Before setting off almost 2 and a half months ago, I had never travelled solo or lived overseas! My only time spent in Europe was a family trip to the UK and the Netherlands as a child and in Sydney I live at home with my family. So it’s safe to say that when I chose to go on exchange, I knew it would be a big change in my lifestyle. I prepped myself for culture shock, the relentless expenses of Danish life/European travel and the 24-hour journey to the other side of the world with all of my belongings. My adjustment to the time difference was made much easier after staying in Italy with a friend for 2 weeks before going to Denmark, and I’d definitely recommend travelling beforehand!
My first day here in Aarhus was overwhelming to say the least. I’d never even heard of it before applying for exchange and had no clue what to expect apart from some emails sent by the university. After pushing my 27kg bag up a hill with countless layers on (it was only a few degrees max), I walked in circles trying to find my student accommodation having only eaten half a can of Pringles that day. That night I slept in a cotton sleeping bag liner with some bundled up jackets as a pillow (bed linen is not provided in most cases). I was exhausted, disheartened, and wondering if I made the right choice to leave the easy and familiar for this place that I knew absolutely nothing about.
I always knew the first few days would be a hard adjustment, so I woke up the next morning, walked myself straight to IKEA and started to make my shell of a dorm room feel like home. It’s been 2 months now since that very first day in Aarhus and I am so glad that I decided to get out of my comfort zone to come here. My student housing is in a beautiful part of the city called the Latin Quarter, surrounded by both stunning cafés and vibrant nightlife. I’ve also become very familiar with the Danish concept of ‘hygge’; a feeling of cosiness and comfort which is reflected in both their activities and the décor of their homes.
The university here is an extremely welcoming environment and has a significant number of international students at any given time. I found their orientation process to be incredibly well organised! We all received a ‘welcome bag’ upon signing in at the International Centre, which had a local SIM as well as some vouchers for local attractions and information booklets. I have one 3 hour ‘lecture’ for each class, but in each case they only have around 20 students in the room, making it feel more like a tutorial. The teaching style is very informal, with students being free to disagree with the lecturer and interject as they please. Attendance is not compulsory which makes taking short trips easy to do, but obviously means you have to make sure you’re caught up before the final exam!
Back at UTS I study in the Science faculty, but I was unrestricted in what subjects I could choose from over here due to having free electives. I’m currently studying extremely interesting subjects from the Cognitive Science and English departments. If it’s possible for you, I’d definitely consider branching out from your usual area of study as I’m loving the new learning style and opportunity to gain a new perspective in a new field!
I met my main group of friends here at the orientation days, so make sure to take every opportunity to meet new people. The Danes are fairly reserved most of the time, but just wait until they start having beers at the university Friday Bars and they will really open up! I am currently sitting with 6 other international students in Northern Norway while snow is falling outside. We saw the Northern Lights last night and currently have short trips to Berlin, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the UK booked (flights are dangerously cheap over here).
I have truly fallen in love with this place and all it has to offer. My initial worries were all proven wrong and every experience here has been priceless and worth it (even if my bank account says otherwise). If you have any questions at all feel free to email me! I’m having the best time and would love to help in any way I can to make sure that you do as well 🙂
Bachelor of Forensic Science
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au