I am an architecture student currently studying at the Aarhus School of Architecture and have been on exchange here in Aarhus, (pronounced orrhus) Denmark for about 2 months now and have come to love my home away from home.
I think, when coming to Denmark, one may feel that there wouldn’t be too much of a culture shock but there are many subtle cultural and social differences that make it an interesting, surprising and rewarding place to come on exchange to. Here I am going to explore some of the most fascinating and enlightening things I have discovered about Denmark so far.
- First thing first, you should like or learn to like, instant coffee.Coffee from a café is ridiculously expensive, a ‘cheap’ coffee will set you back $7-8, and when being an architecture student in a studio 9.00-5.00 you will need coffee. And this goes with eating out too, it isn’t overly cheap but on the plus side, beer and alcohol can be fairly less expensive (there is a silver lining).
- Secondly, Danish people are the nicest people you will ever meet – but then also the shyest.Someone told me the other day that Danes are like a bottle of ketchup, you don’t get anything out when you first turn it upside down but once you’ve hit and shook it for a little while it all comes splattering out. This is spot on. At first Danes appear reserved and a little stand offish but then at some point, at which you won’t exactly be able to pin point (possibly when there is wine involved), you will soon come to know and love everything about everyone.
- Thirdly, the language barrier isn’t really a barrier.Practically everyone here speaks English and they are more than happy to talk in English to you once they know you are an international. The Danish language is an extremely hard language to wrap your head around and if you are anything like me (absolutely terrible at languages) then you will have no hope (not that it should stop you from trying). Saying this though it seems that the Danish acknowledge the fact that their language doesn’t really make logical sense nor is an easy one to learn so there isn’t any real expectation/pressure that you do know or learn it but it’s definitely worth giving it a shot, there are some things that just can’t translate across.
- Fourthly, candles are everywhere.Literally everywhere, and this links in to one of their core ways of living called ‘hygge’. It’s a term that doesn’t really translate directly to English but describes the cosy, close, warm feeling Danes like to create when with friends and family, one you will come to admire and want to imitate yourself.
- Finally, if you arrive in the winter like me then more than likely you will hear a whole lot of ‘in the summer you should definitely do this’.Whenever I ask Danes in my studio for advice on what to do/see on the weekends the answer always seems to be accompanied with ‘but it is best to do it in the summer’. Coming here in February though I will luckily get to experience this. Spring is starting to show itself here and I am able to imagine what they could mean. It seems in the winter Denmark becomes a very internal country (makes sense, who wants to be out in the cold) but as soon as the sun starts to expose its warmth Danes emerge and the parks, rivers, harbours, streets… all come alive with people and an atmosphere of hygge. These last few days we have had somewhat warmer weather, with it reaching double digits, and this has made me very excited for the warmer months to come. Don’t be fooled though winter has its pluses too, having it snow outside whilst you are doing your UNI work, with the old cobble streets and traditional danish buildings covered in whiteness is something truly magical to experience, especially for your average sydneysider like me.
For many more pics of my time here in Denmark, European travels and nice buildings (since I’m an architecture student 🙂 ) see my instagram page below.
Written by Bethany Hooper.
Student Number: 98095476
Degree: Bachelor of Design in Architecture / Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation
Partner University: Aarhus School of Architecture