My name is Michelle Vassiliou and I arrived in Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark a week before semester started, making Ikea a Scandinavian priority on day one! I’m doing one semester at Arkitektskolen Aarhus (The Aarhus School of Architecture). From the first day the school was really great. This was the first semester they have had a mentoring program, where every exchange student was assigned a mentor, a student already studying at the school. The group of mentors have continuously organised different events and made it really easy to get to know the school and of course, where to go out. The events they have organised have been things like pub crawls and international food nights where we had to bring food from our home countries. The four of us Aussies had fairy bread, pavlova and ANZAC biscuits… the concept of fairy bread really confused people but they were willing to try. Traditional Danish food includes Rye bread and pickled Herring…. I whimped out and didn’t try it, my roommates did though and survived.
For anyone keen to study here, be aware it’s very different!!!! Its at a much slower pace, and really requires a lot of self motivation and independence. Every student gets their own large desk and lamp, so you stay in the same studio with your class for the whole semester, it’s really nice, especially as the tutors come to you! The only thing that gets a big frustrating is that sometimes lecturers will forget and not speak English (normally someone has the guts to bring this to their attention though). The facilities at the school are great, with 24hr access to the lasercutter and workshops, and an architectural supplies store on campus (you will spend too much money, they have a few different varieties, of everything an architecture student could ever dream of…). A weird thing to mention, but the library is absolutely beautiful as well. It is a whole library full of architecture books, with huge beanbags and the architectural Lego collection to play with if you feel like it.
It is a really nice change from Sydney, where the commute for me is fairly long, almost everything here is at the most a ten minute walk away! Most people here ride bikes everywhere, its crazy! This really contributes to a change of pace, but by no means makes Arhus boring. It’s so fun to walk down the small cobblestone streets, especially when it’s snowing! It is however quiet strange walking through these small streets to find stores like Marc Jacobs pop up. I was told Aarhus was a destination for the keen shopper and I understand why, there are crazy good shops here, and everything seems of top quality too.
Arhus also has a fantastic contemporary art gallery, aRos, which has a very impressive collection, including a very cool video art space and an amazing work by Olafur Eliasson on the top that gives you a, very colourful, 360 degree view of the city. Friends I have taken there have all agreed it is the most impressive contemporary art gallery that we have experienced.
Another cool thing Aarhus has is Den Gamble By (The Old Town), its an open air museum of the urban history of Denmark, where you can walk through this reconstructed old village, showing three different times, life in the 1800s, the 1920s and the 1970s. A few of the buildings also have real stores in them, which is pretty fun, selling old lollies, pastries and vinyls for example.
In terms of spending money, groceries here are around a third of the price of that in Sydney, which is a lifesaver, although to buy a take-away cup of coffee expect to pay anywhere around the equivalent of $8. I bought a Nespresso Machine second week in! Also, going out for dinner here is quiet expensive, but there are heaps of really great places! The bars are awesome as well, you would be spoiled for choice. One really popular place (mind you I can’t pronounce ANY of them), we call it the Ping Pong Bar, is a grungy club with a ping pong table at the back, where you can buy a racket from the bar and at the start of a new game everybody walks around the table hitting the ball back and forth, if you miss you’re out. Imagine everybody drinking while playing this and its just another quirky moment in Aarhus…
Annnnyways, Aarhus is great, its only now just starting to get warm, and so there are LOTS more people walking around, to be honest we couldn’t figure out what was strange about the place until we realised what was missing, the people! As Spring starts, everyone is getting excited, and most students are looking forward to Northside, a huge 3 day music festival than happens right in the middle of the city!!! Some of the highlights from the lineup include the Arctic Monkeys, Band of Horses, Portishead, The Flaming Lips, Pheonix, Modest Mouse and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds…. !!!!!!
Anyways thats it from me, any questions about Aarhus feel free to ask!
Michelle Vassiliou (Bachelor of Design in Architecture).