Shi Pui - University of Copenhagen

B Journalism
Semester 1, 2019
Skål means cheers, not sculling your drink. Just a heads up.

Academic experience

I took courses from the Faculty of Humanities (at KUA) and the Faculty of Social Sciences (at CSS). From Humanities I took a communications course called Digital Strategic Communication, and from the Faculty of Social Sciences I took political science course called Radicalism: From Suffrage to Terrorism. I also took the pre-semester intensive language course, which I highly recommend. 

Bear in mind that I only took credits for the communications course and the political science course, as I only needed 22.5 ECTs (6 units). When picking courses, factor in the ECTs they account for, as it can be different depending on whether you're an undergraduate or a postgraduate studying the course. For example, the Radicalism course was worth 10 ECTs for me as I was an undergraduate. For a postgraduate, it would be worth 7.5 ECTs. 

The two faculties are quite different in their approach to instruction. With Digital Strategic Communications we had two classes each week, each class being seminars that lasted three hours. As for Radicalism, we had weekly classes of two hours, also taught seminar style.

In spite of their differences, the style of assessments were the same. The Danes believe in a final exam that makes or breaks your semester, rather than assigning multiple tasks throughout the study period. They also put a heavy emphasis on self-directed learning and reading. For the less disciplined it may be a bit of a learning curve, as it is quite easy to ignore your readings, only to arrive at the end of the semester and realise that you have 1200 pages worth of material to learn.

Every teacher I have had were highly approachable, and you should never hesitate to ask them for assistance or clarification.

Personal experience

I was able to meet a group of international friends through the intensive language course, while living at Tietgen allowed me to live and develop a close relationship with the locals as well. Whatever pre-conceived idea you have about Danes being cold and all - throw it out of the window. Every Danish person I've met has been friendly, charming, and incredibly open to discussions and fun. 

I did travel a bit after my exchange and during the weekends, but I also tried to enjoy Copenhagen for what it's worth during the semester. Make friends with the locals, and just hygge! If you did do the language course, don't be afraid to use it. The Danes speak perfect English, but they will always be happy to help you improve your Danish.


The logical thing to do would be to check which faculty you have most of your classes/earliest class, and then choose an accommodation close to it. The right thing to do would be to go somewhere with great wifi, wait for that email from Housing Foundation, click on it straight away, and snag yourself a spot at Tietgen. Unlike most other accommodations, Tietgen is mostly inhabited by Danes, which means you really do get a taste of the local culture and way of living. Just be prepared to socialise and contribute if you want to get the most out of it. It is also one of the most beautiful and modern architectures in Denmark, and is truly a living experience of a lifetime. Bear in mind that Copenhagen is a very accessible city, and you can get almost everywhere on a bike with ease in reasonable time. Just be aware  if you do choose Tietgen, is that if you are not planning to stay in Copenhagen for the duration of the entire semester, it is one of the few options that doesn’t allow a shortening. Ie. if your contract is for six months and you only have classes for four of those months, you will have to pay for the full six months whether you move out early or not.

Speaking of the Housing Foundation, here's a few things to expect. Reserving your room through housing foundation is kind of like signing on to your ideal tutorial slot on si-net. It involves waiting for hours for the email that allows you to log on to the system and be placed in an online queue. Your choice of accommodation is first-come, first-serve. They do have a monopoly on student housing for international students, and is operated like a business. They have a reputation for severely overcharging students for "cleaning fees". Make sure you are extremely thorough with your inspection before moving in, taking photos and notes of anything that is less than perfect. Document it clearly and submit it in your inspection report, to protect yourself from exorbitant charges upon departure. Also, don't hesitate to communicate to them about anything at all if you're in doubt. They are there to serve, and charges you handsomely for it. So familiarise yourself with their system and utilise them.


I'm sure you've heard that Copenhagen is expensive and all, which can be true. 
One of the most expensive aspects of Copenhagen would be rent, and I paid around 8000AUD for my semester. It was worth every dollar as I lived at Tietgen. There are cheaper options available, just make sure you do your research well before-hand.

Another pricey endeavour would be eating out. That being said, Copenhagen is one of the fine-dining food capitals of the world, and it is definitely worth experiencing. Get yourself on to the student waitlist at Noma. Also dine at 108, Alouette, Relæ, the list goes on. You can stay within a reasonable budget if do your own groceries at (discount) supermarkets such as Netto, Rema 1000, Lidl, Aldi...etc and cook most of your meals. My weekly budget for groceries was about 60AUD. Dumpster diving with friends is also fun, and a great way to save not only your wallet, but the planet as well.

Also, get a bike. Get a bike. GET. A. BIKE. Buy one from the various Facebook groups dedicated to selling and buying second hand bikes, or rent one, and actually use it. Public transport is expensive, and why waste money on public transport when biking gets you places quicker and is much cheaper? And you don't really need anything over 600DKK; 7 gears is kind of overkill when the steepest thing you have to climb in Denmark is the stairs at the bar. 

Of course, you have to travel while in Europe. Book tickets well in advance for dirt-cheap airfares, and only bring a carry-on. Or consider bus and train options as well, which often doesn't take as long as you'd expect. Budgeting for travel very much depends on how often and where you'd like to go, and how good you are at organising things in advance. Just bear in mind that Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark also have lots to offer!

All in all, try and have the higher end of the amount UQ Abroad recommends. You can very well live on a budget and have amazing experiences that are free or doesn't cost much. But you do want to have the freedom of doing things and going places without having to worry about money too much.

Also, don't be like me. I got a one-way ticket to Denmark, and booked my ticket home at the very very last minute, just because. I'm writing this testimonial during my 64 hour transit home with two different budget airlines and 6 different connections, while paying the price of a premium airfare. And I don't even want to think about my carbon footprint from all this flying.


I was very fortunate to have had a pretty smooth transition and settlement into life in Copenhagen with no major hiccups. That being said, try to keep an open mind, and not compare things too much to what it’s like back home. When you’re overseas, alone, and still adjusting to the time difference, little things will jump out at you and it can add up. Try to keep an open mind and go with the flow, and just accept that things are just different and that makes it all the more worthwhile.

Professional Development

Going on exchange really does develop your capability to discipline and manage yourself, to practice flexibility and adaptability in different and at times challenging situations, and to engage in intercultural communication with peers from all over the world. The difference in teaching and learning was an incredible experience to have.


You’ve heard this before and you’ll hear this again. The highlight of my exchange would be the people I’ve met along the way, and the things I’ve learnt about the world and about myself. I honestly enjoyed every minute of my exchange; from chilling by the harbour with a beer as soon as the sun came out for Summer, to playing boardgames in front of a fireplace while it snowed outside, to meeting Crown Princess Mary at the old University building.

Top tips

Get yourself a bike, it's the best way to see the city and get places. Don't be afraid to bike in the snow, you'll learn to do it with grace and style after swan-diving from your bike just once. Don't waste a single day, there's always something to see, people to meet, and things to do. But also give yourself time to take a step back, to process and to reflect every so often. You are there to learn; try and keep up with course reading and engage in your learning and the difference in teaching and academia. Get your CPR and NEM-ID sorted ASAP so you can enjoy the very advanced and well developed public service and healthcare infrastructure. Don't cut your finger wrestling a tuna can, get three stitches, and disregard the doctor's advice about swimming. You WILL get an infection and it WILL be gnarly. And please, call home once in a while. Just don't tell them about the swan-dive or the can-wrestling.