1 month to go. The countdown has sadly begun. Yet as my study exchange comes to an end, I can look back and reflect on an amazing and incredible time in Denmark.
Denmark. The home of the Vikings, where pork is life, black is the new black, biking is a way of life (snow, rain, hail, sleet: who cares), the wind is never still and skyr and rye rule breakfast.
Although I have travelled through Europe before, I never made it up to Denmark. Copenhagen is seen by many as the capital of Scandinavia, and and I soon discovered why: it’s beguiling nature, cosmopolitanism, and friendliness make it unforgettable.
Living in Denmark
Watching the weather is almost a sport in Denmark. Sitting, waiting, wishing for the sun can be tedious, but when the sun emerges, the country transforms. Danes escape outside to enjoy the warmth, wild flowers colour the landscape, and trees bloom overnight, painting the skyline. A lazy sunny afternoon in cobblestoned town squares -quite the scene.
A castle tour should also be on everyone’s Danish wish list. Denmark has a remarkable collection of castles (‘slots’ and ‘borgs’), from Hamlet’s home to Egeskov and unlike other countries, Danish castles are well-preserved and open to the public.
My study exchange led me to Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark and very much a University town (with a beautiful campus). Aarhus differs to most of Denmark as it is surprisingly hilly. A medium sized European city, it was a nice change from Sydney (less hustle), as everything is close by and accessible by bike. The contemporary arts museum AROS (with it’s panoramic roof), the old town Dem Gamle By, the harbour and Latin quarter are all highlights of a city which will become the European Capital of Culture in 2017.
I became a exchange member of the Erasmus Mundus Masters of Journalism program. It’s a 2 year Masters degree – the first being in Aarhus – and attracts prospective journalists from around the world. This year there were 70 plus students from 30 countries, which not only was culturally and intellectually enriching, but it also created a strong social network that we can rely on in future years. It helped that most students had not been to Denmark before, so we were all interested in exploring the sites of Jutland.
Denmark is currently the happiest country on Earth and I believe a large part of this is due to the generous number of public holidays. From my perspective, these long weekends beckoned travel opportunities. Europe is such an inviting and charming place to travel, and many places are nearby (for Australian standards) and are inexpensive to travel to. Ryanair is a great friend, regularly offering $30 flights to London, Stockholm and Brussels from Aarhus. I managed to explore a few places during my breaks:
One of the best experiences of the entire exchange trip was a day out in Legoland at Billund. I somehow managed to realise my childhood dream, without feeling old the whole day.
So as the sun sets on my Danish sabbatical, I still have a few weeks of beach barbecues and travel left, and I’ll make the most of it.
For those interested in an exchange, by all means go for it. It’s a life investment and a experience that should not be missed.
So come have a pastry, learn some Daneglish, get hyggelig, get to Denmark.
| James Redmayne | 12228894 | FASS