What’s not to love about the happiest country in the world?
Denmark is filled with gorgeous people who cycle everywhere, eat lots of liquorice, drink a ton of Tuborg and Carlsberg beer and they pay a heap of tax for free education and health. I am definitely going to love studying at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus.
After travelling around Europe for a month I arrived at my new home. It is Denmark’s second largest city and is located in Jutland. It sounds like it would be a huge place but compared to European standards it feels like a quaint non-tourist kind of place. After living out of a 20kg Kathmandu backpack for what felt like a lifetime, I was very excited to call Aarhus home.
The university provided us with accommodation. I am living in Vilh. Kiers Kollegium where I have my own room and share a kitchen/common room with 14 other people. There are only one other international student on my level so the kitchen is a great way to meet Danish students. It is nice to have my own space with my bedroom, bathroom and study but then share a communal space as well. Each housing complex is different so some of my international class mates share a contained apartment with just one other person. Though dorm parties or dinners are a fantastic way to make friends.
Before coming to Denmark, I was told the Danes are a reserved bunch of people. They will always be polite and friendly, but if you want to get to know a Dane, you might need to make the first move. Ask a couple of questions and the conversation will start flowing. The Danes love to drink so after a couple of beers, you will become the best of friends. They are also very funny, mostly through their love for sarcasm.
The first thing I noticed after arriving in Denmark was the weather. Apparently it is “summer” here which involves putting on a t-shirt, a sweater, a jumper, a scarf and maybe also a raincoat. It is the wind that really makes a difference. Aarhus is located near a harbour and it is very flat, so what seems like a sunny hot day becomes a rather chilly. The weather can also change in an instant, so one minute you are boiling and the next you are freezing. For someone who has never seen the snow, I am going to get quite the shock when winter arrives! But everyone loves to chat about the weather, especially Danes. It is a great conversation starter.
So far I have been in Aarhus for two weeks and I have loved every moment. As soon as I arrived, the International students organised to meet up so we felt like one big family before we even started classes. Most people don’t know any one else so everyone is eager to chat, talk, hang out and drink a few beers together. A group of us decided go to Legoland and bonded over childhood nostalgia.
A great place to visit while in Aarhus is the modern art gallery ARoS. There are some amazing installations and the famous “Boy” by Ron Mueck and “Your rainbow panorama” by Olafur Eliasson. Despite being a city many Australians have never heard of, you don’t need to worry about being bored. There is so much happening around Aarhus and it’s surroundings. Over the weekend there was a medieval festival as well as the Aarhus festival with stalls, shows and music.
Cycling is massive here so getting a bicycle is a must. Almost every student rides to university because getting a car is just way too expensive. Cycling to university is an easy flat ten minute ride. However getting into town is a little harder. Cycling there is a downhill ride (easy peasy!), but cycling back home is a painful half hour hill. My muscles will definitely be getting a work out this semester. The Danes also have the special ability of riding a bicycle in any sort of attire, including high heels and dresses. However the Danes usually dress for comfort. The general style is black on black on black with some comfy converse or nikes. Usually I am in bright patterned outfits so I stick out like a sore thumb.
Denmark is not a cheap country. Living in Sydney, I expect everywhere else to be much cheaper but alas not in Denmark. My coffee addiction had to be curbed after finding it cost $5-8 for one cappuccino. I am slowly getting used to instant coffee or drinking lots of tea. Eating out is also expensive so cooking at home is the best option and brining packed lunch (in a Lego lunch box!). Often the international students will take turns to cook at different kitchens. You can win over new friends with a delicious chicken pie.
Finally, classes in Denmark! I have only had a week of introductory classes but it has been very interesting so far. The Danish School of Media and Journalism is very hands on. They want to give you practical information about journalism. I can’t wait to get out there are start filming video stories!
By Gemma Piali