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 

It’s all about the Hygge

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Simon is  studying abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark as part of his Psychology degree at Reading. Find out how he foundDanish life just a few weeks into his semester studying abroad. 

On the evening of the 18th of August I arrived in Aarhus for my exchange semester. My extremely helpful mentor picked me up from the bus station and took me to my apartment…then the non-stop action began. I dropped my stuff off, had a shower and went out to a party at my mentors’ house. It felt like a bit of a blur, but everyone was very welcoming and friendly. It was great to meet lots of Danish people on my first night, be able to ask them questions about their culture and what I must do during my time here. I didn’t know then and I’m not sure I do now, but I think that was my first experience of Hygge.

The next day came and with it brought more names, more faces and more exciting opportunities. The only difficulties I were having involved remembering people’s names and being unsure if I was spending lots of money or not much at all, it being Denmark I figured a lot. Each day seemed to bring with it a new event, always with more great people and more names to remember. I assumed that this would settle down after the first week but if anything it continued even more so. The Aarhus festival began, this happens every year and it was an amazing time to be in the city, as all over there are events happening. Music, art, dance, food… in all different venues, that could be easily located using the festival app. You downloaded this and all the English events could be searched for easily along with their location and price. Most of the events were free and it created an incredible atmosphere in the city as there were so many people out and about having a great time.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

By my third week, I had properly learnt some names, classes had begun and I thought that maybe things would be settling down a bit. I was wrong again, yet more events followed, the equivalent of our Reading Student fair in Aarhus turned out to be the equivalent of a small music festival. There were stages set up with music going on (lots of Danish rap) and an extremely organised tournament of beer bowling took place. In Aarhus they take their drinking games seriously, the tournament was even streamed onto a big screen. A lot of practice goes into preparing for them and they had umpires! Overall, it was a remarkable event completely run by students on the University grounds.

Finally, I could catch a breath, four weeks in and I felt like I was here. This was when I fully appreciated what a city Aarhus is, full of life and interesting architecture. I visited Aros, the Moesgaard museum and the deer park during this week, each unique and wonderful. I had begun to find my way around Aarhus now, but I still couldn’t remember everyone’s name!

Simon

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

The Danes certainly like to Party

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

Mona is currently studying abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark with her Psychology degree at Reading! Find out how she is settling into Danish life a few weeks into her study abroad semester.

So I’ve been in Aarhus for roughly 3 weeks now and I can tell you that by the end of the first week, I knew this was going to be the best semester, and experience of my life so far. When I arrived at Aarhus bus station, I was kindly met by my mentor who helped carry my luggage and showed me how to get the bus to my accommodation. A little while before arriving in Aarhus I was emailed and told that I had to be put into temporary accommodation as my permanent residence had water damage! But my mentor was so helpful and sorted everything out and collected my keys for me. I can safely say that the stereotype the Danes hold of being very organised, is definitely true.

After a couple of days of settling down and exploring the city, welcome week began. This week was packed full of informative lectures telling us about practical aspects of our stay, applying for my CPR number and residence certificate, meeting lots and lots of new people, some of which are now my closest friends, and several free breakfasts and lunches provided by the very generous psychology canteen. I can’t say I was particularly nervous for welcome week, more just very excited to meet some new people, learn a little more about how everything at the university worked and get stuck in! I met so many amazing people in this week and I can’t imagine it having gone any better.

University of Reading student studying abroad in Denmark for a Semester

To say that the university atmosphere is different from Reading is a massive understatement. While the university is one of the best in the world and the focus is very heavily on independent study and academia, the Danes certainly like to party, and they like to party in the university buildings… The psychology committee regularly arranges parties and events that are held in the psychology building, with portable bars and DJ decks being brought in, chairs and desks being cleared and bouncers on the door, it couldn’t have been more different to life in Reading!

The week after welcome week, classes began and I got a vague routine back, which really helped me settle down even more. As a master’s student, my classes seem very sparse, having only got 2-3 hour seminars a week however the focus is much heavier on independent study, reading before each seminar, class discussion, presentations and active participation. Although this seemed pretty daunting at first, I am finding that I am enjoying classes a lot more and learning more than I would in a one-hour seminar at home, but everyone’s different.

This past week I have moved into my permanent residence at Skejbyparken and am loving my stay in Aarhus so much so that I already don’t want to go home! I’m looking forward to exploring the city a lot more with my new found love for cycling, meeting many more people and generally making the most of my time here!

Mona