Olivia - University of Copenhagen

B. Arts / Science
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

During my time at UQ I saved my electives which allowed me a lot of flexibility when it came to choosing courses. Ultimately I ended up doing two 'exchange student courses': Danish cinema (15 ECTS) and a Danish culture course (7.5 ECTS). I also completed one chemistry subject, material chemistry (7.5 ECTS). The culture courses had very light workloads and provided great insight into the country I was living in, they also provided me with excellent opportunities to meet other exchange students, so I would recommend saving your electives so you can do these.

In terms of the science university system, it was quite different. Subjects only run for half a semester so instead of completing four subjects at a time you are only doing two but with the same contact hours. Additionally, classes are only around 15 people for the whole course. This meant I spent a lot of time and focus on only one subject which was quite different. The most difficult part about the university system was their love for oral exams. Having never completed one I was quite unsure of what to expect, luckily my professors were great and guided me through the whole thing.

Personal experience

Exchange helped me grow as a person monumentally. Travelling overseas and living by myself for the first time forced me to rely only on myself and taught me that I could be independent. I was lucky enough to spend nearly half my exchange travelling and got to explore places I could only have dreamed of, while making the most amazing friends.

The only regret I have is not learning Danish. Since the Danes speak such amazing English (and they're happy to) its quite easy to get complacent, like I did.

Accommodation

The University of Copenhagen cannot provide accommodation due to a local law, therefore everyone had to apply through housing the Housing Foundation. Unfortunately, this is a for-profit business, which meant exchange students do not get a cheap deal. Everything from the rent to cleaning fees is inflated and since finding housing on your own is near impossible (friends who decided to do this lived in Airbnb's for months), it's a necessary evil. I lived in Base Camp, a student dorm in the middle of the city. The local was perfect as everything was within a very short bike ride distance, though you certainly had to pay for the luxury. Don't underestimate the cost of Danish housing.

Budget

Expenses in Denmark are similar to Australia, with some things being more expensive and some cheaper. Transport obviously will be your biggest money saver as you can buy a second-hand bike and then sell it for nearly the same price when you leave.

Food can be quite expensive as their supermarkets are very small and do not have the variety of brand choices so often times there is one brand and one price.

The biggest killer was obviously accommodation, this cost nearly $8000 simply because the Housing Foundation makes you pay the whole 6 months, not just during the semester when you actually live there.

I would budget more for Copenhagen than recommended just so you don't spend your whole time budgeting and missing opportunities because you can't afford them, which happened to many people I knew.

Professional development and employability

I think my exchange has enabled me to grow significantly as a person and taught me so many valuable skills. From the basics, like how to navigate a metro to the more complicated like communicating to people who speak little English to get your flight fixed. Every step of the way I learnt to be more adaptable, more open-minded and more organised and I have no doubt that these skills will be a huge marketing factor when I enter the professional workplace.

Highlight

It is impossible to pick a highlight. I enjoyed every single day of my exchange, from all the travelling to the study. I visited places I never expected and did things I always wanted (sea kayaking, cliff diving, and a polar plunge just to name a few), I even got to visit Santa in the north pole. Even the bad experiences turned out to be highlights, as they would either teach me something new or turn into a funny story (like the time I got lost in the Danish forest at 3am).

Top tips

  • Save your electives, it opens your options and makes subject selection a breeze.
  • Save, Save, Save. Take more money than you think you'll need, because I guarantee at some point you'll want it.
  • Try to learn the language, this is the only thing I regret.
  • Travel wherever and whenever possible. Ryan air makes weekend trips so easy!
  • Start planning as early as possible, I started planning months out and it made it so much less stressful.