Athena - Copenhagen Business School

Bachelor of Business Management/Arts
Semester 1, 2018
Exchange was a truly amazing, fast-paced experience enjoyed with people from around the world who felt more like family than friends. The friends I made while on exchange are by far the best souvenir from my time overseas!

Academic experience

During my time at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) I studied 4 business subjects all in English. These included Emerging Markets-Societies in Transition, Global Supply Chain Management, International Business in Asian Markets and International Business Law. As these classes are especially targeted for exchange students, the sign-on process is fairly competitive so I would recommend being online at the time the sign-ons open in order to get your first preferences. Overall, I enjoyed my academic experience throughout my semester at CBS. Although the course content is very theory-orientated I found the information and workload manageable. CBS also has 4 main campuses located throughout Frederiksberg which makes for an enjoyable walk/ride between classes. I also found it very convenient that all the courses only have one 100% exam at the end of the quarter they are taught in, which allowed me to travel and socialize for the majority of my time abroad. In terms of the difficulty of the exams, I found them to be of the same level as at UQ, however they do have quite different formats. Unlike at UQ, the exams at CBS take the form of an oral conversation with your lecturer, a 4 hour computer-written exam or an at-home assignment. One difficulty I faced with regard to these exams was that for the online-exams you had to travel to a examination hall not on the CBS campus and had to arrive quite early to learn how to use the computer settings etc, but you get used to it fast enough. Lastly, the main campus Solbjerg Plads (SP) turns into a night club every Thursday night, where everyone goes to dance and drink together. This was definitely one of the highlights of my exchange in Denmark!

Personal experience

Deciding to partake in exchange was the best decision I have made in my life so far! Although it was a bit daunting at first to travel alone to a county on the other side of the world which I knew nothing about, with no close friends or family nearby, from my first day I found myself surrounded by amazing, friendly people from all over the world in the exact same situation as me. The friends I made in Denmark are by far the best souvenir from my exchange! I now have great friends in countries throughout the world, especially in Latin America where my closest friends were from. The Danes themselves, although a bit more reserved than most people, are such kind and polite people when you get to know them. Every Dane I met was fluent in English and obsessed with the notion of Hygge, which is essentially a sense of coziness created/enjoyed in the company of friends and family. Denmark is also a very conveniently located country, from which you can travel to many European and Scandinavian countries, either by bus or plane, for quite cheap. In fact, during my 6 months abroad I ended up visiting 23 countries! Denmark itself, is a very safe and clean country with many beautiful places to see. My favourite place was Møns Klint which is a 6km stretch of breath-taking, white-chalk cliffs. I also enjoyed searching for the Six Forgotten Giants in Copenhagen and spending time at the beautiful parks which were abundant with birds, greenery and castles. Aside from this, the nightlife is great as there are many nearby clubs/bars. However, although my exchange was amazing I did initially face a huge culture shock. In Denmark, the main form of transportation is bicycle (although I never bought one due to the wind), it is very very cold and windy the majority of the year which can become depressing (I did not come prepared and got sick a lot), the medical system is quite different, buildings are quite small and people smoke in many clubs/bars, all shop products are labelled and described only in Danish, everything is quite expensive to buy and you have to pay for a coat check at all the clubs and bars which cost me quite a bit of money. Regardless of this, the positives of Denmark far outweighed the negatives and the personal skills I have developed from my exchange include an increased openness to new cultures, experiences and conditions!

Accommodation

I was fortunate enough to get a room at a CBS accommodation called Porcelaenshaven (PH). The sign-up process for CBS accommodation however, is very competitive and I had a few friends who missed out and had to search for places further away from CBS, so I recommend being online as soon as accommodation selection opens. In my room at PH I had my own kitchen, Wi-Fi, cooking utensils, bed sheets and towels and a shared bathroom with the girl next door. Although there were many great CBS accommodations I really loved living at PH as it was conveniently located next to all the CBS campuses, the metro stops, local supermarkets and right next to the beautiful Frederiksberg Gardens. The only downside of PH was that it was perhaps not optimum for socializing as there was a common room on the bottom floor but it had to be booked in advance and had many conditions, so was barely used. Instead, we usually went to party at another CBS accommodation called Nimbus which was 5 minutes walk away. This accommodation had 4 shared kitchens/lounge-rooms on each floor and was more ideal for socializing however, was consequently more noisy and messy, so the best accommodation really depends on personal preference. PH additionally had a laundry on the bottom floor, a kitchen accessible to all CBS student on the 1st floor and was right next to the international office. All the CBS accommodations are also located quite close to the airport by metro and you can sign up to have a CBS buddy who will pick you up from the airport when you first arrive which makes life a bit easier.

Costs

Exchange in Copenhagen is expensive! Denmark is one of the most expensive countries in the world even if you live the budget lifestyle. My accommodation alone was around $7000 for 5 months, transport by metro was about $20 a week (alternatively you could buy a bike, helmet, lights, lock etc.), a return flight was $2000 from Brisbane, there are coat checks and entry fees at most clubs and eating out should only be done on rare occasions ($$$). Having said this, grocery costs are almost the same as in Australia and travel to nearby European countries is quite cheap especially if done by bus (Flixbus etc.). To finance my exchange I was fortunate enough to receive the OS-HELP Loan of $6000 and an academic exchange scholarship of $3000. In total I would recommend you budget around $17,000 for the semester if you plan to travel between countries during your exchange, but it can be done on more or less.

Professional Development

During my exchange I had the time of my life trying so many new things! Skills I have developed from this experience include an increased independence,  increased cultural awareness and increased responsibility. It doesn't matter if you are sick, tired or short on cash when you are on exchange, you still have to cook, clean, study and shop for yourself everyday. It's definitely exhausting at times and teaches you how to be much less reliant on your parents. Meeting and communicating with people from different cultures everyday also really broadens your understanding and knowledge of the world outside Australia. During my exchange I learnt words and phrases in Spanish, Danish, French and German, learnt about and tasted many different cultural dishes, attempted various dancing styles and experienced so many cultural shocks within and outside Denmark. Hearing about other students home-towns at times made me feel very grateful for my lifestyle in Australia and at other times made me feel like I was really missing out on some aspects of life. Consequently, I have now tried to adopt these different social and cultural aspects into my lifestyle in Australia, which has really helped me grow as a person and enjoy life to the fullest. Lastly, booking and organizing events/travels and communicating with various companies, organisations, and professionals throughout my trip has really helped to improve my responsibility and inter-personal skills. In summary, I feel that exchange has really contributed to my professional development as I am now more engaged with and aware of the world around me.

Highlight

There was no single event that was the highlight of my experience abroad. Instead, the highlight of my exchange was the everyday adventures I had with my friends in Denmark. I really enjoy socializing, exercise and trying new things and I got to do all these things daily in Copenhagen. It was like a dream come true. Nearly every night we would go to a party or to socialise and dance and then end up on a crazy adventure such as meeting all the palace guards at a club or playing basketball until 5am. During the day, we would also take day trips all around Copenhagen to theme-parks, beaches, festivals, castles and danish bakeries. We of course made time to study in between these adventures but it was truly an unforgettable experience with people who felt more like family than friends.

Top tips

The advice I would give to anyone considering exchange at CBS is DO IT! It's a once in a lifetime adventure which is especially unique, in that, everyone their is in the same stage of life and situation as you. Copenhagen is an especially safe and lively city which has much to offer to university students. However, be open-minded and prepared to have your view of the world broadened. Also save lots of money before hand as its quite expensive and finally, as Copenhagen's weather is quite different from Brisbane's (cold, grey and windy for the majority of the year) it may feel quite depressing sometimes but if you just try your best to surround yourself with friends its always a good time regardless.