What is it like in Denmark?
We are young. We want to live new experiences, taste other cultures, different climates and customs.
To create memories which we can look back on when we are older. While we are making these memories, we don’t think about old age, but concentrate on the people we meet, the coffees we drink, the projects we throw ourselves into with our team, a team made up of so many different individuals.
Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark and that’s where I am living. Does that sound impressive? To be honest, it only has 300,000 inhabitants ,although most Danes consider it an urban metropolis, but when I compare it with Warsaw, it actually seems a little provincial yet very friendly. All the restaurants and bars are no more than a 15 minute walk away from each other, but don’t imagine that there are only a few -the opposite is true. The small canal that winds through the city is an ideal spot for waterside pubs and clubs, where Aarhus’ students meet up every week. The nightlife carries on into the following morning and I often bump into students making their way home as I am setting off to work at 8am on a Saturday. The Danes know how to party — believe me…
At 7.10 my alarm rings and I turn it off with a sense of despair. It takes me 45 minutes to get ready and eat my breakfast and I set off for class at 8.00, since I need to be in by 8.20. I have two options for getting there: walking or using my bike. I choose according to the weather and tend to bicycle in the summer and walk in the winter. I love biking, it’s healthy, fashionable and fast. However, Aarhus is one of the few cities in Denmark with lots of hills, but a bit of exercise has never done anyone any harm.
I am puffing slightly when I dash into class after running up a flight of stairs. Most classes use the same room every week and lessons tend to revolve around debates, discussions, lectures and teamwork.
Between sessions, students have half an hour for lunch, and I love the canteen – you can eat really well for an average cost of 30 kr. There is a large number of options: toasties and sandwiches, salad bar, warm snacks and meals of the day – as well as coffee, which naturally enough is an espresso, much loved by the Danes. You should follow suit. For lunch I take a large salad, a carrot roll and hand over 38 kr. Incidentally, every floor has a water dispenser and on the rare occasions it’s out of water, then drink from the tap — it’s far better than the bottled water.
After eating I go back for the afternoon session. At 15.20 I leave for the bus stop to get into the centre of town. On the way I do a quick shop. I work as a waitress and at 16.30 we all have a meal together before my shift starts at 17.00. At 23.00 I leave for home, and by midnight I am fast asleep in my bed.
I can finally sleep in, because I start classes at 12.10, so I get up for breakfast with one of my flatmates at around 10.00. You probably wonder what halls of residence look like in Denmark, but don’t worry everyone has their own room and bathroom. Today the classes speed past, and I wonder if it’s because it’s Friday, or because the content was so interesting. Once the lecture is over, I stroll back with my friends and we decide to go to gym for an hour, before returning to halls and cooking a communal meal. We start to get ready for our night out — no heels, because the centre of town is full of cobbled streets. Danes tend to wear trainers when they go clubbing here, and I follow suit.
In general, fashion and lifestyle are very relaxed in Denmark, and you won’t often see men in suits or females tottering along on high heels. Everything is casual, so students address their tutors by their Christian names, and it’s quite common for everyone to go to a pub together after a lecture. The Danes work to live and have fun, and they do what they like and what gives them pleasure.
The action starts after midnight so we spend some time with our friends in the communal kitchen before setting off to a basement club, with a ping-pong table, a hip hop-style band called Shen Mao playing and graffiti on the walls. We go home by bus after 3.00 and I have to get up for work at 7.20.
I crawl out of bed three hours after getting into it, half dead with exhaustion. I take a cold shower, grab a snack and, by 8.00 am, I am on the bus, going to my second job — working as a cleaner in a pub restaurant.I have to finish by 11.30 when it opens its doors to customers. It’s not the greatest work, but to be honest with you, while I am studying and getting a grant, this job meets my needs and teaches me humility. I get home, have a nap and then browse the web, to get ready for next week’s assignments. In the evening, I may watch films with my friends in the halls, go for a sauna or pop into a bar. After a fantastic evening with my circle of friends from all around the world, I go home — it’s work in the morning.
And so? Are you still making up your mind?
I won’t lie to you. There will be days when you will feel tired and overworked, while acknowledging the happiness you get from being independent and self-sufficient. From doing what you want. Studying abroad is not always a smooth ride, particularly at the very beginning when you first arrive, but nothing compares to this amazing experience. There will never be a better moment to decide to study abroad than now!