Every year, at least one International student joins a university in Denmark. Jetting in at at the Copenhagen International Airport as a first port of call, their faces eminently beams with much hope and focus. This incoming of stidents happen yea after year with the students expecting to turn this rare opportunity into a lifetime success.
Most of the international students coming to Denmark come to study their Masters degree, PhD, post doctorate or research. Lucky ones manage to get full scholarships, other partial funding while others just pay for themselves. But one thing that never get enough airtime is the unique impressions that international students may have about Denmark.
Truth be told, student experiences everywhere vary depending on where they come from. For instance, the experience that native Danes have of the country as well as the education system may not necessarily match that of a foreigner. But at some level, internationals, irrespective of country of origin, have a largely shared impression of the country.
Arriving, Starting life and integrating as a student in Denmark
Denmark being a relatively small country and with only eight universities,only a few international students make it to admission and eventual enrollment. So basically, when arriving, the often warm feeling of burping into someone from your country who understands your culture immediately isn’t there.
From day one, despite the inevitable culture shock, an international student has to begin the process of adjusting. Yes, almost every university has a directorate of international student services or whatever name they call it to help make incoming students quickly adapt to proceed with studies. But, whatever the interventions put in place won’t take away the weird feeling of discomfort at least on the very first days and months.
Danish is the language you have to learn for a comfortable life
Something peculiar with Denmark which applies to almost all European countries save for London is that they have their own language. In most cases, international students arriving in Denmark come from either English or French speaking countries. Also some from China, Singapore and Indonesia but with a reasonable level of english proficiency. Then boom!! That English doesn’t really make you well off as outside the university, Danish reigns.
Although not all students may be interested in staying in Denmark after studies, the only perfect way to kill culture shock and uneasiness is joining in traditional Danish events. Also learning at least elementary Danish will serve a good purpose.
First feelings about Denmark as a foreign student
Striking social order and neatness
- Denmark is a largely orderly country in the sense that everythings seems to be at the correct place at the right time in some particularly pleasantly surprising rhythm. Its evident on train and bus schedules, public services appointments, farming and almost everywhere.
- The country has a signature for cleanliness. Like you look around and everything isn’t only properly arranged but also very neat. Floors, windows, lawns, streets all look gorgeous.
Unique disposition of Native Danes, passed on to other immigrants too
- Danes can be very cold and assume strangers. If minding my own business and not giving a damn about hi hi greetings was a person then Danes fit it.
- During the cold seasons everyone seems to go into some lull.
Time means every minute, second of it
- Time management to the second is a norm among the people.
- They also work with time to the minute. Nothing like I may be there tomorrow-make it complete by indicating at what time
Blunt honesty and sincerity
- You can always trust the Danes when they tell you something. Those expacts who’ve successfully integrated also practice this though still struggling.
- Lose your valuables in Denmark and someone rings the phone or writes to you that it has been found and you likely get it intact.
- In some cases if you leave any document showing your address, the one who picked up the lost and found item will have it posted to that registered addres.
Deadening cold weather
Too cold for life especially those who come from tropical climates where temperatures remain averagely above twenty degrees celsius. It’s possible to turn on the heating systems in the student accommodation but then when cycling to lectures or just running errands, the cold pierces so deep. Actually at extreme temperatures, those not used to such extremes may suffer snow bites.
How to best start off life as a foreign student in Denmark
Getting a chance of studying in Denmark or whichever country abroad is a rare chance that not so many get. So for you who has gotten it and maybe has a full scholarship and stipend accompaniment, it ought to be all smiles. But to keep happy and become a successful immigrant, a few things need to be deliberately done.
- Put efforts to make new friends as soon as you land in Denmark. It may not be easy to become the bosom buddies with native Danes by a click as they tend to build it bit by bit. But just have someone to show you the Danish ways.
- Be a part of the many social events around. Just check your kommune or city, or even the university events updates. Be part of them to effectively play a role in attaining your own sense of happiness.
- Learn Danish, even if you won’t need it later. Just learn the basics to help you navigate around.
- Build a strong connection with faculty and other students. These networks may help you find a student job or even a professional placement after graduation.
- Always watch out on expenditure so that you don’t run out of funds. A lean budget and a culture of frugality-bordering on being stingy will save you a great deal.
- Decide right from the start if your bigger goal is to stay in Denmark longer after completing your studies. If you get over this then it makes everything easy trying to calibrate maneuvers.
- Be part of the small small country or region groups within Denmark. There are for example facebook groups like Asians in Denmark, Africans in Denmark, Napalese in Copenhagen and such.