Kaelan - Technical University of Denmark

B Engineering/Science
Semester 2, 2018
Denmark was an extremely easy country to live in with great transport, excellent education and a great base for travel.

Academic experience

I studied Embedded Systems, Intelligent Systems (machine learning, rule based programming, a really great course!), Operating Systems and Computer Architecture. The Danish system takes a very strong focus on the procurement of knowledge rather than the attainment of high grades. They facilitate this through extensive group based activities and assessment in every subject I did, this was a great experience to meet not only other internationals but also Danish students that I wouldn't have met otherwise. The only challenge I found with this method of learning is that one really needs to be self-driven to get something from the courses- it is easy to pass but a lot of extra effort is required to master the material. However, by adapting to this way of learning I have shifted my current study approach accordingly and am finding a renewed passion in my study. The enrolment process was straight forward, very similar to UQ.

Personal experience

I  was lucky enough to go on a lifeguard exchange in Denmark for 8 weeks prior to my study. This has without a doubt been the most enjoyable experiences of my life, I spent each week at a new beach around the country with new Danish colleagues. Once you break the initial barriers of a Dane I found them to have a great sarcastic sense of humour, be very intelligent and very fun to be around. This led to a swim coaching job throughout my study, numerous events such as Christmas parties and wave camps and a great network of Danes to hang around Copenhagen with. Through the buddy program at DTU I was then able to foster great friendships with exchange students all over the world. The experience definitely helped me to rekindle my motivation for study and work with real synergy in a group. I also played rugby for DTU and got to meet even more Danes and locals who were not studying. This was a very important part of my exchange.

Accommodation

I was living around 4km from DTU in an apartment with a Dane. It was a bit unusual as I was sleeping in his and his girlfriend's bedroom whilst he slept on the floor in the lounge room. It was in a great location close to university and right next to the station to the city. The best part of living there was that I had some great friends only a few houses away. It was great living with a Dane but if I were to do it again I would definitely try to get into one of the colleges on campus. The host university matched me up with this arrangement. If you are looking for a unique budget option then it is possible to live in a house boat in Copenhagen which I think would be very cool.

Costs

Rent was around $250 a week which from what I heard was around the median cost for Lyngby, those living in Copenhagen paid a lot more whereas some of the budget college options were very cheap. With the cold weather and huge waste problem in Denmark, dumpster diving is a very profitable endeavour and many exchange students partake. Reach out to some Danes and they will be able to help you with this. All in all, I probably spent around $10,000 while overseas, including three months of travel afterwards. One of the student union cards for Erasmus students gives you free checked in luggage and 25% off eight flights with Ryan Air which would make travel extremely cheap but I only found this out as I left. Groceries at the cheaper supermarkets (Netto, Lidl, etc.) have similar prices to Australia but discounted food at the bigger ones (Fotex, Meny, etc.) can be much cheaper. Going out in Denmark is very expensive but alcohol is comparatively cheap to Australia.

Challenge

Living with a Dane from the West Coast of Jutland (below average ENglish skills) was quite difficult to begin with as all conversation was slow and there were lots of misinterpretations on his behalf. However, I helped him with his English and edited his grammar in his reports and it provided me with a valuable experience in teaching ENglish and communicating with a non-native ENglish speaker.

Professional Development

Working in an international institution has provided me with a wealth of skills. Coming from a country with much more difficult surf conditions, I had to be very sensitive in how to lead and made the most of the Needs analysis. In terms of my study, the Operating Systems course was very well run in that we built our own operating system from scratch. The Intelligent Systems course provided me with a whole new approach to visualising and assessing different problems with a relevant sheath of tools and processes. With a strong Australian accent I also learnt how to choose my words and tone such that an international cohort can easily understand me.

Highlight

Playing rugby and lifeguarding were by far the highlights, a week long mid-semester trip to Norway to live in a yacht was also amazing. The ability to get on a train and be out of the country in under thirty minutes made impromptu travel easy and enjoyable.

Top tips

Try your hardest to make friends with the Danes. A lot of my international friends only met other internationals as they went only to exchange events which the Danes did not. There is a bit of segregation at the university but though they may seem cold at first if you make the effort to approach them or join a club such as handball then they will accept you fully and help you around Denmark. DTU does not offer free mover studies but other Danish universities and a lot in Sweden and Norway do so look into this. Furthermore, if you have EU citizenship them you can get paid to study in these countries and have no academic fees. The library is great with double monitors and free noise cancelling headphones.