It has already been a year since I came from Lithuania to Denmark to be a student at SDU main campus in Odense. After everything I experienced at this university, I could easily say (but taking a risk of sounding too bombastic) that choosing to study my master degree here was the best decision I have ever made in my life. And why is that exactly? I will try to answer that in a more neat order in the following:
People. Yes, I should definitely begin with the people. The main thing is that when you start studying here, sooner or later you can‘t help but be getting this feeling that you are a member of a warm and friendly community.
Every time I enter SDU (well, or just the entire city of Odense), I feel happy to be a part of this academic life, and it seriously seems as if all the people here are smiling. Don‘t get me wrong, not in some kind of creepy way, but you know, they are honestly smiling. People here are polite, super friendly and always ready to help you. It doesn‘t matter if you‘re buying “snickers” in the canteen, having stopped someone to ask where class U141 might be, or are discussing exam issues at the student service. I mean, I had heard that Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world, but it was nice to experience it myself. And everyone speaks English perfectly! Of all the countries I have visited, Danes really are the ones whose English knowledge is the most “rich”.
[quotebox]I called studying in Denmark the best experience in my life, but it is not a piece of cake, to be honest.[/quotebox] Speaking a little bit more about Danes: they are very polite, tolerant and friendly people. But, even though it’s a pity to say, Danish students don’t “mix” too much with the international students. Nobody knows the exact reason why, but cultural differences may be one of the factors. However, as I talked to other students about, the situation is changing a bit, which is very nice to know. Various events and gatherings are organized to bring the natives and international together.
Studies. Well, I guess that for the most part it depends on what are you studying, but so far I have been really impressed by the lectures here (I am studying Human Resource Management). Lecturers are friendly, always ready for a productive discussion or to give you helpful advice. There is no tension, you know? It doesn‘t matter you are an international or Danish or if you are a student or teacher; you feel as an equal part of the process.
What I also really like is that there are tons of places at the university where you can study and prepare for your exams. I have honestly fallen in love with the so-called Silent Room. The name speaks for itself – it is a room where the main thing you have to do is to be silent and to study. I have to admit that since I found that room, I stopped studying at home. The Silent Room is way more helpful!
Biking. This definitely needs a separate paragraph. If you came from any foreign country, where biking is just a way to spend your free time, here you will be able to experience it on a completely different level. I would dare to say that most of the SDU students are biking to university. It’s not just because it’s the easiest way to get from A to B. It is a part of an academic culture. It really is impressive to come to campus and see hundreds of bikes everywhere. One of the images of Denmark!
Free time. As an international student you have a lot of ways to have fun, that’s for sure. Keep calm and party! I have heard this phrase a lot this year. I would lie, if I said that there is not a single student, who doesn’t visit the Australian Bar on Thursday evenings. Free beer? Yes, please!
Apart from partying, it is always nice to chill with friends on the grass in Munke Mose, go to the movies, museums or explore the other cities around Odense.
Challenges. I called studying in Denmark the best experience in my life, but it is not a piece of cake, to be honest. It was hard for me, and I think it is for most of the internationals, to get used to a totally different study system. In Lithuania it is required to remember everything you read in the study material and in Denmark they want you to understand the stuff you read. Which is obviously better, but on the other hand, a lot harder.
It was also a challenge for a lot of students to get used to, well, quite high prices: for the rent, transport, in various shops. But somehow you attune to it. And if you are lucky enough to find a student job, working a few hours week, you can live with no worries whatsoever.
Biking again. Not the most comfortable thing in a snow storm! (But kind of funny to remember).
In general, being an international student, especially if it is your first time ever (no ERASMUS before or something like that) is never easy, no question about it. You are “diving” into another country, another study system and another culture in general. But Denmark and SDU is for sure one of the nicest places to dive into. It is as though you can put a huge sticker somewhere at the main entrance: “international student friendly”.