MY EXPERIENCE AS A STUDENT IN DENMARK

Cristina from Spain is a bachelor student in Economics and Business Administration in Aarhus University, Denmark. On this article, she will let you know a little bit about how it is living in Denmark as an international student, how the social and university life is, if it is as expensive as it is normally believed and all the opportunities you can find here. Enjoy her point of view!

UNIVERSITY IN DENMARK

First of all, you will be probably wondering where Aarhus is or even this can be the first time you hear about it. To be honest, I hadn’t heard about it before I made my research on interesting universities around Europe. However, although Denmark is not very known and many people will not locate anything apart from Copenhagen, it turned out to be one of the most attractive countries to come to study with choices for internationals in many different fields and universities, without undermining the fact that, as a European citizen, university is totally for free! 

Denmark only has public universities, but the level of resources and quality of education they provide is aligned with many of the “most private” universities around Europe. Speaking from my own experience, I have attended to a public university in Spain (where you still have to pay some fees) and I was amazed when I saw the infrastructures at Aarhus University, all the services and facilities they provide, such as a library with massage chairs, a table tennis room, video games, a punching ball or a “relaxing-swings space” just to take a break and disconnect. 

As well, you can find a lot of university associations that you can be part of or join any of the almost weekly events and interesting talks from different companies that come to visit students and give us plenty of advices and job opportunities, so that it really encourages you to see the value of what you are studying and work motivated on it.

SOCIAL LIFE (international atmosphere and making Danish friends)

As a student, one of my main concerns when coming to Aarhus was the social life and it didn’t disappoint me at all. Denmark is well known for its welfare and high living standards, which means that you will find people coming to study and live here from all around the world and from all kinds of backgrounds, so that it is fairly easy to find someone to fit with and share your interests, especially if your university has international programs. In addition, nearly 86% of the Danes speak English, meaning that you can buy at the supermarket, take the bus, go to the doctor, write an e-mail to the authorities, get lost and ask for help to whoever without speaking any Danish, that will never be a problem!

However, you can always get deep into the Danish experience and make some local friends. It is commonly said that Danes are cold or distant, which, let’s be honest, can be true for the first time but, once you connect with them, they are the most welcoming people, and they will love to introduce you to their culture. I was surprised by how respectful and tolerant they are and, in terms of party, they really know how to go crazy and have fun, too!

SU LOAN

I guess that, at this point, you may have found something interesting or unknown about studying in Denmark. However, something extraordinary that really kept my eye when choosing a university was that in Denmark, if you are a European citizen, you can receive a monthly scholarship of 5600 DKK after taxes, which is equivalent to approximately 750 euros, and it is called “SU”. The only requirement you should fulfill is to work an average of 43 hours per month which implies 10-12 hours per week. In Denmark, there is a very extended work-study balance culture and most of the degrees are designed to be perfectly compatible with a part-time job; for example, there are rarely attendance requirements or strict mandatory hand-in deadlines, so it will not be a problem to manage both things at the same time.

FINDING A JOB

As an international, finding a part-time job will be a little bit harder than for a Danish-speaker, but it is definitely not something impossible! Most of the universities in Denmark are located on the biggest cities where there is a lot of tourism and, thus, job offers on the service sector (like bartending, housekeeping, shop and supermarket assistance…) which are normally the options for a recently-started student and are actually perfect to take the mind off the studies, improve the network and make enough hours for getting the SU loan.

Nevertheless, over time, it is very common that students are hired by companies where they do “student jobs”, which are jobs related to your field of study where you get experience and improve your learning by working hands-on. This is very helpful since you can see from the very beginning the meaning of your studies and where they will lead you to and consider whether you really like them or what you would like to specialize in.

In both cases, the contract conditions are completely respected, and you will never exceed the specified amount of hours. Normally, companies strive for ensuring a great balance between your working and your personal and social life (maybe that is one of the reasons why they appear among the happiest countries)

MONEY

Denmark is known as one of the most expensive countries in the world and that is a considerable worry when coming to study. However, if you are suitable for the SU loan, I would totally encourage you to go for it and, in this manner, you will be receiving at least 1400 euros monthly, what allows to cover the basic necessities like food and housing, but also to save for your spare time plans like travelling or occasional meals at restaurants, cinema or theater sessions… (and I emphasize occasional when referring to restaurants or cinemas because leisure is actually very expensive in Denmark to do it in a daily basis). 

Yet, as a student, the best plan is to grab something from the supermarket, go to your (or any friend’s) dorm kitchen and prepare your best custom-made dinner and plan, which is definitely affordable and funny!

BIKING

Even though Denmark can be a costly country in some aspects, transport is definitely not if you opt for the Dane’s favorite choice, biking.

In this manner, you won’t have to worry about spending your budget monthly on means of transport. It is perfectly easy to get to everywhere just by using your two legs, getting in shape and without fouling the air at all; very aligned with the eco-friendly and sporty spirit of the country!

I hope you found this post useful and I really recommend you to visit the Aarhus University blog: Aarhus University International Student Blog – written by students (au.dk) written by and for international students where you can find answers to all your student life questions based on the students’ experiences!



Cristina from Spain is a bachelor student in Economics and Business Administration at Aarhus University, Denmark.