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!’

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.

Student dorms in Denmark

I stayed in a student dorm whilst on exchange. This is organised through CBS and they have a big list of dorms that you can choose from. My advice is to do your research on each dorm as you have to put an order of 1-7 on accommodation and it is very competitive so ensure that you are confident in your top 3 choices. I stayed in Svenevej, which I absolutely loved, but there are a few things to be aware of. The Svanevej photos shown on CBS are NOT what the rooms actually looked like. The photos that are used are from the permanent residents that live in the accommodation and the student rooms are a lot more basic and not furnished in this way so do not make your decision based on this. I paid extra for a bigger dorm room and I HIGHLY recommend doing this. In the scheme of things you do not pay that much extra and it is so nice having the extra space.

Enjoying drinks and food on our Svanevej rooftop

Enjoying drinks and food on our Svanevej rooftop

My dorm room was so much bigger then the smaller ones and I absolutely loved it. It was like having a small studio apartment with my own little kitchen and bathroom. There are only 2 big rooms in Svanevej so be quick with requesting them. My room was 113 and was in the corner of the dorm so I had no noise from the street or the staircase.

Svanevej is in the Norrebro neighbourhood, which is an up and coming neighbourhood of Copenhagen. My favourite area of norrebro is just 5-10mins walking distance from Svanevej. Be aware that this is a very multicultural neighbourhood. I always felt 100% safe day and night, but a lot of people in Copenhagen say it is very “dodgy.” I was very nervous about this initially but I loved the area. So many young people live around Norrebro and Jaegesborgade is an amazing street that is right nearby. There are supermarkets right next to the dorm as well as a bus and train line within a 5 minute walk. I absolutely loved the dorm, we had our own common room and shared kitchen although everyone had their own kitchenettes anyway. This is a much smaller dorm than the others listed so it is not much of a “party” dorm, which I preferred. We also had a huge rooftop terrace which was great for BBQs and drinks.

Copenhagen – the happiest city in the world

The Amazing Botanical Garden

The Amazing Botanical Garden

Copenhagen was voted the happiest city in the world. And once you visit there it all becomes clear as to why. Copenhagen is an amazing city full of life and colour, and the Danes are arguably the most beautiful people in the world. Everyone in Copenhagen rides a bike rain, hail or shine. I arrived in winter and I believed that the city was equally as beautiful in the snow, however you definitely don’t get the full experience of Copenhagen until the sun comes out.

Everyone is relaxed and easy going in Copenhagen. And I loved just reading a book in the park or having a cider by the lineup of colourful boats in Nyhavn. (It is legal to drink in public in Denmark). I did not get to explore much further then Copenhagen but I did hear wonderful things about the country. However, arguably Copenhagen is the best city in Denmark so definitely try and do your exchange here.

A lot of people say that Copenhagen is a very expensive city. I believe that it was very relative to Australia. Expect to pay anywhere between $15-$30 when you eat out and more for drinks. The only thing I noticed that was way more expensive was coffee. A cup of coffee will cost anywhere between $6-$8. People that were on exchange from cities in Europe that have lower costs were very shocked about the price of things, I really didn’t notice any difference from the price of items in Brisbane.

Copenhagen Business School? Simply amazing!

CBS Fredericksburg Campus

CBS Fredericksburg Campus

 

 I chose Copenhagen Business School for exchange as a previous exchange student recommended it to me. I was originally looking at universities in the UK and America, but I was told that I just had to apply for CBS as my first choice. I am so glad that I did and I cannot imagine having done exchange anywhere else, it was the best experience of my life!

 My first impression of CBS was utterly amazed. The university is split over four modern buildings, each features amazing architectures and all with their own cafeterias, lecture rooms and class rooms. All of the campuses are within walking distance which made going to university extremely convenient. The main campus at Solbjerg Plads is incredible and features a beautiful library and 2 huge cafeterias. My impression of CBS only got better as the exchange went on. From their supportive buddy program, to the exchange office, there is always someone to help you settle in. There exchange activities during the first 2 weeks were so great and helped in making the transition a lot easier. CBS is renowned for being one of the best universities in Denmark, and it far exceeded any of my expectations.