Just the start of Studying Abroad in Denmark

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Lewis has just moved to Denmark to start his study abroad Semester at Aarhus University as part of his English Language and Literature degree at Reading. Just a week or so in, read on to find out how he’s getting on!

Aarhus has recently been declared the cultural capital of Europe, and this is evident in the mass portrayal and acceptance of many different countries cuisine. This is apparent in the Aarhus “street food” market which contains all different types of food, ranging from ‘Jamaican Jerk Chicken’, ‘Mexican Burritos’, ‘Chinese Duck’, curries and French Crepes. This is a really wide variety of food that shows the wealth of culture present in Aarhus. But to top off this creativity the whole market is built inside an un-used bus station. The stalls themselves are built and set up inside old ship yard containers. This means the theme of the Aarhus “street food” market is to not only re-cycle but to re-use old things and provide back for the public. The food as well was really cheap about 30 krona which exchanges to roughly £3.00. This makes it an ideal place for a student to grab a quick and easy lunch and when you are done, you have to wipe your own table with the disinfectant and towels dotted around the seating area.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

This is me outside my house in Denmark, the houses here have a cottage feel as they are small and are packed with essentials from the university such as pans, plates, cutlery to chopping boards and cups. I did not need to buy anything apart from food as it was all provided by the University! It’s not as cold as you think it is here, all though many will disagree but if you come prepared like I did by bringing a thermal coat, hat and scarf you can easily survive the cold weather. There are many nationalities that come to Aarhus to study but in my house I have 2 Canadians, one Australian and one American. So the university put me with fellow English speaker which made it easier to talk and joke with each other.

My lectures at the university were not what I was expecting. I thought I would be in a class of all international students, and this belief was further enforced by the fact my lecture was in English, so I assumed the class of 24 students in my literature course had different nationalities and they were learning in the common language of English. So when I got put in a group I asked them if they were German as I heard them speaking to each other. They looked at me shocked and one of them said “no, we are Danish”. I was, and still am, shocked to learn that I was in a Danish majority English Literature class, with only 4 other international students. The fact the students were all conversing with the lecturer in English for an English literature module shows the high level of language skills many of the Danish actually possess.

This is a short blog of my time so far in Denmark, I have only been here for one week but I have already learnt so much about the culture of Denmark and its history. I expect I will learn much more in my weeks to come.

Lewis

Whirlwind end to Study Abroad

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Ellis is studied abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Psychology degree at Reading. Although Christmas seems a long time ago already, he looks back on the end of his semester abroad. 

My last month of studying abroad has been a whirlwind; as I approach the end of term and the holiday season, I’ve been overwhelmed by an array of social and academic activities.

Christmas seemed to start early in Denmark, with the holiday season being marked by the release of the Christmas beer (which happens on the first day of November). From this point onwards, you could see the arrival of the Christmas market and can expect to receive invitations to traditional Danish Christmas dinners. I had no idea what to expect from a traditional Christmas dinner, all I was told is to bring my own dish and expect to get very drunk… At these dinners, there was an array of different foods: meatballs, pickled cabbage, fish, potatoes and breads, to name a few. For desert, it was a kind of rice pudding with a twist – in the large bowl of pudding was a single, whole almond. Whoever found the almond first would win a prize, but the only way to find the almond was to eat all the rice pudding. Everyone was desperately polishing of their plates and asking for another, keen to find this sacred almond – it was rather amusing! Another key feature of this tradition was ‘Schnapps’. This is a strong alcohol that everyone shots throughout the evening; by the end of the dinner everyone feels so bloated and drunk. But alas, the evening is not complete without playing different games and dancing off all the calories that have been consumed earlier. To sum it up, it was a fulfilling (mentally and physically) tradition, with plenty of laughter and some great company – which can only be described as ‘hygge’.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

As December arrived and the end of term approached, I was set all my university assignments. For each of my three classes I was required to write a 3000 word essay based on the material covered throughout the term. What I liked about these assignments was that the subject of the essay was relatively flexible – you could choose to write about whatever interested you most that term.  This is something which I hadn’t previously been able to do in my degree, and I really liked this as it allowed you to develop your own interest further and come up with original and creative ideas.

Although the end of term was a lot of fun, I was hit by one of the hardest things about studying abroad: saying goodbye. Over the past 4 months I had met the most amazing people and had unforgettable experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Facing reality and leaving it all behind was emotional. I knew that my friends were all going back to different parts of the world and that I wouldn’t be able to see them again as easily as just hoping on the number 13 bus. However, I found solace in the quote: ‘don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened’.

Ellis

Missed Ellis’ first blog post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2jzJBF1

Learning Danish on the Football Pitch

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Simon is studied abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Psychology degree at Reading. It’s been a while since his semester abroad ended at Christmas, but here’s his final blog post from his study abroad experience. 

The 18th of November started much the same as any other day; I woke up, had breakfast and brushed my teeth. I sat down, opened up my laptop and ping an email arrived from Study Abroad with the subject, ‘Coming to an end’. Time had flown by and this email began the long goodbye.

The next few weeks were full of work, goodbyes, Christmas celebrations and promises to stay in touch. A particular highlight was the Julefrokost (Christmas party) with my football team. One of the first things I did when I arrived in Aarhus was to sign up for the university football team. I knew this would be a great opportunity to meet lots of people and get a closer insight into Danish life. It was everything I’d hoped for. Almost everyone on my team was Danish, there were only two international students including me! This meant that everyone spoke Danish all the time. It was difficult at first, although they would easily translate for me. However, by the end of my stay I could (pretty much) understand what was being discussed in the tactics and knew basic phrases to use during games. I was trying to learn Danish in class, but I’m sure I picked up more of the language on the football pitch!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

At the end of the season we had a Julefrokost, which is a traditional Danish Christmas party. This consists of an extremely long meal and copious amounts of schnapps (one of the worst drinks I’ve tried).  It was brilliant and incredibly Danish. The first dish consisted of pickled herring, curry salad and of course rye bread. Each person had to stand up, give a speech and then afterwards everyone had a shot of schnapps. Bearing in mind that there were 30 people at this event it’s safe to say my memory blurs towards the end of the night. The overriding feeling at the end of the night was a sense of friendship and gratitude that they had welcomed me into their traditions so readily.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

More Christmas parties and more goodbyes followed. This was interspersed with the need to try and do some work to make my deadlines. Aarhus is a beautiful city in general; around Christmas it becomes even more alive, draped in Christmas trees and lights. I tried to fit in all the sights before I left, saw my first Handball game and celebrated the Danish Queen. Then, the last week came around. This was a difficult week, as each day another friend would leave for a different country. I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to study in Aarhus and meet so many different people. I would encourage anyone if they get the chance to study abroad to take it. I now feel that I have contacts all throughout the world that I hope to make use of at some point!

Simon

Missed Simon’s last blog post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2klUzum

The Academic & Travel side of Denmark

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Ellis studied abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Psychology degree at Reading. Mid-way through his semester abroad he updated us on all his adventures abroad. 

2 months in and I am fully settled into my new life in Denmark, and feel I have got to grips with the secret of the Danes perpetual happiness (the key being a good work-life balance). My experiences so far continue to surpass my expectations, and leave me feeling enriched both academically and socially.

With regards to academic side of studying abroad, I have adapted well – I now know what to except from a Danish University, and conversely what is expected of me as an exchange student. Student-led seminars are a significant part of the curriculum, with students being expected to prepare interactive presentations for the rest of the class based on set readings. This style of teaching fosters critical insight, initiative and independence – a skill which I have developed more rapidly under these circumstances. Needless to say, the content of the seminars are also very interesting – studying abroad in Denmark has allowed me to study modules outside of what would normally be offered in Reading, e.g. I am studying modules in interdisciplinary perspectives on digital culture, social aspects of memory, and moral psychology. What I like most about the academic style in Denmark is that there is the opportunity to steer the direction of learning according to each individuals personal interests. End of term assessments consist of three nine-page essays (one per module), with the content of the essay being entirely up to the individual, as long as it’s related to the overall theme of the module (of course it needs to be approved beforehand by a teacher, but there is great flexibility).

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

As well as being engrossed in my studies, I have also had time to explore Denmark and a neighbouring Scandinavian country. During the half-term break, my friends and I spent 5 days visiting Stockholm and Malmö in Sweden. We spent a lot of time doing the usual tourist-orientated activities: sightseeing, visiting galleries, trying different cuisine, shopping, sampling the nightlife. Both cities we visited were spectacular, and had rich cultural and historical backgrounds. The only downside was that there wasn’t nearly enough time to do everything we wanted! However, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and would recommend to anyone who is looking for a vibrant city break.

To conclude, studying abroad in Denmark has opened doors to a range of different opportunities which I would never have been able to do had I stayed in Reading. I often remind myself how glad I am that I took advantage of this opportunity.

Ellis

Missed Ellis’ first blog post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2jzJBF1

Discovering aebleskiver and final goodbyes!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Mona studied abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark with her Psychology degree at Reading! After 4 months abroad she returned to Reading in January and this post looks back on the end of her semester abroad. 

After the best 4 months on my semester abroad in Aarhus, Denmark, I am now back in England and back at University. I have settled into my lovely new home and am looking forward to completing my degree within the next 2 terms and getting a real job! Even though my semester abroad in Aarhus is over, it will play a great role in my future. I have already been to a job interview and mentioned it which played out as a great talking point and really got them interested in what I did there and what I learnt.

The last few weeks at Aarhus consisted of visiting all the places we hadn’t yet visited, visiting all the places we enjoyed gain and sadly, a lot of goodbyes. As I left Aarhus in December, it was looking especially festive at the time. The main high street had been endowed with over half a million Christmas lights and one of the main department stores was covered in Christmas lights and had been wrapped up as a present with a giant bow! There were several different small Christmas markets dotted around the city centre, selling roasted almonds that filled the streets with a sweet Christmassy smell, handmade gifts and lots of little Danish Christmas decorations. It was very cute. To add to the Christmas feel, a couple of friends and I headed over to Copenhagen for a spontaneous visit to go to the Christmas markets! There were several markets, many of which were selling the traditional, and delicious Danish dessert, Aebleskiver. These are traditional Danish pancakes that taste a bit like a doughnut and are served with icing sugar and jam. They’re delicious!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

While I visited many cities and countries on my semester abroad, I will always consider Aarhus my favourite place. I learnt a great deal on my semester abroad including developing my independence further, learning about and adapting to living in a new culture, and learnt a lot about high taxes! I also made some amazing and lifelong friends from countries all over the world and would encourage anyone who is considering studying abroad, to just go for it! I remember I was a bit hesitant at the beginning and couldn’t decide whether to go or not but I can’t be any happier with my decision. It has been the best 4 months of my life and the best experience so far. For anyone considering studying at Aarhus University I would definitely do it. The university is very highly ranked within Denmark and for me, had a wonderful psychology department and a very interesting program. The city centre is small but there are always things going on, there are very cheap links to Copenhagen and the neighbouring Scandinavian countries and it is no doubt, very cosy and hygge. I loved it! Thank you study abroad!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Mona

Missed Mona’s last post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2jvAEbB

TEDx Aarhus surpassed expectations!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Simon is studied abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Psychology degree at Reading. Since moving to Denmark at the end of August, he’s made the most of living in the heart of Scandinavia. Read on to find out what he’s been up to since his last blog post

I am now over halfway through my Semester Study Abroad and my appreciation for Aarhus and Scandinavian culture has only grown since I have been here. Each day is full of different experiences and opportunities and I will mention a few worthy ones here.

For the first time the city of Aarhus was hosting a TEDx event. Tickets were at a premium but we were quick on the refresh button and managed to get some. It’s fair to say that I like TED talks and the idea behind them, in order to spread current ideas, so I had high expectations. These expectations were comfortably surpassed. The talks took place in the middle of Tivoli, the theme park in Aarhus. There were 12 talks in total all completely different, yet all based loosely around the ‘To the Moon and Back’ theme. It was a great experience to hear ideas from all different fields, from catering, business, neuroscience and from a person who was on the shortlist of 200 people to go and try to live on Mars. He was talking about why he would give up his life on earth to go and start a new one on Mars! If you wished to talk more about the topics discussed by the speakers, then you could go to the ferris wheel and get put in a booth with some strangers to discuss. This shortly ended up just being a nice way to meet people and chat. If the 12  different speakers and theme park weren’t enough, we were given copious amounts of cake and then at the end of the night served Tapas and Wine. The speakers came to chat amongst everyone and enjoy the food, drink, music and Hygge.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Halfway through the Semester we had a one-week fall break. We thought that this would be a great opportunity to explore further afield. We decided to go on a trip to Norway and Sweden. The first place we went to was Bergen, an incredibly beautiful city. Our hostel was set on the side of a small mountain, looking down onto Bergen, giving us incredible views. There were 7 of us in Bergen and close-by is a famous mountain called Trolltunga. The group was split about whether to attempt to climb or not as we were on the cusp of the ‘Danger of Death’ warning. However, we met a couple of people who had climbed it the day before and we became set on our mission. We booked up a cozy log cabin close to the base of Trolltunga and set out on the bus. The views on the bus journey of the Norwegian scenery were incredible and it made me excited about the climb! We had to leave at 5am in order to make our bus the next day so the first part we climbed in the dark. However, when the Sun came up, the views were breath-taking and despite the cold wind you had to just stop and admire them. Thankfully we all made it in one piece in time for our bus back and had an experience we will never forget!

Simon

Travelling through Scandinavia: Aarhus & Beyond

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Mona studied abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark with her Psychology degree at Reading! Mid-way through her semester abroad she updated us with all her adventures. Read on to find out more!

Aarhus is beautiful. I am now just over half way through my semester abroad in Aarhus, Denmark and I must say, nothing has disappointed. My experience so far has been amazing and I’m now focusing on making the most of my last month or so here before heading back to Reading. So, what have I been doing since my last blog post?

Well I can safely say I’ve fully explored the small, cosy, cute, friendly city that is Aarhus, and some of the surrounding cities and countries! And I must say, I’ve experienced my fair share of hygge. Now hygge doesn’t have a direct translation into English but the closest translation would be a feeling of cosiness, defined by an evening of candles and great company (and often food), but even a city can feel hygge, and Aarhus definitely does, especially now it’s getting colder and Christmas lights are on!

So not too long after my last blog post, I had some friends from home, and not long after, family came to visit which was great, and allowed me to show people around and explore the city even more. Aarhus has everything! It’s a coastal city with incredible sandy beaches, a cosy atmosphere, a city feel and scenic forests surrounding it. What more could you wish for while living abroad? Some of the most beautiful places include Den Gamle By (the cities old town), ARoS (the cities art museum with the famous rainbow panorama) and the deer park which is situated in the forest, by the beach where deer are free roaming and you can feed them! I’ve been 5 times…

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

A couple of weeks after, it was half term and I wanted to make the most of my time living abroad. Having never travelled to Scandinavia before, I was keen to explore the other Scandinavian countries and planned a trip with a group of friends to travel around Norway and Sweden. We started off in Copenhagen which is a beautiful city with so much to see, travelled then to Bergen in Norway (the gateway to the fjords), then on to Oslo, followed by Stockholm and Malmö in Sweden. This trip was incredible! Norway is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited, with the most incredible scenery, especially the fjords, and Sweden’s capital Stockholm was amazing! Now the highlight of this trip was definitely our adventure in Bergen, Norway, in which we stayed for one night in a cabin in the woods in the tiny village of Odda, to then begin our 11 hour hike up a mountain very early the next morning. The aim of this hike was to reach a point named ‘Trolltunga’ meaning Troll’s tongue in Norwegian, which is a piece of rock jutting horizontally out of a mountain about 700 metres above a lake, and it’s safe to say it was the most breath-taking view you could imagine.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

I think it’s safe to say I am making the most of my time here in Aarhus and now to make the most of the time left!

Mona

Missed Mona’s first post? Catch up here: http://bit.ly/2dysoVG 

The local Danish insight to Aarhus

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Full Academic Year

Laurence is studying abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Economics degree at Reading. He’ll be adapting to Danish living for the full academic year. Read on to find out how he’s getting on. 

Admittedly before looking to study abroad, I didn’t know too much about Denmark past Copenhagen and their leading happiness ratings, but after the first few weeks living and exploring Aarhus the experience has made me want to learn and see everything the country has to offer!

Arriving in Aarhus for the first time was a great first experience for me, the city has just been appointed the European culture capital for 2017, and it really shows with the mix of modern and old on each street. Walking around aimlessly with new flatmates and figuring out where to go was great fun, although you’ll quickly find out that cycling is the way forward here! All the main roads have dedicated cycle paths which are very safe to use, and the lanes leading into the city centre have displays to show how many people have cycled into town this year and on the day. It’s a cool thing to see and makes you feel a little better each time you don’t cheat by using the bus! The first place we explored as a group was the ARoS art museum, featuring a wide variety of art pieces and types across the floors and topped off with the ‘rainbow panorama’ installed on the roof. It was as good as any of the bug museums in London, and the panorama gave a colourful view of the beautiful city I’d be staying in for the year.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Full Academic Year

The university put on a welcoming week of activities and information giving which was incredibly useful and reassuring, I felt a lot more confident in what I was doing when people and professors from the local community share their experience and tips to making the most of the city and also helped to fill out the necessary paperwork making the process really easy and making sure there would be no problems during the stay. I knew that the university had a big international population, and I could really see this when we were split into groups of students from all other the world stretching from Japan to Canada! The mentors who worked with our group were two former students who were honestly amazing at creating a friendly atmosphere for all of us to get to know each other and would show us their own personal favourite places around Aarhus. It was a great way to start to get friendly with people having their own unique adventure, and between this and welcoming flatmates you can feel like you already know a great group of people even before the first lecture.

So far all the small differences have been my favourite thing to experience such as learning Danish, cycling everywhere or even just seeing England as the subject of holiday ads, and it feels exciting! I am surrounded by stuff that is new to me; a journey in any direction from my residence could mean finding something that keeps my time here fresh, and I don’t think this will stop any time soon.

Laurence

 

Hello Aarhus Denmark!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Full Academic Year
Gracia is currently studying abroad at Aarhus University with Chemistry degree at Reading. Already coming to the end of her first semester in Denmark, read on to find out how she settled into the social and academic side of her year abroad. 

So it’s now been 15 weeks since I moved to Denmark and it’s typically me writing a welcome to my study abroad experience so late, but better late than never! So what can I say I’ve enjoyed about my trip so far.

Let’s start from the beginning, I arrived on August 24th 2016. I flew straight to Aarhus from London, which was surprisingly not long at all. Here’s me thinking I would have time on the plane to cry, reflect, get excited and prepare myself for the year to come. But no! The flight was 1 hour and 40 minutes and in a blink of an eye. Hello, Aarhus Denmark.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Full Academic Year

So the next few days were the intro days and I used these days to explore the town, meet new other exchange students and get familiar with the University. Each international student were assigned a mentor to help them settle in which was great help because I had a ton of questions. Luckily for me the weather was beautiful which was shocking because prior to coming everyone had warned me about how cold it was going to be but for the first few months it was sunny everyday so I saw Aarhus in its true form. I managed to buy a bike during my first few weeks because it’s definitely the most practical way of travelling around Denmark and the great thing was that we were able to go to the beach practically every day and also visit some amazing Danish landscapes. All the houses are brightly coloured (at one point I felt like I was in an episode of Balamory), but I loved how unique and quirky the houses were. Everyone that I met were super nice and friendly they don’t lie when the say Denmark is the happiest country in the world. Which made me comfortable and excited for this new chapter in my life.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Full Academic Year

 

It wasn’t long before I was introduced to the famous concept of “Friday bars”. Each Friday from afternoon to late evening each academic departments set up bars in a big room, canteen or even classroom in the building and sell beer, soft drinks and a never ending game of beer pong (I never realised how competitive this game was until saw Danes play against each other). They are really cool bars because both students and lecturers from that department are able to socialise, the prices are inexpensive, thanks to the student volunteers. But on the 9th of September, Denmark’s largest Friday bar was held in the University Park, with special themed bars, activities and 2 massive stages with popular Danish music artist it was definitely one of my highlights so far.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Full Academic Year

Regarding my education, I am now well into my Chemistry Project in the Group of Prof. Troels Skrydstrup working on synthesising metal-salen derivatives. At first I was a bit overwhelmed but I am now so happy and comfortable working in the lab and learning a lot from the other students around me.

Finally, so far I have met some amazing people and have had such an good time in Aarhus and I am excited to do more exploring and see what the next few months has in store for me!

Gracia

In the Happiest Place in the World

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Ellis is currently studying abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Psychology degree at Reading. Read on to find out how he is settling into his new home in Denmark for his study abroad semester. 

After hearing that Denmark was ranked one of the happiest places to live in the world, my decision to study there for my term abroad became an easy choice; and my experiences so far have not disappointed.

I arrived in the late summer, and was greeted warmly by my mentor and, somewhat surprisingly, the climate – as I was told it was normally a lot colder for the time of year. After being shown to my dorm, I met the Danes I would be living with for the next 4 months and I instantly felt welcomed.

The next week was ‘introductory week’, 5 days filled with an array of activities which would get me to grips with Danes, Danish culture and academic life. During this week I met people from all over the world, and I can now say I have friends from France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Canada, USA and Australia. I learnt a lot about what it means to be Danish, and their fondness for the term ‘hygge’ (something which roughly translates to ‘cosiness’ or ‘good-times’). Without a doubt my first week involved a lot of ‘hygge’ – celebrations galore, I attended some fabulous parties, held by the university and friends alike. Soon after I became aware of the Danish fondness for beer – you could literally get beer anywhere (even on campus there are beer taps) and at a very affordable price!

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

However, my time in Denmark hasn’t solely been partying and drinking beer. The week after introductory week, was festival week – a vibrant event taking over the city centre with art, entertainment, music, food and culture. I attended free concerts in the park, tried some of the finest Scandinavian cuisine and even watched an extravagant African dance show. During the week I also managed to squeeze in a trip to ARoS, Aarhus’ Art Museum, which showcased some famous artists work, and not forgetting the breathtaking rainbow panorama at the top – which had the most spectacular views of the city. It truly was an emotive experience, and I could’ve spent hours staring out of each coloured-glass panel. To sum up the week, there was something for everyone, whatever the interest.

After the excitement of the first couple of weeks, class began to start and I was somewhat dubious about what to expect from an international institution. However, my doubts soon faded away as I noticed the relaxed teaching style: classes involved teacher led-discussions based on set texts, which were broken up by cake-breaks – yep, each week one person was responsible for bringing in cakes for all the class to eat (a strong motivator to attend class to say the least).

So overall, I can confidently say I am having the most amazing time with the most interesting group of friends – and I’m looking forward to what the rest of this experience has in store!

Ellis