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Hej from Aarhus

Danish flag

I’ve been in this very chilly and extremely charming Danish city since January studying the Erasmus Mundus Journalism. The course is an international masters program set out between Aarhus University and the Danish School of Media and Journalism.

Before arriving in Denmark I had a vague idea of what it meant to be Danish. Having never travelled in Scandinavia before, my understanding of Danish culture tended to revolve around hygge, Scandi style and getting paid to go to uni (seriously the dream). I was also aware it was going to cost me a small fortune to live and study anywhere in Scandinavia for 6 months.

One month in to my Erasmus Mundus Program and I am happy to say Denmark truly lives up to the hype. I cycle to uni, light candles constantly and rug up everywhere I go. As I write this there is a thick covering of snow all through the town so the rugging up part is a serious necessity. Even so, Aarhus is a great University for anyone wanting a real Danish experience in a lovely and lively uni town. It has all the charm of Copenhagen in a more compact and easy to navigate package.

Surprisingly, I haven’t found Aarhus as expensive as I thought I would. Groceries are similar to Sydney prices and there are lots of student bars for cheap drinks. The only thing I had to adjust to was kicking my Sydney takeaway coffee habit as it costs about $7 for a coffee in a cafe. I bought a little plunger from ikea and I make do with home made.

The course itself is quite demanding and extremely theoretical. Do not expect the hands on nature in classes at UTS, of researching stories or packaging radio shows. The classes here are really interesting but the work you will submit is entirely academic essays. We are also expected to complete many assignments which are not counted toward your final grade and a lot of group work. This means if you have plans to travel around Europe while you’re here you really need to plan ahead of time. All the classes have just one 100% exam which is apparently normal in Denmark but feels very weird for us who are used to many assessments.

As it is an Erasmus Mundus program the course is very international. I think there are only about 5 Danes in the program. It makes for a fantastic learning experience with so many international and diverse perspectives on global issue. There is always space for some healthy debate in and outside of class. My classmates also made a huge effort to host parties for Chinese New Year and El Hafla which were extremely inclusive a great celebration of the diversity within the program.

Before I arrived in Denmark I read a lot of blogs about how Danes weren’t very friendly. This hasn’t been my experience at all. I have found everyone so welcoming and inclusive. Danes also get very excited about meeting people from Australia, you will find so many who have just come back from an exchange or a long holiday. If you want to meet (and party with) the Danes a good place to start are the Friday bars. Every Friday after Uni, all the faculties put on their own parties with cheap drinks and they can get pretty rowdy.

I chose to find housing through AU housing which I would seriously recommend. I was assigned a lovely two bedroom flat by the water and it costs me about $650 a month. There are lower cost options also to suit different budgets.

Caitlin Donaldson
Master of Arts in Journalism
Erasmus Mundus Consortium – Journalism
Aarhus, Denmark

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