Melissa - University of Copenhagen

B Laws/ B Commerce
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

I completed my last semester of my Law degree on exchange and had 3 subjects remaining. The University of Copenhagen requires students to do a full-time load, so I was able to enrol in the equivalent of 3 UQ Law subjects, and 1 general elective.
My law subjects were ‘Law of Private Equity’ (10 ECTs), and ‘International Commercial Contracts’ (15 ECTs). Compared to UQ Law subjects I found both of these subjects quite easy. They had 4 and 6 contact hours per week respectively, and no mid-semester assessment. The assessment was also easier than at UQ, I had plenty of time to travel during the semester without being stressed about assessments. Courses have a more collaborative focus than UQ – e.g. group presentations, oral exams, classes are also smaller.
My general elective was the Danish Culture course – recommend, it comes with free excursions to some great places such as Lousiana and Frederiksborg Slot. It is also pass/fail based on attendance.

Personal experience

I had an amazing time on exchange, Copenhagen was a great city that offered captivating sights, cool bars, markets, and nice people. Everyone speaks fluent English and do not frown upon you for inability to communicate in Danish.
Having a bike as a main form of transport was a big difference to being at home. I lived 15 mins bike ride from Uni which was in the centre of town. It was very convenient for travelling with large groups and going out (cabs are very expensive, public transport is also relatively expensive).
I met some great people from all over Europe and formed some solid friendship groups early which were great for travelling. I definitely recommend being involved in the ‘Study Start week’ the Law Society runs, this is the best way to meet other students and make friends early. While travelling overseas during the exchange was fun, I definitely enjoyed actually living in Copenhagen, and discovering the beautiful city.

Accommodation

I stayed in Bispebjerg Kollegiet in Nørrebro, north of the city centre. Nørrebro is probably the best area to live, it has trendy cafes, bars, kebab street, markets, parks, I found my friends living in other areas constantly coming to my side of town to hang out.
My room was relatively small compared to other colleges, but it had a kitchenette and bathroom which was important for me. There were also common kitchens and spaces, but I found my college was a lot more independent than others.

Budget 

Copenhagen is a more expensive city than others you might be considering. Going out for dinner at restaurants is more of a luxury than the norm, buy a bike as soon as you arrive to say on public transport costs, and buying a coffee press or plunger is a good idea. A cappuccino on average costs about $7. On the other hand, drinks and phone plans are a lot cheaper than home.
I was fortunate to receive Centrelink while on exchange, this helped greatly with costs (its worth the painful admin at home to organise). I budgeted more than the UQ Abroad recommended amount and this allowed me greater flexibility than some of my peers when it came to travelling and eating out.

Professional development and employability

I enjoyed studying law electives, not offered at UQ which were more aligned with the area I wanted to practice in. I think this knowledge will definitely help when I start my graduate job in the same field.
While exchange is definitely an experience I recommend, I would consider when is the right time in your degree to go. You should be in Australia when interviews for internships or graduate jobs are happening. I think employers would look at the experience favourably in terms of life experience. I, fortunately, had a graduate job lined up prior to going overseas which was a relief.

Highlights

I did a road trip around Denmark with some friends to Odense, Aarhus, Aarlborg and Skagen. This was really fun to see other parts of Denmark, the Moesgaard Museum and ARoS Museum were particular standouts.
Norway is also a great place to visit with a big group – hiking the fjords was breathtaking and driving around the stunning country was a great experience.
Events in Copenhagen:

  • JD’s Semester Start Fest: Awesome party in a pavilion by the water, think Law Ball meets UQLS End of Semester Party
  • JD’s Jurabar (every second Friday): $2 beers, good music, drinking games
  • JD’s International Students Dinner: held at Law firm IUNO, a free event with 3-course meal and unlimited wine. Legitimately best dinner I had in Copenhagen, they had wine experts talk you through the wine, chefs present you their delicious food.

Top Tips 

  • I didn’t do the pre-semester language course. I don’t regret this. While it would have been nice to know more Danish, I think your time is better spent travelling other places, particularly if you are doing Semester 2 – its summer outside… go to enjoy it, you won’t see much of it later on. 
  • Do your hectic Europe travel before arriving in Copenhagen, being absent on weekends and during the week will make it harder to make solid friends, and it is better to travel to close by places (Iceland, Norway, Sweden etc.) with your exchange friends.
  • Danish Culture course – easiest general elective, just attend class (or write an essay) and free excursions to castles, museums etc. 
  • Nørrebro is the best neighbourhood to live in; go to Fætter Fætter (toast bar), Kösem (best kebab), Mikkelar & Friends (Beer), Meyers Bageri (cinnamon scrolls), Superklien & Assisten’s Kirkegård (parks)
  • Go to Dyrehave (deer park) in summer, its awesome, you can take a relaxing 40min bike ride or take the train (take your bike). It awesome, there are literally thousands of deer grazing around an old royal hunting lodge. 
  • If you’re a law student “Jurabar” (Friday bar at University) is heaps of fun, and cheap way to meet your friends for a drink before going out, but also a great place to stay from afternoon until midnight.
  • If I had one regret it would be not meeting more Danes. Danes are nice, but quite reserved people. Your classes will be 80% international students, joining sports teams or other extracurricular activities would be a good idea to meet Danes. I had friends that found internships or part-time work at Danish law firms and built great networks. 
Melissa - University of Copenhagen