BA - International Relations
BA - International Relations

So many of these testimonials begin with something like “go on exchange, you’ll have the time of your life”, and that is for good reason.
For me, exchange was the best seven months of my life because it introduced me to new places, cultures, languages, experiences and, most importantly, new friends from all over the world.
No matter where you go, you’ll have these opportunities, but in my humble opinion there are few better places to spend your time abroad than the fairy-tale city of Copenhagen.

I studied abroad in third year, first semester of my Arts/Laws degree.
The University of Copenhagen (‘KU’) is a popular destination for UQ law students, but I chose to study at the Department of Political Science, taking three courses (equivalent to eight units) towards the International Relations major of my BA.
This was a great choice. Social sciences (including economics) are taught at KU’s largest campus, CSS – a beautiful old hospital on the lakes, right in the city centre.
Political Science is one of the most prestigious, competitive degrees to get into in Denmark so the local students were really engaged and the lessons were mostly excellent.
That being said, assessment was not difficult, even at Masters level.


On exchange, there was something to do every day – dinner parties, nights out, picnics in the park, exploring Copenhagen or travelling around Denmark and Europe.
The best choice I made was signing up for the Political Science mentor program. Through the program I met nearly all of my closest friends, both Danish and international students from all over the world.
The group introduced us to some great Danish traditions and organised parties, activities and trips throughout the semester.
Most faculties have similar programs; don’t hesitate to join.


KU doesn’t have on-campus accommodation, but there are many halls of residence around the city that are largely inhabited by local and international students.
I found such a place through the University’s Housing Foundation – a lovely, centrally located, single studio apartment in Nordre Fasanvej Kollegiet.
Make use of this service to organise your accommodation before you arrive.
The booking system can be difficult to navigate, and the Sinet-esque race for the best places meant that most of us missed out on our first choices, but it’s a safe, easy option for largely excellent accommodation.
It is notoriously difficult to find housing in Copenhagen so I strongly recommend against searching for something when you arrive.
As for the overwhelming choice available, prioritise a good location.
Unless you live at Tietgen (Google to induce intense jealousy) or throw lots of house parties, you probably won’t do much more than sleep, eat and possibly study at home, so it’s best to be close to the action (which is largely in the city centre and immediate surrounds).


Copenhagen, like everywhere in Scandinavia, is a relatively expensive place to live, but no more so than Australia.
Some things – coffee, eating out, going to the movies – are significantly more expensive than in Brisbane, while others – groceries, takeaway food, alcohol – can be quite a bit cheaper.
Budget generously so you don’t miss out on any great experiences during the semester.
The UQ-suggested $12,000 is probably a good ballpark figure for living expenses and a moderate amount of travel, but it really depends on your individual circumstances.


Finally, here are my top tips for living in Copenhagen:

1. Buy a bike – ‘Biking’ (not ‘cycling’) is a way of life in Copenhagen and I absolutely loved it.
Nearly every trip in the city is fastest on a bike. Buy early, but be selective – you’ll rely heavily on it for the whole semester.
Departing exchange students are the best potential sellers: try Facebook pages like “Buy a Bike CPH”.
Otherwise, Den Blå Avis ( (Danish eBay) has many bike listings.
You should be able to get a very decent bike for less than 2000 kr.
Invest in a heavy-duty lock; it could save you lots of money.


2. Residence permit – Save money on consular fees and get your residence permit after you arrive in Copenhagen, but be aware that it does take a couple of months and you can’t get phone subscriptions, personalised public transport cards or open Danish bank accounts until you have your citizen registration (CPR) number, which first requires a residence permit.
3. Learn Danish – Almost all Danes speak near-perfect English, but are incredibly impressed by any attempt to speak their language.
The three-week pre-semester Danish course is the best way to meet fellow exchange students as soon as you arrive in Copenhagen.
If, like me, you want to continue, there are more courses during semester. It is possible to become conversationally proficient in a semester if you really try.


4. Money – I didn’t open a Danish bank account because I had an Australian, international transaction fee-free MasterCard.
If you can do this, it’s a lot easier and saves on transfer fees. 28 Degrees and Citibank are the most popular.
5. Shop smart – Know your supermarkets. To name a few: Netto, Fakta, Aldi, Lidl and REMA1000 are the cheapest starting point. Super Best, Super Brugsen and Føtex are a step up with greater range. Irma is high-end with lots of organic and imported goods.

No matter what you do, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with an exchange in Copenhagen. I had an absolutely phenomenal experience and cannot recommend it highly enough.

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