Bachelor of Arts/Laws
Bachelor of Arts/Laws

Why Denmark? This is a question I have been frequently asked, both at home before I left and here in Copenhagen. The answer has changed somewhat over the course of the last few months. Initially (and I still certainly hold to this as well), it was that Denmark was one of the few places I could study law on exchange that wasn’t in the UK; a place that actually promised a cultural experience. It has certainly delivered, although sometimes in unexpected ways. One of these ways is the reason my answer has changed, and the main reason I would advise you to go to Denmark. Danes are awesome. Certainly, they are culturally different in many respects and that’s what makes it interesting, and of course, half of them are drop dead gorgeous, but still it’s an underlying common approach to life that ensures Danes and Australians just seem to get along. If anyone was going to compete with our reputation for being laid-back it would be the Danes. In fact, I think they have a few things to teach us in that respect. I have made what I am sure are lifelong friends here.

This, of course, is leaving aside that the place (as much as the people within it) is just beautiful and that it’s on the doorstep of anywhere in Europe that you might want to travel.

I went on exchange in my 6th year, studying dual Bachelors of Arts and Law. At KU, I studied purely law subjects: Public International Law, International Sports Law and Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. I only wish that I had left more electives to play with in my Arts degree and could stay for a full year. The significantly smaller class size was a nice change from UQ and the negotiation course also had a thoroughly practical focus, which UQ law students will realise was a fantastic change. Assessment is very easy: just 20 minute oral exams or take home exams for most subjects and the standard expected for a pass (which is all you need) is not very high at all. Although the University’s online presence is a bit of a shambles, your interaction with it will be fairly limited.

You’ve probably read that it’s expensive over here. It is, but so is Australia. The essentials: beer is cheaper, coffee is more expensive; eating out is more expensive, eating at home is cheaper if you know where to buy your groceries (Netto, Aldi or Lidl). So, really, it balances out. Even still, I’d advise you to budget more than you think you’ll need so that you can comfortably be more liberal with your expenses.

As for advice, I would definitely echo other students testimonials on this site that I was reading when I was in your position (especially as concerns getting a bike and doing the pre-semester Danish course – in fact if I would change one thing it would be to keep going with the Danish throughout semester), but simply reiterating theirs isn’t helpful. So, I am going to try to give some different bits.

- If possible, do your exchange in UQ’s semester 1. I was frequently told by Danes that I had picked the right semester to come, and even though I don’t have the other one to compare it to, I tend to agree. This will bring you from winter into summer. The change is utterly beautiful and gives you a much greater appreciation for the sun, which is lucky because come summer there are not even 3 hours of darkness per night! It will also allow you to experience more Danish holidays and festivals: you can’t miss Distortion and Roskilde.
- Accommodation. The new housing foundation, revamped last year, will be a constant source of frustration to you. I can only speak for kollegiets, but chances are you will end up in one of the larger ones: Bispebjerg, Østerbro or Signalhuset. Don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get the one you want. The key things are the people and the location. In that respect, I’d say be as close to Nørrebro and Østerbro as possible. That’s where all the fun stuff happens. Yes, Tietgen is cool, but steer clear of staying on Amager if possible.
- Get your residence permit and visa in Denmark. You can go over on a tourist visa initially, and apply whilst in Denmark. I applied in Australia, more than a month before those who did theirs in Denmark applied, and they still received theirs a month before I did!
- Helpful things you may not think of until you’re there: an Australian powerboard; a weekend-sized bag for carry-on travel weekends; and shoes that you don’t mind throwing out at the end.
- Food and Drink-wise, check out Vi Mødtes Gennem Ruden (‘We met through the window’) off Nørrebrogade – great bunch of people and the best and cheapest coffee (a loose term with respect to Danish coffee) in town; the Living Room on Studiestræde; your local Følkekøkken for cheap, good quality buffet eats; Bronx Burger – with a student discount and outrageously large/awesome burgers; and Mikkeller & Friends and the Nørrebro Bryghus – if you’re willing to pay a little extra for some fantastic beers.

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