubtedly adds to the Bratislava experience.

The Chain Bridge and Parliament

 

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is about 2.5 hours away, and a very historical, interesting city. There’s quite a bit to see and do in Budapest, and a free walking tour is a great way to see a lot of it (they’re great in every city, not just

Budapest!), as well as hear stories about what you’re looking at. I also loved the tranquility of the thermal baths.

Graz, Austria

If you do the pre-semester orientation and cultural program, you’ll go to Graz, but because my friend and I didn’t, we took a spontaneous day-trip instead. Although it’s one of Austria’s largest cities, we managed to see most things, including climbing the hill to the Uhrturm (clock tower) in that time.

Porto, Portugal

Whilst I was on exchange, I was lucky enough to be selected and compete for QUT at

the University of Porto’s International Case Competition. While this involved being locked in a room for 34 hours to solve a case (albeit with 3 fantastic friends), it also involved meeting some amazing people from all over the world, and getting a guided tour by local students around the beautiful city of Porto. The comp was easily one of the highlights of exchange.

Team QUT in front of the Faculty of Economics, University of Porto

 

 

Douro Valley, Portugal

After the competition, QUT and several other teams went on a day trip to the world-renowned Douro Valley.  The valley was absolutely beautiful, and it was very refreshing to see such incredible scenery after Vienna’s relatively low tree-to-building ratio.

 

Inside the Sagrada Familia

Barcelona, Spain

(Unfortunately?) There are no direct flights between Porto and Vienna, so budget airlines tend to stop in Barcelona. We booked a couple of nights there on our way back, and got to experience some Spanish culture via sangrias, several walking tours, tapas, and paella. We were also very lucky to be able to spend time with people we’d met at various competitions (including Porto), and on exchange. Be sure to book online beforehand for Park Guell or the Sagrada Familia if you’d like to enter those, because they often sell out of tickets at the venue!

Berlin, Germany

I’d been interested in travelling to Berlin for a little while, but sadly I did it the disservice of not having enough time to truly explore the city (I would recommend 2-3 nights there, minimum). In the short time that I had there, I saw the East Side Gallery (pictured), the Brandenburg Gate, and visited the museum dedicated to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

The East Side Gallery, a large remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall decorated by street artists from around the world

 

Krakow, Poland

Inside the Basilica of St Mary

 

One year ago, if you were to ask me which countries I imagined myself visiting whilst I was on exchange, Poland probably wouldn’t have made it on my list. Enticed by my friend’s stories, 5 euro bus tickets, and a very large gap in my timetable, I decided to see Krakow for myself, and I was pleasantly surprised. The city has very student-friendly prices, and the old town square is bustling at all times of day. While I was there, I took a guided tour of Auschwitz, which was hauntingly moving.

 

 

Copenhagen, Denmark

I flew from Krakow onto Copenhagen to visit friends and see a beautiful city, and I was not disappointed. We ate authentic

Danish pastries, climbed the spire at the Church of our Saviour to watch a beautiful dusk and wandered through Nyhavn and Paper Island at night. Although Copenhagen is very beautiful, it is also quite expensive, and a surprisingly small city: my tip is that you only really need 2 full days to explore it.

View from the spire of the Church of our Saviour

 

Malmo, Sweden

The main square in old town Malmo

Many of the ‘Things to do in Copenhagen’ lists suggest ‘Take the train to Sweden’ – and

with my friend’s recommendation, I did. For the same price as entry to Copenhagen’s Tivoli you take the train across the bridge (famous in the TV series ‘The Bridge’) to Malmo.   Unfortunately, it was cold, windy and rainy for my daytrip, so most of my sightseeing involved comparing Swedish and Danish aesthetic (a little more colourful, but just as expensive), eating a delicious soup in a café that was also a record store, and eating New York cheesecake (thanks globalisation!).

 

Innsbruck, Austria

This trip was meant to be a trip to Milan with three other people, but ended up as a trip

to Innsbruck with one other person. It also ended up being one of the most beautiful trips I have ever taken.  We stayed at an Airbnb in Innsbruck, and our three days there

were filled with my friend and I turning every corner and gaping at the incredible scenery. One thing we did that I thoroughly recommend to anyone who’s interested in seeing Innsbruck is to not limit yourself to just the town.

View of Innsbruck

We took a “regional” bus, and stayed on until the end (approx. 20 minutes). Because the tickets are day passes, we wandered from one small town to the next (at most it would have been a kilometre between towns), and hopped on and off the bus as we pleased. It allowed us great freedom, and some amazing views (as seen in the photo below).

A stunning panorama outside the tiny town of Rinn

 

Vienna’s location allowed me to easily travel to all of these places with whilst studying. The question isn’t “Why Vienna?” It’s “Why NOT Vienna?”

 

 

 

Reasons to study in Copenhagen

Why Copenhagen? Many have asked me this question, both before I left and whilst in Denmark. Initially it was due to my fascination of all things Scandinavian and the fact I could study my law subjects in English, whilst being immersed in a totally different cultural experience. But as my time in Copenhagen went on, my answer changed dramatically and warped into so much more. Copenhagen is one of the most beautiful, most lively and easiest cities to live in. The lifestyle is great, with working hours less and more of a focus on family, socialising and generally enjoying life. The city is rich in history, with every street, park or lake being unbelievably picturesque. But most importantly, Danes are awesome. They are so warm, fun, easy-going and not to mention, incredibly good-looking.  You will walk down the street and be dumbfounded by the beauty of the Danes. But they aren’t just pretty faces – they are all so switched on, have a great sense of humour, love to have a good time and from my experience, Danes and Australians get on so well.  Not only did I want to get to know Danish culture, but they were just as intrigued with Australia. I made so many lifelong friends from all over the globe, who truly made my experience memorable.

pic 1I went on exchange (Semester 1 & 2 of 2015) for my full 5th year studying dual bachelor of business and law. Whilst in Copenhagen I studied mostly law subjects: Media Law, Health and Human Rights, Refugee law, Psychology for lawyers,  Gender & Legal Culture and one non-law subject of Danish culture. I found the workload a lot easier than QUT, with only one piece of assessment per subject. This is usually either in the form of a take home exam or a 20-minute oral exam with your tutor based on an essay you have written on a chosen topic. Although it initially sounds daunting, it is a lot easier than I expected and the tutors are all so kind and encouraging. It also helped that you only have to pass and the standard is not high at all (when compared to QUT).  Lectures are only a maximum of around 30 students so the learning environment is more intimate and interactive. The lecturers are from all over Europe and highly accredited and qualified and I always found them engaging, interesting and professional. I even had a lecturer who flew in from Belgium every week for our Media Law lecture. One thing about KU though, they are sticklers for rules – so make sure you are 100% on the subjects you have chosen as you are unable to change once semester starts. Also, steer clear of striclty EU law subjects (like European Environmental Law) as it can be a struggle without any background in the EU legal systems. Without the knowledge of the fundamentals of how EU law works, it can leave you at a disadvantage right from the get-go.

Danes speak perfect English (probably better than mine) so you don’t have to worry about whether you can speak the language. You will rarely find a Dane in Copenhagen that can’t speak English, and they will always try and accommodate. However, I found that they do appreciate when you give it a try and know some basics (they love laughing at your expense also). I did the pre-semester Danish course, which I really recommend doing. I met some of my closest friends during those 3 weeks and ended up experiencing the full year with 2 of the girls I met.

As for expenses, you’ve probably heard that it is expensive in Denmark (which it comparatively is to other exchange locations) but so is Australia. The cost of living in Copenhagen is extremely similar to Brisbane (if not less for alcohol and food at supermarkets). Eating out and coffee is pretty expensive but when you do go to restaurants – it’s always a true experience and worth the little splurge. To compensate, Danes usually host dinner parties and get-togethers where you would all cook together, drink together, and spend a ‘hygellig’ night in. There are also great food markets, where you can choose from a huge array of cuisines and enjoy with a beer in the sun or cosy together in the winter. Go to Paperion Island and the Kodbyen food markets in summer.pic 2 I do recommend budgeting and saving as much as possible before you go so you have room to spend. You also don’t have to worry about paying for public transport or taxis as you will ride a bike everywhere. As soon as you get to Copenhagen, get a bike! It is your ticket to getting around Copenhagen and will basically become another appendage of your body. It is so easy to get around the city by bike and some of my fondest memories are of riding around Copenhagen and taking in all its beauty. Once you get a bike, you feel like a true local but always make sure you lock it. Bike theft is a thing!

As for accommodation, I spent my first semester at Tietgenkollegiet which is a dormitory known for its famous architecture and amazing facilities. I lived with predominately Danish people and was the only international student in my shared kitchen of 12. The rooms, common areas and facilities were all perfection and the people I lived with quickly became my family in Copenhagen. There is a real sense of community and always someone there to chat with, cook with or party with. Although, I loved my time in Tietgen, I craved living more centrally (out of Amager) and a true ‘Copenhagen experience’ rather than college dorm life. So for semester 2, I decided to move to shared living in central Copenhagen but this proved to be much more difficult to find than expected. The KU housing foundation is not very helpful and extremely expensive – I would try to find something without them. But if not, they are a good option to rent through. I ended up living in a huge flat with 5 other young roommates from all over Europe in Norrebro and absolutely loved it. Norrebro is a great trendy neighbourhood with lots of cute little cafes, shops, great bars and clubs. If you can, try find a place in Norrebro, Vesterbro, Kobenhavn K or inner Frederiksberg – that’s where most of the life is. But there aren’t many colleges there. Osterbro is beautiful but a bit more for families and professionals. Don’t be disappointed if you aren’t able to get in these locations though – Copenhagen is so compact that you can get everywhere in 15 minutes by bike. When you get to Copenhagen, definitely get your residence permit and CPR number – it means you can get a Danish bank account, gym membership and even free healthcare if anything happens.

pic 3The best decision I made was going on exchange for the full year – I not only got to travel all over Europe but I was able to truly make Copenhagen my home and set down solid roots. I was able to form strong friendships and not miss out on or have to rush through any Danish experiences. I got to travel for 2 months during the summer break where I saw a lot of Southern Europe and even Morocco. During semesters, it is so easy to pop over to another country for an extended weekend, without missing anything at uni. I was lucky enough to visit Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden, England, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and even New York. However, if you can only do one semester on exchange, do it during QUT’s semester 1. It was the longest semester and also the best time to be in Copenhagen for the lead up to summer. It went from the colder months of winter, to the longer sunnier days of summer. The change is utterly beautiful and you have a greater appreciation for it. The whole city comes alive and Danes get so excited about the approaching summer – hosting many free events and festivals. You definitely need to go to the free Distortion festival and Roskilde music festival in June – both were absolute highlights.

I cannot recommend Copenhagen enough – the way of life is better, the people are better and it will give you a truly memorable and rewarding experience. I’m already planning my return to the ‘happiest nation on earth!’

My first time overseas and the Denmark study experience

I ended up at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark for my outbound exchange program in semester 2, 2015. I say ‘ended up’ here because when I first applied to take part in the outbound student exchange program in late 2014, Denmark hadn’t yet crossed my mind as a destination among my choices but I am so glad that’s where I ended up. After being unsuccessful for my top 3 host university choices in the US, Canada and the UK, my partner (who went with me to Aarhus University) and I informed the International Student Mobility Team of our intention to travel together to the same host university, the team was able to round up and offer us choices of host universities that would be able to accommodate both of us. We started the process of choosing our destination at this point by comparing the expected living expenses of each host nation and after some thorough searching, contemplations and discussions; we decided our first option would be a University in Prague. After deciding on Prague however, we were then told that it too was no longer available to us but that our second option in Aarhus, Denmark was.

pic 2Although I had been around to different parts of Australia, prior to my exchange semester, I had never actually been outside of the country. With a 34 hour transfer from Brisbane to Aarhus ahead and never yet going overseas, I had no idea what to expect and was a little nervous to say the least. After arriving in Denmark I was pleasantly surprised to find that every person I met was able to speak English very fluently. During Introduction Week we learnt that English was taught as a language from grade 3 in Denmark and although their preferred speaking language is their native Danish tongue, when prompted to, they are all very good English speakers.

While on exchange, students are generally required to choose courses that must be accepted by course coordinators to replace courses that are part of the planned study within their degrees. With most degrees having elective study included as part of the planned study, as was the case with my degree, I used 4 of my elective spaces to allow myself the opportunity to choose first year subjects at my host institution. The subjects I chose were Financial Accounting, Organisational Behaviour, English Language Business Communication and Aspects of Denmark. By using my electives and choosing first year subjects at my host university, I was able minimise my study load and allow myself the best opportunity to explore and travel throughout the rest of Europe during my time there.

pic 5As I previously mentioned; English is as well-spoken in Denmark as Danish is. This was a major contributor to my positive learning experience at Aarhus University. As a Justice student at QUT, I have the option of studying from home by enrolling into external classes. This type of study is not available to students at Aarhus University. The reason for this is that education, including tertiary education, is free in Denmark. Coupled with the fact that Danish students receive a very healthy student allowance from social welfare, it makes sense that students are expected to attend all their classes. This wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t have any other commitments as a student overseas but it is interesting to see how a ‘social welfare state’ such as Denmark treats their students.

Safety was always one of my top priorities but this was even more the case while I was overseas. To help maintain my safety I made sure I never did anything without doing thorough prior research. I also made use of resources such as International SOS and SmartTraveller to check on the safety warnings they broadcast. No matter what resources I used to plan and prepare myself on trips overseas, the most important thing for my safety was to always be alert and aware of my surroundings. Being in the wrong place will sometimes happen but by being vigilant in these situations, you can avoid getting yourself into any trouble.

pic 1Being overseas for nearly 6 months and travelling most of Europe gave me a very good understanding of travel preparation and what must-have items to carry with me at different times. A universal power plug was a very handy item to have while overseas and travelling. An item that I highly recommend having for your temporary ‘home away from home’ is a power board with at least 3 or 4 ports for all your electric devices. This will allow more than 1 power source while eliminating the need to bring spare plug converters. We all rely on our phones very heavily nowadays and this can mean extra strain on phone batteries, especially while travelling. The number 1 item to bring while travelling is a portable battery pack! They can be kept very easily in a backpack and could be your lifesaver when your phone starts running low on battery and you are not anywhere near your accommodation. The last piece of advice I would give regarding travel is to be prepared. When it comes to travelling, there is no such thing as being over prepared. This means triple checking you have all the items you intend to bring, all of the documents you need, checking the times of your transport and being early to catch your transport. There is nothing worse than being stranded and then having to work out alternatives. This will cost you time as well as more money.

Exchange for me was a very eye opening rite of passage. Aside from never having gone overseas, I had also never lived outside of home. My accommodation was organised through the housing department of Aarhus University and I was living in a share-house with other exchange students. This experience was new to me because living with ‘strangers’ was something I had never experienced either until going on exchange. The early stages of my time overseas were filled with learning and realising my day to day responsibilities. After a short time however, it started to become second nature. The experiences I gained in this short period of time was so invaluable to me for a range of different reasons, but the biggest of these reasons would have to be the amount of personal growth and discovery I had by the end of exchange. These are experiences that I will remember and cherish long after I graduate university and if not for any other reason, this one alone is why I recommend going on exchange to any student!

Choosing Denmark and why this was the best decision

Denmark has always held great importance to me and my family and this held significant part in my choosing to study at the University of Copenhagen. However, academically UCPH was a wonderful opportunity for me to start to study areas of science that I had a particular interest that were not technically part of my current degree at QUT. Also UCPH enabled me to study areas of reproductive science, which was not available to me at QUT. Upon arrival, I was a mess of emotions after leaving my family behind, however it didn’t take me very long to get my bearings. Denmark is certainly much a multicultural country as Australia and everyone speaks impeccable English, so the effects of cultural shock hardly played any part in my adjusting to Danish society.  I had chosen to stay in a refurbish boathouse in a place called Frederiksdal, which is located 1hr via train north of the center of Copenhagen. This house had been in my family for almost 120 years and is now being looked after by my 2nd cousin. Having this opportunity to live in the house my grandmother (who passed when I was very young) was a wonderful experience. Living with not hot water or heating was certainly a challenge though.

pic 3Lyngby is a suburb within the greater Copenhagen region, which is where I lived for the majority of my exchange. I lived in a large late 19th centaury house, which was surrounded with forest, and a canal ran alongside it. From my home it took me an hour via bike to get into university. Every morning I would go for a walk through the forest with the dog (‘Bluey’, who was my great- aunt’s Australian Blue Healer while she was on sabbatical for the year in northern Jytland) before adjourning to university via bike.  I can definitely say I had a distinctly unique experience as I was living among Danish society rather than in a dorm surrounded by other exchange students. This gave me more motivation to learn the language and made me try harder to make friends outside of university classes. I registered to play hockey at the local Gentofte hockey club which was a short 20min bike ride away, as well I also decided to give kayaking a go. My mother was a commonwealth medal kayaker before falling pregnant with me when she had to give up her Olympic dream. She had trained and competed with the same club (Nybro) that I signed up for. Her trophies are still on proud display along with my grandfathers and great-grandparents. It was here at these two sporting clubs that I made the majority of my friendships. Having Danish friends also made learning the language and getting involved in Danish culture so much easier and far more enjoyable.

pic 4Denmark is an extraordinary country full of colour and history. My favorite part of the country was definitely the castles and the distinctive fairly tale atmosphere. Whether you are actually exploring the many spectacular castles and grounds or strolling along ‘Støget’ and ‘Nyhavn’ you definitely get a sense of magic and whimsy about the place. You get a feel for what Hans Christian Andersen saw and what inspired him. I fell in love with Denmark when I visited as a little girl and living there made me fall deeper in love with the culture and its people of whom I now consider myself one. The Danes however can appear to be very standoffish people. There is a distinct sense of ‘I will mind my own business, you mind your own.’ They often come off as very angry and self-absorbed people, however once you get to know them they are the happiest most loving and appreciating people in the world.

The university of Copenhagen Nørre Campus where I spend all of my academic experiences reminded me a great deal of home and especially of QUT Gardens Point and the new P building. With modern buildings and huge glass windows everywhere. All of my classes were held in the BIOCENTER, which is the universities main center for biological sciences. Here I studied a number of various subjects including, bioinformatics, marine biology, artic biology, genetics, biotechnology, aquatic animal physiology and developmental biology. I decided to continue to study all f my subjects in English, which ended up being my only choice as at a master’s level all science subjects are in English. While I had really wanted to study in Danish, which by the end of the year I was quite fluent I felt that it would probably have been a huge feat to learn words like oocyte and zygote in Danish. The method of teaching in Denmark is not quite so dissimilar to Australia in terms of lectures, practicals and tutorials. However rather than having semesters the academic year is split into 4 terms (2 units per term), so there is a lot more information crammed into the term than if it was to be spread over the semester. There is also a very big difference in the examinations at UCPH, where rather than having multiple assessments throughout the semester and then a final exam there is usually only the one piece of assessment in Denmark, which counts for the total of your grade. Also there is a great emphasis on oral examinations over written ones. This was particularly hard for me as I get very nervous presenting in front of people and find it difficult to think quickly on my feet. This is the area I think I definitely improved the most on in my whole exchange. UCPH is definitely well renowned for its science and mathematical degrees and research. In particular there are some great researchers in partnership with the hospital, which is located over the road, who are investigation stem cell research and advancements in assisted reproductive technologies.

pic 2Budgeting for my exchange was a great headache for me as during the first two years at university I was very much stuck in living paycheck to paycheck and now having to save for my trip was a great learning curve. I during my second year before my exchange I started working three jobs to be able to save enough and still live comfortably. Denmark is a very expensive place to live so taking into consideration the rent, food, mobile, sporting fees, gym fees, transport I decided I needed at least $15000 (including flights and residency permit fees). I also wanted to travel and have fun while overseas and took into consideration travel cost, and entertainment costs. In the end I managed to save $9000 in the year before my exchange and with the OS-Help scheme was very comfortable and happy to proceed with my exchange without needed to apply for jobs while overseas. While overseas I opted to open a bank account in Denmark as it just made using my money so much easier and cheaper not paying international transaction fees and being their for 13months having the bank account there was just more convenient.

Maintaining safety in an unfamiliar environment is essential for anyone considering an exchange. I was very lucky to have family around and some wonderful friends who were always able to help. Most importantly especially for the drinking and partying age it is really important to make sure that you are drinking in a safe environment and have people around that you know will look after you when you are not in the right mind to do so yourself. Trusting your gut instincts is also an essential part of maintaining your safety. I was lucky never to encounter any situations where I ever felt unsafe. Even when travelling around Europe a friend always accompanied me and we always had each other’s backs.

pic 5One essential item to have on exchange is definitely an open mind. Regardless which country you go to you will always encounter things that you find strange, whether it is the local cuisine or culture. Another very important item is a working smart phone. Without this it makes it hard to communicate with family back home and if you are ever in a difficult situation you need to be able to call for help. Some helpful travel tips that I have for anyone who is considering an exchange would be plan everything in advance. If you are planning to travel around outside of your host country plan where you are going and where you are staying, as there is nothing worse than arriving in a country late at night and not being able to find somewhere to stay. Also I am a big advocator on the buddy system, while it is fun to be alone it’s always nice to be able to share experiences with someone.

The exchange program has been one of the most difficult, stressful, wonderful and life changing experiences of my life. Academically I have grown incredibly in the last 13 months, being able to study subjects that involve the career path I want to take made me try thrice as hard in all of those subjects. Knowing that my results wouldn’t impact my GPA was also a huge relief as I was able to fully enjoy myself on exchange and not stress as much on how I was performing academically. I would definitely recommend the student exchange program to every single student as you make incredible life long friends all over the world and get to meet some phenomenal people. However I would not suggest an exchange to someone in his or her last year of student or last semester depending on your desired length of exchange. Also I recommend a 12-month exchange over the 6 months, as I don’t believe you get to experience everything that culture has to offer in merely 6 months.

My Copenhagen Exchange Experience

It’s always difficult deciding whether or not to undertake an exchange. I know that I was hesitant at first and it took a lot of courage to proceed through the lengthy application process. However, it has been one of the best decisions of my life so far.

I chose to study at Copenhagen Business School not only for its high standards and global recognition, but because I had never really heard anything about Denmark in general, and thought it would be interesting and beneficial to study in a country where English was not the native language. My first impressions exceeded everything I had envisioned about Denmark. The landscape was beautiful, the people were friendly and welcoming and the university was innovative and engaging. The process, while a little difficult and frustrating at times, was efficient and all worked out in the end.pic 4

Copenhagen as a city is relatively small and everybody travels by bicycle! It’s healthy and progressive environment makes it accommodating to new arrivals and the feel of the city has an historic and futuristic feel about. The architecture is unique and during the summer months, the whole city comes alive with cultural events and exhibitions. The university was located in the city center and close to cafes, restaurants and gymnasiums. There are always activities taking place within the university and there are so many groups to get involved in. They really make you feel apart of the Danish university culture.

Accommodation was a little difficult. Demand is very high and the university takes many exchange students each semester. My advice would be to have plan A, B and C for accommodation, just in case you don’t get your first preference.pic 2 I managed to get student housing, which was really great because it meant that I got to meet a range of exchange students from around the world, and this really broadened my friendship group and experience while in Copenhagen. Most of the accommodation houses had laundry facilities, shared kitchens and common areas, which were a really good way to meet everybody who was living there.

While the cost of living in Copenhagen was higher than here in Brisbane, travel expenses were relatively cheaper, and so that allowed me to travel more frequently to other destinations in Scandinavia and Europe. I would recommend travelling with at least $15,000AUD to live comfortably while you’re over there, however, budget also depends on how much you wish to travel outside of your host city. I also found that a travel card was the easiest option, as it didn’t charge you a transaction fee if you withdrew money from ATM’s while overseas and used the most recent exchange rate depending on which country you were in.

I would not have changed my experience for anything. The people who I met while on exchange have become life time friends and the skills and challenges I faced have helped me to be more independent and confident. It is always going to be a challenge stepping outside of your comfort zone, but once you do, it will be the best thing you ever did.

A closer look at life in Denmark

Location

The city initially was real cold, I’ve never been exposed to cold temperature before and Copenhagen being near the Northern side of Europe really gave me an insight into what Cold weather really is like. I had to layer up for sure and had to think twice before going outside due to it snowing down, or it was just generally too cold to leave the house.pic1

Accommodation

The accommodation was very nice and clean. I had a Canadian roommate who was very nice and clean as well. We both gelled together since Day 1 and we still keep in contact today.

Academics

The academics was quite straightforward and easy to understand as English is spoken by a large portion of Danish people. All my assessment were in English and they seemed to be the level of QUT. It is noted that the assignments in Denmark were quite reading strenuous and I had to do more readings and researching compared to QUT assignments.

I studied Creative Industries, International Economics, Visual Communication and Sports Economics. These were all engaging units which deviated from my usual run of the mill accounting unit which I did in QUT. These units allowed me to engage in my ‘creative’ side and to allow me to do something else other than balance sheets and debits and credits.

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Finances

My finances were quite good as I knew how to budget myself. Through the OS-Bursary and QUT HECS Loan I could travel Europe and visit places such as Berlin, London, Manchester, Rome, Paris and I also had a small two trips in Japan and Hong Kong on the way back. The cost of living in comparison was quite similar in the sense that things were costly, this is attributed however to a high living standard much like Australia. Therefore food costs were similar to Australia and I was not deterred by the cost of food.

Challenges

Culture Shock is something I have experienced when I was in Copenhagen. This however was a good culture shock as Danes are generally well reserved. This however was abolished in parties when the Danes became friendlier to strangers.

In terms of safety, I was quite worried about safety as during the time when I was in Paris as I was in Paris two weeks before the bombing which occurred late 2015. This was a dark time for me when I was in Europe and I am grateful that I was not in Paris when this tragedy occurred.

Impression

Exchange has been an experience of a life time, full of learning, fun and most importantly the trip has enhanced my development as a more culturally accepting person. Experiencing different cultures is one of my dreams ever since I was a child. And I am proud to say this trip has enabled me to do this.

One huge influence which made me choose Denmark is the food. Noma – ranked the best restaurant in the world three years running is in Denmark and although I did not score a table there, I tried restaurants similar to Noma and I still loved it. The food culture in Denmark is unparalleled when compared to Australia, and for a foodie like me – I took advantage of the incredible food culture in Denmark.

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Aarhus, Denmark – First Impressions, Course Selection and Learning Experiences

Aarhus, Denmark

I ended up at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark for my outbound exchange program in semester 2, 2015. I say ‘ended up’ here because when I first applied to take part in the outbound student exchange program in late 2014, Denmark hadn’t yet crossed my mind as a destination among my choices but I am so glad that’s where I ended up. After being unsuccessful for my top 3 host university choices in the US, Canada and the UK, my partner (who went with me to Aarhus University) and I informed the International Student Mobility Team of our intention to travel together to the same host university, the team was able to round up and offer us choices of host universities that would be able to accommodate both of us. We started the process of choosing our destination at this point by comparing the expected living expenses of each host nation and after some thorough searching, contemplations and discussions; we decided our first option would be a University in Prague. After deciding on Prague however, we were then told that it too was no longer available to us but that our second option in Aarhus, Denmark was.

First Impressions

Although I had been around to different parts of Australia, prior to my exchange semester, I had never actually been outside of the country. With a 34 hour transfer from Brisbane to Aarhus ahead and never yet going overseas, I had no idea what to expect and was a little nervous to say the least. After arriving in Denmark I was pleasantly surprised to find that every person I met was able to speak English very fluently. During Introduction Week we learnt that English was taught as a language from grade 3 in Denmark and although their preferred speaking language is their native Danish tongue, when prompted to, they are all very good English speakers.

Aarhus University - Matthew 2

Course Selection

While on exchange, students are generally required to choose courses that must be accepted by course coordinators to replace courses that are part of the planned study within their degrees. With most degrees having elective study included as part of the planned study, as was the case with my degree, I used 4 of my elective spaces to allow myself the opportunity to choose first year subjects at my host institution. The subjects I chose were Financial Accounting, Organisational Behaviour, English Language Business Communication and Aspects of Denmark. By using my electives and choosing first year subjects at my host university, I was able minimise my study load and allow myself the best opportunity to explore and travel throughout the rest of Europe during my time there.

Learning Experience

As I previously mentioned; English is as well-spoken in Denmark as Danish is. This was a major contributor to my positive learning experience at Aarhus University. As a Justice student at QUT, I have the option of studying from home by enrolling into external classes. This type of study is not available to students at Aarhus University. The reason for this is that education, including tertiary education, is free in Denmark. Coupled with the fact that Danish students receive a very healthy student allowance from social welfare, it makes sense that students are expected to attend all their classes. This wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t have any other commitments as a student overseas but it is interesting to see how a ‘social welfare state’ such as Denmark treats their students.

Overall Exchange Experience

Exchange for me was a very eye opening rite of passage. Aside from never having gone overseas, I had also never lived outside of home. My accommodation was organised through the housing department of Aarhus University and I was living in a share-house with other exchange students. This experience was new to me because living with ‘strangers’ was something I had never experienced either until going on exchange. The early stages of my time overseas were filled with learning and realising my day to day responsibilities. After a short time however, it started to become second nature. The experiences I gained in this short period of time was so invaluable to me for a range of different reasons, but the biggest of these reasons would have to be the amount of personal growth and discovery I had by the end of exchange. These are experiences that I will remember and cherish long after I graduate university and if not for any other reason, this one alone is why I recommend going on exchange to any student!

 

An international degree at Copenhagen Business School

Copenhagen Business School is known for its business programs. I studied International Business Strategy, Business Strategy and Leadership Communication. I studied International Business Strategy, Business Strategy and Leadership Communication. Luckily for me all of my classes at CBS were taught in English, as they were subjects aimed for international students. Therefore most of the students in my class were international students and all lectures/tutorials were taught in English. Danes are extremely proficient in speaking English. Everyone in Copenhagen was able to speak English and most cafes/restaurants had an English menu available or someone that would happily translate. Therefore my experience was really easy as Danish people are very willing to speak English.

The academic intensity was definitely lower than QUT. There is only one assessment item due per subject and this can be in various forms. I had one four-hour closed book computer exam, one open book four hour computer exam and two 72 hour take home exams. The computer exams were quite intense as you have to sit in front of a computer for 4 hours in exam conditions and its quite stressful. The 72 hour exams were not too bad you are given an assignment and you have to complete it during that time frame. The great thing about CBS is they give you 3 attempts to pass the exam making is pretty unlikely that you can fail a subject.

Copenhagen “Assistens” Cemetery in winter

Copenhagen “Assistens” Cemetery in winter

 

I HIGHLY recommend going on exchange. It truly is a life changing opportunity, and a once in a lifetime chance. It is something that I would recommend to any student. It gives you a chance to study overseas whilst getting credit towards your university degree. I now have friends from all over the world and memories that are irreplaceable. It does take a lot of work to organise, so be prepared but it is more than worth it. Do not hesitate, just do it!

 

Incredible facilities at CBS

Copenhagen Business School had great lecture auditoriums. The main library was the best I have ever seen. It was so quiet and easy to study and this is partly due to the CBS system. You actually have to book a seat in the library in order to study there. Therefore, everyone that is in the library is very serious about studying and there is virtually no noise. There are computer rooms in all of the campuses. The point of difference I found that CBS had over QUT was the Student Hub services where students could go with any questions/queries about anything related to study/student life. The four different campuses gave the university a whole new dimension and I loved the cafeterias that were on campus. There was also a really great university bar where there were all sorts of events hosted.

Rosenborg Park

Rosenborg Park

The main strength of CBS is definitely the support systems in place for students. There is always someone who can help with any problems and being an exchange student it was so amazing having someone that was always willing to help/assist with any questions especially in the initial stages of exchange. I loved that the campuses were in the middle of the city and it was so easy getting around between the buildings. Therefore a big strength is definitely the location/layout of the university. It is so credible. CBS is highly regarded as one of the best business universities in Denmark. I also had very knowledgeable tutors and lecturers and learned a lot whilst on exchange academically.