Sarah – University of Copenhagen – Denmark
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
I have been working full-time and studying law part-time for the last few years at QUT. In 2022 I decided to change things up and attended the University of Copenhagen for my exchange. In July, two weeks after my semester one exams were over, I packed a (far too large) backpack and headed for Finland, to begin what would become the best experience of my life.
I began my exchange journey with a three-day stopover in Singapore. I then went to a music festival a few hours outside of Helsinki with a friend. I travelled around Europe for about 7 weeks, before arriving in Copenhagen to begin my exchange in late August.
Organising housing was for sure the most challenging part of preparing for exchange. For KU, housing is administered by the Housing Foundation. Their timelines meant that I only secured an apartment about 10 days before leaving Australia. I also overpaid slightly and lived in a studio apartment, rather than in a place with a shared kitchen, which is what I would have ideally wanted. But, I can’t stress enough that the type of housing won’t matter so much once you’re there. I do think though, that a shared kitchen makes socialising a bit less high effort, which would have been nice in the initial weeks when I was making friends. It was also nice to have my own space, so neither option is bad.
Once I got to Denmark, the first thing I did was buy a bike (her name was Rhonda, and she has just been sold). I absolutely loved my bike and used it to go everywhere, just like a local. The cycling culture in Copenhagen is unmatched, and you simply have to join in! Public transport isn’t cheap (though it is excellent) so it’s also a great way to save money.
On the money front, everything you may have read online about Copenhagen is true. This place is wildly expensive. The kind of expensive where my favourite, and not especially fancy (albeit not regular) café charged me $9 for a takeaway oat milk flat white. Copenhagen definitely has budget options; you just have to look hard for them. Student discounts are prevalent, but in all honesty, they don’t bring the cost down to a particularly reasonable level. Even the savviest of budgeters may be somewhat stumped by the cost of the beautiful city. Wherever you can, take advantage of free activities through the uni.
One of the most wonderful things about Copenhagen is the sense of community, particularly among students. I was fortunate to make some incredible friends, both at university and with people living at the same accommodation. The friendships alone make exchange an unmissable opportunity. I now have friends across Europe, Asia, North America, and also plenty of new Australian friends.
One of the greatest features of my exchange experience, aside from the friendships I will never forget, has been travel. I’m actually writing this from a hostel in Casablanca, Morocco. I will arrive back in Australia at the beginning of Semester 1 of 2023. I have been able to travel more than I would’ve ever dreamed. I have travelled both solo, and with people I met in Copenhagen, to destinations across mostly Europe, such as Norway and Croatia, but also to Morocco and Singapore. One of my biggest pieces of advice to any prospective exchange student would be to take advantage of any opportunity to travel or try new things. You’ve already bought the ticket over there, why not take full advantage? I certainly have.
While at the University of Copenhagen, I studied two subjects, which is considered a full-time course load. I studied both Advanced EU Constitutional Law, and Nordic Mythology for a change of pace and to expand my horizons. Studying in Denmark was a breath of fresh air, and quite different from university in Australia. The class sizes were small and focussed on discussion, and almost nothing was recorded or available for online participation. Given that I wasn’t working, this suited me perfectly. Some of the best friends I made while on exchange were fellow students I met in my law class. I ended up doing well in my exams, but the setup was certainly a change. One of my exams was an oral exam, with a written presentation followed by the drawing of a question on any element of the syllabus out of a bowl at random. Neither of my courses included traditional exams, and an oral component was certainly common in my experience, which would be very rare at QUT. I loved the style of study KU offered, but it is quite different from QUT.
Overall, studying law and living in Copenhagen has been an unforgettable experience. It has broadened my horizons, helped me to make some lifelong friends, exposed me to new ways of thinking and living, and provided me with invaluable skills that will be useful throughout my academic and professional career. This opportunity also allowed me the time, opportunities, and proximity to travel to some incredible destinations. I highly recommend studying abroad to anyone who has the opportunity.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.